Up until recently, the choice between inkjet and laser printers was easy– you knew exactly what you’d get with each one. For photos and high-quality home printing you’d opt for inkjet, and for high-volume, fast printing you’d choose laser. Now, however, the lines are blurred and laser printers are moving into homes and inkjets are moving into larger businesses. If you’re faced with this question, here’s a quick guide.
Laser is traditionally faster, with laser printers once managing 40ppm (pages per minute) compared to inkjet’s 30ppm for black and white and 10ppm for colour. Nowadays lasers manage up to 70ppm, but inkjet hasn’t been left floundering – some inkjets have printheads the same width as sheets of A4 paper, so they can manage up to 75ppm.
However, lasers are quickest off the mark – taking just 7.5 seconds to run from standby to printing the first page, compared to 9.5 seconds for the fastest inkjets.
You can’t beat laser for crisp black text and sharp colour graphics, making them ideal for marketing materials. However, inkjet printers have polished up their act and their outputs are good enough for internal and external circulation. Then, of course, there’s the photos, which laser can’t quite match yet.
Laser printers are designed for massive workloads – between 2,000 and 30,000 pages a month, so if your business needs to print a lot, bag a laser printer and get onto Cartridge People for toner cartridges. If you have a smaller business that doesn’t rely on printed material as much – up to 5,000 pages or so, then inkjet is your best bet.
We all know laser printers are expensive upfront but have low running costs, whereas inkjet is the other way round. This might not be the case for much longer.
Laser printers are getting cheaper and entry-level models are coming out with smaller starter cartridges that will need replacing quickly. On average, though, laser printing costs two pence per page for B&W and around five pence for colour. Inkjet is becoming cheaper, though – one pence for B&W and five pence for colour, especially if you opt for bigger ink cartridges.
Another thing to consider, though, is the fact that laser doesn’t need special paper, like inkjet does. However, inkjet paper is becoming cheaper and inkjet printers don’t use as much energy when in operation. Choose a model carefully and you could save on initial outlay and the running costs if you choose inkjet.
Networking, security and management
Lasers have been the workgroup workhorse, with higher-end machines offering more management tools and support for Ethernet and IPSec. Inkjet printers are catching up on this front, though, with secure PIN-coded queued printing, wireless and cloud printing.
There’s no definitive answer – you need to look at what you need from your printer, as well as your economies of scale and how many people are in your enterprise. For now, lasers hold sway for high workloads and large teams, but inkjet isn’t too far behind. Think realistically and long-term and you’ll make the right choice.