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Inkjet vs. Laser printer: What’s the difference?

Exploring the differences between inkjet and laser printers

Discover the differences between a laser and inkjet printer and find the best type of printer for your needs.

As an ongoing part of our inkjet series, we will explore the differences between inkjet and laser printers, focusing on factors such as print quality, inkjet vs. laser printer cost per page, speed, and choosing the best printer.

By now, you should know the ins and outs of inkjet and laser printers. If not, check out our articles to gain a better understanding of how each works individually before we compare the two in this article.

Similarities

Although we’ll focus a substantial portion of this article discussing the differences, it’s worth highlighting some of the similarities between laser and inkjet printers. In general, both inkjet and laser printers are versatile. This is because of the ease of accessibility on the market, the affordability compared to more industrial models, and high productivity for the price.

Their relatively simple interfaces attract people to these types of printers the most. Although most printers have a decent amount of technical jargon that can be difficult to decipher, these two may differ. Given how prominent they are in the market, user manuals from manufacturers have done an excellent job of making this information digestible for the general public.

Furthermore, if print quality is a concern, inkjet and laser printers have nearly similar print quality if printing black and white. If this is a deciding factor in your purchase, check out the other features of both printers before deciding. Consider this when comparing models, and if you need some assistance deciphering the quality between the two, you can always reach out to a BDS technician for help.

Differences

Differences between inkjet and laser printing

The difference between laser and inkjet printers may be subtle but significantly affects how you utilize your printer moving forward. Laser printers generally use lasers to print, whereas inkjet printers use ink to print documents. Simple enough? Not quite.

Using a laser or ink to print may not seem like a big deal, but they both use two completely different processes to image, which then can affect your printer’s quality, speed, and functioning. Let’s break down some of the differences.

Cost

Let’s start with cost, one of the most critical factors that go into the process of buying a printer. Before diving deeper, it’s important to remember that no matter how much you pay for either of the printers, you should consider other cost factors beyond retail price.

For instance, you should consider the inkjet vs. laser printer cost per page, maintenance, and in the example of inkjet printers, how much inkjet cartridges cost to refill. Furthermore, sustainability should always be top of mind when buying. Don’t shy away from the high retail price just because it’s high.

When it comes to the cost of inkjet printers and laser printers, it’s going to vary. Beginning with inkjet printers, these printers are the most common type of printer used for homes. Given that there tends to be a lot on the market that range in price from under $100-$1,000. Of course, the higher the price, the higher the printer’s quality and efficiency.

Conversely, laser printers tend to be more expensive than inkjet printers. Laser printers are utilized more in business and office space, often indicating a high need for quality and print speed. Thus, expect to pay anywhere from $100-$1500.

Get curious when choosing a printer that meets your needs. Directly ask why one model may be more expensive. Is the printer more reliable than other models on the market? Always research before buying, and if you need help finding resources, BDS can help with our blog and knowledge base.

Print Speed

We all appreciate high speed, especially considering how digital our world has become. Whether you’re using your printer for business, home, or personal use, it’s only natural to want speed to keep up with the world’s demands.

Assuming you’re printing in black and white, laser printers will be much faster than inkjet printers. Even the lowest laser printers on the market can print roughly 20 PPM in comparison to budget inkjet printers 6 PPM.

That’s not to say that speed is not the most important factor to consider for your printing needs. For instance, if you are a more creative type, you may not care about speed as much as you do quality in your prints. In that case, an inkjet printer is best for you. Although inkjet printers are less fast at a retail budget price, you can often still pay more for a little extra speed if you enjoy other features of the inkjet printer but don’t care to buy a laser printer.

Quality & Color vs. Black & White

Quality and Color vs. Black and white printing are also high on the priority list. What are you planning on printing? Are you looking to print more complex color images? If so, you will likely have better luck with an inkjet printer. That’s because most of the laser printers on the market print primarily in black and white. You may have some luck finding models of laser printers that print in color, but the actual models are a lot more industrial and not efficient for some small offices or even homes.

In terms of versatility, inkjet printers win this round. Some models can even use up to 9 cartridges to produce high-quality images. However, if printing solely in black and white, laser printers are likely better suited due to the quality of the text still being crisp and high quality. Furthermore, the laser printer can produce a high volume of documents more quickly than an inkjet printer. If this sounds like your needs, the laser printer is better suited.

Considerations

Both printers are susceptible to the more common issues found in printers. If you have a laser printer, expect paper jams. We try our best to avoid them, but sometimes they happen. To prevent them, print regularly and place the paper correctly in the tray.

Regarding inkjet printers, the overall cost of maintenance is a bit higher. Prepare to buy ink toner cartridges regularly and frequently clean your printer to avoid ink droplets from drying and damaging your printer’s functioning.

We spoke briefly about the price of maintenance and how that may affect which printer is best for you. Equally as important is understanding how much maintenance your printer will need. For instance, inkjet printers require more maintenance, meaning more trips to the store and more cleaning. Do you have the resources and time to dedicate to upkeeping a maintenance schedule? If not, seriously consider that in your purchase.

Laser printers are more likely to run into paper jams and more technical issues because of how industrial they are. Factor in how long these types of printers will last and if it’s worth the investment. Hopefully, with this information, you’re more confident in how your equipment works and how to utilize it best for your needs.

Are you looking for the best printer for your small business?

Check out our article: What is the best printer for a small business? or fill out the form below to get started.


About the Author:

BDS is an authorized office technology provider/reseller with corporate headquarters in Marlborough, MA, and offices throughout New England and Florida. Since 1978, we have supported local customers in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine, and Florida with copier and printing solutions.
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Written By:BDS
January 14, 2023
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