Inkjet or Laser: Which is the Ideal Option for You?

Are you looking forward to buying the best printer? One of the questions that might be running through your mind might be: “between inkjet and laser, which is better?” While both types of printers are common in home and office printing, which is the ideal option for your situation?

The primary difference between inkjets and laser printers is the printing technology. The technology further determines the quality of the printout, cost of printing documents and photos, and upfront costs. We are going to compare the two to help you pick the ideal printer.

Inkjet versus Laser Printers: Key Highlights

  • Inkjets have a lower upfront. However, their operation cost is higher. If you do not target a lot of print work, this is a great option.
  • Laser printers are recommended for document printing while inkjets will do a better job in photo printing.
  • Laser printers are better for cutting the cost per page.
  • Inkjets are smaller compared to laser printers.

Inkjet versus Laser Printing Technologies

Although the definition of printing is the same, whether you have a laser or inkjet, the two printers use varying technologies.

An inkjet printer, as the name suggests, uses liquid ink that is released onto a paper via micro nozzles on the print head. Depending on whether the ink is pigment-based or dye-based, it may change color after landing on the paper or dry as deposited.

On the other hand, laser printers use toners, which is in powder form. The printers use electrostatic charges to transfer toner to the surface of the paper. Then, the toner is bound using heat.

The two approaches, laser and inkjet technologies, determine everything, from the size of the printer to expenses. And you know what?  It is possible to find both technologies in single-function printers or all-in-one printers that feature fax, copying, and scanning capabilities. Either of the technology can be okay as long as you comprehend both the weaknesses and strengths of each.

Canon Pixma TS9120 Brother HL-L2390DW
Printer Type Inkjet Laser
Rating 4.5 Stars 4.5 Stars
Ink/ toner Six cartridges (dye black, pigment black, photo blue, magenta, cyan, and yellow) Monochrome
Color printing 19.8 cents per page N/A
Dimensions 14.7 x 14.2 x 5.6 inches 15.7 x 16.1 x 12.5 inches

Inkjet vs Laser printers: A Closer Look at the Upfront Costs

When purchasing a printer, one of the top factors to consider is cost. Even if you want a specific printer model, it is your budget that has the final say.

Most inkjet printers are cheaper compared to laser printers. This is because the technology they use is not as complicated as that employed in laser models. Another factor that makes inkjet printers less expensive is because designers know they will make more money selling ink. It is because of this reason that you might find buying a new cartridge is equal to purchasing a new printer.

Unlike inkjets, laser printers will rarely go for more than $200. It is even possible to get a good laser printer for as low as $150.

Before making the big decision about the printer to buy, take a moment to think about the cost of printing. If you barely do printing because your task involves more scanning or faxing, it is possible to identify an affordable option for as low as $50.

Takeaway: While inkjets are cheaper to buy, they are more expensive in the long term.

Inkjet vs Laser printers: Comparing the Print quality

The quality of liquid ink and toner powder will also determine how good a specific type of printer is for your situation.

Inkjets, because of their pigment and dye-based inks, are very effective in color printing. This is why they are preferred for photo printing that needs shades of colors.

Laser printers, unlike the inkjets, are not designed for photo printing. Indeed, even the modern laser printers used for color printing require special-laser ready types of papers. This makes them less suitable for standard everyday use.

However, laser printers are recommended for printing texts. Indeed, their text print results cannot be matched by those from inkjets. Often, inkjet printing bleeds slightly such that individual letters are rarely sharp.

Another notable thing about inkjet printing is the smearing tendency. Because the ink continues drying once printing is done, there is a likelihood of smudged documents. To stay away from the problem completely, consider going for a laser model.

Takeaway: Inkjets are better for printing photos while laser printers are ideal for text documents, especially when dealing with high volumes.

Inkjet vs Laser printers: The Printing Costs

Another notable difference you should look at closely is the cost of printing. Studies have demonstrated that printer ink is one of the most expensive components in the globe. Ink is engineered for articulate flow rates that make it easy to mix consistently and dry promptly. All of this happens while making the printout, especially in photos printing, to look real. Because the ink provides top-notch results, printer companies want you to keep buying more.

A closer look at the cost per paper, for both black and colored options, when using inkjet printers reveals a slight variation. When printing a black and white page, the cost is about 5-10 cents per page while a colored page will cost you 15-25 cents per page.

On the other hand, laser printers are less expensive. One of the things that contribute to this is the fact that toners are in powder form which is easier to transport, store, and use.

Note that although toner cartridges are more expensive when compared to ink for inkjets, you can print hundreds of pages. The cost of plain-text printing using a laser printer is below 5 cents per page while color printing is approximately 15 cents per page.

Notably, laser toners such as Brother DCP-L2550DW Toner can be stored for a long time without getting damaged. However, ink in cartridges can dry rendering the cartridge unusable, even if you had only printed a few pages.

Takeaway: The cost of prints per page is lower when using laser printers. However, the toners are more expensive, which means you pay upfront.

Inkjet vs Laser printers: Comparing the Printer Size

Another important factor to consider when it comes to shopping for a printer is size. While it is true that they come in varying sizes, laser multifunctional printers are bigger and heavier compared to inkjets. If your space is compact, the chances are that you will get a perfectly fitting inkjet. This advantage comes from the fact that ink cartridges are built inside the printers.

When it comes to lasers, they need to incorporate bigger print drums, thermal elements, and laser module that make them bulky. When you incorporate other functionalities such as copying and scanning, the printer becomes bulkier.

Takeaway: if you have space limitations, inkjet could be the way to go.

The Bottom Line

When it comes to making the decision between buying a laser or inkjet printer, the main thing is how you want to use the printer. For example, there are people who only print several copies a year. For others, a printer the printer is used for bulk text printing.

Inkjet printers are okay for occasional printing. Although ink cost/ page is generally high compared to lasers, they are better for printing photos. They are also ideal for people with compact spaces.

Laser printers, on the other hand, provide a cheaper option for printing text-heavy pages. Although bulky, laser printers are faster and generate smudge-free printouts. If your target is making clear texts, it is advisable to go for laser printers.