Buying a colour printer is made exceptionally difficult because of the sheer number of options. You can't walk into a computer hardware store without passing at least half a dozen printers emblazoned with a 'Sale!' sticker -- and that's just the budget models.
When choosing the right printer, there are several things to look for, but it's important to remember that most modern printers can produce prints that rival those from a dedicated photo lab -- to the untrained eye at least. In most cases you'll be more than happy with your prints -- particularly if you use glossy photo paper.
If you're really worried about print quality you should look for printers with as high a resolution as possible, and with as many unique print cartridges as possible. A printer that uses six unique inks (cyan, magenta, yellow, light cyan, light magenta and black) will produce far better colour photos than a printer that uses four colour inks (cyan, magenta, yellow and black).
Another crucial area to consider is the running cost of the printer. The device itself may only set you back £30-£40, but printer ink is more expensive than champagne by volume, so you could rack up a hefty bill if you're a heavy user. Calculate your printer's cost per page by checking the page capacity of each cartridge against its price. Also watch out for 'starter' cartridges, which tend to have less ink and so offer lower print yields than standard cartridges -- they'll have you running to the ink supply shop in no time at all.p>Print speeds are often bandied about as a major selling point of printers, but for the most part print speeds (quoted in pages per minute or ppm) are inflated. If, for example, a printer has a quoted print speed of 17ppm, it's often the case that the printer can only spool (or eject pages from the paper tray) at 17ppm -- not actually print on them. Regardless, it'll usually take you as long as five to ten minutes to print a single A4 photograph.
Watch out for device compatibility. Most printers will connect to your PC via a USB port (you'll need to buy a USB cable if you don't already have one), but some printers also let you print from a mobile phone via Bluetooth, or directly from a digital camera (using a USB cable) using the Pictbridge standard.