Modern inkjet printers can be a significant source of frustration. They don't give you much longevity, the ink costs are prohibitive, and they always seem to run painfully slow just when you need a fast print.
If you're tired of fighting inkjet printers, a laser printer is worth considering. Laser printers deliver excellent performance at a good price. They're fast, making them ideal for busy home offices or businesses. They create incredibly sharp prints. And they're a far better value than they were a decade or so ago.
Considerations when choosing laser printers
When considering buying a laser printer, it's natural to generate comparisons to inkjet printers. We've broken down how these two types of printing technologies differ.
Photos: For photo printing, some people prefer the results of inkjet printing to laser, both for color and black-and-white photos. This is a personal choice, though, so you may want to compare both types of prints to see which you prefer.
Resolution: With printers, resolution refers to the sharpness of the print results. Laser printers outperform inkjet printers in this area. Toner particles are tinier than the droplets of ink from a printer nozzle, allowing sharper prints from a laser printer. A laser printer commonly has a resolution of either 600x1200 or 600x2400, both of which will yield excellent results.
Speed: Laser printers can print a text page every 2 to 4 seconds. Inkjet printers are slower, printing a text page every 5 to 15 seconds.
Tray Capacity: Having a large paper tray in the printer means you don't have to refill it as often, which is nice in a busy setting. Both laser and inkjet printers might have large paper trays or more than one paper tray.
Volume: Laser printers have a lower cost per page than inkjet, which results in a nice option for busy printing environments.
Like an inkjet printer, laser printers have ongoing costs for consumables. Toner cartridges for black or color will cost $30 to $100 apiece. For a color laser printer, you'll need four toner cartridges (black, yellow, cyan, and magenta). Each cartridge should last between 1,000 and 4,000 printed pages. The cartridge must be compatible with your model of laser printer.
Beyond the ongoing costs, laser printers don't have a huge upfront cost. Basic laser printers that print in black only may cost $50 to $350. Cheaper monochrome laser printers will run a bit slower than more expensive models. Color laser printers made for use at home have a price between $100 and $600.
Some laser printers will deliver all-in-one capabilities. This means the laser printer can create digital scans, make copies, and send faxes in addition to making prints. For a small office or home office setting, it's nice to have multiple functions within one unit.
Finally, pay attention to the duty cycle of the laser printer. This gives you an idea of how many prints per month the printer can handle. Exceed the duty cycle, and you risk the laser printer breaking down prematurely.
Q. Is a laser printer the best choice for all kinds of printing?
A. Not necessarily. Laser printers create extremely sharp prints for text documents. For printing photos, some people prefer the look of a color inkjet printer over a color laser printer.
Q. How cost effective is a laser printer?
A. For those who have high-volume printing needs or who primarily print text documents in black, a laser printer is an economical choice. Laser printers work fast, so in a busy printing environment, this speed yields a great value. Those with low-volume print needs may be better served with an inkjet printer from a cost standpoint.
Laser printers we recommend
Best of the best: HP LaserJet Pro M281fdw Laser Printer
Our take: Delivers an excellent color printing quality versus other laser printers, while also being easy to use.
What we like: Doesn't take up a lot of space, which is nice for the home office. Also delivers fax, copy, and scan capabilities.
What we dislike: Can be tricky to connect the laser printer to your home network.
Best bang for your buck: Brother MFCL2700DW Compact Laser Printer
Our take: Doesn't offer color laser printing, but it's a fast performer and a nice value among black-and-white printers.
What we like: Works quickly when printing or copying. Has the ability to scan documents in full color.
What we dislike: Setup process can be a significant hassle.
Choice 3: Samsung Xpress C1860FW
Our take: Printer runs quietly, and it's easy to use, which is important in certain home office settings.
What we like: Multiple input options for print jobs, including USB, NFC, and Wi-Fi. Delivers a nice level of color print quality.
What we dislike: Printer doesn't always maintain its Wi-Fi connection when coming out of sleep mode.
Kyle Schurman is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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