I went shopping for a printer recently and there were three shelves full of different printers. As I’m looking at the price tags and features, trying to make a decision, my 4-year-old daughter walks over to the only white printer and says, “Daddy, this one’s cute.” And I hadn’t even decided Inkjet or Laser yet…
Whether you’re buying a printer for your home or office, identifying how you’re going to use the printer will go a long way in helping you select the right printer. If your primary use is….
- Photos – the professionals use laser printers, but inkjets are closing the gap for home use.
- Black & white text – laser printers create clearly defined black text.
- Special paper (stationery, card stock) – look for something with a straight paper feed, typically inkjet.
- Speed/volume – lasers typically have higher printing speeds and paper drawer capacity.
Inkjet printers start under $70 but laser printers can easily eclipse $400. If you’re looking for something between $100 and $400, there are several options available for both types. Of course, you have the ongoing costs of replacing the ink cartridges to consider as well. Laser cartridges are significantly more expensive, but when you look at a cost per page (CPP) printed, the laser starts to gain an advantage. Additionally, if you don’t print that often, inkjet cartridges can waste ink or dry out, increasing the CPP published by the manufacturer. Some inkjet printers with single color cartridges (cyan, magenta, and yellow in the same cartridge) require replacing the entire cartridge. Printers with dedicated cartridges for each color are more efficient – just replace the color that’s depleted. Laser cartridges do not dry out since they contain powder.
Historically dominated by laser printers, inkjets are closing the quality gap. The trade-off is speed. If you have the time to wait, inkjets produce laser-like quality for most of your printing needs. Laser printers are able to produce quality at a faster rate.
Here’s some questions to ask yourself before purchasing:
- Need Color? Black & white only printing can save you lots of money. Monochrome printers are less expensive and buying black only cartridges can save you 50 percent or more.
- Are you just printing or do you need your printer to have fax, scan, and copy capabilities?
- Do you want to be able to print from anywhere in your home or office? Then you’ll want a wireless printer. Technology is continuing to improve. Your computer, tablet, or phone must support wireless printing as well.
- Need to print from your smart phone? Several printer manufacturers have apps that allow you to print directly from your phone.
I decided on a color laser printer with wireless and mobile capabilities, but skipped the multi-function options. The printer was on sale and the replacement cartridges seem to be reasonably priced. My daughter was happy as well, since we were taking home the white printer.
Got a printer you just love (or hate)? Tell me about it!