A printer is a peripheral device that is used to prints symbols, characters as well as graphics on paper. The output in this form is referred to as hardcopy as they are in a permanent form that can be stored for future reference. On the contrary, the computer copy from which the hardcopy is printed is called softcopy.
It can also be stored for future reference but its limitation is that it 24 hour printing can be accessed only from a computer or a laptop. Depending on the printing mechanism, printers can be classified as impact and non impact. The impact model mechanism has physical contact with the paper whereas the non impact ones do not have any contact with the paper.
The impact models are gradually becoming obsolete and are being replaced by the non impact laser printers. They use a hammer or a wheel against a special inked ribbon thereby leaving a permanent impression on the paper. The commonest of models that you might still find in certain places are the dot matrix printers.
Their speed is in the range of around 40 to 300 characters p/sec and is also capable of printing graphic elements but the quality of reproduction is rather poor. The color ribbons have limited varieties. Furthermore, these models are on the cheaper side and capable of creating multiple copies of a page at the same time but they are a bit noisy which might not always be pleasant to the ears. Plus, for fast printing of good quality, one needs something more advanced.
The non impact printers are nowadays widely used everywhere as they are capable of fast printing and at the same time offer better quality and performance. The mechanism is purely non touch and the impressions are marked on the paper either electromechanically or optically depending on the type of model.
Some of the common types include ink jet and laser printers. As they come with better features, the price is relatively higher but its utilities and performance makes it a worthy investment.