Archive for December, 2011

Portable Scanners

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.

Machine Scanners

Sheet-fed Portable ScannerThere 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. Continue reading “Portable Scanners” »

What are Picoliters?

PicoliterIf 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. Continue reading “What are Picoliters?” »

Guidelines for Toner Cartridge Storage

Storing Toner CartridgesHaving 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: Continue reading “Guidelines for Toner Cartridge Storage” »

Understanding Color Depth or Bit Depth

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. Continue reading “Understanding Color Depth or Bit Depth” »

Simple Fixes for Lexmark Error Codes

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. Continue reading “Simple Fixes for Lexmark Error Codes” »

Brother Toner too Small?

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.

  1. Be sure the machine is completely off.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. There will be a small lever that needs to be pushed to separate the cartridge from the drum.
  5. Put the new cartridge in the open slot, but be sure all shipping seals and packaging have been removed.
  6. The cartridge will snap into the assembly and the assembly will snap into the unit (be sure you listen for the ‘click’).
  7. 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.

Cleaning Your Scanner

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.

Clean ScannerParticles 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. Continue reading “Cleaning Your Scanner” »

Toner Cartridge Facts

IBM 3800 Printer

The IBM 3800 laser printer was a behemoth by today’s standards.

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. Continue reading “Toner Cartridge Facts” »