Choosing Between an Inkjet or Laser Printer

Choosing between an inkjet and a laser printer might be difficult if you haven't been educated on the pros and cons of each type of printer. Laser and inkjet printers have different advantages. Lasers work great for black-and-white printing, making them the better choice for high-volume document printing. Inkjets, on the other hand, are the better choice for home photo printing.

The differences

Laser printers use toner stored in large cartridges that are often roller-shaped. A xerographic process bonds the fine plastic powder in the cartridge to sheets of paper. "Xerox"-type printing is very cost-effective, as a cartridge of toner lasts much longer and prints more pages than an ink cartridge will. Laser printers also print very quickly compared to inkjet printers. In addition, laser printers can handle very small details, such as tiny fonts, better than comparably priced inkjet printers.

Inkjet printers create images with liquid inks that are sprayed out of microscopic nozzles in cartridge print heads. Inkjet printing produces far superior photo prints than laser printers do, and special paper and ink can be purchased to get almost studio-quality prints. Inkjet printers also cost far less to buy than even basic black-and-white laser printers and are much smaller. This makes them a good fit for home offices or other places where space is at a premium.

The bottom line

If the printer is to be used for massive text printing and the top priorities are the legibility of the documents, the speed of printing, and the volume of text output, a laser printer is the better choice. For the amateur photographer, home office user or small business with limited printing needs, the benefits and lower cost of an inkjet printer make it a better option. Inkjet cartridges are becoming cheaper, making the inkjet printer more affordable over the long term.

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