But which printer to choose? Below we will examine a range of different printer types (from high end behemoths to more affordable discount models) and the consumables available for each. Hopefully it will help any potential buyers make a more informed decision.
Laser or Inkjet?
It’s a ‘truth’ universally acknowledged that laser printers produce sharper, crisper, clearer text and inkjet printers can offer colour prints with the kind of depth and vividness, just not possible through laser printing. That doesn’t necessarily mean that inkjet printers don’t produce perfectly useable text or that colour laser printers are surplus to requirements, but there is a vague wisdom to that glib over generalisation. However the primary factor potential buyers will be taking into account will not be the printer’s suitability, but its price.
It can’t be denied that laser printers are more expensive than their inkjet counterparts, but this is generally down to the components in the machines themselves. In the long run however, most laser toner cartridges carry FAR more forgiving duty cycles (the amount of pages one cartridge will be able to handle) and thus offer a far greater value for money. It all depends on what you plan to use your printer for and how often you intend to use it.
For those on a budget the inkjet option is by far the most sensible with laser printers only really coming into their own in professional environments where heavy, daily use is a inevitability. Laser Colour printers are certainly not cheap (in terms of the machines themselves and their operational costs) but they are incredibly efficient and offer the kind of turnaround that just wouldn’t be possible with inkjet. Of course a larger print shop should (ideally) have both laser and ink printers and price their services accordingly but in many ways it’s down to personal preference. Many prefer the sharper, more consistent colours offered by laser and others swear by the depth and photo-realism of inkjet. When it comes to text though, the answer is cut and dry. Any office using inkjet printers for its text based documents is obviously doing something drastically wrong as not only is productivity significantly slowed, inkjet text is liable to smudge and fade over time.
To Colour or not to Colour?
If you’re working in a professional print shop then obviously there is no question here, colour is an essential aspect of your business and as such it should be the first thing you consider when selecting your printer. Both inkjet and laser colour printers will operate differently depending on their size. Larger industrial sized printers will generally require separate Cyan, Yellow and Magenta cartridges whereas smaller, self contained models will require only a black cartridge and a 3-in-1 colour cartridge in order to produce full colour printouts. Conventional wisdom suggests the larger the printer, the more ‘professional’ the results but when it comes to colour printing this is not always the case. So make sure you shop around and really do your research.
It’s all in the Name (Which Brand?)
The most visible names in the field are Hewlett Packard, Epson, Samsung, Canon and Lexmark with each company bringing their own bespoke functions, technologies and quirks to the table. HP printers and printer consumables will generally be the most expensive and Lexmark and Samsung will provide products with the largest discount. This is due to the way the products are designed and engineered but there are other factors to take into consideration.
Most modern HP inkjet and toner cartridges have been designed with ‘smart-chip’ technology, the smart chip being an implementation that sends detailed information to your computer so you can see exactly how many pages worth of ink you have left to use. Other brands meanwhile might provide greater duty cycles or twin and combination packs for a better price or products that are easier to install and replace. It’s really all a matter of personal preference.
Iam Appleton is a copywriter based in the UK who uses an inkjet printer and a variety of discount consumables.