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Should I Buy a Inkjet or a Laser Printer?

Malcolm Tatum
By
Updated May 16, 2024
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When deciding between an inkjet or a laser printer, it is a good idea to evaluate several factors before proceeding with the purchase. Here are some things to keep in mind to help you decide if an inkjet or a laser printer would serve you well.

One of the main considerations when looking at both inkjet printers and laser printers is the amount of usage you anticipate with the device. An inkjet printer works very well for relatively low demands that are primarily text documents. Also, usage that may require some type of color on an occasional basis can be handled very well with an inkjet printer. However, inkjets are not designed for a large amount of production each day. Also, the cost of new ink cartridges can be prohibitive when the volume of printing is higher. Ink cartridges for inkjet types of printers simply do not last that long.

For environments where there will be a high volume of daily usage, there is no doubt that the laser printer is the better option. The laser printer is built to hold up to repeated daily usage and large print jobs. Also, the ink cartridges that are manufactured for the laser type of printer will produce quite a few more pages than the ones created for inkjets. Color is also a factor when it comes to the laser printer. Laser printers simply produce a higher quality of color graphic or image, which make them ideal when the print job involves the printing of sales brochures or a mass mailing to customers. When deciding on whether to purchase an inkjet or a laser printer, volume usage will be a key factor.

Another important consideration when choosing between an inkjet or a laser printer is the initial cost. Good quality inkjets can be purchased for a relatively low amount of money. If the budget is tight, going with an inkjet, at least until cash flow improves, may be a wise move. Keep in mind that while the initial purchase is low, replacing the ink cartridges can become cost prohibitive if your average print usage continues to increase over time.

Lastly, the type of paper that will be used is also important when deciding whether to purchase an inkjet or a laser printer. A laser printer usually can accommodate various weights of paper with little or no problem. Inkjets tend to work best with standard twenty-weight paper. If the idea is to use the printer to create sales and marketing material, small posters for trade shows, and other print jobs that require a stiffer paper product, then the laser printer is definitely the best option.

A good rule of thumb when it comes to choosing between an inkjet or a laser printer is to remember usage, paper type, and amount of color. If all three of these factors are highly important, then the laser printer is the best choice. For price, low usage, little color and use of only standard paper, then the inkjet printer will work very well.

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Malcolm Tatum
By Malcolm Tatum , Writer
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing to become a full-time freelance writer. He has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including EasyTechJunkie, and his work has also been featured in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and newspapers. When not writing, Malcolm enjoys collecting vinyl records, following minor league baseball, and cycling.

Discussion Comments

By anon970623 — On Sep 19, 2014

This discussion is kind of funny because ink jet is out of date. The argument, "you buy ink jet if you don't print often" does not stand at all. I got a Brother hl1110 laser printer, paid $38 for that. With $30 refill powder, it can print up to 5000 pages. No matter whether you print a lot or not, the cost for each page is only around 0.5 cent, and you can use it a long time while your don't have to worry about ink nozzle block if you don't use it for a long time.

And just think: $38 is not expensive at all. This price even beats most of the ink jets. If you don't print much, you can use this printer for your whole life without changing ink.

By butchi — On Jul 02, 2014

Laser printers cost a lot more than inkjets, as does the toner. But on the flip side, the toner cartridges last longer. A black toner cartridge could last up to two months for me. The biggest issue with laser printers is that if you want to print color the cost is a lot higher than inkjet. But if you have the funds for it, I'd get one.

By anon959106 — On Jul 01, 2014

Laser printers cost a lot more than inkjet, as does the toner. But on the flip side the toner cartridge last longer. A black toner cartridge could last up to 2 months for me. The biggest issue with laser printers is that if you want to print color the cost is a lot higher than inkjet. But if you have the funds for I'd get one.

By san1976 — On Jan 18, 2014

I have been searching around on what type of printer is best to use in a small internet cafe. I presently print approximately 100 sheets which are documents and pictures in black. I also do color prints, but not as much as the black prints. I am presently using an HP Deskjet 2050, and those have not worked for me. It's very costly and I have to buy black ink like every other day. I desperately need to know which printer will work best for me. Thank you.

By bagley79 — On Oct 26, 2012

@Mykol -- You bring up a good point about inkjet printers being slow. Even the few things I print from home, I often get frustrated because it seems so slow. I scan and copy documents as well, and it seems to take forever, but it gets the job done. As long as my cheap inkjet printer keeps working I will continue to use it. I really can't justify spending the money right now on a laser printer.

By Mykol — On Oct 26, 2012

My dad has both an inkjet and a laser printer in his home office. He read a lot of laser printer reviews before deciding to purchase one. Yes they cost more, but for him the advantages were worth it.

He prints off brochures and materials for his small business and a laser printer ends up being more cost effective. The ink lasts longer and is much higher quality, not to mention it prints a lot faster than an inkjet printer. He uses his inkjet printer for personal copies that don't need to be of high quality, but uses the laser printer for most all of his business printing needs.

By John57 — On Oct 25, 2012

I don't print very often from home. If I have something that I need to make a lot of copies of I think it is much more cost effective and faster to go to an office store and use their equipment.

I have never had a laser printer and don't think I have ever spent more than $40 for a cheap multifunction inkjetprinter. I like to be able to print, copy and scan and most printers anymore automatically come with these functions.

I never bother to spend the money on a color ink cartridge for my inkjet printer. It would really be a waste of money because it would dry out long before I ever used up the colored ink in the cartridge.

By golf07 — On Oct 25, 2012

@anon8176 -- I have the same problem with my inkjet printer because I don't use it very often. Once in awhile I will use it to print off a text document, but it seems like I use it more to make copies of something than actually print something from my computer. I think this must help keep the ink from drying out as fast.

By anon253079 — On Mar 08, 2012

HP Deskjet 2050 All-in-One - J510a Printer

HP Deskjet 1050 All-in-One - J410a Printer

which printer is better?

By inkjetkiosk — On Feb 26, 2012

Inkjet is good if you do not print much, as the printer capacity is relatively low.

@anon187180: I think you should buy an inkjet.

By anon187180 — On Jun 16, 2011

I have a small business and I print 10 - 15 checks a week and an additional 10 - 15 reports. Should I purchase a laser or inkjet.

By anon161323 — On Mar 19, 2011

Yeah, I thought I had bought a multifunction printer, and it was actually a malfunctioning type.

By anon135008 — On Dec 16, 2010

anon81064: I did screen printing for about 12 years. We used vellum paper with a black laser printer. After printing it on the vellum paper we would spray clear acrylic spray on it and it would darken the print. Of course, wait for the acrylic to dry before you put it on a screen to burn.

The vellum paper still lets the UV light to go through to harden the emulsion where there is no black on it.

Hope this helps.

By anon133517 — On Dec 11, 2010

I used to have the same problem with the cartridges dying after months of inactivity (with more than one inkjet printer). Following the directions to revive them seemed to work only partially, and after much aggravation I would end up buying a new cartridge anyway, making the cost per sheet ridiculous!

About five years ago I got fed up with this and bought a color laser printer (Minolta Magicolor 2400W). I have been very happy with it, and it still works great. Due to not buying printer cartridges, I'm sure it has paid for itself several times over by now (in fact, I'm still using the original toner that came with it!).

So, besides buying laser printers for frequent use, I would also recommend them for very infrequent use as well.

By anon109980 — On Sep 10, 2010

I have the same problem as anon8176. Can anyone suggest a good multifunction printer (fax, scan, copy, print, wireless will be good) which does not have chipped cartridge, does not dries up and the printer's other functions still work (like fax and scan) even though the cartridge is empty and low maintenance?

By anon96909 — On Jul 17, 2010

From my experience, I would never buy an ink jet printer. I can't understand why anyone would! I have had three laser printers and have been extremely happy. My daughter had an ink jet and my boyfriend had an inkjet and both were junk.

By anon81064 — On Apr 29, 2010

I want the best, most thorough black to print transparencies for silk-screening. My inkjet (full) won't get black enough, and the laser doesn't seem to make a full opacity print either. Any help?

By anon76259 — On Apr 09, 2010

I used to run inkjet printers (typically multifunction devices) and was careful to only buy those with individual ink tanks which weren't chipped or had the print head on them.

I thought that would be enough to keep my costs down, but as I only average 2-3 pages/month (usually a few months of nothing and then 10 pages in one go), I soon discovered that the printer would either insist on running a five minute cleaning cycle before it would begin, thus wasting lots of ink, or it'd print with white horizontal lines where the ink had dried previously and blocked the head nozzles.

In the end I bought a secondhand laser printer and although it'd been stored in the corner of a garage for a long time, it printed perfectly first time.

Nowadays I run laser printers for almost everything because they can cope with both high volume and very infrequent printing equally - the only downside is that lasers don't like photo printing - but how much of that do you really do?

By anon44923 — On Sep 11, 2009

my dad wants to print out some simple business cards to "get the word out". He unknowingly brought home paper stock that is labeled "for laser printers", but we have an inkjet printer. before i open the package and print them anyway, will this paper work, or do we really need to exchange the paper? thanks for any advice.

By mdt — On Mar 09, 2008

A lot depends on the printer in question. There are inkjet and laserjet printers that are configured to use ink or toner cartridges that can set for months with no use. Before you buy another printer, check with the manufacturer of your current printer and see if they have any ideas on how to avoid losing cartridges.

By anon8176 — On Feb 09, 2008

i have minimum usage of printer; many times my inkjet printer remains unused for months together and by this way i lost my two or more cartridge....

for my irregular usage, does it indicate to buy a laserjet printer and will this irregular usage affect the shelf life of the printer???

Malcolm Tatum

Malcolm Tatum

Writer

Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing...
Learn more
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