Ink Jet Printers

Buying an inkjet printer can be pretty difficult since there are so many different options on the market today. However the trend is moving towards all-in-one printers that can not only print but can also scan, copy, and fax. These types of printers are the most common purchased printers for home use. Approximately half of all inkjet printers bought last year were all-in-one printers. These combination printers are relatively inexpensive costing between $100 and $200. The quality of the printing is another benefit. Many of these printers can print photos that are the same quality as a photofinisher like Wal-Mart. One thing anyone should consider when buying an inkjet printer is the cost of ink cartridges. Many of the top ranked printers seem to be Cannon and HP models.

Top Online Resources:

  1. Before You Buy Your Next Printer...
  2. Consumer Reports at MSN Shopping: Printers

Laser Printers

There are two different kinds of printers: inkjet and laser jet. Laser printers are initially more expensive than inkjet printers, but the cost of maintaining a laser jet printer is cheaper. The laser jet printer uses a toner powder which is much cheaper than the ink cartridges used in inkjet printers.

The laser printer prints more quickly and precisely than an inkjet printer. The laser beam that is used to print allows for more precision, because it does not have the same restrictions as ink. The laser jet printer is so economical and quick that one printer is often enough for an entire office. The cost of the laser jet is continually decreasing and as a result it is becoming a better option for home printers as well as office printers.

Previously the laser jet printer was not able to print in color, but technology has since changed and it is now possible for the laser printer to print in color. The quality of the laser jet printer is exceptional.

When purchasing a laser jet printer, one should evaluate the main purpose for the purchase. The amount of usage that the printer will receive and the quality of printing needed will help determine the type of printer purchased. There are a variety of different laser jet printers available, at a variety of different prices.

Top Online Resources:

  1. Color Laser Printer Reviews- Reviews, Ratings and Comparisons
  2. Color Laser Printer Reviews: Best 3 Color Laser Printers
  3. Laser and Inkjet Printers: Consumer Guide Laser and Inkjet Printer Reviews


The introduction of scanners provided an excellent way to transfer images, documents and other such materials onto a PC or online. Their technology has come a long way since they were first introduced, and scanners now provide means to provide backup files or medium of transfer of everything from transparencies to films or slides.

There is a wide assortment of scanners available with tons of various options, which at first can make it seem like researching a product that works best for your needs will be a rather daunting task. But the expansive options of resolution qualities, image enhancement and other qualitative features, size, chic design, etc. Also, now that they are more available and the technology is more widespread, manufacturers are offering varying models of scanners at competitive prices.

A good quality scanner with enough functions and capabilities for the typical consumer can actually run quite cheap now - usually between $100 - $180. This proves to be a worthwhile investment, seeing that one of the most popular uses of scanners, (transfer-for-storage of images, negatives and slides) can get quite costly if you were to have a store such as Costco do the scanning for you. Just after 15 rolls of 24 exposure-negatives your tab would run you $100 at Costco - what you could easily pay for a decent scanner that would give you total control of the scans by doing it yourself.

There are a plethora of options to consider when purchasing a scanner. Some of the top features to keep in mind are resolution quality and speed of scanning. The resolution, or quality of the image scanned, is the most important factor to consider. You also will need to decide if you want a scanner/printer combo pack or a dedicated scanner. Dedicated scanners have features that = better, easier scanning.

Most scanners now have ability to scan transparencies, films and slides. If you're going to be archiving a lot of old photo negatives, this is going to be a key aspect for you to consider. A transparency adapter (or at least the option to add one in the future) is a must.

One thing to keep in mind with scanners is that creating high-resolution scans consumes a lot of resources, including hard drive space. If you're going to be scanning numerous full-size images, make sure you've got a computer with the power and the space to handle them.

Most flatbeds have adjustable lids that let you scan 3-D items such as magazines, bound books and other objects.

Flatbed scanners aren't on-the-go products, as their high tech nature and weight often confine them close to a desktop computer. If you've got scanning needs attached to your portable computer, you'll want to take a look at a sheet-fed or pen scanner. Some sheet-fed models use new low-power CIS (Contact Image Sensor) technology and don't require an external power source. They get their power through a USB connection, so that's one less accessory to pack. Pen scanners may not offer as high of optical resolution as flatbed scanners, but they're extremely portable.

Other minor but still important factors are physical size, design, reliability and warranty options from the manufacturer, and of course price.

The selections for websites are the best because of their reliability and dedication to educating the consumer to be able to make the best decision for their specific needs. None are in the business of scanners. The Business Week website was chosen because of its business orientation, it address the aspects of scanners for office use, and most of the stuff is applicable to home use as well.

Top Online Resources:

  1. How Stuff Works - Scanner Buyer's Guide
  2. Consumer Reports
  3. Business Week

USB Flash Drives

"Simple flash drives can hold one or two gigabytes of data and often ship with file-synchronization software to make quick backups a breeze. USB hard drives can offer as much as 6GB of plug-and-play storage, letting you carry your entire library of MP3s and important personal documents wherever you go. Now, a new generation of "smart" flash drives is using the U3 platform to deliver entire applications on a single USB key. Plug a U3 key into any system and you can use your browser, e-mail client, and applications as if they were loaded on that system. Unplug it, and there is no trace of you or your software on the system."

"Whether you're looking for a simple storage device, a multi-functional drive that includes an MP3 player and other entertainment features, or a security drive that offers special security features to prevent data loss or theft, we have the USB flash product you need. If you're looking for fast, reliable and extraordinarily portable data storage, you'll find it right here on this site."

"Several websites, such as and, compile ratings based on some kind of proprietary algorithm. Other sites, such as, say nothing about their rating methodologies or sources, nor do they even bother to date their ratings. These sites are not nearly as useful as Tom's Hardware Guide, PC Magazine and User reviews are also helpful. Although most owners are very happy with their USB flash drives, a few report problems with system crashes, software conflicts and flimsy construction."

-Consumer Search

Top Online Resources:

  1. USB Key Superguide
  3. Consumer Search

Wireless Routers

When considering purchasing a wireless router to establish a wireless network in a home several factors should be taken into consideration. Speed is one of the most influential factors to the performance of a certain wireless router. Speed is usually connected with the range of the device. Range is another important characteristic to a wireless router. Often there is an indirect relationship between speed and range. The further away a computer is away from the wireless router the slower the connection will be. The effectiveness of a wireless router deals with how large the range field is and how speed may be affected when reaching the outer limits of the range. Wireless routers can also be vulnerable to outside hacking of internet or possibly unauthorized access to the actual computer.

The two most commonly used routers are wireless routers that comply with 802.11n protocol and wireless routers that comply with 802.11g protocol. 802.11g is a protocol that older wireless routers are based off. 802.11n was just recently introduced into the market with the suppliers and producers promising 12-15 times the speed of an 802.11g-based router. It was also promised to cover a 4 to 10 times the area of an 802.11g-based router. When put into realistic environments 802.11n-based wireless routers only performed 2 to 3 times faster than 802.11g-based routers and only a few more feet of coverage, which may still leave parts of a large home without coverage. The new 802.11n-based routers tend to run 2-3 times more expensive than an 802.11g-based router, so it is up to the consumer to weight the value of having 2-3 times the connection with a few extra feet of coverage. Another drawback to 802.11n-based routers is that they use a system of channel bonding to give it that 2-3 times speed increase. Channel bonding may interfere with Bluetooth devices, microwaves, baby monitors, along with cordless phones. Also these devices may interfere with network when being used. Channel bonding may be turned off on an 802.11n-based protocol, but then the only strength of the extra money is a few extra feet of coverage. For those living in neighborhoods it is recommended that 802.11g-based router be used. These routers will not interfere or disable neighbor’s networks unlike channel bonding in the 802.11n-based routers. If the consumer lives in a more rural area where usage of interfering devices could be limited, then an 802.11-based wireless router network is encouraged.

Security is very important to the value of a wireless router. One of the most important factors to the security of a wireless network is whether or not it is WPA (Wi-Fi protected access) or a WEP (wired equivalent privacy) encrypted. Older routers tend to use WEP encryption, which is better than no encryption; however, a router with WPA encryption will provide more protection from outside hackers. Other precautionary measures can be taken to increase the security of a wireless network. Most wireless routers should allow encryption, identifier change, password change, and specific Media Access Control (MAC) addresses. These are vital for protection against hackers and the value of a router is greater if it at least includes these features and more.

Top Online Resources:

  1. Extend Your Home Network
  2. Wireless Router Guide