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Home > Printers > Photo Printers > Glossary

Photo Printer



All-in-one - This refers to a multifunction device that can perfom more than just printing. Printing, copying, scanning, and faxing are usually standard capabilities of these machines. Scanners can either be sheetfed or flatbed.

Anti-aliasing - Anti-aliasing is used to make graphics and text easy to read and appear pleasing to the eye on-screen. It consists of mathematical formulas that enables the detail around the edges of each charater to be enhanced.

Automatic Document Feeder (ADF) - This attachment automatically feeds one page at a time to the printer, allowing users to step away while the printer completes a job.

Automatic Paper Sensing - A sensor reads the media signature and is able to determine automatically the best settings for any particular piece of media.


Bit Depth - Bit depth refers to the number of bits used to store information about each pixel of an image. The higher bit depth of a scanner means more information can be stored about a given pixel, producing clearer, color rich scans.

Bluetooth - Bluetooth is an industrial specification for wireless Personal Area Networks. This allows your computer or wireless device to communicate with your bluetooth enabled multifunction printer.

Borderless Printing - This feature allows you to print photos with no white space on the edges.

Brightness - This adjustment allows you to control the lightness and darkness of any image. Brightness is measured by the total percentage of light reflected.


CMYK - An acronym to represent Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black, the process colors used in correct proportions to create the color range of a digital image. These are general names for the color hue of the colorants (dyes and pigments) typically used in formatting (including inkjet printing). These 4 colors are used to create all colors in this type of digital image.

Collation - Collation allows you to print multiple projects in the correct order. Also reffered to as "ordered printing".

Color Balance - This allows you to adjust the overall color cast of any image. Printers without this feature often produce slightly blurry or less than true colors.

Connectivity - Connectivity refers to the method by which you connect your printer to your computer. These connectivity options include USB, FireWire, Parallel and Ethernet.

Copy Weight - This refers to the minimum and maximum paper weight that your printer can handle.

Cost Per Page - This is the total cost of each page printed. Things like ink cartridges, other consumables and media cost is all factored in to give you a per page estimate of cost.


Dots Per Inch (DPI) - Dpi is an abbreviation for dots per inch. A measurement of print resolution, dpi indicates how many individual dots a device can create on a page per square inch of area. Dpi is typically listed as horizontal resolution by vertical resolution; the higher the dpi, the better the resolution.

Drivers - This software allows your computer to communicate with your printer to produce quality, accurate prints.

Duplex Printing - The printer automatically outputs a two-sided page without having to manually reverse and feed the paper. Automatic Two-Sided Printing is an option and does not have to be selected. It is standard with some high-end HP printers.

Duty Cycle - This is the number of pages that a printer is designed to handle per month.


FireWire - High-speed external connection used for connecting peripherals, also referred to as "IEEE 1394".

Firmware - Low-level software that runs in a digital camera, printer, scanner, etc., and controls the functionality and user interface.

Font - A set of printing characters that share the same distinctive appearance. Fonts are used on your computer to display text on your monitor and print documents on your printer.


GIF Image - Usually carries the file extension.GIF short for Graphics Interchange Format. The first truly universal standard format for file images, originally developed by Compuserve. Widely used on the Web, GIF files are best used for small images with limited colors.

Grayscale - Similar to color bit depth, refers to the number of bits used to store information about levels of gray.


IEEE-1284 Standard - This is the design specification for parallel cables. Recent printers with parallel ports require cables that meet this specification.

Infrared - A type of connection that allows data to be wirelessly transmitted from the camera directly to another device when the infrared window on the camera is lined up with an infrared sensor on the other device.

Ink Cartridge - These are the devices by which ink is delivered to an Inkjet Printer. Ink cartridges shoot fast drying ink through tiny nozzles onto a page to form characters.

Inkjet - A printer or an all-in-one unit that shoots fast drying ink through tiny nozzles onto a page to form characters. The inkjet is currently the standard for personal computer printing. Inkjets are fast, affordable, and relatively quiet, they provide high quality graphics, and prints in color.

Interpolated Resolution - Manufacturers like to point to the interpolated resolution of their scanners because they can quote a really high number. Interpolated resolution refers to the ability of the scanner to estimate intermediate values in between known samples. Interpolated resolution is meaningless in terms of the quality of images you'll be able to scan!


JPEG - Usually carries the file extension .jpg. The current favorite image format among Web surfers and graphics professionals, JPEG images are highly compressed to save more space than a BMP or GIF file.


LAN - Local Area Network. A group of computers in an office or building connected to each other by cable. A network computer can access files on other computers in the network or enable others to open and use its files. Printers, modems, and CD_ROM drives are also typically shared peripherals on a network.

Large Format Printer - Capable of handling large pieces of paper media greater than Legal size. (8.5" x 11")

Laser - A printer or all-in-one unit that uses static electricity and heat to bond particles of toner to a page to create characters, the same technology used by a copy machine. Laser printers are the current standard for business correspondence, and they deliver quality black text print.

Local Area Network - Usually abbreviated as LAN. A group of computers in an office or building connected to each other by cable. A network computer can access files on other computers in the network or enable others to open and use its files. Printers, modems, and CD_ROM drives are also typically shared peripherals on a network.


Media Handling - This refers to the number of pages that a printer can store prior to printing. It also usually details how this paper is handled (document feeder, tray, automatic document feeder, etc.).

Monochrome Printer - A printer that prints in only one color, usually black. Some monochrome printers can also produce text and graphics in shades of gray as well as strict black and white.

Monthly Duty Cycle - The maximum number of printed pages per month that a printer can print.


Network Interface Card - Usually abbreviated as NIC. An adapter card installed in a computer that enables it to connect to a network; most NIC's support several different types of networks and network cabling.


Optical Resolution - This number is the best indicator of the overall image quality of any scanner. If the resolution is 2400 dpi it will be listed as either 2400 dpi or 2400 x 2400 dpi. When comparing scanners that have two numbers listed in the resolution, the lower of the two will be a more accurate representation of the scanners ability (for example, a 1200 x 2400 dpi scanner would be considered a 1200 dpi scanner).


Pantone - A spot color matching system supported by most computer desktop publishing and graphics design software.

Paper Capacity - Defines how much paper any given paper tray can handle.

Paper Handling - This refers to the number of pages that a printer can store prior to printing. It also usually details how this paper is handled (document feeder, tray, automatic document feeder, etc.).

Parallel - A common printer interface typically found on the back of your PC. While most printers now use USB, some higher end units still come equipped with Parallel.

PictBridge - This standard allows cameras and PDAs to communicate and print directly from a PictBridge equipped multifunction printer.

Pixel - A single element within a digital photograph. The typical digital photograph is made up of several million pixels.

PPM - Pages per minute, usually abbreviated as PPM. A measurement of printer speed, indicating how many finished pages a printer can produce in 60 seconds. PPM speeds are typically listed for both monochrome only and color documents.

Print Server - A computer completely dedicated to supporting a network printer. The server's system RAM and hard drive are used to store print jobs in the queue, and print jobs can be reordered, paused, or deleted from the server's keyboard.

Printhead - In an inkjet device, the print head contains the printer's ink cartridges and the nozzles that control the flow of ink. This electro-mechanical functionality allows the delivery of ink dots.

Processor - High perfomance laser printer and multifunction units sometimes have an integrated processor. This allows the printer to deliver a higher PPM.


RAM - Random Access Memory, usually abbreviated as RAM. RAM built into your printer can store data from a print job temporarily until the printer is ready to print the data.

Resolution - Resolution refers to the individual number of samples that are taken in the space of one inch. This is commonly referred to as dpi (dots per inch) or spi (samples per inch). Resolution is typically listed twice, as optical resolution and interpolated resolution.

RGB (Red, Green, Blue) - All colors defined as percentages of red, green, and blue. Varying percentages of these colors create all colors seen in the full color spectrum. To help understand the concept of RGB, look very closely at a color TV screen (not too long though, remember what Mom always said...), and see that the color is comprised of a variation or combination of individually colored dots (like pixels).


Sharpness - Refers to how crisp and clean an image appears.

Smoothing - Gives images a smooth appearance for more realistic photos.

Speed - This notes how quickly the printer can produce text or graphics. Typically for an inkjet or laser this is denoted with PPM. (pages per minutes) For a dot matrix or line printer with will be noted by CPS (Characters Per Second)


Thermal Dye Sublimation - Dyes are infused into the paper which will create slightly blurry edges. However, these images are less susceptible to fading and distortion over time.

Toner Cartridge - In a Laser or Color Laser Printer, this is the device by which ink is delivered to the printer.


Universal Serial Bus (USB) - Universal Serial Bus. An input/output (I/O) bus capable of data transfer at 12 megabits (1.5 megabytes) used for connecting peripherals to a microprocessor. Typically, each device connected to a computer uses its own port. USB can connect up to 127 peripherals through a single port by daisy-chaining the peripherals together. USB devices may be hot plugged, which means that power does not have to be turned off to connect or disconnect a peripheral. It is expected that USB will become a primary means of connection in IBM-compatible PCs. Most major hardware, software, and telecommunications providers support USB.


Wireless Print Server - Allows any wireless device on your network to communicate with your printer. Direct traffic when you're printing from multiple sources.

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