Choosing the Perfect Printer: Inkjet vs. Laser – Find out the Costs, Quality, and Best Fit for Your Office


Inkjet vs laser printers, which is right for your business?

When shopping for a new printer, you face plenty of options. Many different brands offer a wide range of products with their unique features and qualities. However, every printer falls into one of two basic configurations: inkjet or laser.

The debate of inkjet vs laser printers is always a topic when shopping for a new printer. Some people have their preferences, while others have no idea what is right for them and their business.

Without proper guidance, it’s easy to become overwhelmed when comparing the options. The truth is that shopping for the right printer can be simplified with a few fundamental questions that you should ask yourself before diving into the range of options.

Taking a few minutes to consider your needs and the needs of your business can save a lot of time (and money) spent shopping for the right option.

Inkjet vs Laser Printers: What is the Difference?

First, it’s important to understand the difference between an inkjet printer and a laser printer. Ultimately, both printers are tasked with getting the image or document on your computer display printed onto a sheet of paper. While the primary task may be the same, both types of printers do the job differently.

As the name suggests, inkjet printers use water-based ink to recreate an image on paper. The printer uses small droplets of ink applied directly to the paper to get the job done. A laser printer uses a laser (and heat) to create an image on a page. The laser charges (and heats) the paper, attracting and applying the powdered toner.

Early laser printers were prohibitively expensive and very large compared to inkjet printers. However, the gap in size and price has closed in recent years.

Sitting in your office, these two pieces of technology may look similar. The truth is that they have just as many differences as they do similarities. So, which one is right for the needs of your business?

The Pros & Cons of Buying an Inkjet Printer

There are several reasons that someone might consider an inkjet printer over a laser printer. One of the main reasons inkjet is the right choice for some businesses is the type of printing they are doing.

Liquid ink is far better at printing high-quality images. If your office creates bright, colourful presentations with pictures and infographics to provide to clients, then an inkjet printer will give the best results.

Inkjet printers are also more versatile regarding the printing medium they can use. An inkjet printer can print onto many different styles and types of paper. For example, glossy stock, textured art paper or even fabrics can be used by inkjet printers (if your printer specializes in non-paper media like these).

However, the most common reason businesses buy inkjet printers is the lower upfront purchase cost.  Inkjet printers are less complex than laser printers, so they are also less expensive and priced accordingly.  Another reason inkjet printers are less expensive is that since the companies manufacturing inkjet printers also produce ink cartridges, they are motivated to ensure that as many of their devices are in homes and offices (and consuming ink cartridges) as possible. 

However, inkjet printers are not without their downsides. In general, inkjet ink cartridges are far more expensive when compared with toner cartridges, so if you do much printing, the total cost of ownership for an inkjet device is higher over the lifetime of the device.  If you need to do high-volume printing that doesn’t require vibrant colour or detailed images, then, despite the lower initial cost, an inkjet printer will be very expensive over time, and you would be better off buying a laser printer.

The Pros & Cons of Buying a Laser Printer

Unlike an inkjet printer, a laser printer is not ideal for printing colourful, detailed images. Instead, laser printers perform best in an environment where most printing involves text documents. The fine detail on laser printers creates crisp, clean text but will lack the vibrant colours an inkjet printer is capable of.

The upfront cost of a laser printer is also much more expensive than that of an inkjet printer and is more likely to require regular maintenance.  However, as previously mentioned, laser printer consumables (toner cartridges) are substantially more cost-effective than inkjet consumables.  This means that the lifetime cost of a properly maintained laser printer will be less than that of an inkjet printer.

Another restriction of laser printers is that they can print on fewer mediums than an inkjet printer.  Because laser printers use heat to adhere the toner to the page, they cannot be used to print onto heat-sensitive paper.  Unlike specialty inkjet printers, they cannot print on bulky or uneven mediums such as fabrics or denim.

Is an Inkjet or Laser Printer Right for You?

While there is no one correct answer to whether to buy a laser or inkjet printer, you can take away a few general rules from this article. 

If you find that most of the printing in your office is spreadsheets and documents, or you do a large amount of printing each month, then a laser printer will be the best option for your business.  Whereas if you need to print on specialty stocks, print high-quality images, or simply need an inexpensive convenience printer for your home office, an inkjet printer is for you. 

Ultimately, it all boils down to what you will print and how much printing you expect to do.  If you can answer those two questions, then you can confidently make your purchase!

Not sure how much you should budget to purchase your printer?  Read our article How Much Does a Desktop Printer Cost?  It breaks down, can impact the cost of your next home or commercial printer purchase and breaks out an estimated price table.

Cory Porteous
Director of Marketing & Inbound Business Development
Office Interiors

How much does office equipment cost?