Printers: Inkjet Vs Laserjet By Joshua Blagden | JB - Mac Help | JBlagden

Printers: Inkjet Vs Laserjet By Joshua Blagden

Many people will buy an inkjet for a number of reasons: lower purchase price, lower cost cartridges and to be able to print in color. Even if a person knows about color laser printers, they'll dismiss them because they think they're expensive. While it's true that color laser printers can cost $400 or more and toner cartridges can cost $50-$60, they're less expensive in the long run; the overall cost of a laserjet is considerably lower than that of an inkjet.

Inkjet printers appear to have the advantages of lower printer prices and lower ink prices. A full ink refill may cost $40, but it usually needs to be replaced every few months(thrice annually), which brings the annual cost of ink to $120. Despite the appearance of lower costs, the reality is that they can have a higher overall ink cost because cartridges don’t last much more than a few months and dry out after long periods of time. Have you used a printer for the first time in a while and discovered that the printer was producing low-quality prints and in need of maintenance? This is the most frustrating part of owning an inkjet printer.They also lose ink due to these maintenance procedures(i.e. Nozzle cleaning and print head alignment), which are necessary after being unplugged or turned off. When you really think about it, inkjet are a waste of money because the ink cartridges have short lifespans, can dry out, and require ink-consuming maintenance procedures. These issues can arise with some low-quality inkjets, such as the Epson Workforce WF-2540. Though, a good inkjet won’t suffer from any of these issues. Well, except for the ink - ink is often expensive regardless of the brand or type of printer. Printing costs generally work like this: You’ll either spend a lot on the printer, the ink, or possibly both. Kodak is the exception to this rule - they have good printers for good prices and good ink for a good price.

On the other hand, laserjets have a lower overall cost. Toner lasts a lot longer than ink, often producing 1,500 prints per cartridge which can last years, depending on how often and how much you print. An ink cartridge will generally produce around 200 prints, which is minuscule compared to the 1,500 prints a toner cartridge can provide. Toner can also be stockpiled because it doesn't dry out. Laserjet printers are also a lot faster than inkjet printers and produce better-looking results. The only downside is that color laserjets are more expensive, ranging from $250 to upwards of $400. Toner cartridges usually cost around $50-80. While it's true that the initial cost of a color laserjet is rather high, it makes up for that in the long run by having a lower total cost of ownership. Besides, even if the cost was the same as that of an inkjet, it's nice to be able to change the toner cartridges every 3 years instead of every 4 months. A full toner replacement can cost $200-$240, but that's only every 3 years or so, which makes toner cost roughly $67-$80 per year, which is roughly 1/2 to 2/3(56-66%) of the cost of ink. Even if you don't print much, you'll still be better off with a laserjet because you won’t need to replace dried-out ink cartridges before you can print or even have it perform maintenance procedures after a long period of not using it or. Laserjets are also better than Inkjets because they're much faster and produce sharper-looking prints than their ink-using counterparts. Another thing which is often overlooked is that when you print something which uses a lot of ink, the page will often be wet, while a laserjet could print that same thing, and yet the resulting page will be completely dry. A laserjet can save you a lot of time, money and effort by utilizing toner cartridges which result in lower per-page costs and also by not needing maintenance procedures. Even cost wasn't an issue, laserjets are better because they don't need maintenance, don't need toner refills nearly as often as Inkjets and are much faster. Laserjet printers are less expensive, more convenient and more reliable than inkjet printers.

In terms of price, an example is the Samsung C410W Xpress, which sells for $180. Its toner cartridges cost $55 apiece and produce 1,500 prints. I probably print 200 pages per year or less. A toner cartridge which lasts for 1,500 prints would last me at least 7.5 years.  With my Epson WF-2540 printer, even though I don’t print much, I end up having to replace ink cartridges 3 or 4 times each year, costing $40 each time. Despite my infrequent use of my printer, I have to replace the ink cartridges 3-4 times each year because the ink dries out and is also consumed during the maintenance procedures the printer needs after a long period of non-use. That’s a lot of wasted ink, and consequently, a lot of wasted money. When you get down to it, inkjets appear to be less expensive than laserjets, but they’re a waste of effort and money.

You can often find color laserjets priced as low as $200. Though, they generally print 19 pages per minute, which means it’ll take 3.1 seconds to print a page. If you’re willing to spend $250, you can find printers which print 21 pages per minute, which is equal to printing a page every 2.8 seconds. Though, I guess 3.1 seconds isn’t bad. My Epson WF-2540 takes roughly 6.6 seconds to print a page, so 3.1 seconds would be a big improvement. A page every second or two would be great, but 3.1 seconds is pretty good.


On the surface, inkjets seem to be rather inexpensive, but are a waste of money when you add up the cumulative cost of the ink. Laserjets on the other hand, are considerably better in the long term; they have a higher startup cost than an inkjet, but can save you a lot of time, money and aggravation in the long-term.

© Joshua Blagden & Justin Barczak 2013-2015