HP Officejet Pro X576dwWhen you’re in need of a printer, you generally need one now. Right away. You have something that cannot be sent electronically, and your reliable old Brother inkjet has spit its last bit of cyan. A shudder and a gasp, then the paper fails to leave the tray. So you rush out to buy.

But wait! There are a few questions to ask before you make your commitment. A friend of ours bought a beautiful truck once. He could pull his houseboat, load it full of mulch, and navigate small rivers. It also, unfortunately, got 6 miles to the gallon and wouldn’t fit in his garage. Don’t make these mistakes with your printer choice.

First question: Will it work with your operating system? Most printers come with a software package that will allow it to adapt to various platforms. Got a Mac? No problem. PC person? No sweat. But some printers are picky. Lexmark printers, for example, don’t like Linux.

What are you printing? Will you require photo-quality printing or will a simple black and white printer do it for you? We’ve fortunately moved away from the dot-matrix system, but a simple single color printer may meet your needs.

What do you want your printer to do? Are you simply printing out monthly spreadsheets or do you need an all-in-one? As costs have dropped, it’s reasonable to get a printer that also works as a fax machine, copier, scanner, and coffee fetcher.

We’re just kidding about that last one, but we also sell coffee systems.

Lastly, how much are you willing to part with? You can buy a basic printer for well under $100, and a top-of-the-line screamer could run you several hundred. One printer that we’re fond of is the HP Officejet Pro X576dw. It does everything but the coffee bit – print, copy, scan, fax. It has simple touchscreen controls, and pushes up to 70 pages per minute. It works readily with both Windows and Mac platforms, and you can even set up wireless printing. This beauty is an HP screamer, and not their cheapest model, but no worries. We have a $200 rebate running through the end of March, 2015.

The money you save will allow you to pick up a Keurig.