Laser Versus Inkjet Printers

 

While there are many choices available for anyone shopping for a printer these  days multifunction, All-in-One, color, monochrome--ultimately there are only  two printer platforms commonly found on the market: Laser and inkjet. By first  developing an understanding of these types of technology, the different  types available and their uses, it then becomes much easier to narrow down what  can be an overwhelming list of choices when shopping for a printer for a home or  office.

Basic Differences

 

The most basic difference between laser and inkjet is the material they use to  print. Laser printers use toner, a dry, powdery substance that is fused onto the  paper to produce images. Inkjet uses ink, obviously a liquid,  which is dispersed onto the paper with a print head. This difference in  materials itself really doesn't affect the end user, but it affects many other  factors that will come into play when choosing between the two.

Quality

 

For basic monochrome printing--like homework, household documents and  e-mails ultra-high quality may not be much of an issue. But when you start to  print things like photos, some significant differences come into play. Inkjet  produces higher-quality photo prints, and printers designated specifically as  photo printers are usually inkjet printers. Inkjet prints higher resolution  images, and the glossy papers usually used in photo printing are not appropriate  for use in laser printers. The heat of the fusing unit will not support photo paper.

Cost And Supplies

 

Traditionally, inkjet printers are less expensive than laser, and this has been  the reason inkjet printers are generally considered a "home" product while  lasers have been primarily for the office. However the price of some monochrome  laser printers has gone down considerably over the years, and it's not uncommon  to see a laser printer selling for less than $80 . Still, there are other factors to take into consideration besides the  basic cost of the printer.  The up-front cost of most laser toner cartridges is considerably higher than  that of inkjet cartridges -- often $100 for a monochrome toner cartridge versus  $20 for a black inkjet cartridge. However, toner cartridges generally last much  longer than inkjet cartridges. A toner cartridge can produce five times as many pages per month  than an inkjet printer, meaning the cost per page for a laser printer may be  much lower than that of an inkjet printer. All of these variables factor into  the total cost of ownership.

Maintenance

 

Because it simply has more moving parts than an inkjet printer, more can go  wrong with a laser printer. The upside to this, though, is that generally  replacement parts are available and cost-effective. Many offices have service  contracts on laser printers, and many laser printer and cartridge suppliers  offer service as part of their package offerings. When an inkjet printer breaks,  often the most economical solution is to throw it out and buy a new one, due to  the low cost of the printers.

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