Ultimate Guide To Buying An Ideal Laser Printer

Photo credit: samsungtomorrow / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

How do you know which one is a right choice when it comes to picking a laser printer? Check out everything you need to know the most about laser printers and all the available options to cater your specific requirements. If you’re looking to buy a new printer and if you’re looking just at the price tag you could be making a mistake. The real cost and expense of owning a printer is the cost over time, not the amount you pay initially. If you find printers worth just the ink cartridge they contain, this is a clear warning sign for a bad choice.

A nice inkjet multifunction printer for scanning and printing photos is a minimum requirement. But you need to dig a little deeper for printers available to print out documents perfectly from screen to page, for desktop publishing or for regular use at the office. The only smart choice for small business or SOHO is a laser printer.

There are three important advantages that makes a laser printer unbeatable for serious work.

  • Cost efficiency

While a laser printer might cost a bit more at the point of sale, toner cartridges for laser printers last much longer than the ink cartridges used by inkjet printers. The real cost of a printer is how much it costs to print per page – an inkjet would be good to get 10-20 cents per page. Meanwhile, a laser printer goes 6 cents or less per page, its because the way inkjets and laser printers print differs drastically , and a laser printer is just so much more efficient at it. We’ll look at the technology for this later, but for now just know the important factors that affects yours requirements.

  • Sheer Speed

Really it’s incomparable. While an inkjet printer may do well to push out 6-12 pages per minute, a laser printer can comfortably print up to 30 pages per minute. You don’t want people bickering over who gets to use the printer first? Best choice is to get a laser printer. Everyone’s workload is handled just like a piece of cake by the laser printer.  Personally, I can’t imagine going back to the crawl of any other type of printer. Network printing shouldn’t be such a pain.

  • Print Quality

Laser printing is a photographic process. That means unlike the little bubble of ink that blur edges, laser printers have much higher resolutions and lay down crisp fine lines and even the most complex of fonts.

 Know the Difference between Inkjet and Laser Printing

Laser Printer

Laser Printer

Photo credit: liewcf / Foter / CC BY-SA

Laser Printer

Laser Printer

Photo credit: danielfoster437 / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

Inkjet printers use ink bubbles laid onto the page. Laser printers use toner deposited by static charge and fused by heat and pressure onto a paper. The actual process is called electrophotography and electrostatic transfer.

This difference in technology used makes all the difference. Inkjet print heads have to go back and forth across the page, but the big photo-conductive drum inside a laser printer transfers the whole line straight in one shot and this explains the sheer speed of a laser printer and that’s why you don’t get that screeching noise while printing, and the end result is as crisp as it can be. A laser beam will always be much more accurate than a bubble. And because it can be laid much more finely explains why it uses far less toner compared to inkjet printers.

Look at the Cost of Ownership

Its true that color laser printers tend to be a bit more expensive than inkjet printers (though this gap has narrowed significantly to the point of irrelevance in recent years, specially when it comes to multifunction printers) but it’s the toner that makes the difference. A toner cartridge is expected to last through 1500-3000 pages, while in general inkjet cartridges are good for about 500 pages.

Each individual toner cartridge may be priced slightly more, but their page yield drastically makes their actual cost to be lower. Over time you’d actually spend more for the ink, more than you did pay for the inkjet printer itself. Yeah, the cheap printers are available just to get you hooked into buying a printer for basic printing requirements.

Let’s say toner costs around $60-80, and black ink costs $25, and you’d have to replace the cartridge three times just for the same amount of pages per month – hey, that’s three times a month you’d have to go out and buy new cartridges, three times a month you’d have to get your fingers stained with ink, three times a month you’d have to worry about misaligned print heads, and three times a month someone might be nagging “We’re running low on ink again. Fix it”.

Choosing the Best Laser Printer for Your Budget

Okay, so what kind of printer should you buy? What’s the most hassle-free in maintenance? What’s the best most affordable printer? There are too many brands and too many choices, there is no clear answer. Your budget should suit your printing needs.

Monochrome laser printers print only in shades of black, color laser printers allow you to print colors, and multifunction printers allow you to scan photos and documents. Pretty obvious – but the jump in price can be hefty. So what’s the big deal? Lets check them out in detail.

Laser Printer

Laser Printer

Photo credit: Cross Duck / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

1. Mono Printers:

Why would you want to buy a printer that can only print in gray-scale? Consider how often you actually need to print color documents. If your work demands larger volumes of documents to be cheap, hassle-free maintenance and incredible clarity of text- then a mono laser printer is the way to go. Institutions like Schools and other small business offices can’t afford to run out of ink in the middle of a valuable project.

Speed, quality, and lowest price-per-page you can ever find.

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Photo credit: samsungtomorrow / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

2. Color Laser Printers:

It is true that color laser printers aren’t as good as inkjet printers when it comes to printing on a photo paper. A laser printers’ precision works against it here – toner doesn’t blend as good as ink bubbles whose colors bleed into each other. For the most part however, especially when it comes to wide areas of color, they produce all the crisp graphics you may expect. When considering the sudden jump in the price compared to inkjet printers, just recall how inkjet color cartridges fitting on top of print heads are rather smaller in size.

They have split chambers inside for CMY(K) inks – which means you can at best expect around 1/4th as many pages from them as you could get out of the black ink cartridges beside them. Which means you’d have to buy replacements more often. And since color cartridges are already more expensive than black cartridges, operating costs rise alarmingly quick if you find yourself printing in color so often.

Color laser printers use four toner cartridges instead – and all the exhaustive color printing solutions that implies.

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Photo credit: HPDeutschland / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

3. Multifunction Printers:

Multifunction printers, inkjet and laser alike serve the same purpose. They combine document or image scanner, photocopying, mobile device connectivity, secure printing, wireless printing, two side printing, quick printing, and network printing into one printer. They pay off in sheer convenience but have several drawbacks as they have so many more parts and elements that require maintenance and servicing.

For grading each functionality, they aren’t as good as each of the individual devices they replace. You can’t print as much as a dedicated printer, you can’t scan Legal-size documents and often build a bottleneck when someone wants to use the device as a printer while someone else wants to scan or fax something. In case if it breaks, you’d basically lose all those device capabilities all at once until it’s fixed.

Of course, the advantages are still great. Less power usage, much more compact and simpler to use than having to buy all those other devices separately. Laser multifunction printers have a serious edge on inkjet printers because they are much better designed for high-turnover office work.

Laser Printer Features You Should Look For Before Buying One

Over and above the advantages of a laser printer are really big, you should also keep an eye on certain features that indicate a superior printer. No longer does a printer have to be a big expensive brick unless it’s connected to a PC with a word processor or image viewer. Got an iPhone, a camera, or a tablet? You can go ahead and print from one of these devices!

Check out these important time-saving features for your future printing and other associated tasks.

  1. Wireless Networking: Can your prospective printer connect via wireless? No need to fumble around with cables and full USB ports anymore. Any computing device that can connect through WiFi can let you print. Some printers communicate directly without the need for a router.
  2. Memory Card/USB slot: Print directly from the storage card taken from your camera. If both printer and camera are Pict-Bridge compatible, it’s possible to use the camera’s own user interface to selectively print photos. Same deal applies for photos held inside a USB thumb drive or smartphones.
  3. Duplex Printing: For certain obvious reasons, a laser printer handles automatic two-sided printing much easier than print heads that are affected by gravity.
  4. Scanner Resolution: If you’re buying an All-in-One printer, there’s more than just scanner bed size to consider. A scanner should be able to capture images at a minimum of 2400 x 1200 resolution or 600 DPI for good reproductions. This is important if you’re going to be using the printer as a quick photocopier.
  5. Paper Tray: Instead of having to slide in paper at the back of the machine, risking misaligned pages and paper jams, a printer that feeds in paper through a paper tray can go through hundreds of pages completely hands-free.
  6. Manual Feed Slot or Multipurpose Tray: As convenient as the paper tray would be, sometimes you might just need to print odd-sized items like envelopes and cards. See if there’s an obvious place where you can manually insert paper and card stock.
  7. Printer Internal Memory: A printer’s internal memory is an indication of how many pages it can hold in queue. This affects how fast it can print and how many users may have access to the printer. Newer machines can have from 256mb up to a gigabyte of RAM. Print data can grow surprisingly large, even if it doesn’t seem like it from your saved file, because laser printers hold business documents as images. Also find out if the printer has the options for extended/upgradable memory.
  8. Operating System Compatibility: You don’t want to have to mess around with drivers or have the printer spit out junk just because of faulty software. Make sure it’s marked and tested compatible with the operating system you use, especially Mac and Linux.
  9. Energy Star: Look for the Energy Star logo that indicates this is a printer that has reduced carbon emissions, made of Eco-friendly material, and uses less power. Printers marked Energy Star usually have power-saving modes that can help your power bills.
  10. Printer LCD Display: A display screen provides much greater control and information about your printing process than the flashing buttons of yore (and current-day sub-$70 budget printers). It’s specially useful for printing without the need for a PC, as it allows you to preview and select items to print from a USB drive. Some printers have color touch screen displays.

A laser printer is a good choice for the home or home office, giving you the speed and reliability of an office machine while saving your days from ink stains and fuss. Don’t be fooled by cut-rate prices at the starting gate. Look for the long haul, and you’ll find that laser printers are a worthwhile investment for your productivity. You may end up wondering how you could possibly have tolerated anything less before thousands of crisply printed pages out of a single cartridge.

After carefully considering the balance between price and capability, overall we recommend an All-in-One Color laser printer for your home office. An ideal one is a printer packed with multiple functionality to meet various requirements attached to your printing, or an all in one space and cost savings printer.

Have you ever owned a laser printer before? Got something to say about your experience with an inkjet or laser/led printers?

Let us know what you think by leaving a comment below!

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Laser Printer – A single toner cartridge can print from 1500-3000 pages. Inkjet Printer – An Inkjet cartridge runs for only about 500 pages before replacement.

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Inkjet printer may do well to push out 6-12 pages per minute, a laser printer can comfortably print up to 30 pages per minute.

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The resolution of laser printer is much higher and the results are super crisp and fine even for most complex printing requirements

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Wireless Laser printers lets you connect and print via WiFi connection. They can also let you print from your mobile device.

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All-in-one Laser Printers can include features like faxing, scanning, copying & secure printing. Features like Two-side printing and Enlarge or reduce printing are also available.

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Color laser printers aren’t as good as inkjet printers for printing on photo paper. A laser printer’s precision works against it here – toner doesn’t blend as good as ink bubbles whose colors bleed into each other.

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About: Carlo Marco

Carlo Marco is a web author and cartoonist. Also check out his quirky new illustrated web serial at http://newtribez.net/merstory.

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