Which is better? A toner-based laser printer or an ink-jet printer?

Decisions are difficult. Dilemmas are worse. When it comes to purchasing a printer for your business and whether to go with an inkjet or a laser/toner-based printer, the decision can easily become a dilemma. Each choice offers good points and, well, not-so-go points.

We get it and that’s why we are here to help you select the best printer for your situation.

Your decision on which type of printer you should buy depends on your answers to the following three questions:

  • What do you print?

  • How often do you print?

  • What is your printing budget?

Ink jet and Laser Printers: In a nutshell

Inkjet printers are cheap, small and versatile. These you can pick up at your local retail or office supply center for little cost, but with greater use they quickly become expensive. They are able to print on multiple types of papers, can print text, graphics and photos and can handle small, infrequent jobs. As they are small in size, they are great for the space constraints of home or small offices.

Though laser printers are more expensive (initially), larger and less versatile, they are better for more regular business use, large print jobs. With their higher speed and volume capability, toner printers may end up costing less with a lower cost per page and less time as they print more and much faster than the ink-jet variety.

Question 1: Quality: What do you print?


Printer technology has come a long way, especially when it comes to laser printers. While it once was thought laser printers were best for producing black and white documents, and ink jets for color, this is no longer necessarily the case. Toner-based printers now print black and white and color documents equally well. That said, while laser-printers can produce high-quality, near photo quality prints, ink jets still are the choice for producing exhibit quality prints.

If you are not a photographer and not needing ultra-high quality prints, you might consider leaving laser printers among your options, especially considering their reliability, speed, and overall lower cost of use.

Question 2: Speed & Volume: How often do you print? 


Laser printers are designed to be workplace machines and, as such, will printer faster (between 15 to 100 pages per minute, or ppm) than your typical inkjet which prints around 16 ppm. So if you are working from a home office or a small business and only seldomly need to print and do relatively small jobs, you’ll probably be fine with an ink jet. But if you are printing often and doing large jobs, for the sake of time and money you might want to consider a toner/laser-based printer.


Though it may seem print volume may refer to the loudness of the whirring, buzzing and swooshing sounds some printers make (in which case ink jets are clearly the noisier), print volume here refers to how much your printer can print at a given time. 

As ink jets are more intended for home use, they tend to have a substantially smaller print volume than laser printers which are built for business use. What does that mean? Whereas a inkjet will print roughly seven pages per minute, and roughly maybe a few hundred pages per month, a laser printer will print around 35 pages per minute and anywhere from ofseveral hundred to several thousand pages per month.

Now recommended monthly print volume is different from maximum monthly duty cycle in that the former speaks of the amount you should print monthly for best results and efficiency. The latter speaks of the how much you can printer before causing excessive wear and tear on your device. If you run your printer at maximum duty rather than recommended print volume, you’ll soon be finding yourself a new printer.

Question 3: Cost: What is your budget?


At the outset, toner-based printers are more expensive, both the technology and the toner being expensive, but if you find yourself with large print jobs and printing often, over the long run, your toner-based option will be cheaper.

Ink-jets initially for the most part have a lower cost as you are able to pick one up at the local big box or office supply store easily for under $50. That said, you’ll find the ink cartridges in many cases will run out quickly. You will find yourself back at the store either buying more cartridges or purchasing a new printer as you may find a new printer to be cheaper than a new set of cartridges.

So when performing a cost analysis of whether to go toner or ink-jet, compare the initial cost and the cost over the long run.

Hopefully, this has helped you in resolving your dilemma if you had one, and making the right decision.

If you are a business running multiple copiers and printers, you might look into managed print services which could implement printing best practices to bring efficiencies and printing cost reductions to your business, especially if you are having trouble with print cost tracking, waste and maintenance.

If you have any questions about managed print services or any of the above or any office technology matter, let us know! Just click the red button below, fill out the form and we’ll get right back to you. We are RK Black and we make technology work FOR you.

About R.K. Black, Inc.

R.K. Black, Inc. is an Oklahoma City-based, family-owned leading provider of office technology solutions to small and medium-sized businesses in Oklahoma and Kansas. We specialize in everything business technology from copier, fax, printer and scanner technology to document management, onsite paper shredding services, VoIP phone systems and managed IT support to video surveillance solutions.

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