Often once in a while, we require a hard copy of the digital file, whether it's text, a document or a PDF, and an image. Printers are the hardware for a PC that supports such a feat. We can extract any image or document however we want on paper using a printer.
Printers are on the market for decades, and there are various types of printers and manufacturers to choose from. However, from observation, we can see that people's favorite printers are the Inkjet and Laser printers. Both of these printers are efficient and fast. However, people still debate inkjet vs laser printers on which printer to purchase.
Choosing between an Inkjet or a laser printer is tough. Two years ago, laser printers were not affordable for consumers or small businesses. They did not print in color and needed very expensive paper. The colored inkjet printers were preferred over the laser printers. Although they were more affordable, they were not really precise, with their ink streaked or smeared on occasions. These led to the formation of a few stereotypes in the printer market.
But, heading away from the mainstream beliefs about Laser Printers being inherently superior to inkjet printers, we are going to put out a fair comparison of the two, and figure out which does better.
What is an Inkjet Printer?
Machines that spray microscopic droplets of ink onto paper are called Inkjet printers. These printers can be used to print both text documents and high-quality colored images and they are usually cheaper and smaller in size.
What is a laser printer?
Machines that melt toner powder onto paper to create a print are called laser printers. These printers are more economical in the long run, although they are more expensive upfront, than inkjet printers, and use pricier toner cartridges. Their overall low cost per page and faster printing speeds make them more cost-efficient in the longer run.
How do laser and inkjet printers work?
As has been shown in the picture above, Inkjet printers spray liquid ink through microscopic nozzles onto paper.
On the other hand, Laser printers have a drum unit that melts or fuses toner powder onto paper with heat.
Thus, the Inkjet printer uses ink whereas the Laser printer uses powder.
What are the uses of Inkjet and Laser printers?
Most people would advise you to get an inkjet printer if you are looking for a home printer for occasional printing, but you must keep in mind that Inkjet printers are infamous for drying up ink if not used more often. That being said, we would advise you to get an affordable laser printer if you have the budget for it, as the toner used by the laser printers doesn’t dry up.
Inkjet printers will do the job for you if you are printing a small number of documents and require high-resolution colored images regularly. Laser printers, on the other hand, have more durability and can print large quantities of monochrome and colored documents frequently.
Comparison: Inkjet vs Laser Printers
Printer Speed: Who's Faster?
It is very easy to just take a glance at speed ratings and say that the inkjets are slower than lasers but that statement isn’t completely true.
- The cheaper inkjets are slower than the cheap lasers, but that doesn’t mean all the inkjets are slow.
- As the laser technology maps the whole page and applies tones at the same time, it is, inherently, a little faster than how most of the inkjets apply ink to paper.
- Some of the low-budget inkjets print at around 8 pages per minute(ppm) whereas the cheap lasers can print paper at twice that rate.
- But, when we move towards the high budget printers, both inkjets, and lasers, it is seen that the speed is quite similar in both of them.
If we take the Brother's MFC-J6945DW inkjet, for example, it has a printing speed of 22ppm and the same company's laser-based MFC-L3770CDW has a speed of around 25ppm.
Plus, HP produces many inkjet printers that have a speed of around 70 ppm.
Therefore, laser printers do have a faster printing speed than traditional inkjets. But when we reach the high-end section of the products there isn’t really much of a difference.
Plus, if you usually print one or two pages for school or office, any printer would do for you and speed wouldn’t really be an issue.
So, Laser wins, but not by much.
Print Quality: Whose Output Looks Better?
- Laser printers do print sharper texts than inkjets, but when it comes to the other different kinds of printings, be it the color photos or charts, etc, the results of the inkjets are considerably more vibrant and detailed.
- The inkjet printers of today have been equipped with ultrafine printhead nozzles, which allow for greater detail and a lot wider color range than what is available on a laser printer. If the printing is done on glossy or any other premium quality paper, this detailed printing shapes up even better, whereas laser printers just can’t handle it.
- Some inkjets where you will find this are the Canon Pixma TS9120 and the Epson Expression Photo XP-8600 Small-in-One.
The extra colors in these printers reduce color striations and graininess.
- On inkjets printers, we have a feature that provides the printout without adherence to any borders, that is the ink can be applied even to the very edge of the paper to get a rather professional finish. This feature is known as “bleed”.
- Inkjets can also print on some types of cloth and on some vinyl, whereas the laser printers are pretty limited in this aspect, they can print on only a few types of paper, many of which are specially formulated for laser printers thus giving you a narrow range of more professional or decorative documents.
- Contemporary inkjets have improved a lot on the textual frontier too. Previously they would produce fuzzy text, but today they can produce an apt text which is easy to read.
Laser printers still produce better text with foundry specs for character shape, spacing, kerning, and leading.
So, Inkjet wins for color and laser for text.
Cost Per Page: Which Is Cheaper to Use?
There is a belief that laser printing is a lot cheaper than inkjet printing. It is true, in a sense but it mainly depends on the printers in question. A rather business-oriented or “laser alternative” inkjet printer will help you save a lot of money on consumables.
Replacement ink cartridges cost a lot, but if we look at the high-volume machines then the costs are pretty neck-to-neck.
Let’s take the Canon imageClass LBP226dw monochrome laser and the Epson WorkForce Pro WF-M5299. Here the cost per page of the Canon is 1.1 cents whereas the Epson’s is even lower at 0.8 cents. And this has started to become more of a norm in the business-printer market recently.
- In the consumer market or the home segment, lasers are cheaper to operate. This economics of the situation might alter though if you get a big supply of ink up front along with the printer.
- Brands like Epson, HP, and canon offer “bulk ink” machines that reduce the costs to under a penny per page for both monochrome and color pages. Whereas if you want to get laser printers that cost the same, you have to choose a high-volume model which will cost you more than $1,000. Laser printers mostly print color pages at around 5 cents per page.
- But the issue with Bulk-ink printers is that they only provide the value for money if more than, let’s say, 300 pages are printed per month. They print color pages at a cost of around 2 cents per page. If you print around 500 or more pages in a month, especially in color, you will see that you have saved a lot of money.
The Eco Tank Pro inkjet printers by Epson can help you save at least a nickel per page as compared to most color laser printers.
So Bulk-ink inkjet printers are the winners if your printing volume is high enough.
Operation: Which Is More Reliable?
Let’s look at the common snags of the printers and find out which is more reliable.
With the advancements in printers and papers, this issue is rarely faced these days.
Banding, streaking, and other output flaws: The earlier inkjet printers were having this issue but with the great advancements in hardware, printheads, ink, etc, it is rarely seen these days.
Clogged printhead ink nozzles: The early inkjet printers had this issue where the nozzle has to be cleaned and this wasted a lot of ink as it was flushed out of the printhead. But the manufacturers have addressed this issue too and the inkjets can now go longer days before the nozzle starts to dry.
So, Laser is the winner but not by as much as you'd think.
Inkjet vs. Laser: A Personal Choice
So after the comparisons above, we can truly say that choosing between an Inkjet or a Laser printer has to be according to your choice and usage. You can go for either of the two, you just have to make sure that you know how the printer will suit your work.