Laser Versus Inkjet Printer For Your Home Office

If you are currently deciding whether to purchase an inkjet printer or a laser printer for your home office, there are several factors to evaluate before making your final decision. First of all you must determine your anticipated usage level as this will likely be a major deciding factor.

An inkjet printer can work quite well if you are not expecting to print a high volume of documents. Also, if you believe you will at least occasionally want to print in color, then an inkjet is probably your best choice. Inkjet printers, however are not especially designed for high volumes of printing production-the ink jet cartridges are not known for being long-lasting, and their cost can be prohibitive. If you expect to be printing consistently high quantities of documents, then you should probably look at laser printers.

Printer Usage

Laser printers are built to hold up to repeated daily usage and large print jobs where inkjets are not. The laser toner cartridges which are manufactured for the laser printers produce a considerably higher amount of pages than the inkjet.

If you must have color, and print a high volume, then consider a color laser printer. Although they can cost a fair amount more up front than an inkjet, you can expect them to last for a much longer time with consistent use. Laser printers also produce a higher quality of color graphics or image than the inkjet should your business involve the printing of sales brochures or mass mail-outs to customers. Laser printers are better at printing fine details such as very small fonts; although high-quality inkjets are able to approach laser-quality text output, they are much more expensive, use more ink and take a much longer amount of time to produce those results.

Printer Costs

The initial cash outlay is usually an issue for most folks, and you can purchase a fairly good quality inkjet for a relatively small amount of money, so if your budget is tight, you may consider going with an inkjet at least until your business takes off and you have more money coming in. Don't forget, however, that while the initial purchase price may be low, constantly replacing the ink cartridges can be prohibitively expensive even for the average print usage.

Typical costs for inkjet cartridges other than the Kodak brand are around $20 for the black inkjet cartridge and $25-$30 for the color cartridge. Kodak has substantially reduced the price of their own inkjet cartridges, selling a black cartridge for around $10 and the color cartridge for less than $20.

While a toner cartridge for a laser printer can cost from $40-$80, they can last for months and months-I have had a black toner cartridge last for over a year with consistent daily use. The price per page for an inkjet printer hovers around .20 cents per page, while printing the same page on a laser printer costs about .6cents per page-quite a significant difference.

Printer Paper Types

The laser printer can generally accommodate a wide variety of paper with little or no problems, whereas the inkjet tends to work best with your typical twenty-weight paper and may balk when you try to print card stock or even a heavier weight paper. If you plan on printing your own business cards, brochures, or any type of heavier-weight paper, then a laser printer might be a better choice for your office.

Printer Speed

Generally speaking, once it is warmed up, your laser printer will print much faster than an inkjet, zipping out your pages just as fast as they can pass through the machine-and no waiting for the ink to dry. The inkjet is much slower to print your pages and you must be careful with the printed page until it is fully dry-the process of an inkjet printer sprays ink on your page, so when it comes out of the printer it is still wet and will smudge.

Inkjet Benefits

The one area where inkjet printers really excel is when it comes to producing lab-quality photos, and some manufacturers even make special inkjet cartridges for photo printing. Although I get really good results when printing photographs on my inkjet, the costs are still prohibitively high. I can zip them off via the Internet, to Walgreen's or Wal-Mart and get the same quality photo as a fraction of the cost.

If you can afford to pay a little more upfront for a printer, then a laser printer is probably the best choice, however inkjets cost less upfront and are a bit more versatile.

For my own home office I have both a laser and an inkjet, and have found through the years that this is actually the best solution as I can choose my printer based on what I am doing at the time.