Buying a scanner

Buying a scanner

While for many of us, printers are associated with the worlds of work and business, a lot of people use scanners for the fun side of life.

You can guarantee the kids will find some creative things to do with them. Their drawings can suddenly be made to live on a PC, where all the artistic possibilities of the many pieces of painting software available these days await them.

But of course scanners are also invaluable when it comes to tasks such as emailing documents to people.

Some of the different brands you might see on a trip to your local electronics store or during a browse on the internet include Canon, HP and Epson.

Aside from brand, scanners also come in many shapes and sizes and can offer an array of different features, not all of which are useful to all users.

Film scanners, for example, can capture the likes of negatives, as the name suggests.

Some scanners throw in a printer as well - perhaps an option to go for if you are currently without one, but possibly an unnecessary extra if you already have one.

Meanwhile, flatbed scanners offer perhaps the classic scanner "look" and do most of the things you would expect of such a device - they're also more commonly seen than other scanner varieties.

It's possible to pick up a scanner for a very attractive price indeed these days. You may well end up with change from a £50 note.

One feature you'll see referred to often is resolution - though cheaper models do not always have lower resolution than their pricier alternatives.

Though resolution can be measured in "dpi" which sounds complicated, this translates into the reassuringly old-fashioned sounding "dots per inch".

Put simply, more "dpi" means a scanner can snap things into the digital world in greater detail.

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Fun for all the family

Fun for all the family

According to the National Network of Child Care (NNCC) creativity is crucial to a child's development. Here at INKredible, we have come up with a number of easy craft projects that are fun for all the family and free!

Photo collages are a great way to get your kids involved in a craft project. Choose a variety of photos and print them out onto glossy photo paper. You could buy a picture frame for your collage, but you can always stick the photos right onto a large sheet of paper or card. Using the photos you have just printed, together with some scissors and glue, you will be able to create a unique and eye-catching collage. Why not make one for your latest holiday or a recent birthday?

Companies online sell personal calendars for around £15 but you can make your own for substantially less. Choose 12 photos to use and download a basic calendar from the internet. You can even edit the calendar to include family birthdays and special occasions. After printing, just hang on the wall and enjoy a different family photo every month!

Finally, try making a personal activity book for car journeys or rainy days. Blank colouring pictures, word searches and crosswords are easily found on the internet. If you are taking a trip to the seaside, personalise a crossword with words like 'beach', 'icecream', 'sandcastle' or even their name! Your child will find these much more engaging than shop-bought activities as they are personal and specific to their day out.

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Making prints from Microsoft Word

Making prints from Microsoft Word

Many people spend a lot of their computing time staring at word processing software like Microsoft Word, and it seems likely that for a lot of people the trusty text-based tool is their most commonly used computer programme.

But even then, they may not know all the secrets there are to printing efficiently from its easily recognisable screen.

Most regular Microsoft Word users will know, for example, that some easy ways of making the text they're typing make its way, as if by magic, onto a sheet of paper, include using the printer-shaped icon or heading to the File menu and employing the Print command.

(For best results, we do recommend having a printer linked to your computer beforehand, however....)

Those with eagle eyes may also have spotted that, when they undertake the above File menu and Print adventure, the letters "Ctrl+P" appear on the menu, too.

To help people for whom this apparently odd code is still shrouded in mystery, we can reveal that this is in fact an instruction, letting you know that if you press the Control key (or Ctrl) and the letter P on your keyboard, you can print documents without even touching your mouse.

Of course, even before you print, if you're working on a document that you might want to put on paper later, it could be wise to use the Print Layout feature, to get a better idea of how it will finally look.

Head to the View menu and change your preference from Normal Layout or Web Layout to Print Layout in order to achieve this.

There's also the handy Print Preview tool, which can be accessed from the File menu. This is great for getting a quick, distanced overview of your work. Once you've taken a glance at how your handy work will appear on paper, to exit the preview (which you'll need to do if you want to continue working), head to the Close button on the left hand side.

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Have an INKredible wedding

Have an INKredible wedding

With the average spend on a British wedding coming in at a staggering £18,500 (according to a few dodgy sites we came across on the web!), finding ways to make your money go further is a key concern for most brides. Printing your own wedding invitations could save you hundreds of pounds as the average spend on wedding stationery alone is an exorbitant £465. 

There are a number of benefits to printing your own invitations. Along with saving yourself a lot of money, you are guaranteed to be sending completely original and unique invitations. Investing in high quality paper, card or photo paper will give your wedding invitations a professional and high quality finish. The beauty of making your own invitations also means that you will be able to match your colour scheme perfectly and won’t have a last minute panic attack when the invitations arrive looking considerably more royal blue than navy. 

Homemade invites also give you completely free reign over the font you choose to use- many online invitation businesses only offer around ten different fonts. If you are having a themed wedding, you may well be able to find a font that typifies that theme (excuse the pun!). Using your own printer also allows you to print in colour or add photos or images, something that most companies will charge you extra for. 

Making your own wedding stationery gives you the option of adding additional material into the envelope before it is sent off so why not include any directions to venues, dietary concerns or even a photo of yourself and your future spouse.
 

Think it sounds like too much to do for one person? Enlist your bridal party to help you one evening - crack open a couple of bottles of wine and turn this project into a fun activity. 

After having saved yourself a small fortune so far, why stop there? By printing your own order of service, table numbers and place cards, you can ensure that all your wedding stationery is consistent without breaking the bank. After the wedding you can even use the same style of stationery to send out thank you letters without having to fork out even more money after your big day.

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How to make the most of the 'Print' window

How to make the most of the 'Print' window

You may well see this fellow every day - especially if you're a regular printer user.

He's a rectangular bundle of fun who's very much around to come to the rescue of those that need to print documents - but have specific requirements for doing so.

We're talking, of course, about that wonderful box of printer tricks, the Print window.

Despite the fact that we're giving the impression there's only one of these helpful critters, it would be more accurate to describe Print windows as a family, with varied brothers and sisters living in different programs.

Today we tackle a Microsoft Word incarnation. We've already dealt with some of the basics of printing in Word in a previous blog. But however you prefer to print your documents in Word, you'll be seeing the friendly Print window before too long.

Taking in his features from the top, the first thing you'll spot is the drop-down menu that lets you choose which printer you want to send your document to.

We've probably lost count of the times that something failed to print because we'd made the obvious mistake of sending it to the wrong printer. So whenever you print in a new environment, it's always advisable to check this little line out before you begin.

If your preferred printer isn't showing up, you can also always try and search it out with the help of the nearby 'Find Printer' button, too.

Most people will be familiar with the 'Copies' section of the Print window, where you can quickly type in how many prints you're after, rather than re-printing several times. 

One of the most useful areas for when things go wrong (among other occasions), meanwhile, is the 'Page range' box. Selecting 'Pages' here is useful for the (hopefully rare) occasions when a page emerges from your printer with an error on it.

Just type in the page you want to print, and you avoid wasting paper by re-printing your entire document.

The 'Properties' button, meanwhile, leads to a whole selection of useful features, that could probably fill a blog on their own!   

On this occasion we'll just highlight one very useful feature. Sometimes, a document you're printing will have colour elements, but, for whatever reason, you want to save the ink in your coloured cartridges. Perhaps you're simply printing a draft copy at this stage.

In this scenario, simply go into 'Properties', open the 'Color' tab and tick 'Print in Grayscale'. 'OK' your choice and you'll have saved your precious coloured ink for another day.

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What to do if you lose power in the middle of a print job

What to do if you lose power in the middle of a print job

Yes, we know, it's not the 1970s anymore. It's rare to face the prospect of a real black-out. Then again, things do sometimes go awry, even in the normally candy-floss-flavoured world of printing (not an invitation to lick your print cartridges).

Chances are, if power goes AWOL when you're partway through printing something, this could be caused by a cable coming out of the back of either your printer or your PC or Mac.

If this has happened, turn off the power at the plug, then re-attach the power cable into its correct socket. If in doubt, check the instructions on this point.

Once power is restored (remember to turn the plug back on after you've set everything up correctly) you may be faced with a printer that's partway through coughing up one of your pages.

If you're lucky, the printer will work this out for itself, and will get rid of the page for you once you restore power. The page will only be half-printed but you can't have everything…

If the printer doesn’t let go of your page of its own accord, then please do not try to pull it out by force – this potentially will only get you into a mess, and could leave you with bits of torn paper clogging up your printer's innards – not a good look.

If you do this, the worst case scenario would be a broken printer – and every time a printer breaks, we at INKredible get heart palpitations. Please do not do this to us.

Again, it's a good idea to fish out your instruction book (or, if you've been good, pick it up from the easily accessible spot where you always keep it, for ease of reference).

If you are still stuck, you should be able to make your printer give up its papery hostage by printing something else.

If you go into Word, type some random lines (we suggest a sonnet about INKredible) and then print that, the printer will get its act together and you'll be back in business.

But what to do about the half-finished print job?

It's doomed.

Nope, we're kidding, it's fine (sorry, we do like to josh). Rather than printing everything out again (what a bore) you'll easily be able to print from a certain point in your work.

For example, if you were printing from a webpage, you could select the text that has not yet printed, then tick the 'selection' box when the print window pops up.

If you were printing a document from word, why no re-print, but use the 'pages' feature in the print option window, where you can type in the pages you want printing.

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What to think about when buying a printer for the home

What to think about when buying a printer for the home

Like most things it's worth giving printer purchasing some thought before you do it.

We don't mean that you'll have to put aside hours on end to contemplate every tiny difference there could be between the various types of printer on offer, but it's definitely going to pay to take a few things into account.

Do be sure to take a glance at the type of ink cartridge the printer you have your eye on is going to be sucking up its life blood from. Take a little look at how much these babies cost, because you're only going to have to buy more of them later and print cartridges can be very expensive little things.


It might come as a shock to realise you've chosen the printer with the priciest ink options if you haven't prepared yourself first.

Not only that, of course, but you could always opt for another type of printer to the one you had in mind if you discover its cartridges are far more expensive than other options.

It's well worth taking a little glance at how many prints per cartridge you'll get too, if you can. Remember that though the actual cartridge may cost more than another, it could have a greater capacity, too.

It's also worth thinking about aesthetics. This may seem like a trivial point, but unlike a work printer, a home printer is going to be facing you in, well, your own home. No, really, we've researched this.

On top of this bombshell, many people keep their printers in a communal space, rather than a study, and a shocking monstrosity of a printer just isn’t going to set off that new parquet floor (trust us, we tried it in a moment of desperation).

If the printer you need is (whisper it) a bit ugly, think about investing in a desk that will hide it, perhaps on a built-in shelf.

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Selling used printers

Selling used printers

While modern printers certainly last for many years, you’re probably going to be in need of upgrading to a new one at some point during the life of your business.

In the modern world the needs of companies are changing rapidly and your printing devices will often need to be able to accommodate those changes.

Indeed, it wasn’t so long ago that the most offices were producing the majority of their documents in black and white and any need to print glossy photo documents in full colour was usually contracted out to specialist printing firms.

But nowadays, many companies find it easier to buy a printer which enables them to handle all their printing demands in house.


The problem when upgrading to a new device, though, can often be what to do with your old one.

Of course you could take it to an eco-friendly rubbish dump, but if it still works fine and the only reason you don’t want it anymore is because your company has evolved, then it could be suitable for someone else to get some enjoyment out of.

With that being the case then it might be a smart move to try and sell it. But how to find a buyer? After all, people aren’t just going to walk into your office and say "I’ll give you X for your printer" (they’d be trespassing for a start).

Here are some options to consider;


Online auction sites

eBay considers itself to be the world’s marketplace and it is certainly a good place to find a buyer as there are literally millions of people logging on each day looking to make a purchase or two. Ebid is another site which operates on the same premise.

When making a listing on one of these sites it makes sense do some research on how much your printer model will be worth. Just bear in mind that if you do make a sale, the auction site will take a small fee for their troubles.


Classified ads

These tend to be hyper-local and are often found in the back pages of newspapers.

Again you need to know roughly how much to price your printer at and you also need to be able to write an advert which captures people’s interest.

Newspapers will usually charge a fee for your listing but advertising on websites like Craigslist is free.


Recycle firms


There are companies out there whose business it is to buy-in old electrical devices and refurbish them for re-sale or strip the parts from them to sell as spares. Often these companies will pay you something for your product.

These are particularly helpful if your printer is broken and would be difficult to sell online or in newspaper listings.

Whichever way you decide to sell, just make sure that you test the printer before giving it to the buyer and clearly set out any issues it may have before making a listing because you don’t want someone claiming that you have misled them in order to garner a sale.

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Buying a printer for business use

Buying a printer for business use

When thinking of buying a new printer for your business you’ll likely find yourself scratching your head, bamboozled by the plethora of options available.

There are a number of pertinent questions you must ponder because just going out and purchasing any printing device can soon come back to bite you on the proverbial backside.

One of the first things to ask yourself is if the business needs a multi-functional printer or a single-function one?

It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that you just need something which can fire out documents quickly when planning an office but if you are looking at buying things like fax machines, photocopiers and scanners, then why not get a business printer which does it all?

The advantage of having an all-in-one multi-functional printer other than cost is that it will save space.

Despite this, a single-function printer may still be your best bet because they can be set up specifically to handle a single task, meaning that they can work away without causing your staff to have to wait around just because Jeff wants to send a fax at the same time Susie wants to photocopy some files etc.


Single-function laser printers are also often faster than multi-function ones priced in the same or similar bracket

Do you need colour? That’s another thing to consider. While the obvious answer would be “yes”, if your primary function is printing out letters and basic filing documents then a colour printer may not be worth the expense.

If, on the other hand, you want to print out high-quality promotional leaflets and brochures then colour is a definite must.

What many large companies do is invest in colour printers in departments such as sales and marketing while just using black and white workhorse printers in departments where documents are kept simple in design such as administration.

The quality of print varies greatly from printer to printer and indeed manufacturer to manufacturer so it is important to do some research before committing to buy. For general office use you’ll probably be looking at how crisp the text appears but also consider how good a printer’s graphics are if you want to print marketing brochures and such like.

Speed is also important to consider. If you are only printing handfuls of documents each day (say less than 20 pages) then your printer will not need to be mega fast but if you are churning out letter after letter all day everyday then you’ll want something which handles tasks with the speed of a racing car.

Lastly, the biggest and usually most important thing to consider; cost.

It’s easy to look at the price tag of a printer and think you’ll save by buying the cheapest which fits your needs but that is rarely the case in real terms. While printers have wide ranging purchase costs, they also have wide ranging running costs.

David Stone from PCmag.com says the best way to work out cost efficiency is by multiplying “the cost per page by the number of pages you print per year, then multiply that by the number of years you expect to own the printer, and add the initial cost of the printer”.

Using this method it may well be the case that a slightly more expensive printer saves you money in the long run.

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Students – how to print on a budget

Students – how to print on a budget

Ah, the INKredible gang remember their student days quite well. Our house looked a little like the one occupied by The Young Ones! We did, however, have a very nice printer, you won't be surprised to hear.

Anyway...

Thing is, printing is likely to be crucial part of your university experience. The educational side of it, at any rate.

As you move through uni your work will take on an increasing importance – so it's only right you've got a proper printing set-up so you can get your assignments and dissertation in on time.

But we all know students aren't wandering around with lots of cash (especially when the new tuition fees kick in, yikes).

So how best to maximise your budget when printing at uni? Here's a few tips.

Buy a cheap but effective printer

While it may be tempting if you're short of cash to buy a mega-cheap printer, remember some cheap printers come with high running costs.

High running costs don't have to a problem if you print rarely but, as a student, you'll be doing a fair bit. The key, then, is to do a little research.

Just work out what you really need – why not go for a capable but basic model, that doesn't have loads of added extras?

One type of printer to really think about if you're on a budget is a laser printer. These can more expensive than inkjets, but tend to offer lower running costs over the long term.

Pool your resources

If you're living in halls or a shared house, think about pooling your resources together with your uni pals. You probably do this already with other stuff – food, for example, maybe energy, the internet. Why not do it with printing?

You could all club together and stick some cash in a pot to buy a printer you can all use. That'll save you plenty of cash. Similarly with ink and toner for the house, why not buy it in bulk and store it somewhere – a supply that should last you a while.

See what's on offer on campus

Most universities (well, all probably) will run dedicated printing suites where you can pop in anytime and print something off. If you're living close to campus, this is a really good idea as it will mean you don't have to buy a printer (just be prepared for a walk each time you need to print).

Universities usually offer printing cards which can be topped-up and often offer some initially free credit – typically a couple of quid. Still, every little helps.

And with the advent of things like Google Cloud Print, you might even be able to send your document to print from the comfort of your bed before strolling along to pick it up.

Use standard sizes and formats, use colour only when you need it

Basic stuff really – only use colour when you need it. If it's a draft document, why not print in draft mode and save yourself some ink?

Oh, and don't forget the power of duplex – both side – printing.

Looking to save a bit of cash on printing while at uni needn't take a lot of effort. You'll find you can easily save some money by doing simple things. That way, you'll have some much-needed cash to do what you want with – stick it in savings or pop for a pint down the uni bar.

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