Categorized | Advice, Blog

Laser or Inkjet?

Posted on 30 October 2011 by admin


One of the main choices faced when buying a new printer, is whether to opt for a laser or inkjet printer. With colour laser printers having dropped dramatically in price over the last few years they have entered the reach of the home buyer and look like an attractive proposition now.

The first consideration you should have is the volume of printing you plan to do. Laser printers are generally aimed towards those who do a lot of printing. Lasers are designed to handle large print jobs having originally been made for duty in the workplace.

Laser printers work by using a rotating drum and a tiny laser beam shone across the surface. The laser effectively draws the document to be printed as an electrical charge. After the charge has been set, the printer coats the drum with positively charged toner. The toner clings to either the positive or negatively charged parts of the “image.” Finally the paper is rolled against the drum and the ink transferred to the page.

Conversely Inkjet printers use cartridges of ink and tiny nozzles to spray droplets only a few microns across onto the paper. The dots are precisely positioned and build up the document/image being printed bit by bit.

The benefits of laser printers are primarily speed. They are very quick at printing multiple page documents. The pages are also dry when they come out of the printer so will not smudge. However laser running costs are more expensive than inkjet as they require the toner cartridge to be replaced which is more expensive than inkjet cartridges.

Laser printers have historically been excellent at printing high quality text detail. Inkjets have narrowed the difference over the years but if fine print details is important for crisp looking documents this may be a consideration.

Budget is obviously an important factor Colour laser printers now start around the £60 mark for a budget model which is scarcely believable considering they were selling for thousands only a few years ago. Inkjet printers are a little cheaper and can go from as little as £19. One thing to be aware of, however, that inkjet manufacturers often sell their printers so cheaply that they actually make a loss. The reason they do this is to entice you to buy the printer, then make money on high price consumables. Savvy consumers can obviously buy cheaper compatible cartridges to cut costs, but be aware of come manufacturers voiding the warranty if such cartridges are being used.

Finally networking should be considered. Most inkjet and laser printers come with an ethernet port now to plug into your home router and allow any machine in the house to print to it. Historically printers used USB connections primarily which means it can be used only by the machine it is plugged into. Consider looking for a printer with wireless capability, so you can situate it anywhere in the house, and print from your laptop, desktop or iPad direct to the printer.

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