Laser Printer -v- Inkjet Printer


Back in the day, laser printing was black and white, involved huge expense and the actual printers were monsters. Inkjet was affordable and produced decent results. That is until your cartridges would dry up or run out.. then it was off to the shop to buy replacements every hundred pages or so. Chances are, you still live like that. I do. We buy printers because they’re cheap and double up as photocopiers and scanners. We don’t think about laser because it’s not really on the shelves for us home users…

I’m hoping to buy a colour laser printer though shortly. My own printer is about 4 years old and it’s slow, noisy and prints straight lines only a drunk would be proud of. Is a colour laser printer overkill for home use? Absolutely, and that’s why i’m getting one. I don’t need a laser printer the same way i don’t need two monitors or a surround sound system. I could make do with a normal printer but why bother when laser printers are now a relatively cheap option?

The Choices

It’s still cheaper to buy a new inkjet printer than to buy most official replacement cartridges which is insane… and it’s been like that for years. 10 years +. Printing, i feel, is moving way too slow. A few years ago, a printer had a scanner and photocopier built in. Now, they’ve an LCD screen, an SD slot & wi-fi perhaps too. Some of them also look a bit more slicker. But the printing part is still the same. It’s still inkjet, it’s still slow, it’s still costly to replace ink no matter how well manufacturers dress everything up…

Epson Stylus Pro 9900 / Involution Studios / 20100423.7D.05891.P1.L1.C23 / SML
Creative Commons License photo credit: See-ming Lee æŽæ€æ˜Ž SML

Lets take my own Epson printer. I paid about €100 for it back in 2006. How much does a pack of official Epson cartridges cost?  About €50. I can buy a new printer for that. Rather than play that game again and have to make do with poor speed, poor quality and expensive ink, i’m just going to buy a quality colour laser printer and be done with it. 1,000 pages per cartridge, able to churn out 20 pages per minute. That’s what i’m talking about… that’s the way it should be.

If an inkjet printer costs €50 and a colour laserjet costs €200, i know what you’re thinking… So many suckers think the same way. However, the laserjet option isn’t as expensive as it sounds… I reckon it’s more cost effective than an inkjet printer for most of us over about 3 years. Plus you get speed, consistency and peace of mind.

The Math

Lets say you print 2 pages per day on average. 14 per week, 728 per year. I’m guesstimating inkjet ink lasts 200 pages (i’m assuming we’re using colour here).

Ink costs €50 a pop (the official, recommended stuff). If you’re printing 728 pages per year you need roughly 3 replacements which will total €150. So the printer costs €50, ink replacements costs €150. €200 for the first year.

HP ink cartridge
Creative Commons License photo credit: Matthew Stones

How much does a decent colour laser printer cost? €200. You get faster print outs and more of them (1000 pages with standard ink, 2000 with high capacity ink). It’s a no brainer.

Lets say you’re a light user and you print on average 5 pages per week. That’s 780 over 3 years. Again, it makes sense to go with laser… you’re not going to ‘lose’ anything but you will gain speed and consistency of print.

The physchology

I don’t use my printer often, however i do find myself printing out the odd 30 page report for college. I’ve another year left in college which will also be my most important /busiest, so having a speedy, decent printer on hand would be nice. I’m also very conscious of the fact that printing is slow and wastes ink, so subconsciously i probably avoid printing.

The switch to a laser printer would probably change my attitude to printing and perhaps make me print more which could be a good thing… i can see myself typing up a to do list in bed on my netbook and printing it out wirelessly so i’ll have it on my desk in the morning – BAM! printed out in 2 seconds. No messing about. No worrying about ink or cleaning heads or wondering it i’ve enough paper in there…

Speed King
Creative Commons License photo credit: rodmaia

Maybe i’ll get a few important emails that i need to respond to… rather than stick them in a ‘read later’ folder i could just print them out and leave them staring up at me from my desk which would put me under pressure to get rid of them / work on them.

That’s the way i think… that’s the difference speed makes to me – it has a huge influence on how i work. I send text messages from the internet because i’m quicker typing on a keyboard than by numbers, plus it’s free, plus all my messages are stored automatically online so i don’t have to clog up my phone’s inbox or outbox. A Laser printer could do to printing what online text messages have done to sms for me 🙂

The delivery date

When i say ‘i’m thinking about getting’ something, that means ‘i’m already in the process of getting’ something. My mind is made up, i’m sold. I’ll usually just spend a bit of time looking at reviews or seeing if there are any bigger, better things on the horizon. I don’t have a particular model in mind, but from what i gather the Dell laserjets are cheaper to run and produce the best results. Samsungs look better and have more features but are slower & quality of print isn’t as good. They seem to be the two big guns in the ‘home / small business colour laserjet for under €200’ category.

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