What is the difference between Inkjet and Laser Printers?

When shopping for a new printer, one of the first questions you will ask yourself is “what is the difference between Inkjet and Laser printers?

An Inkjet printer is typically the type of printer you would have bought for household use in the past. However, lower prices on laser printers have now made them an affordable option and they might be a good fit for you if you are printing lots of pages of plain black text.

In this article, we’ll look at what both inkjet and laser printers are, and also list of some pros and cons to each type of printer.

Inkjet Printer

Definition: a printer in which the characters are formed by minute jets of ink.

Pros

  • The inkjet printers are typically cheaper than laser printers
  • Better for photo and image or graphic printing
  • Can print onto many types of material, including several kinds of paper, photo paper, and even fabric
  • Smaller and lighter than a laser printer
  • Ink cartridges might be reusable
  • No warm up needed prior to printing

Cons

  • The ink is typically more expensive per page than a laser printer, and doesn’t last as long
  • The ink is water based, meaning your document is susceptible to fading or water damage
  • Need to “clean” frequently, which wastes ink.
  • Slow printing

Laser Printer

Definition: a printer, linked to a computer, producing good-quality printed material by using a laser to form a pattern of electrostatically charged dots on a light-sensitive drum, which attract toner (or dry ink powder). The toner is transferred to a piece of paper and fixed by a heating process.

Pros

  • Can print thousands of pages at a fast rate
  • Doesn’t waste as much ink as inkjet printers
  • Prints really nice black text

Cons

  • Higher initial cost, with a more expensive machine and more expensive ink, although it is cheaper per printed page
  • Needs to warm up before printing
  • Most can’t print in color, and even those that can don’t do as good a job as inkjet printers
  • Typically laser printers are big and bulky

Conclusion

To conclude, you would only want to consider a laser printer if you are printing lots of plain black text documents. For images and photos, or just occasional printing, inkjet is the way to go. Both types of printers are pretty affordable and have a lot of additional options, like scanners, copiers, fax machines, and more.

To learn more about printers, please refer to our article “Shopping for a new printer.”