Let's talk printers: laser vs inkjet for home user

I’m changing jobs, and because I worked from home my employer provided a printer, which I was allowed to use for the small amount of personal printing I do. As I’m leaving that firm though, I’ve had to give it back. As I’ll be office-based in the new job, they (perfectly reasonably) won’t be issuing me with any home-office goodies.

Which means I’m in the market for a new printer. I’ve always had multi-function printers (print / scan / fax) up until now. Occasionally, I scanned things. I’ve never sent a fax, and I don’t expect to.

I’m not sure I actually need a big hefty MFP these days; if I want to capture a digital copy of a piece of paper I tend to point my smartphone at it and snap it straight into Evernote. Looking at Amazon, I’m quite shocked at how inexpensive printers generally are, and particularly laser printers; they’re cheap enough that I would certainly consider a low-end mono laser. The last time I paid for a printer, about a decade ago, a decent inkjet was in the realms of a couple of hundred quid. Amazon has basic ink-jets from £30, MFPs from not much more, and mono lasers well under £100.

Given that I think I can live without colour printing, a mono laser would at first glance to seem like a no-brainer; they’re compact and cheap to run, and the up-front cost isn’t horrible. But in the back of my mind, I have memories of early laser printers being an absolute nightmare to run, with people hand-pouring toner into them and such. Is that still the case, or are they a bit easier to manage now?

I’m not going to be printing high volumes, and it’s likely to be days or even weeks between print jobs. I’ve heard stories of the ink cartridges in inkjets drying up, although it never happened to me (but I printed more when working from home than I will from now on). WiFi is attractive, since there are several computers in the house that will want to print.

All thoughts welcome…

I’ve run several thousand pages through a laser printer and no problems except an occasional paper jam. You only hand pour toner in them if you want to save money (as I do).

I haven’t done the math in a couple of years, but in the past:

  1. The main cost of a printer isn’t the actual machine, it’s the ink or toner you’ll be using. Take a look at what replacement cartridges will cost you. And those cheap machines? They probably come with a less than full cartridge, so you’ll be buying soonish.
  2. Inkjets are the cheapest per page, if you use all of the ink in the cartridge. We print once every couple of weeks, and we were always throwing away partially used ink cartridges, because the print head had gunked up.
  3. Laser jets cost more per page, but the powder in the cartridge doesn’t dry up. Ours will last for years, used once in a while.

For us, the numbers came out WAY in favor of the laser jet, both from cost, and from the annoyance of not being able to print because your cartridge was trash, again. For my mom, who prints frequently, the ink jet makes sense. She empties it before it dries.

I have a photo inkjet for photography but IMHO if you don’t care that it doesn’t have duplex the HP LaserJet Pro M4xx series is perfect for a home user. In lightly used home printers dried up inks seem to be more of a problem these days. Those little HPs print 40 pages per min and are durable enough with cheap enough supplies that even Frys is using them as point of sale printers.

That said it will be years before I run through the 3000 pages that the original toner cartridge will handle.

Laser all the way.

The one you can get for £100 will print crisp perfect pages for years to come. These days printers are all wifi enabled, and if you get the right one you ought to be able to print directly to it from your iDevices via AirPrint.

As has already been said, ink jet cartridges dry up and nozzles clog, while the (expensive) toner cartridges are a breeze to change and last forever.

The biggest advantage inkjets had in the B&W document space was price, and that has all but evaporated.

I’ve been using a cheap laser printer for my home printing for several years now, and I’m quite happy with it. When it runs out of toner (once or twice a year), I’ve replaced the cartridge with a cheap off-brand compatible cartridge from Amazon. Some of these have worked perfectly; others have had reasonably minor print quality issues (streaking, etc.).

I will never buy an inkjet printer again after having laser. I know you’re not in the market for a MFP, but decent ones are so inexpensive and, for me at least, having the ability to photocopy at home, as well as scan, is worth it. I have a Canon MFP that cost about $160.00 US, and I love it. The toner cartridges are pricey, if you buy the Canon cartridges, around $70.00, but there are loads of aftermarket cartridges available on Amazon for around $15.00 that work just as well. I would expect the same for a smaller printer-only printer, if size is a concern.

In my experience, inkjets are touch and go. I’ve had more problems with cartridges and rollers than I care to think about. And my memories of buying new cartridges (or trying to refill them myself) bring memories of big time and/or money sinks.

Even with the price difference, my preference would be the laser. And as far as size, the difference between an inkjet and a laser isn’t that great.

I bought an HP LaserJet 4L around 1992 and, printing a page or two a month, was using the same printer more than a decade later. I only replaced the printer because the cartridge finally needed to be replaced and a new OEM cartridge would have been about $70, and I could replace the whole machine with a newer, higher-resolution printer (the old one was just 300 dpi and newer ones were at least 600dpi) for not much more. So I now have a Brother MFC for about eight or ten years.

You need to redo the math. Laser jets are cheaper per page.

I would only also get an inkjet if I wanted color (which I don’t).

Laser printers can also use cheaper quality copier paper. For good results injet paper should be coated to stop the ink spreading.

Color laser costs less per page than color inkjet. For up-front costs, I bought a terrific color laser multi-function for < $300. The printer-only equivalent was less than $200.

Unless you have extreme specialist needs (like pigment-based precision-calibrated photo printing), laser beats inkjet almost every way.

You know what’s even better? Sharks with frickin’ laser printers attached to their heads!

Have been using an inexpensive laser at home for several years now, very satisfied with it and has been very economical. I realized that I did not need photo-quality color printing enough to prevent the old inkjet mfp it replaced from getting clogged jets and dried tanks – I did keep it as a scanner/datacard-reader station.

Next time I’m ready to buy I’ll seek a color laser mfp that is reasonably small.

We do without a printer. If there’s something I really really need a paper copy of, which only comes up once or twice a year, I ask my husband to print it out at work, or I stop at Kinko’s.

I had a series of inkjet printers for about a decade- both fixed head Epson style, and ink-cartridge mounted head (Lexmark) style ones.

Both of them would work well if I printed a lot, and printed fairly often. But if I let it go for 2-3 weeks (or more) like I’m wont to do with printers, then they’d inevitably clog up and have problems. The cartridge-mounted head models were easier to fix- just get a new $30 print cartridge!:rolleyes:

I got a cheap Konica-Minolta color laser printer about 5-6 years ago, and haven’t looked back. It prints like a dream, it doesn’t get butthurt and clog up if I don’t print out of it regularly, and it wasn’t significantly more ($150-ish) than an equivalent inkjet printer. The consumables are more expensive, but the aftermarket ones seem to work just as well for considerably less.

The only thing it doesn’t do as well as inkjets is print photos, but I do little of that anyway, so I don’t care.

Thanks everyone. I’m planning to head to PC World tomorrow to check out the range, but current thinking is a laser - assuming Mrs Snowman doesn’t decide she needs colour printing (and even then, maybe). Dried-up cartridges does seem to crop up a lot online as a problem with inkjets.

I have a colour laser printer. The toner lasts a long time. :cool:

It was the main reason I switched from ink to laser. I also went B&W from color, thinking that if I really need color, I’ll print at work or head to the library in town.

I repair laser printers at work, here’s my take…

Best quality printers; Samsung and HP, well built, reliable, and solid

Printers to avoid; Epson, Lexmark, Brother, mostly all plastic construction, cheap and unreliable, that said they’re easier to repair than Samsung and HP,

HP quality has gone down considerably. I’d get a brother before an HP for home use.

Based on the op’s criteria of low use and monochrome printing a laserjet is the clear winner. I think it’s Office Depot that marks stuff down heavily when they are gettingrid of old models. They’re not advertised mark-downs.

I still have on old HP laserjet 4 from the 80’s laying around. It was a great printer in it’s time. If the rollers still had some grip on them I’d still be using it. It was constantly jamming.