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Ink Jet or Laser Printer: Which is More Cost Effective For Your Needs?

Aug 23, 2008
Depending on your needs printing can be an integral and expensive part of your computer usage. Making a smart choice at point of purchase can save a lot of money over time and ensure that you own a printer which is capable of your desired performance. I will provide an overview of two of the most common type of computer printers; the ink jet and the laser.

An Ink Jet printer operates by propelling droplets of liquid molten material, otherwise known as ink, onto a medium, otherwise known as paper. They are the most popular type of computer printer due to its low cost, print quality, rich color and ease of use. Four major manufacturers account for a bulk of the sales as follows; Canon, Hewlett-Packard, Epson and Lexmark. Each of these manufacturers claims a substantial share of the credit for the development and evolution of the modern day inkjet. Your basic consumer ink jet printer has print cartridges which contain a series of tiny electronically heated chambers. The printer runs a pulse of current through the heating elements and this causes a steam burst in the chamber which forms a bubble and this propels a droplet of ink onto the paper.

A Laser printer is the second most common type of computer printer that produces excellent quality text and graphics onto plain paper. Images are produced by the direct scanning of a laser beam across the printer's photoreceptor. Laser printers use a xerographic printing process similar to digital photocopiers and MFPs. First, laser beam projects an image of the desired page onto it's electrically charged rotating drum. Then ink is sprayed onto the drum. The ink only adheres to the areas that were illuminated by the laser. The image is then printed on the paper by direct contact with the drum.

When trying to choose between an Ink Jet or Laser printer for your home or business, ink jet is the easy choice at a glance. The average purchase price is approximately $50.00 and many vendors will "throw them in" with the purchase of other hardware. Ink is the catch. The cost of the ink used for inkjet printers is typically a whopping $20 to $40 per cartridge which yields approximately 200 pages.

Thankfully, Kodak through a wrench into this sting last year by releasing the Kodak Easy Share 5500 all-in-one ( a printer, scanner, copier and fax machine). This printer retails at approximately $200.00 and its cartridges are available for $9.99 in black and $14.99 in color. This yields a net savings of 50% over your traditional ink jet printer. This resulted in other vendors slashing ink prices. Furthermore, Brother, Canon, HP and Lexmark began selling more cost effective inkjet printers as well as small business-friendly inkjets.

There is also an extensive line of laser printers available. Laser printers can be set up on and excel on large sophisticated networks. Lasers are durable on all media and provide the best overall print quality. They are better suited for high volume printing with higher capacity supplies and robust remote monitoring. Considering their high duty cycle these printers may be better suited in an environment where IT support is available, although there are low intervention rates. The original purchase price is more expensive than the inkjet but the yield per black ink cartridge is approximately 1000 pages. However, color printing is approximately four times as expensive as black and white. Hence, most people opt for the monochrome lasers and office staff is instructed to save color for special occasions!

Depending on your needs printing can be an integral and expensive part of your computer usage. Making a smart choice at point of purchase is going to require you to project usage and desired quality of output and on what types of media. Occasional usage at home is most likely best suited for an inkjet printer, keeping in mind that less expensive ink is available for certain models. In short, a laser printer is better suited for mass printing on a shared network. There are many in-between options available now especially in light of the cost competition heating up. This overview provided you at the very least with the right questions to ask while shopping!
About the Author
I have an extensive background in Finance and Fiscal Procedure. I also have a web business where I offer Educational Computer Software and Games . Please visit us at http://www.thesoftwarespot.com ! Thank you, Allison Merlino
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