Printers are used to put text and graphics on all types of media, including paper, transparencies, fabric, or film. Printers are categorized in a number of ways, such as the means by which data is printed (character, line, or page), how characters are printed (dot-matrix characters or fully formed characters), and, most commonly, how text and graphics are transferred to the paper or other printing medium (impact printer or non-impact printer). Impact printers (such as dot-matrix and daisy wheel) actually strike the paper. Non-impact printers (which include laser, ink-jet, and thermal printers) use other technology (such as a laser) for placing text and graphics on the paper.
Character printers, which generally cannot print graphics, print one complete character at a time. A daisy wheel printer is an example of a character printer and works much like a typewriter.
Line printers are high-speed print devices that print one line of type at a time. Line printers usually print on 11-by-17-inch paper.
Page printers, such as laser printers, print an entire page at once. Page printers require more memory than character or line printers because they store each page in memory before printing it.
For a comprehensive list of hardware supported by Windows operating systems, see Compatible Hardware and Software in Help and Support Center.
For information about adding a printer, click Related Topics.