Laser vs. Inkjet

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by ravenvii, Dec 2, 2009.

  1. ravenvii macrumors 604


    Mar 17, 2004
    Melenkurion Skyweir
    For black-and-white, it's an epic win for laser, no discussion. ~20,000 papers on one $30 toner, it's not even funny.

    But my question is for color.

    So I went to Staples the other day and out of curiosity compared the costs of a color laser printer as compared to a color inkjet printer. A color Brother inkjet printer, for example, is $100, while a laser color printer is $400 (approximate figures, both are multifunction).

    So I went to check the cost of refills. A brother ink cartridge including all the colors is ~$40, and prints ~600 papers.

    A brother color toner costs $70, and you need to buy 3 colors, so $210 for the set. And they each state that they print ~1,500 papers.

    ... Hunh?! Am I missing something here? Aren't toners supposed to be much cheaper in the long run than ink? Then why is it quadruple the price, and prints out the same amount of paper? Sure you have to replace the ink more often, but it's still cheaper?
  2. Demosthenes X macrumors 68000

    Demosthenes X

    Oct 21, 2008
    Yeah... colour toner is very expensive. Compare the prices of black and white printing vs. colour printing in their copy centre - colour is likely 5-10x as much as black and white.

    If you want the occasional colour print at home, buy a cheap Ink Jet to use for those jobs. Colour laser printers are not cheap to own and operate...
  3. alent1234 macrumors 603

    Jun 19, 2009
    unless you print every day, look at how much it costs at the FedEx Store or some other print shop
  4. techound1 macrumors 68000


    Mar 3, 2006
    Inks dry out and toners don't. I have a color laser that I got to replace a color inkjet - because I didn't use the inkjet with regularity, the heads would clog and I got tired of trying to clean them. For me, the convenience is a no-brainer (and the nearest fed-ex kinkos is a PIA 40 minute round trip, so it's doubly handy).
  5. Perrumpo macrumors 68000


    Jul 12, 2008

    Perhaps look at other brands or wait for a sale?

    I bought the Samsung 315W color laser printer for $99 on Black Friday. A 3-pack of the toner colors is $90 and good for 1,000 pages.
  6. alphaod macrumors Core


    Feb 9, 2008
    I have a color laser… when you don't print color, the toner doesn't get used, so there really isn't a loss. For example I have a Xerox Phaser 6350. Toner is $250 a pop for each of the 3 colors and $120 for the black. Each of these cartridges print 10,000 pages. After my last 15,000 pages my color cartridges have not really gone done to half, because of many of my printouts are in black and white only, so only get the black cartridge gets used up. With some brands, where the transfer rollers are integrated in to the cartridge, you do wear out the toner cartridges that are a not used. With the Phaser, the transfer kit is separate, so that's not an issue.

    Overall yes the color of color toner is a lot more than black, but it's still a lot less than inkjet; the only reason I have an inkjet is to print photographs. Last time I printed 500 photos, I went through like $40 in ink. It's not cheap at all, but the quality is stunning. The same quality cannot be accomplished on a laser. However if those pages where just graphics, I would use my laser and it would cost me a lot less per page.
  7. flyfish29 macrumors 68020


    Feb 4, 2003
    New HAMpshire
    Actually if you search online Consumer Reports and many others studied this and right now at least color lasers cost more than ink Jets in most cases- I think this is the printer industry shifting things around on purpose. It is so hard to judge based on some people's experiences because what one person says they get thousands of pages from might only get hundreds from others due to ink coverage demands. That is why I relied on Consumer Reports and a few other PC online magazine tests to make a choice. I suggest you research some of the reports online- they get very specific as to ink cartridge/toner sizes, etc.

    It is sort of like how the larger package of toilet paper is not always cheaper per roll. It is a classic retail industry set up when consumers get a strong believe about something being true about price vs. value the corporations shift things for as long as they can to make more dough!!!

    So while people are pouring money into lasers and specifically color lasers in the last several years due to the reduction in cost the per page cost on average is better for ink jets- but if you do mostly black Laser can't be beat.
  8. Buzz Bumble Guest

    Oct 19, 2008
    New Zealand
    Of course, some people never buy ink / toner cartridges. Rather than buying a set of new cartridges when they run out, it can sometimes be cheaper to just buy a new printer. :)
  9. sushi Moderator emeritus


    Jul 19, 2002
    That's true with many print options, inkjet and laser.

    OP, Inkjet printers have many issues. So I would suggest looking at a laser printer.

    Be on the lookout for when new Laser printer models are introduced, you can pick up the old ones for cheaper.
  10. flyfish29 macrumors 68020


    Feb 4, 2003
    New HAMpshire
    You also need to be deciding if you need photo quality or not. The non-photo ink jet printers get much more coverage on average. Although that is a generalization and every printer (not even similar within the company) had different ink use rates.
  11. Bengt77 macrumors 68000


    Jun 7, 2002
    Also, new inkjet models are introduced with such regularity, that it can be very difficult to find ink cartridges for your printer only two years from it's introduction. (You can always opt for a refill at a refill station, though.)
  12. Demosthenes X macrumors 68000

    Demosthenes X

    Oct 21, 2008
    I've my Ink-Jet for three years and have never had a problem finding cartridges. They might introduce new printers, but they tend to keep to the same cartridges.

    If you need occasional colour prints, you can always pick up an Ink Jet for under $50 and use that. But keep in mind what others have said: ink will dry out without use, so it might be cheaper in the long run to just go to a print shop for your colour needs.
  13. tardman91 macrumors 65816


    Oct 21, 2009
    Tampa Area, FL
    A friend of mine has a cool printer that uses solid inks. It's kind of like big crayon blocks that go into the printer, but I can't remember what exactly the technology was called. I think he told me that it was cheaper than inkjet and laser, but maybe I'm just crazy.
  14. Str8edgepunker macrumors 6502

    Nov 4, 2001
    Philadelphia, PA
    ^Dye Sublimation? I know that uses ribbons of colours that are melted, but it might be what you're looking for.
  15. macrumorsMaster macrumors 6502

    May 20, 2008

    inkjet prints will be affected by water, but laser prints won't. So it depends if that's important to you.
  16. Wotan31 macrumors 6502

    Jun 5, 2008
    Color inkjets produce water-soluble prints. I.e. anything you print with it will melt away if it gets even slightly moist. Also, the colors will run and fade over time just due to humidity in the air. Laser jet printings are far more durable and long lasting.

    I have a b&w laser printer (HP laserjet 1300n) and I love it, works great. I would take a b&w laser over the color inkjet any day.

    Why do you think you need color anyhow? If it's for photos, you might be better off getting a b&w laser for documents and general printing needs, and a small dedicated photo printer for photos.
  17. nsbio macrumors 6502a


    Aug 8, 2006
    It mostly depends on your printing volume.

    Laser Color is better if your color printing volume is above 1-2 pages per day on average.

    Laser also generally gives better looking black and white text.

    Inkjet is better if you need to print a few pages once in a blue moon. It is possible, I guess, for ink to dry out because of lack of use, but I have not encountered that. I have a Pixma 610 multifunction printer and the ink was last replaced in July. I still have more than half of ink left and an occasional printout comes out very good after all that time.

    Inkjet also has a lower price of admission for extra features like scanner, copier, and full duplex printing, which are useful for the light home user.

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