Inkjet vs Laser Printers
The advantages and disadvantages of an inkjet vs laser printer. Includes Pros and Cons of both.
So What's the Big Deal Anyway?
An overview of the debate...
If you are considering buying a new printer in the near future, chances are you will run into the problem of inkjet vs laser printers. Inkjet printers have been around for a while. They use ink cartridges and the ink is sprayed onto the paper through tiny nozzles. Laser printers use a cartridge as well, but it is filled with toner containing tiny particles of ink that are fused by heat to the paper. Does this make sense? Okay, maybe it is a bit much to handle at first. Scroll down to see some of the practical impacts this has on cost, quality, and reliability...
Inkjet vs Laser
When comparing inkjet vs laser printers there are a few key considerations to look at. The following breaks it down by the most important functionality users expect from their printers.
Up Front Cost
The price tag has actually become less of a difference over the course of the last few years. Both technologies have evolved enough so that the differences are generally minimal. That said, the bottom line price on inkjet's are much lower than laser printers. You can get an entry level inkjet for as low as $30-40, but more commonly in the $60 range. Laser printers generally start off in the $125 range.
Something to consider is the initial cost of ink on the inkjet's. Many of the budget models only come with a starter package which will run out relatively soon.
The initial price tag is not where the printer industry makes most of its money, at least not when it comes to inkjet printers. Not surprisingly, ink is the most expensive ongoing cost of an inkjet printer. The cost per page of printer on inkjet paper is roughly 20 cents. This varies depending on whether you are using color. Setting an inkjet to just black and white lowers your cost per page to about 8 cents.
The laser printers do not require the same level of ink, lowering the cost per page to about 6 cents. The main concern with laser printers is replacing the fuser cartridge and small parts which need to be replaced over time with heavy use. The benefit of a laser printer is that - in general - the more you spend initially on the printer, the lower the cost per page tends to be.
Other considerations include the paper quality type. If you are doing a fair amount of photo printing on an inkjet, you will probably be using glossy photo paper which is more expensive in general.
If you are looking for print speed then the laser printer is unmatched. Even a basic budget model laser printer can do about 20 pages a minute. This is in contrast to an inkjet that is lucky to get 6 pages per minute.
Text Print Quality
For the normal 12pt font the differences between the inkjet and laser are insignificant. As soon as you start getting into smaller fonts, the advantages of the laser printer become clear. Laser fusing lends itself better to precision which makes it better able to print in smaller fonts. An inkjet gets a bit clumsy the smaller you go because the ink nozzles are not able to grasp the subtleties of smaller fonts.
In general, stick with an inkjet printer when it comes to photo printing or anything where color is the main concern. It is possible to get good quality color prints from a laser, but the printers are much more expensive and bulky for a comparable level of quality. Just like the laser can get at smaller fonts, the inkjet can catch the subtleties of color much better than its counterpart.
If your office space is limited, inkjet printers are generally the better option. Even the all in one or multiple functionality inkjet printers tend to be more compact. You can get a single function laser printer that is comparable in size, but you do sacrifice functionality.
As you can see, when considering the inkjet vs laser printers argument it really comes down to what you want out of your printer. Decide what aspects of a printer are most important for you and then narrow down your search accordingly. Check out some of the comparisons on this page where I provide the "best" printer for a variety of user types.
Best All in One Inkjet Printer
If cost is not the main concern...
|Epson Artisan 837 Color Inkjet Wireless All-In-One with Fax (C11CB20201)|
This is an all in one printer (great functionality) with top notch photo quality if you do a lot of photo or digital printing. It is a bit more expensive, but it is highly rated on Amazon with over 100 positive customer reviews.Only $279.99
Best All in One Laser Printer
If cost is not the main concern...
|Brother MFC7460DN Ethernet Monochrome Printer with Scanner, Copier & Fax|
There is some great functionality here if you are willing to pay a bit more up front. This is the perfect solution for a small office environment where functionality and printing efficiency are the top concerns.Only $249.99
Inkjet vs Laser
Best Laser Printer for the Money
This is hands down the best value for the money...
|Brother HL-2270DW Compact Laser Printer with Wireless Networking and Duplex|
If printing lots of black and white documents is what you need, this printer will give you GREAT VALUE. It is highly rated on Amazon and is known for its efficiency and quality printing.
Best Affordable All in One Inkjet Printer
If cost IS the main concern...
|Canon MP280 All-in-one Printer (4498B030)|
This is a great compact all in one inkjet printer that will save you time, money, and space. Although highly rated, it will not get you the top quality like the Epson Artisan.Only $249.99
|Canon PIXMA MP495 Wireless Inkjet Photo All-In-One (4499B026)|
This is a great compact all in one inkjet with wireless functionality. It is still considered a budget model, but the wireless functionality is what makes it stand out.Only $79.99