For many business owners and office managers, finding the best business printer begins with one question – inkjet or laser?
In the mid-2000s, laser printers overtook inkjets in terms of per-page cost and operating efficiency, but recent advances in print technology have made the distinction less clear, especially from a business standpoint.
So where does your office stand? To find out, it’s helpful to compare the ongoing costs of these printer types.
Choosing the Best Business Printer – Start with Operational Costs
It should come as no surprise that inkjet and laser printers with similar specifications cost almost the same. As two mature, highly engineered technologies perfected over years of experimentation, there is little reason to prefer either inkjet or laser from a unit cost point of view.
However, these two printer technologies differ in terms of operational costs. According to PCWorld, consumer and small office-level inkjet printers can cost up to $.20 per colored page in consumables. A similar-quality black-and-white laser printer consumes about $.06 per page.
At this point, your expected print volume will steeply affect the price you will end up paying per-page. If you purchase a larger, more powerful laser printer, you can drop the per-page price steeply, but you will have to deal with increased maintenance costs that don’t factor easily into any per-page calculation.
From this point of view, it seems like laser printers have an edge over inkjets, especially if you plan on printing uncolored pages that contain only text.
Consider Per-Page Print Speed and Volume
In general, monochrome laser printers print faster than inkjets. If you are printing a high volume of text-based pages meant for internal use, a fast laser printer will outperform even the best inkjet printers on the market.
When it comes to color printing, laser printers slow down considerably. Whereas inkjet mechanisms can mix colors on the fly, laser printers typically have to lay down each individual layer of color one at a time. The fact that the laser mechanism itself is faster no longer represents a huge advantage because the printer has to repeat the mechanism multiple times to produce colored pages.
Choose for Print Quality
If you are planning on printing for internal use and do not need breathtaking, vibrant colors in your documents, you can certainly get by with a powerful and compact laser printer. However, if you are printing colored pages, inkjet consistently outperforms laser in terms of print quality.
Due to the physics of laser printing, subtle color gradation usually turns into distinct overlaying bands of slightly differing colors. This is called banding, and it looks very unnatural. As a result, businesses printing consumer-facing materials such as brochures and sales flyers generally turn to inkjet for the highest quality color prints.
Another area in which inkjet trumps laser is in high resolution printing. Laser printing is very precise, but it cannot reproduce high resolution images with the same degree of fidelity as a high quality inkjet printer. If you are producing images at the web standard of 72 dots-per-inch (DPI), you will not notice a major difference when printing inkjet or laser – either one will print equally poor-quality images. But if you operate at 300 DPI or higher, the difference will be clear and immediately visible – inkjet prints will be noticeably more crisp and lifelike.
Higher quality printers have higher DPI settings, allowing them to print higher resolution photographs with greater fidelity. Although excellent color laser printers do exist, organizations looking for the best business printer for high resolution photograph-quality printing will almost always steer towards inkjet technology.
Ultimately, the ideal compromise between operational costs, printing speed, and print quality is unique to each organization. Your company has specific needs when it comes to identifying the best business printer, although certain needs remain constant. For instance, network capability is a must for any modern office, and you certainly want to choose the most durable long-lasting device you can afford.
Consulting with a team of experts who have firsthand experience working with different types of printers in a wide range of work environments can be extremely useful. Your printer is an important investment – studying the market will generate long-term rewards.
Need help determining which inkjet or laser printer is best for your organization? Advantage Imaging Supply has the expertise you need – get in touch with us today to find out more.