Inkjet or Laser, All-In-One, Monochrome or Color: Understanding Printer Types
Inkjet or Laser, All-In-One, Monochrome or Color: Understanding Printer Types
May 26, 2020
Your project is complete, and you’re ready to hit “print,” expecting a clean, legible document or photo to show off your quality work. It really should be this easy, but deciding what type of printer is right for you can be overwhelming. Will an inkjet printer meet your needs, or is a laser printer the better option? What about an “all-in-one,”’ and is wireless printing important?
First, let’s examine the differences between laser and inkjet printers, then take a look at a few common printer types so you can make an informed decision.
Understanding Inkjet Printers
It should come as no surprise that an inkjet printer uses ink, but how do they actually work? Inkjet printers have tiny, microscopic nozzles that spray the ink onto a page. The ink then forms dots, which in turn, create a letter, symbol, or even an image. The number of dots determines the resolution, or quality, produced by an inkjet printer. More dots equates to a higher resolution, which is measured by dpi, or dots per inch.
Inkjet cartridges utilize a printhead that has nozzles, which is how the ink makes its way onto the paper. Printer cartridges are required for inkjet printers. Most printers include a starter set to get you going. Still, you’ll need to purchase replaceable or refillable cartridges and replace them as needed, depending on how much you print.
If you need to print documents or images in color, you’ll need the primary shades of cyan, yellow, and magenta. Together, these three colors can produce other colors.
The advantages of purchasing an inkjet printer over a laser revolve primarily around initial costs and use. Overall, the initial cost of inkjet printers is lower than lasers, and they do a better job of blending colors. For low to medium volume printing, and when color printing is a necessity, inkjet printers are best. Plus, they tend to be smaller and easier to maintain than laser printers.
Color inkjet printers are available in a variety of price points, including low cost options like HP Deskjets and Epson EcoTanks.
Laser Printers Excel for High-Volume Needs
Laser printers, like photocopiers, don’t use ink. Instead, they use a toner that contains a powder made up of tiny, plastic particles of various colors. And like inkjet printers, they are available in either monochrome (one-color) or color.
An electromagnetic static charges the toner, causing the belt or drum inside the printer to be drawn to the image. Then, the toner is pressed onto the paper. Finally, a fuser unit will bond the toner to the paper. It’s that simple!
It’s common for many businesses to use multiple printers. For those high-volume jobs that don’t require color, monochrome laser printers usually get the job done faster. Laser printers are not only designed and engineered to be faster to meet the demands of busy offices, but laser toner cartridges also print faster since they are able to dispense the ink quicker than an inkjet cartridge.
For example, Lexmark wireless printers can print up to 50 pages per minute (ppm) and are recommended for monthly volumes between 2,000 and 20,000 pages.
However, when color printing is a requirement, Brother color laser printers are a highly rated, wireless option. For companies with the need for a secure office printer, it has a built-in card reader that can scan employee badges.
The Need for Color
Since taking photos with smartphones and tablets is a snap, color printers are popular for both small business and home use. If mobility is a requirement, some Canon wireless color inkjet printers offers cloud printing which makes printing from social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter easier than ever. Plus, built-in Wi-Fi capability allows fast photo printing from any compatible mobile device.
Some photo printers are designed specifically for just that. So if your needs involve photo printing in lieu of letters, memos, or proposals, you might consider Epson wide-format printers. The larger format makes it easier to produce quality prints.
Remember, monochrome printers produce documents in only one color, which is typically black. These printers are ideal for law firms or other businesses that produce large quantities of documents. Monochrome Epson EcoTank printers are designed for high-volume duty and are highly-rated.
What Exactly Is An All-in-One, Or Multi-function Printer?
As the phrase implies, all-in-one printers perform multiple functions. Besides printing, these printers can also serve as a copier, fax machine, and scanner. Not all types of printers deliver all of these functions, so make sure you read the product descriptions to determine your specific needs. All-in-one printers are available in monochrome or color and as laser or inkjet printers, allowing you to find the right one, at the right price.
For a budget-friendly option, some Canon all-in-one printers offer wireless options. For additional features, Brother all-in-one printers can include Google™ Cloud Print, Mopria, AirPrint, Wi-Fi Direct and Brother iPrint&Scan. They can also go extended periods without needing an ink cartridge replacement or refill.
The Importance of Speed, Volume, Quality, and Color
If you need a fast workhouse and require high-quality documents, then a laser printer is your best option. On the flip side, if pages per minute isn’t an issue and you print a lot of color documents or images, then consider an inkjet printer.
Maintenance is another issue to consider. Ink cartridges are relatively easy to replace. When you see fading on a page or your printer indicates ink levels are low, simply replace one or more cartridges.
Replacing the toner in a laser printer is different. If the fuser assembly gets scratches or marks, a new roller is necessary. Or, you may need to replace the fuser unit, which also means you’ll need to replace the toner.
However, to simplify either process, joining a subscription service offered by the printer manufacturer means you’ll never run out of either ink or toner when another print job awaits.
Your Needs Will Ultimately Determine the Cost
Do you only print documents in black, or will you ever need to print a color document or photo? What about options such as scanning and copying? How often do you use a printer? Is wireless connectivity or printing from multiple devices important? Is duplex or double-sided printing needed?
How your device communicates with the printer is also important. For many years, USB was the standard interface between a printer and computer, mandating that the two devices be within close proximity to one another since a USB cable was required.
Today, wireless connectivity is the norm, allowing printing from multiple computers or devices. When a network connection is available – usually in office environments – devices are connected via Ethernet to a router or network switch. Wired setups are found most often in professional office environments. Therefore, most low-end printers won’t have Ethernet ports built-in.
About the Author
Paul Stanley has spent the majority of his professional life in financial services, journalism, and politics.
All content provided herein is for educational purposes only. It is provided “as is” and neither the author nor Office Depot, Inc. warrant the accuracy of the information provided, nor do they assume any responsibility for errors, omissions or contrary interpretation of the subject matter herein.
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