Inkjet or Laser Printer? There are a plethora of printers on the market for home-use, but which one is right for you? The easy answer is this: If you print mostly black and white text, go with a laser printer for speed and savings on the cost of ink. If you print out graphics, you’ll want an inkjet printer.
Having said that, here are some considerations before you finalize that all-important decision:
Should You Buy an Inkjet or Laser Printer? (Video)
When I think of a printer for home use, I instantly think of inkjet printers. They’ve become kind of the “Renaissance man” of your home office. After all, they can print out emails, address labels, stickers, t-shirt transfers, or even photo-quality prints from your digital photos.
As if that’s not enough, many of the “all in one printers” throw in scanner, printer, and fax machine capability.
Inkjet or Laser Printer?
So inkjet printer must be right for me then? Maybe; consider the following before buying:
- If you primarily print text, then a laser printer might be best for you. Laser printers are best for handling black and white text, (like emails, Word docs, and your taxes) and they are faster and less expensive. I know someone who prints out almost every email he gets for his records, and he must save hundreds of dollars a year by having a laser printer for this task. They can also handle address labels, which is nice around the holidays, or for bulk business mailings.
- If you print a decent amount of photos, graphics, or color text, then an inkjet printer is best. I recommend not going with a color laser printer, as the costs of ink are significantly higher than black and white laser printers. Color laser printers use four toner cartridges, which can make the cost of ink even more than an inkjet
- Don’t try to print photos with a laser printer. The quality will be marginal, and they aren’t meant for printing on glossy, or special photo paper. They also might not be able to print on sizes of paper other than 8.5 x 11
Do You Print Graphics or Photos?
So, if it comes down to whether or not you print photos or graphics, most people are going to choose an inkjet printer for their home. So, you’ll probably want to decide whether you need an all-in-one inkjet printer so that you can copy, scan, or even fax. Consider this:
- When one component of these printers breaks, you’ll have to replace the whole thing. In our throw-away society, nobody repairs inkjet printers
- The cost of replacement ink is high. If you bought a printer for $99 with a coupon, then that ink manufacturer has you on the hook for future ink purchases, which you’ll have trouble finding a coupon for. Recent tests from Consumer Reports confirm that many inkjet printers use less than half of the ink in the inkjet cartridges! (Canon had one of the worst ones tested!) Initially it looks like you save money by printing your own photos at home, but if you only print sporadically, much of that printer ink is being wasted in the “maintenance” mode of the printer.
- Consider an inkjet printer that has 4 separate tanks for each color of ink. (CMYK) Over time this will save you money, as when one color runs out, you aren’t replacing the entire “color” inkjet cartridge.
- Don’t buy less than 20-pound (weight) paper with your inkjet printer, or it may lead to paper jams. (Not as fun as strawberry, or other varieties of jam)
Big Print Job? Maybe Outsource It
Tip: Consider a discount online printing company to handle some of your color printing. Regardless of which printer type you go with, consider having your custom printing done by a discount printing company online.
It actually may be more expensive for you to print photos, invitations, and business cards at home, and you may not get the professional quality that you are looking for.
*If you have a Staples nearby, maybe they can print what you need?
Photo services like Shutterfly and Snapfish can bang out beautiful 4×6″ prints for as little as a 10 cents each now, while a sheet of the same photo paper will run about 25 cents. (add cost of ink, too!) They also offer weekly coupons, saving you money and even free shipping on many orders. You can also find coupons for sites like Vistaprint here.
Tip: Consider “name brand compatible ink” instead of what they call, “OEM,” or genuine name brand ink or toner. You can save up to about a third of the cost of printer ink when you go with the generic version. On top of that discount, you can also use a coupon or promo code for sites like 123inkjets, ClickInks.com, and 4inkjets.com (see coupons) for an extra discount.