Which type of printer is right for you?

Which type of printer should you buy for your home or business?  There are many things to consider when choosing a printer.  Do you only need basic printing functions, or will you need copy, scan, or fax capabilities?  What and how often will you be printing?  Will you need to print in color?  These are some of the things you should have in mind when looking for a new printer.


Types of Printers

Printers first vary by their functionality.  A plain basic printers only function is to print, where as an “All in One” or “Multi-Function Center (MFC)” printer provides copy, scan, and sometimes fax capabilities.  Another key variation is ink jet vs laser printers.  What you will be printing and how often you will print will be the main influencer on whether you need an ink jet or laser printer.


Ink jet Printers

Ink jet printers spray tiny dots of ink onto the paper.  This ink absorbs into the paper and “bleeds” a little.  The bleeding effect is useful for photos and allows ink jet printers to blend shades of color better than a laser printer.  Ink jets are an excellent choice if you print more images and photos than anything else.  However, words in a text documents on an ink jet printer will not be as crisp due to the slight bleeding.  There are two types of ink jet printers, Integrated & Multi cartridge systems.


Integrated: An integrated printer uses a two cartridge system where the print head is in the cartridge. You have a black cartridge and a tricolor cartridge.  Every time you replace the cartridge you replace the print head.  A tricolor cartridge is a single cartridge having three color chambers.  Cyan, magenta and yellow are all in one cartridge.  The depletion of one color forces to you to replace the whole cartridge. 

Multi Cartridge: Multi cartridge ink jet printers differ from integrated printers by having a print head that is separate from the cartridge itself and they use a separate cartridge for each color rather than a single tricolor cartridge.  This allows you to replace only the specific cartridge that is depleted which can be more cost effective than a single tricolor cartridge.  Keep in mind however, when one of your color cartridges is depleted you will have to replace that color before you can print in black but if you deplete your black cartridge & your color cartridges still have ink in them most printers will ask you if you want to mix the colors to make black.  The print head in a multi cartridge system printer typically lasts 4 to 5 years, but may need to be periodically replaced depending on your printing habits.



Laser Printers

Laser printers use a powder called toner that will never dry up.  They use heat to fuse this powdered toner onto the paper.  Unlike ink jet printers it does not bleed into the paper, producing a very sharp, crisp result.  These are the best printers for documents with a lot of text.  They print very fast and your text comes out crystal clear.  Though they will print images, they are not recommended for high quality photo printing.  If you only print black and white text documents and do not need to print in color, then a monochrome laser printer is for you.  Monochrome laser printers are generally much cheaper than those that print in color. 


The most important part of a laser printer is the drum.  Static electricity, the drum, and a fuser work together to fuse toner to the paper when you print.  Just like toner cartridges need to be replaced, so does the drum.  In some laser printers (such as HP), the drum is part of the toner cartridge.  Therefore, every time you replace the toner cartridge you are also replacing the drum.  In some laser printers (such as Brother printers), the drum is separate from the toner cartridge and usually needs to be replaced between 12,000 to 20,000 pages depending on the printer.  These toner cartridges tend to be cheaper since you are not replacing the drum every time you replace your toner cartridge. 


The Differences


Both types of printers will print images, photos and text documents.  However, you should think which is more important to you or which you will be doing the most of.  You will find that ink jet printers are a bit cheaper than laser printers.  However, ink jet printers have a significantly higher cost per page due to them being less efficient.  So the cartridges will be cheaper for an ink jet, but you will have to buy them more often.  Unlike toner, ink jet cartridges also have a potential to dry up if they are not used on a regular basis.


So which printer is best for you?

  1. If you’re on a budget and need to print in color but do not need to print high quality photos, then an integrated ink jet printer is best for you.  However, usually the cheaper the ink jet printer, the more the ink will cost.

  2. If you are mostly concerned with printing high quality images and photos, you should choose a multi cartridge photo ink jet printer.

  3. A laser printer is be best if you will be printing mostly text documents.  Monochrome printers are the best value if you do not need to print in color, otherwise you will need a color printer.


For more information or questions about specific printers give us a call and we’ll be glad to help! (817) 251-4465

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