Choosing the right printer can be a daunting task. There are several different types of printing technology to choose from, each suited for different needs. The many specifications for resolution and speed can be misleading. As a rule of thumb, inkjet printers are a must for long-lasting photos, while laser printers are best to produce speedy text documents.
In our printer buyer’s guide we intend to give you an extra bit of knowledge that can help you make the right choice.
Inkjet or laser printer?
There are two main technologies for computer printers; the inkjet and the laser. The inkjet printer sprays ink onto paper via a series of nozzles, while the laser printer uses a laser light to “write” images on a rotating drum, which is then rolled through a layer of toner before it comes into contact with the paper.
The choice in general, will come down to the quantity and type of work that you want to do – and obviously the price of the equipment.
The price of a colour inkjet printer starts from £37 at entry level to around £650 for the very best. The cost of producing an A4 text page is around 8p and with full colour A4 photograph is between 30p and 50p dependent on the inkjet printer.
The price of a laser printer starts at around £73 for a monochrome (black and white) laser printer and between £118 up to £5050 for a colour laser printer. The cost of producing an A4 text page is around 1p with a combined colour graphics and text page at around 2p.
As you can see, the difference in purchase price is offset by the cost of each print – with the laser printer producing an A4 page at up to a tenth of the cost of an inkjet print.
Laser printers therefore are much cheaper to run than an inkjet printer and will excel at the printing of text and solid colour graphics. However, the laser printers in the scope of this post can not output a photo realistic print to the same quality as an inkjet printer.
Inkjet printers are more expensive to run than a laser printer, but they produce high quality prints of all types. They can also be found in this price range with the ability to print on CD’s and DVD’s, to be networked to other computers, and to print directly from cameras, mobile phones and data cards without even having to turn on your PC.
If you want a good all round printer that will give you exceptional quality, and you do not produce large amount of prints then the inkjet printer is the right choice for you.
There are a few situations in which a home user may consider the purchase of a laser printer, maybe even as a compliment to a good inkjet photo printer – for example:
You are involved with a local society (a sporting group or similar) and are tasked with sending out a monthly newsletter to the other sixty members. Or, you run a small business and want to regularly send out newsletters and information to the 500 customers in your database.
In both these cases a laser printer would make more sense in terms of the cost per newsletter or mailer. This type of publication would also allow the inclusion of lower quality photos that a laser printer would produce.
The choice of a laser or inkjet printer depends entirely on your needs, so first note-down your exact requirements and then analyse which one is better for you based on the above information.
You can checkout our other buyer’s guides for choosing the right multifunctional printer or a printer for your home business.