Although you may have dreamed about a paperless office at one time or another, chances are you use your share of the white stuff. U.S. businesses consume about four million tons of copy paper every year. Creating all those reports, memos and spreadsheets takes paper and plenty of ink, too. If you've ever had to make a formal presentation, you probably know that powering up the presses means turning on your trusty printer and loading your spreadsheet or graphics handling software [source: EPA].
Printers for the home office come in three main types: inkjets, laser printers and all-in-ones. Printer costs have been coming down steadily for the last decade in all categories, but there are some tradeoffs you need to consider when buying and using a printer.
Inkjets are usually the least expensive printers to buy but one of the most expensive to use. That's because ink cartridges are so pricey.
Laser printers, on the other hand, can be inexpensive to use, but cost a lot to buy.
The third printer variety is affectionately called an all-in-one, or sometimes a four-in-one. This is an ingenious printer and scanner combination. It also has onboard controls that allow you to use it without the computer, like a copy machine. Most all-in-ones also have faxing capability.
Coming up, let's take a look at the big kahuna of the home office: the computer.