To date the “digital office” is yet to fully materialise but while a great deal of our internal and external communication is carried out electronically, there is still a need to have documents printed out as hard copies. These can range from internal client reports to notices for the office pin board.
For some time, there have been two main types of machine that businesses use for these everyday documents, laser and inkjet printers. Traditionally laser printers were most suitable for organisations with high volume printing requirements, as they were more expensive to buy and only really offered real value for money when used in this bulk-load way. Inkjets, on the other hand, were a cheaper machine to buy – but a page produced on an inkjet would be more expensive to print than on a laser printer.
In recent years, the difference in price between the two forms of printer has narrowed making the advantages of each one over the other a little less clear cut. So, to help you decide which would be your best option, we’ve looked at how each perform in a number of key areas.
Purchase and print costs
As mentioned, the cost of printers are levelling out, especially if you’re looking at the budget end of the laser market, so after the initial outlay the main expense will be the cost of printing.
Ink jet printers work by spraying tiny dots of coloured ink on the page from cartridges, which are generously priced for each of the four colours needed, and they can produce around 180 pages worth of print.
Laser printers, on the other hand, produce your document by fusing an image onto paper using a type of powder that is held in a toner cartridges. Although the face value of the cartridge may be more than ink jet printers, they can print up to 3,000 pages before they need to be replaced, making them a much cheaper option in the long run.
When it comes to print quality both types have their own particular strengths. Laser printers can produce crisper darker images and reproduce coloured graphics like charts and graphs very accurately, even on standard copier paper.
Where inkjet printers come into their own is in printing photographs, as the images tend to be more natural reproducing subtle differences of shade and colour. Results are made even more impressive if you use glossy photo paper, which has been specially designed for this use.
Laser models have traditionally been regarded as the ones to choose if you need to print a large number of pages quickly, thanks to their capability of producing up to 70 pages a minute. This is far faster than most inkjets can manage, although some more expensive printers are starting to approach this speed. But where the laser printer really does have an advantage over its rival is in its reaction speed, as it springs into life as soon as you’ve hit “print”.
Laser or inkjet – you decide
If you’re thinking about the kind of printer to buy you need to consider how, and how much, you’re planning to use it. Monitor how many pages of printing you do over a couple of weeks and whether you reply on colour or black and white. Consider if you need speed or accuracy, if you print photographs or charts. Armed with this information, you’ll be in a great place to choose the perfect printer for your needs.