Comparing Inkjet Printers Vs Laser Printers

We all like to save money when it comes to printers and cartridges but how do you decide what printer to buy in the first place? There are two main options – either an inkjet printer or a laser printer. This article gives some insight into the main differences and similarities between printing with a laser printer and an inkjet printer.

Firstly you need to understand the technology of the two styles of printers. The key difference is the means used to imprint the image onto the paper. Laser printers use a digital process that applies a laser beam and mirrors to project an image of the page onto an electrically charged rotating drum. Using a combination of heat and direct contact, the drum then transfers the image onto the paper. This process essentially burns the image onto your page making it smudge proof and permanent. Inkjet printers on the other hand use electrical impulses to spray the ink out of nozzles onto the page. The ink then bleeds into the paper before air drying.

Proponents of inkjet printers prefer the simplicity of their technology. The initial cost of the inkjet printer is often cheaper than a laser printer and replacement cartridges appear inexpensive. We would like to offer a word of warning however. The yield, or output, from replacement ink cartridges is usually significantly less than laser toner cartridges. This means that you need to look at the cost per printed page to do a true and fair comparison. Indeed, laser printers are typically much cheaper to run over time if you print high volumes. Whilst text output of inkjet printers is very good, it is their ability to print high quality images and photos that makes them attractive.

On the other side of the argument, laser printers offer much faster and greater printing output. This is because a toner cartridge can print between 2,500 to 10,000 pages before replacement. Laser printing is much faster than inkjet printing because, like a computer, a laser printer has an inbuilt memory enabling the image to be stored and accessed very quickly. This means that a simple page of text takes the same time to print as a complex graphic. Inkjet printers however have to spray each individual pixel meaning that large complex graphics takes a long time to print.

When you have decided if you are leaning more towards an inkjet printer or a laser printer you then need to consider other issues such as networking ability, paper tray configuration, media portability, memory, paper paths, optional font capabilities etc. There are many websites to help with your decision process.For example, PC magazine have investigated both laser printers and have several articles exploring printers and printer ink cartridges.

These days you can get some very reasonably priced and highly optioned inkjet and laser printers. We recommend that you consider the cost of the actual printer plus the cost of replacement cartridges over the life of your printer. To do this you need to have a good idea of the type and volume of printing you will do. In general, big business and sophisticated small business/home users choose laser printers whilst small business and the average home user is happy with an ink jet printer.