Last week I trashed laser printers for printing photos. This time laser printers are going to make a comeback. When it comes to printing documents, a laser printer is my printer of choice.
While you can use an inkjet printer for printing documents, a laser printer is better when it comes to cost and text quality. In my experience the cost per page of any laser printer is slightly lower than any inkjet printer. From all the test prints I’ve seen laser printers also have better text quality.
Inkjet and laser printers are like a metal rake and shovel. Both are tools. One’s for digging the other for gathering or spreading gravel. You can use a rake to dig or a shovel to gather gravel. It isn’t a question of which is best, rather which one is better for the job at hand?
If you need a printer to print documents then I recommend a laser printer. Documents typically have more text than anything. Color images in all the documents I’ve seen are usually charts, graphs, logos, and occasionally some photos.
The picture quality found in documents isn’t for resale or display purposes. Newsletters include a picture to acknowledge people or things. As long as it’s easily recognized the quality is adequate.
Fuzzy or blurry text is more noticeable in documents than photo quality. Which is one disadvantage of an inkjet printer. They struggle with sharp well defined text contained in most documents.
Ink vs Toner
In my experience the very thing that gives inkjet printers their advantage for printing photos also is a drawback for printing documents. Ink naturally produces smooth color transitions. Since ink is a liquid, it flows and mixes easier. The results are inkjet printers are better at gradients but worse at sharp edges.
Toner being a dry powder doesn’t flow or spread easily. The results are laser printers have grainy looking gradients but produce well defined edges. Text requires shard well defined edges. This makes laser printers a better choice for printing documents in my opinion.
Here’s my test pages made showing the printer differences. At regular size it isn’t as obvious. Once it’s magnified you can readily see the text on the left made by an inkjet printer is fuzzy. While the text on the right made by a laser printer is sharp.
To further illustrate the difference between ink and toner this test page is magnified even further. Since ink is a liquid it naturally seeps or wicks into the paper. While toner being a powder doesn’t spread so the edges hold their shape.
As you can see from these test prints laser printers have the advantage when printing text. Printed documents are primarily text with a few images mixed in. While inkjet printers have an advantage with printing images. In my experience sacrificing a little image quality is worth gaining sharper text.
The color print quality laser printers make is suitable for home office or small business use. Poor quality text should not be tolerated by any business.
Cost Per Page
Another factor for printing documents is the cost per page. In my experience the cost per page only becomes important at higher volumes. If we’re talking about a few hundred a month or a couple thousand pages a year the cost per page doesn’t matter as much as the initial price of a printer.
Once you’re printing 5,000 pages per month then the cost per page makes a difference. Paying several cents more per page adds up at those volumes. In my experience below those volumes the difference in cost per pages isn’t enough to outweigh the initial price.
In other words, the additional $200 in purchase prices is not offset by saving $50 on consumables. If a printer is cheaper to operate, it takes a lot of printing to break even when the initial price is considerably more.
Laser printers are made to print tens of thousands of pages per month. In order to take advantage of their lower cost per page you have to print a lot of documents. Unless you’re printing in B&W.
Whether it’s HP, Canon, Brother, Lexmark or some other brand. A monochrome laser printer is the cheapest way to print documents. You don’t have to print many documents since the cost per page is based on one color.
Whether its B&W or color printing laser printers cost a couple cents less per page.
Important factors for printing documents are text quality and cost per page. While inkjet printers are cheap and have good photo quality. Test prints show laser printers have better text quality.
In my experience cost per page also favors laser printers. It takes printing several thousand pages to make up for the difference in initial price. Once realized the lower price per page of laser printers makes up for their higher price of supplies.
If you plan on printing hundred documents, laser printers are a good choice due to their text quality and low operating costs.
Laser printers have better text quality than inkjet printers.
Any laser printer can print documents. In fact printing documents is their sole purpose.
Laser printers do well with any type of document. You can print spreadsheets, PDF’s, newsletters, records, reports, forms, or legal documents with a laser printer. They aren’t likely to print photos very well.
Disadvantages of a laser printer includes matching colors and photo print quality. An advantage is they can print tens of thousands of pages per month.
The Copier Guy, aka Dave. I’ve worked on scanners, printers, copiers, and faxes since 1994. When I’m not fixing them I’m writing about them. Although, I’m probably better at fixing them. I’ve worked with every major brand. As well as several types of processes. If it uses paper I’ve probably worked on one.