Laser vs Inkjet printing: which should you choose?

Deciding which printer is for you really depends on what you are going to use it for.

At one time, if you were looking for an affordable yet reliable printer for the home, an inkjet would usually win. For an office or small business that needed something fast and capable of handling a heavier workload, a laser printer would be the choice.

However, now inkjet printers are capable of doing so much more, and the price of laser printers has come down over the years to make them a more attractive choice for home users. So how do you know which printer is best for you? Let’s compare the two:

Need for speed: Laser printers have always been seen as quicker than inkjets because of the printers’ technology, using a laser beam to produce an image. However, a new generation of inkjet printers now have revolutionary print heads that can reach speeds of up to 75 pages per minute, matching and even beating some laser printers.

Print quality: If you are printing text documents or simple graphics, laser printers are great, but tend to be limited when it comes to printing photographs. Most professional photo printers will choose colour inkjets, with cartridges from brands like Lexmark, Dell and HP readily available and relatively inexpensive.

Choice of paper: If you’re looking to print on a range of paper, inkjets are able to handle both textured and photo paper. Laser printers tend to be restricted to standard or copy style paper.

Smudges: While inkjet printer output is now less likely to smudge, if you want to guarantee your work comes out clean then using a laser printer is usually the only way to ensure this. The reason is because lasers use toner which is a dry powder instead of ink. It’s also less messy to change toner.

Workload: Lasers can handle monthly duty cycles of between 2,000-20,000 pages, depending on the printer, while inkjets tend to be more around the range of between 1,500 to 5,000 pages. Lasers also allow for input trays to hold as much as almost 4,000 pieces of paper at a time, while inkjets can only manage about 100-150 pieces at a time. If you’re using the printer for home use though, you’re probably not likely to need a huge amount of paper in your printer at any one time.

Price: As already mentioned, laser printers have gone down in price, but if the price tag is the main deciding point, you might be better off with an inkjet printer. However, bear in mind that ink cartridges tend to need to be replaced more regularly than toners.

Longevity: Inkjet printers are probably still the cheaper option to buy initially, but on the whole, laser printers generally last longer as they do not need to be refilled as regularly. Be aware though that laser printers have parts that may need replacing from time to time, such as fuser cartridges and maintenance kits.

Deciding which printer is for you really depends on what you are going to use it for. Laser printers still tend to be the first choice for the office where there is higher print demand and a number of people using the printer regularly. If you are looking for a printer for the home and you want high quality text documents printed at speed, then a laser would also work for you. If price is an issue, an inkjet remains a more popular choice and also a good option if you want to print quality photographs from your PC or camera or have a small workload.

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