How To Choose The Perfect Printer?

Shopping for a printer can be as tricky as buying a car. When you're looking for the perfect printer for your needs there are a number of things you need to take into account. Laser or inkjet? Regular or all-in-one? Auto-duplexing?  Inkjet printers use liquid ink sprayed through microscopic nozzles onto the paper, and laser printers use a toner cartridge (filled with fine powder) and a heated fuser.

There are all-in-one printers that are geared towards the home, and they are a good choice if you need a photo copier and a scanner as well as a printer in your house. If you're after a printer to mainly print out photographs, then there are specially-designed printers that excel at that.

Surprisingly enough, you can purchase a basic laser or inkjet printer for almost the same price. The cheapest laser printers will generally cost around $130; you can pick up inkjet printers for as little as $60-$70. However, these budget inkjet printers generally come with 'starter' cartridges, which don't have a full ink tank. This means you'll need to refill them after fewer prints.

As you continue to use your new printer over a period of time, you'll need to keep it supplied with appropriate consumables like paper and ink or toner. The ongoing running costs of printers are generally quoted in cents per A4 page. You can calculate this by dividing the number of pages an ink or toner cartridge can produce (this figure is provided by the manufacturer) by the price of the cartridge. This doesn't include the cost of paper though (but this won't change depending on the type of printers).

Generally inkjet printers have a price per page of around 20 cents, although this includes both black and color cartridges — if you intend to print only black, ongoing print costs are generally 7-8 cents per page. Cheap black-and-white laser printers have a price of around 6c per page on average. If you spend more on a laser printer, the cost per page generally drops quickly.

When it comes to printing black and white text pages, laser printing is unbeatable. Even in low-end cheaper monochrome laser models you can expect print speeds of up to 20 pages per minute. Inkjets are significantly slower, with budget printers rarely printing more than 6 pages per minute of black text. For anyone who prints more than 2,000 pages a year, a laser printer, at about 3p per page, is cheaper. The savings increase the more you print. A screenwriter, for instance, who prints 10,000 pages, stands to save hundreds of pounds by switching. If you print a lot of black and white documents then a laser can save you a lot of money. For normal print sizes (of around 12pt and larger) text printing quality is similar between both laser and inkjet printing platforms. However, if your printing needs include printing small fonts then lasers are normally better.

But inkjet does have its advantages. At the domestic end of the market the print quality is higher and the color definition better. If you print mostly photos then you probably want to stick with an inkjet printer.

In summary, the key to choosing the perfect printer depends on your own needs. If you print more black and white documents, then it is recommended to choose a laser printer. If you print more photos, it is recommended to choose an inkjet printer.

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