How to buy … a Printer
Given the wide variety of printers available on the market, it pays to know the strengths and weaknesses of each before making a decision. Here, we round up the three most popular types of printers, inkjets, monochrome (black and white) laser and colour laser.PC World Auckland Staff | Wednesday, February 01 2006
The slowest but most affordable type of printers, inkjets shoot tiny sprays of coloured dyes through microscopic holes in a print head onto pages, one print-head-height row at a time. High-end inkjet printers offer resolutions of up to 4,800 x 1,200 dots per inch, which makes them suitable for printing high-quality graphics and photos, albeit much more slowly than a monochrome or colour laser printer would.
Inkjet printers are inexpensive printers for the masses, designed for home users, students or anyone who isn’t concerned about the highest text quality. A high price does not necessarily indicate excellent graphics. We’ve sometimes found a few low-quality inkjet printers in the highest price ranges, and some really great printers in the lowest price tiers.
The real cost of an inkjet printer comes not from the price of the unit itself, but from the ongoing cost of replacing ink cartridges. High-end inkjet printers may also feature memory card slots so you can print photos directly from your camera.
Monochrome laser printers
From home offices to businesses, monochrome laser printers offer the best balance between price, print quality and speed. Home users might choose a laser printer over an inkjet printer if they print a lot of text documents. Prices for monochrome lasers have dropped to a low of under $200 for a personal printer, making them a viable alternative to inkjets. For almost the same price as an inkjet, some monochrome laser printers are faster, produce much better text quality, and are less expensive to maintain because laser toner cartridges are much less costly than inkjet cartridges.
If you need colour, you’ll probably want an inkjet printer — but it’s almost worth buying both. You’ll need to replace ink cartridges less often because you won’t be using them for black text, which may cost less in the long term.
Colour laser printers
Designed for offices where colour brochures, photographs or graphics are paramount, colour laser printers are among the most expensive printers you can buy. Few home users will need a colour laser printer. Colour laser printer toner cartridges are the most expensive consumable you can buy for a printer, but their yield is so much higher than an inkjet cartridge that, in the long run, colour laser toner is less expensive on a per-page basis.
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