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Home > Printers > Inkjet Printers > Printing Quality Images and Photos

Printing Quality Images and Photos

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Digital technology has grown to encompass and affect almost every facet of our modern lives. We communicate through e-mail, send video and images with mobile phones, listen to music on MP3 players, and spend hours online discussing at length the merits of Star Trek: Next Generation versus Star Trek: Voyager. For better or worse, the advent of the digital age has changed the way we live, work, and entertain ourselves. It has also helped to remodel and challenge traditional methods of creating art and preserving memories.

By now, it's probably safe to say that most people either own or have used a digital camera. Or, barring that, have found an image on the Web that they would like to print out and frame, send, or make into hundreds of miniature papier mache swans. For artists, photographers, and hardcore digital image printing aficionados, having the right printer for the job is key. To get the best prints for digital images, many people prefer inkjet and photo printers for their ability to recreate vivid colors and detail, and maintain the richness of the originals. The difference between inkjet and photo printers is narrow, but important depending on what you'll be using it for. Inkjet printers, having come a long way since their humble beginnings, can rival some laser printers in sharpness and precision. They are great for printing documents, spreadsheets, and graphs, but also offer features to aid in printing images, like enhanced color processing, editing functions, color and border effects, memory card slots, and connectivity options to print directly from a digital camera or other media device. Photo printers, on the other hand, are designed primarily to print digital photos and other images, with more extensive features and editing options. They range in sizes and pricing to provide a suitable option for any budget.

An important feature to look for in an inkjet or photo printer is dpi, or "dots per inch." It's a measurement of printing resolution meant to indicate how many individual dots of ink a printer will place on a square inch of paper. It's best to have a printer with a resolution of at least 600 dpi, though only having the bare minimum could result in blurry, pixelated images. Higher resolutions, like 1200 or 4800 dpi, will provide sharper prints for high quality photos.

Other factors to consider include cost, connectivity, print speed, ink (type, quantity), accommodated media forms and sizes, ease of use, and the availability of options you're interested in. Most inkjet and photo printers will connect via USB 2.0, but some will require FireWire, parallel port, or provide a networking or Ethernet interface. Some will provide PictBridge compatibility, for printing photos from your digital camera or memory card without needing a computer. A number of digital camera manufacturers also have a line of photo printers to complement them, which is a handy solution for people who like their gadgets to match. It always helps to do some research and figure out what basic specs you need before purchasing an inkjet or photo printer. There is a wide variety of printers to suit a multitude of requirements. The HP Deskjet D2430, for example, offers resolution up to 4800 x 1200 dpi and print speeds of 12.5 ppm. For mobile printing, the Canon PIXMA mini260 enables you to print anywhere without desktop computer. It has 9600 x 2400 dpi color resolution, 42KB of integrated memory, and weighs only 4.9 lbs. The Epson Stylus Photo 1400 sports a 5760 x 1440 dpi resolution and the ability to print a 5x7" color photo in 45 seconds.

You can create photo albums, portfolios, scrapbooks, and collages with these versatile printers, in addition to printing standard documents. Whether you use one for work, professional or amateur digital photography, graphics projects, or any other creative endeavor, an inkjet or photo printer can deliver the crisp, vivid quality you need.

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