Printer Basics

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It is a peripheral which produces a text and/or graphics stored in electronic form, on physical media like paper or transparencies. Printers are often designed to support both local and network connected users at the same time. Usually used as local peripheral, and are attached by a printer cable or a USB cable. Network printers, have built-in network interfaces (wireless or wired) and serve users on the network. They can also interface with memory cards, or digital cameras, scanners and some printers are combined with a scanners or fax machines in a single unit called as multifunction printers (MFP) or multi-function devices (MFD), or all-in-one (AIO) printers. Most MFPs include printing, scanning, and copying. Few printer terms are explained

Printer driver: It is software that converts the data to print to form specific to a printer. It allows applications to do printing without being aware of the technical details of each printer model.

LPT (Line Printer Terminal) Port: Term that describes parallel printer ports on a computer.

Portrait or Landscape: The vertical or horizontal orientation of printing on a piece of paper.

Duplexing: The ability to print on both sides of a page.

PCL: Hewlett-Packard’s printer-control language for printers.

PostScript: A method of describing the contents of a page as scalable elements and is a page-description language (PDL). The printer is sent a plain ASCII file containing the PostScript program; the PostScript interpreter in the printer makes the conversion.

Font: A collection of characters and numbers in a given size, usually expressed in style name and size, and expressed in points (pts.)—for example, Times Roman 10 pt. bold (One point equals 1/72 inch.) is a font.

Virtual printer: It is software which resemble a printer driver, but which is not connected with a printer. Most PDF generating software are virtual printers for eg. PDF creator, Adobe acrobat, etc.

Print buffer – It is memory (512KB to 16MB) used to store print jobs as they are received from PC and allows several jobs to be handled at once.

Print spooling: It is acronym for simultaneous peripheral operations on-line and refers to putting jobs in a buffer (a special area in memory or on a disk) where printer can access them when it is ready. Spooling a number of print jobs can be placed on a queue instead of waiting for each one to finish before specifying the next one.

DPI: It is abbreviation for dots per inch, which means the maximum dots a printer can print per inch. The more dots per inch, the higher the resolution. Resolution for laser printers is 600 to 1,800 DPI, for dot matrix printer is 60 to 90 DPI and for an inkjet printer is of 300-600 DPI. 600 dpi means 600 dots across and 600 dots down, or 360,000 dots per square inch.

Duty Cycle: This is the number of sheets of paper the printer is rated to print per month. It is based on a plain-text page with five percent coverage and does not include graphics.

Print Speed: It is given in pages printed per minute, where the page consists of plain text with five percent of the printable page covered in ink or toner.

Paper capacity: The number and types of paper trays available, the number of pages that can be placed in them, and the sizes of pages that can be printed.

Printer memory: Laser printers that print complex graphics and full-color images require larger amounts of memory. In many cases, this memory can be added as an option.

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