Inkjet Versus Laser Printers


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Q. We need new printers for our office and my partner insists on buying three low-cost ink-jet models. He says not only are they cheap but they can print in black and white and in color. Somehow I think a laser printer—even if it is more expensive—is better. What are your thoughts?

A. Your partner has a point. It’s wise to have access to a color printer, and inexpensive ink-jet models do have that plus. The cheapest color laser, by comparison, costs more than $1,000.

Ink-jet printers have several negative features, however. While their initial cost is low (as little as $100), they gobble up ink at a prodigious rate. As a result, each printed page costs as much as five cents—and that’s just for the ink. A laser printer, on the other hand, while initially more expensive, generates each page at a tiny fraction of a cent. In addition, most laser models print far faster than ink-jet models, and the printing quality is generally far superior.

So maybe you can compromise and have the best of both worlds. Buy one color ink-jet printer for those few times you want to print in color and get laser models for the rest of your needs.

Until recently, the least expensive black-and-white laser printer cost more than $400, but Samsung just introduced a seven-page-per-minute model (the ML-1210) with a $199 price tag. It appears to be the lowest-priced laser model on the market. You may want to check it out.


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