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Laser or Inkjet?

This is the first thing you need to decide before selecting a printer, in this guide we’ll explain the differences between the two types of printers and help you get the best from our range of printers on sale.

How do Laser Printers Work?

This is the first thing you need to decide before selecting a printer, in this guide we’ll explain the differences between the two types of printers and help you get the best from our range of printers on sale. Laser printers draw out the shape of the image or text to be printed with a laser, this casues a buildup of static electricity in the pattern to be printed. Next, a type of powdered ink called toner is applied and the static electricity makes it stick. Finally heat is applied by a heated roller to melt and fuse the toner to the paper, this is very similar to the way a photocopier works.

How do Inkjet Printers Work?

Inkjet printers draw ink into tiny spaces in a print head, each space can be heated rapidly using a resistor causing the ink to form a bubble and deposit a dot on the paper. These tiny dots are about 50 microns across so they are too small to see individually so when they form an image they appear as continuous blocks.

Are Inkjet or Laser Printers Better Quality?

Generally speaking laser printers produce sharper, crisper images. Although inkjet printers produce tiny dots, the toner particles used in a laser printer are much smaller. Your choice of paper makes a big difference, good quality inkjet paper doesn’t suffer from ink bleeding and blurring edges, this problem is worst with really cheap, thin gauge paper.

This question of quality is a bit more complicated however, it depends on what you’re printing. If you want sharp, crisp professional looking text then a laser printer will be your best bet. If you’re printing out photos then unless you buy a very expensive laser printer then an inkjet will perform best.

How do Costs Compare?

Inkjet printers are cheaper to buy and in most cases a new ink cartridge will be much cheaper than a toner unit. But again it’s a bit more complicated. Although an ink cartridge costs more, a toner unit will print many times more pages so in terms of printing cost per page a monochrome laser printer is usually much cheaper.

Although laser printers are cheaper on a per page basis, you will need to be printing a reasonable number of pages to recoup the extra purchase cost.

Colour laser printers are the most expensive, but if you’re printing large volumes of colour pages they can work out cheaper in the long run.

Colour inkjet printers can be had for extremely low prices, but before you buy check the prices for ink cartridges. Some printer manufacturers sell budget printers at a loss and then recoup the money by selling refills for inflated prices. And not all cartridges are created equal, some printers have much higher capacity cartridges so although they cost more they last longer giving you a saving in the long run.

In short, which printer works out best for you over it’s lifetime depends on what you print and how much printing you do.

What’s an All In One Printer?

All in one printers combine the functions of a printer with the ability to scan, copy and in some cases fax documents. All in one printers usually work out cheaper than buying separate devices and they save valuable desk space too. Build quality can be an issue with cheap all in one devices so if you do more than a relatively small amount of printing they may not be right for you. All in one printers are available in both inkjet and laser varieties and more expensive models are reliable and robust.

Print Speed

This is an easy one, laser printers are much much faster than inkjets, if you print large documents a laser is probably best for you.

Wireless Printers

Wireless printers use WiFi or sometimes bluetooth rather than a cable to connect to your laptop, you can print from another room and with some internet enabled models you can print from the anywhere you like. Many wireless printers will allow you to connect and print from your smartphone or tablet without having to mess about downloading pictures to your PC first. If your camera supports it, some printers allow you to print directly from your digital camera too. Others include USB ports and SD card slots so you can print from a variety of media and devices with minimal fuss.

Most wireless printers can also connect via a USB cable like any other printer if you want to connect them to a desktop PC too.

Saving Money on Ink and Toner

When you replace ink and toner cartridges you’ll have a choice between OEM and aftermarket cartridges. OEM cartridges are usually significantly more expensive so it’s possible to make big savings by buying recycled or aftermarket cartridges. But do watch out, some printer warranties become void if you use non-OEM cartridges.

Some aftermarket cartridges are excellent and will function at least as well as the OEM alternatives but some really dont and could cause damage to your printer so if you decide to buy aftermarket products then buy from a reputable retailer and check your printer’s warranty carefully.