Archive for December, 2011
Life moves fast and having portable equipment has become an absolute necessity. Do you recall the days of being confined by a cord plugged into the wall when using the phone? Remember sitting down at a desk with a computer monitor and tower to complete your assignments? The digital revolution has increased the pace of life, personal and work, so manufacturers are making equipment that can go on the move with us, and even scanners are going portable.
There are many types of scanners on the market, but many are designed exclusively for office use. Portable scanners come in various shapes and sizes, but are designed to allow you to scan a document when you are out and about. In comparison to scanners attached to all-in-one machines, such as the Brother MFC-9840, these devices are miniature. There are two primary styles of portable scanner: a machine scanner with a paper path and an internal scanning mechanism, and a wand or pen, which is simply waved over the document.
There are various shapes and sizes of this type of scanner. Some are just about as small as the wand scanner, while others have a little more bulk but still are considered mobile. The sheet-fed portable scanners actually have a paper path with an internal scanning mechanism that reads the text or image as the page is pulled through. These types of scanners operate in the same manner as standard sheet-fed scanners, they are just designed to be travel companions.
Portable flatbed scanners are also available for anyone looking to print photos or high-quality graphics while on the road. Older models were light enough to carry, but were not nearly as portable as they are now. Mobile flatbeds scanners are thin and sleek, combining a modern design with high-quality scanning.
Pen & Wand Scanners
When it comes to innovative technology trends, these devices are literally handheld scanners. Some of the smaller ones will be able to fit right into your pocket, while others can slide right into your purse or laptop case. Though primarily designed to scan text documents, some higher-end wand and pen scanners also have the ability to scan full color images.
Here is a quick video on how to use a wand scanner (pen scanners will have a very similar operation):
With so many options of portable scanners on the market, it is often hard to decide which one is the most ideal for you. The wand scanner will be the most convenient and easily mobile. The sheet-fed scanner will provide the speed often required in a business setting. The flatbed scanner will provide the exceptional quality and detail required for complex graphics and images.
If you have been comparing different printer models, you may have seen a reference to picoliters as a measurement of the size of droplets. In inkjet cartridges, a nozzle technology is used to dispense miniscule droplets of liquid ink on the paper that combine to make the images and text. In general, the smaller the drops are, the more accurate the final print will be. Much like pixels of a digital camera, the higher the number, the better the color quality will be. The size of the drops are closely related to printer resolution. For printing with ink, the resolution of prints is measured by DPI, or dots per inch. The size of inkjet droplets is measured in picoliters, a measurement so small it is unseen to most human beings. This microscopic dot of printer ink is typically written pL, but pl is also widely accepted.
A picoliter is a subdivision of a standard liter. It is essentially 1/trillionth of a liter, or 1 millionth of a million. If you were to think of a 1 liter bottle, and divide it into 1 million drops, then divide each of THOSE drops into 1 million drops, that is how small a picoliter is. An average raindrop would be equal to hundreds of thousands of picoliters.
As an example, the Epson Stylus NX420 has a droplet size of 3 picoliters, while the HP OfficeJet 4500 printer has a droplet size of only 1.3 picoliters. The second printer has smaller drops, and therefore can put twice as many drops into the same space occupied by one drop from the first, providing better control over colors.
The general idea for printer ink technology is that the smaller number of picoliters of ink transferred to the page in a single “dot”, the sharper the output and the more refined the colors will appear. This is generally true, but it is not the whole story. Factors like the quality of the original image, the actual DPI (dots per inch) setting and other factors can often have more of an impact on quality. There are also a few potential downsides. Smaller dots mean it often takes more dots to produce an image, which can mean slower printing speeds. Another potential issue is that print heads may be more prone to clog as they get smaller and smaller.
While understanding the concept of picoliters is useful, especially as they relate to print head technology, the truth is that most buyers should not concern themselves with this measurement when shopping for a printer. Other aspects such as speed, size, and resolution capabilities are going to be much more important for the average user.
Having backup toner cartridges is essential for offices that print high volumes on a regular basis. For users that do not print as much, ordering new cartridges when toner starts to run low may be sufficient. Since toner cartridges have a shelf life of around 2 years, it is important to manage your orders so that they don’t expire before you are able to use them. Buying in bulk can save money, but small offices could end up throwing away unused cartridges if they order too many.
When extra backup cartridges are needed, storing them properly will help prolong their shelf life and ensure that they are in good condition when they are needed. Here are a few guidelines to keep in mind:
Keep Cartridges in the Package
Keep toner cartridges in their original packaging until needed to protect them from acquiring any dust or other debris that could be lingering in the office. If the cartridge is exposed to the elements, it could get clogged or damaged enough to diminish the quality of prints. Some users might consider unwrapping packages ahead of time to make them quicker and easier to install, but this is not a good idea.
Keep Cartridges Out of the Sun
Excessive sun exposure can damage and potentially ruin a toner cartridge. It could melt the plastic or contaminate the toner. Store cartridges away from windows, where they will encounter direct sunlight, and keep them in the package for added protection. An open cartridge is particularly sensitive to light, as the drum can be damaged by prolonged exposure. Install the cartridge shortly after opening it to avoid this issue.
Keep Cartridges Dry
Toner cartridges exposed to water will likely be damaged, so keep them away from water coolers and other sources of liquids. Cartridges that are still in their packaging can be stored in humidity up to about 85%, but avoid keeping them in locations with higher humidity.
Keep Cartridges at Room Temperature or Below
Cartridges can be stored in temperatures of up to 95 degrees Fahrenheit and down to around 35 degrees. For best results, however, they should be stored at room temperature of 68 to 78 degrees. Some believe that the toner powder is likely to melt at higher room temperatures, due to the way the toner is melted by the fuser in the printer. The fuser temperature is generally more than 200 degrees, though, so it is unlikely that an office will reach this temperature without a few complaints from the workers!
The best strategy for maintaining your toner cartridges is to order replacements at such a rate that they will be used before they expire. By following the guidelines above, however, you should ensure that your cartridges will have a shelf life of at least 2 years, and be in great shape when you need them. Now that you have a grasp on how to store your cartridges properly, see our tips on Preventative Paper Care to make sure you are storing your paper supply correctly as well.
When photographers and designers speak of bit depth (also referred to as color depth) of an image it is usually in reference to a scanner or a digital camera. The bit depth can be described in the most basic terms as the number of colors that can be captured into a digital image. Let us look at some of the core concepts involved.
What is Bit Depth?
Bit depth is a basic system that defines the extent of color tones that can be reached by a printer. This is measured in bits. A single bit can best described as sort of an ON/OFF switch. As the amount of bits increase, the clarity of prints increase as well. A standard computer screen offers a total of 24 bits while early computing systems only featured 16 or fewer bits.
Only two colors can be achieved by a printer that uses only 1 bit. An older black and white printer could either use black or white, but did not have any shades of gray. When 8-bit color came along it could display 256 different colors to create an image, 16-bit color can display 65,536 colors and was the standard for many years for display monitors. Color images require more bits to accurately “describe” the color for a display or a printer. For example, the “True Color” 24-bit depth used by many modern operating systems 256 shades of blue, red and green, creating 16,777,216 internal color variations. With this amount of color tones available, photographs and graphics will be vivid and nearly an exact match to an original image with smoother gradients and transitions between colors. True Color is so named because it can display so many colors it provides a true representation of the original subject for the human eye. Higher bit depths such as 36 and 48-bit are now available, providing even more accurate color rendering.
Do I Need High Bit Depths?
While higher bit depths for images have their advantages, the disadvantage is in larger file sizes. This can take up more space on a digital camera or hard drive, and cause slower loading and editing times when handling digital photos. Since printers often can’t accurately transfer the same number of colors to the page, this can seem like a waste of time and space. There are still good reasons to choose higher depths, however, especially for photos. When editing a photo, the higher the bit depth, the more you have to work with when doing color correction, adding filters, and more. Once you reduce the bit depth, you can never get that information back.
Choose the Best Depth for Your Task
The best method for balancing the advantages and disadvantages of bit depth is to choose the one that fits your task. When scanning text documents, for example, choose a grayscale or black and white mode, which reduces the bit depth, and therefore the size of the file. Scanning in full-color when a document is only monochrome is simply using unnecessary bits. When scanning a full-color photo, choose the 24-bit setting or higher (sometimes called “photo mode”) to make sure it displays well on your monitor and in prints. These settings often also modify the printer resolution, which will be important when printing later. Giving the printer a lot of detail to work with means it can make a better conversion to the page, but bit depths higher than 24-bit won’t likely produce noticeable improvement. A printer uses toner and ink in a CMYK configuration that is different than the RGB system of most displays, so this conversion is important.
By understanding bit depths and the effect they have on your media, you can make a more informed choose when working with photos and documents. Using the right depth at the right time can save time and storage space, and produce the best quality output.
Lexmark printers display error codes to alert users of a problem. While some of these codes are quite serious, and may require a professional repair, others are very simple and can be resolved quickly by the user. Here are some of the most harmless error codes you are likely to encounter, with some quick fixes to get you up and running in a flash.
Error 22 or 23: Paper Jam or Out of Paper
Depending on the model, this error code can mean that the unit is out of paper, or that it has a paper jam. Try unloading the input paper tray and carefully reloading the paper to make sure it is being detected properly.
If you suspect you have a paper jam, see the video below for specific instructions related to Lexmark models, or visit our page on How to Clear Paper Jams. Either way, make sure to check for any debris that may be blocking the sensors, as this can also trigger an error message.
Error 27: Change Paper or Change Envelopes
This error has to do with the type of media the computer and printer are expecting. If the computer is set to print an envelope, but plain paper is loaded, you may see this error. Change the settings in the printer software to match the type of media that is loaded, or change the media to match the settings, then try printing again.
Error 32: Incorrect Cartridge Installed
If this error occurs, it could be that a cartridge is installed in the wrong slot, or is not being recognized properly. Re-insert the cartridges, making sure they are seated properly. You can also try a cold start to try to get the printer to recognize the cartridges. If the error persists, your cartridges may be incompatible or defective.
Error 88: Toner Low
When the printer displays this error, it is likely that the toner cartridge is low, but you may be able to coax a bit more life out of it. Remove the toner cartridge, shake it slightly to redistribute the toner, then re-install it. If the error persists, you may need to replace it with a new cartridge.
One Last Step…
If any of these errors still persist, you may want to try powering down both the computer and the printer, then unplug the printer for several minutes. Power up both devices, and you may find that the error message has been reset.
Not every error message requires a complicated fix. With most of the error messages on this page, you can be back up and running in just a few minutes. If you are still receiving errors, it may be best to visit Lexmark’s support page for more help.
The reason people frequently ask about changing Brother toner cartridges is because this brand of printer is unique in the way it is set up inside. Standard laser printers have a panel to open that leads directly to the cartridge, which can simply be pulled out of the printer and a new cartridge can easily be installed. What makes Brother printers different is that the drum unit and the cartridge are together in one assembly rather than two separate units like in most laser printers.
For consumers who have owned HP or Lexmark printers in the past, it can be confusing at first glance of a Brother cartridge that snaps into the drum assembly rather than a slot in the machine. Once it is explained that the drum and cartridge fit together in the assembly, the replacement process is pretty easy. Use these simple steps to replace your Brother toner cartridge.
- Be sure the machine is completely off.
- The assembly has a handle that should be visible as soon as the front panel is opened, pull on it and the assembly should pull right out.
- Be sure to lay down something to protect the floor from potential toner leaking. Be careful to not touch the drum as it is sensitive.
- There will be a small lever that needs to be pushed to separate the cartridge from the drum.
- Put the new cartridge in the open slot, but be sure all shipping seals and packaging have been removed.
- The cartridge will snap into the assembly and the assembly will snap into the unit (be sure you listen for the ‘click’).
- Close the panel and turn the machine on, it should automatically read the new cartridge and resume printing immediately.
If there is still some confusion as to the proper way to replace a Brother toner cartridge, watch the video below for a better understanding.
Have you noticed lately that your scanned files are suffering in quality? Are there black or faded lines running down the length of the document, making it difficult to read and even more difficult to pass off as professional? Chances are, if you give the scanning surface a cleaning, the quality issue may disappear.
Particles of dust get on the scanning surface and stick, sometimes even causing scratches if not cleaned. The dust is what causes the lines on the page, as the lens cannot read through it. This can happen with both flatbed and sheet-fed scanners. To clean it, find a soft cloth that is lint-free and glass cleaner that does not streak. Unplug the scanner first and then open the lid to access the scanning surface. Do not spray the glass cleaner directly on the machine, rather spray it on the cloth and softly wipe the surface down.
On sheet-fed scanners, you will need to open the front panel and wipe the glass surface that houses the scanner. Keep in mind that duplex scanners may have a surface on either side. Flatbed scanners have a large glass surface that will need to be wiped down, but if an automatic document feeder is present, there may also be a surface that holds a stationery lens. Be sure to clean all surfaces.
The culprit is not always dust, sometimes chunks of paper or pieces of tape can come off and get stuck on a roller. This is only applicable for sheet-fed scanners, though, as flatbed scanners do not use rollers. If wiping the surface doesn’t fix the issue, open the panel that houses the rollers and see if there is any obstruction. If so, remove it. If not, you may want to contact the manufacturer for more troubleshooting ideas.
Just remember, a regular wipe down of the scanning surface can often prevent quality issues. This is true for any kind of scanner – whether it is a single-purpose or an all-in-one device like the HP PhotoSmart Premium C310A. If you wait until the issue arises, a piece of dust may become a permanent scratch.
The very first commercial laser printer was the IBM 3800, released in 1976. This innovative machine took up a large part of a room, but would pave the way for future laser printers that would change the business world by putting printing directly in the hands of office users. In 1986, the toner cartridge remanufacturing industry was introduced to the world and would quickly become a friend to those on a budget. Remanufactured cartridges not only save consumers money, but also help to preserve the environment by eliminating the amount of cartridges in landfills.
Inkjet cartridges contain liquid ink whereas toner cartridges hold a powder that is generally a mixture of carbon and polymer. Older monochromatic models used only black toner, and many monochrome laser printers still do today. Today, color laser printers use the CMYK format, which includes four toner cartridges, each containing a separate color of cyan, magenta, yellow and black and can be blended to create a wide color palette.
Here are a few quick facts about toner cartridges:
- Approximately 300 million cartridges are thrown away every year.
- One cartridge is thrown away every 8 seconds in the United States.
- 20 to 30% of cartridges sold are remanufactured.
- Remanufactured cartridges can often cost less than half the price of OEM cartridges.
- A print cartridge could spend up to 1,000 years in a landfill before it completely biodegrades.
- Lining up one year’s worth of discarded cartridges from end to end could circle the entire earth.
As you can see, it is very important to recycle your toner cartridges. You can even go a step further to reduce your office’s carbon footprint, however, and purchase remanufactured cartridges. These cartridges are less expensive, and are made from recycled cartridges so that less waste is created by the manufacturing process as well.