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Buyer’s Guide to Small, Compact Inkjet Printers

Compact inkjet printers are preferable if you need to fit a printer on a small desk, move it from one computer to the next, or take it along during travel. Here are some factors to take into consideration when purchasing a compact inkjet printer…

DIMENSIONS: Some examples of printer models with small dimensions include the Lexmark Z735 (14.8″x8.8″x6″), the Hewlett-Packard Deskjet D1341 (16.6″x5.6″x12.43″), and the Canon Pixma IP1600 (17.1″x9.8″x6.5″). If you don’t have an opportunity to see the printer personally before purchasing it, be sure to check all three dimensions and request them from the seller if they aren’t provided. A few compact printers (including some HP Photosmart models) come with a carrying case, which makes portable use less problematic.

WEIGHT: Compact printers aren’t necessarily lightweight; this isn’t really a concern if you just want to fit the printer in a small area and leave it there, but it is problematic if you are going to move it around frequently. Lightweight printer models include the Canon Pixma IP90V (four pounds), the Lexmark Z735 (5.1 pounds), the HP Deskjet 460C (4.5 pounds), and the older HP Deskjet 420 (seven pounds). Some websites selling printers list the “shipping weight”, which is somewhat higher than the actual weight because of the box and packaging materials.

INTERFACE CABLE: Some printers connect to your computer with a parallel cable, while others use a USB cable or both. Parallel cables have the advantage of being compatible with more computers and operating systems, but USB cables are more compact; they have much smaller jacks at each end and are the cable is less rigid. Most newer printers have parallel and USB, or are USB-only. The size and weight of the power adapter should also be taken into account if the printer is to be for portable use.

BUYING: Small inkjet printers can be purchased at office supply stores (including Office Depot and Staples), some department stores, and Radio Shack franchises. They are also available from online shopping websites and internet auction services like eBay. The cost varies from under $50 to several hundred dollars, depending upon the brand name, features, and where the printer is purchased. When searching for inkjet printers online, also try searching for “bubblejet printer”; this term is used synonymously with “inkjet”, especially for Canon models. Inkjet printers are also not uncommon at yard/garage sales and thrift shops, with older models often selling for under ten dollars.