If you are planning to add a printer to your home or office, you have quite a few options to consider. Printers haven't undergone significant transformation in the recent past. You will still be looking at laser vs. inkjet printers, monochrome vs. color printers, and multifunction vs. print-only devices.
That said, printers have become reliable and affordable over the recent past, that it’s possible to get a good quality printer in your home at a reasonable price.
LASER VS. INKJET PRINTERS
Most printers in the market use either inkjet or laser technology. Because of this difference in technology, there’s significant variation in the quality of work, page yield, price, and durability. Let’s dig deeper, shall we?
Laser printers utilize static electricity to melt powder onto paper and create letters and images. They are the most durable and economical printers in the market.
Inside the devices, a rolling drum attracts and fuses toner powder into paper using static electricity. The static electricity is generated using lasers.
Toner cartridges are more costly than ink cartridges. But they can print thousands of pages before running out. Therefore, in the long run, laser printers are more economical.
Additionally, toner cartridges contain powder instead of liquid ink; expect no smudging or clogged cartridges due to dried ink, as is the case with inkjets.
The inkjet printers' mechanism is that of spraying tiny ink droplets onto paper via micro-nozzles to create letters and images. Inkjet printers are generally smaller and less expensive upfront compared to laser printers.
The cartridges in inkjet printers contain liquid ink that is sprayed via microscopic nozzles in the printer. You can combine different inks to achieve high-quality images with vivid details and a desirable tonal range.
For solutions to common ink issues, take a look at our FAQ.
Because liquid ink tends to dry up quickly, inkjet printers are convenient for low volume printing. This makes inkjet printers the typical choice for home use, while laser printers are for factory use.
However, a laser printer can still be used at home. In fact, in the long run, it is a more cost-effective choice.
For solutions to common toner issues, take a look at our FAQ.
Ultimately, the choice between an inkjet and a laser printer depends on the following.
The cost of the machine
The prices of different printer models vary from brand to brand. Printers that come with lots of vital features cost more. Generally, inkjet printers cost less upfront. Inkjet technology is simple and less costly.
Also, manufacturers sell these printers at a loss knowing they can recoup the money by selling ink cartridges at high prices. You can find a cheap inkjet printer for as low as $29. But be prepared to spend more on ink.
Take HP DeskJet 2755 All-in-One Printer for example. The retail value is $69.99, assuming the shipping is free. But if you take a look at the cartridges, the original Tri-color pack is $48.19, more than half of what the printer costs.
According to HP, the original 67 black cartridges are estimated to last you ~240 black and white pages while the color ones last you ~200 pages color pages.
You can also choose to use compatible ink/toner cartridges to save money on printer supplies. Jarbo offers a range of compatible printer ink/toner cartridges for HP, Canon, Epson, Brother, and Samsung printers.
On the other hand, the cheapest laser printer can start somewhere around $60 while the most expensive costs upwards of $200. Despite this high initial cost, laser printers are more economical in the long run. They are more durable, and the cartridge toner can print thousands of pages before running out.
Brother HL-L2300D Monochrome Laser Printer on Amazon is currently selling at the price of $99.99. It's out of stock at the moment, though. The original black toner replacement is $39.98, with a page yield up to 1,200 pages.
What are you going to print?
Inkjet printers are the best if you are into a lot of photography. Sure, there are color laser printers for use in printing images, but they don't produce as high-quality images as inkjet printers. For high-quality images, use inkjet; for medium quality, images use laser printers.
Inkjet printers are engineered to produce vivid details with desirable tonal range and deeper blacks. They use either dye-based or pigment-based ink. Pigment-based ink doesn't fade quickly. It works on different paper types and sizes.
If you are going to do a lot of text-based printing, a monochrome laser printer is the best option. A monochrome print is a black and white print. You'll need a black printer cartridge only.
How often do you print?
An inkjet printer is the best choice if you don't expect to print often. It is small and inexpensive. However, the common issue with inkjet printers is clogging due to dried ink. This happens if you don't use the printer often.
A laser printer, on the other hand, doesn't have dry ink issues. Therefore, if you have the money, go for low-priced laser printers instead. The toner cartridge can print thousands of papers without drying up. But watch out for inferior cheap laser printers; this can be a pain.
What is your desired print volume?
How many pages do you want to print at a given time? If you are looking to print a lot of documents, go with the laser printer. The toner cartridge can work through thousands of pages faster before running out. On the other hand, an inkjet printer comes with the nuisance of having to switch out old cartridges for new ones or replace ink every few sessions.
For example, an HP LaserJet Pro M401n prints 35 pages per minute and a max of 3000 pages per month. On the other hand, a Canon PIXMA TS6220 inkjet only handles 15 pages per minute and a maximum of 500 per month.
You can use the recommended monthly printer volume and the maximum monthly duty cycle to compare different printers.
What is the difference?
The maximum monthly duty cycle is the volume a printer can handle in a month without going bad. Printing at this level can damage your printer faster than expected.
On the other hand, the recommended monthly print volume is the amount of monthly printing needed to keep a printer functioning optimally. Always try to meet this level if you want to get some pretty good years of service out of your printer.
What is your desired print speed?
If you want to print faster, a laser printer is the best choice. Laser printers are designed to cater to the demands of busy large offices. They can print 15-100 pages in a minute.
On the other hand, inkjet printers are slower, only printing a maximum of 16 pages per minute. That said, laser printers require a bit of warm-up time before printing starts. On the other hand, once you fire up an inkjet printer, you can begin printing straight away.
How big is your printing budget?
If you have a low printing budget, go with a laser printer. As mentioned earlier, laser printers have a low printing cost per page and a longer lifespan than inkjet printers.
You can calculate the cost per page of a specific printer by diving the cartridge price by the cartridge page yield. The cartridge page yield is the number of pages a cartridge can print before running out.
A toner cartridge can print thousands of pages, while an ink cartridge runs out just after a few hundred pages, then you need to replace the ink. And the cost of ink cartridges isn't cheap.
Liquid ink ranks among the priciest inks in the world. This may not be a problem if you have a substantial amount of money to spend on printing or you’ve got a low volume of documents. But if you don't have a huge budget or have more work to print, you will be better off with a laser printer because you can print thousands of pages before the cartridge runs out.
Where do you plan to keep the printer?
Sometimes it can boil down to space. Laser and inkjet printers vary in design and size. Generally, inkjet printers tend to be smaller compared to laser printers. This is because there’s been a significant advancement in inkjet miniaturization over the past few years. You can find inkjet printers with print heads integrated into the cartridges making the devices small and portable.
On the other hand, laser printers are bigger to accommodate the rolling drum, thermal element, and laser module. Multifunction laser printers are even bigger compared to ordinary laser printers.
If you have a limited shelf or desk space, you may have to go with an inkjet model.
That said, here is a summary of the pros and cons of inkjet and laser printers.
|have a low initial cost||ink dries and clogs up|
|work with different paper types||ink tends to smudge|
|Don't need warm-up time||slow, only print up to 16 pages/minute|
|refillable and reusable||only print a few hundred pages|
|can fit into small spaces||more expensive in the long run|
|fast, up to 100 pages per minute||require warm-up time|
|produce sharp black text||High upfront cost|
|cheaper in the long run||don't work with heat-sensitive papers|
|don't need warm-up time||large and bulky|
|print thousands of pages||don't produce high-quality images|
Generally, deciding between an inkjet and a laser printer comes down to the type and amount of work and sometimes the space available for the machine.
For small workloads involving a lot of images, get a lightweight, cheap inkjet printer. But for huge, text-heavy documents, you'll benefit from the efficiency of laser printers.
What jobs do you do, and which printers do you use? Feel free to share your experience in the comments section. Looking forward to your comments!