Your Next Printer: Inkjet, Laser, or All-In-One?
When shopping for a new printer, should you look for an inkjet or a laser? How about a plain old printer versus an all-in-one (AIO) printer, scanner, copier, and fax? The inkjet vs. laser choice depends on what you print and how often you print it. Here's a look at the tradeoffs, and factors to consider when buying a printer...
Which Printer is Best For You?
So you're in the market for a new printer. Here are some tips to help you decide. An all-in-one printer seems to be the de facto standard for all but the tightest budgets these days. But it's not the right choice for every one.
Laser technology is ideal for black text or graphics. It uses heat to fuse tiny dots of black toner to paper, creating a crisp and fade-resistant image of an all-black document or greyscale picture. There’s no “bleeding” as there can be with ink. High-volume print jobs are handled better by laser printers. Laser technology is inherently faster than inkjet, and a laser toner cartridge prints ten times more pages than an inkjet cartridge.
If you print a lot, if speed is important to you, and you don't need color capability, a monochrome laser printer may be your best choice. Color lasers are an option, but tend to be rather pricey. (More on cost considerations later.)
On the other hand, some bleeding is desirable when printing high-quality color images, like family photos. In nature, liquids blend together to form new colors; they do not just trick the eye by juxtapositioning dots of primary colors, as color laser printers do. Inkjet printers also lay down primary colors only, but they bleed and blend just enough to produce more natural-looking colors. Glossy photo paper is designed for ink; color laser prints don’t look as good as inkjet even on the expensive, glossy paper.
That brings us to cost, both upfront and over the printer’s entire lifecycle. A low-end inkjet printer may cost under $30; an entry-level monochrome laser printer costs $50. Consumer-grade color laser printers run between $150 and $300; the fastest inkjet printers are in the $100 to $250 range. As you can see, the difference in upfront cost is not that great, but it’s easily made up in the long-term costs of supplies and maintenance.
Don’t Forget To Factor in Supply Costs
An HP-branded black inkjet cartridge for an OfficeJet Pro 8610 costs $40 and yields about 2300 printed pages (about 1.7 cents/page). The color cartridges cost $30 each and yield 1500 pages (2 cents/page). But this $25 laser cartridge for the Canon MF236n laser prints 2,400 typical pages (less than 1 cent/page). SO over tie, your cost for inkjet printing will about twice as much as laser.
The price gap between toner and ink narrows when you look at remanufactured cartridges, which can cost 25% to 70% less than OEM cartridges. It’s hard to compare cost-per-page in the remanufactured market because prices vary a lot from one recycler to another, and so does the amount of ink or toner supplied. See my article The Truth About Discount Ink Cartridges for my recommendations on suppliers for discount ink cartridges. And whether you go with laser or inkjet, always look for high capacity cartridges available because that will drive cost per page even lower.
Some printer vendors unfairly try to prevent you from buying third-party or refilled inkjet cartridges. In my article HP Playing Dirty Tricks? I tell the story of my HP printer suddenly telling me that all of my inkjet cartridges appeared to be "damaged," and how I found a solution.
So to summarize the laser vs. inkjet decision:
- Fast printing of black text and greyscale images: go monochrome laser
- Lots of black and occasional, mid-quality color: go color laser
- Low volume printing, upfront cost a major factor: go inkjet
- Printing color documents or high-quality photos: go inkjet
A few caveats, though... If you live in a very dry area, or you print only on rare occasions, an inkjet may not be a good choice. Ink can dry up in dry, hot climates, and print heads may clog if the printer is not used on a regular basis. Laser toner is powder, so it fares well in a dry place. But in high humidity, pages printed on a laser can stick together. If you manage temperature and humidity in your home or office, these problems will most likely not be an issue.
So what about a single-function printer version an all-in-one? As I said, the decision to buy an all-in-one version of a given printer model is really a no-brainer. Who wants to run to the office store to scan a document, make a few photocopies or send a fax? The price difference is minor, and the joy of digitizing all your paper clutter is immense. You’ll save money by not buying filing cabinets, folders, labels, and hours of time as well.
Your thoughts on this topic are welcome. Post your comment or question below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 21 Nov 2016
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Your Next Printer: Inkjet, Laser, or All-In-One? (Posted: 21 Nov 2016)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved