If you're in the market for a new laminator for your home, school, or business, you'll want to do some research to make sure you are getting the most bang for your buck. The key here is knowing what you need to laminate, and which machine will meet your needs. After all, you don't want to end up with a high-end laminator that can handle giant sheets of paper if all you need is to laminate a few business cards or ID badges.
So, first of all, who sells laminators? Right away, you're probably thinking of several different office supply or electronics stores, and the odds are that any one you thought of will sell this product. Let's hit the big ones and see what they each have to offer. All it takes is a quick Internet search of each store's website, which will tell you what you need to know.
Generally speaking, the more expensive the machines are, the more likely they are to be targeting businesses or schools, as those locations will get the most use out of the higher-end machines. For your own home, or crafts and scrapbooking purposes, you should be able to try the less expensive machines, particularly if they offer versatility like the ability to laminate with hot and cold settings.
Best Buy. In the "labelers and laminators" section of this store's website, there are only three options for laminators. The least expensive laminating machine at this store is $69.99, and is about as basic as it gets, and the most expensive is $129.99. All three are from the "Royal" brand, and are obviously targeted to the home consumer, and are not really for business or school use.
Office Depot. For your school or business needs that require you to laminate larger documents, Office Depot has the Quartet Ultima 65, which will run you $2362.13. But for that price, you get a machine that runs with both hot and cold settings, and room for a document up to 27" wide. Office Depot's least expensive laminator, the GBC HeatSeal H110, is $85.64, and offers a cold setting. The only laminators under $300 are from the GBC brand, with each one giving you more versatile settings. Of the nine laminating machines offered at Office Depot, only three are under $200.
Office Max. This store seems to have a decent selection of laminators, ranging in price from $29.99 to $1999.99. The normal person who needs a laminator at home will obviously not need the most expensive machine, but it may be something a business with extreme laminating needs would look into. At that price, you get a machine that automatically laminates and trims up to 25 sheets that you feed it. Several other choices allow for cold laminating, including one from Scotch that also claims to be "non-electric." This store offers many options in the under $200 price range, some of which use only heat, and some that are "cold seal" laminators. The least expensive is a Scotch Thermal Laminator (model TL901SC), which is $29.99 and also boasts a 4.4 out of 5 stars rating from 44 reviewers.
Radio Shack. Radio Shack offers only two options for laminators, both from Fellowes, and both offered only on the web. The less expensive, at $89.99, claims to be designed for "occasional home or office use," while the one listed for $199.99 can handle "moderate office use."
Staples. Searching "laminator" on the Staples website yields many results, most of which are for the supplies you will need for the machines, such as pouches, sheets, and cartridges. Staples has several machines from the Fellowes brand, ranging in price from $89.99 to $549.99. Many of the machines allow for laminating with hot and cold settings. There is also a machine sold under the Staples brand name, for $99.99, and it does have the ability to laminate with hot and cold settings.
For a broader range of brand names, such as Apache, Purple Cows, Acco, or more Scotch/3M and Fellowes, it's probably best to go straight to the manufacturers' websites, or look at an online retailer like Amazon.