Inkjet versus Color Laser Printers | Which printer should I buy?

Inkjet versus Color Laser Printers | Which Printer Should I Buy? | Rourke Planners

Today we have a showdown - inkjet versus color laser. Some people are die-hards. Some are pretty ambivalent. And if you're wondering which one to buy I can't answer it for you. But I will give you relevant information so that you can make the decision for yourself. 

The difference between inkjet and laser is how it applies the text & image. An inkjet printer uses liquid ink to create your text and images onto the paper. They are the most common type of home printer and the best option for photo printing. Color laser printers use toner (think ink powder) & heat to fuse the toner to the paper. It has traditionally been the option for companies and educational institutes because it's cheaper in the long run, especially for black and white.

Some background information: 

I've owned 3 inkjet printers now, and 1 laser. 1st inkjet was in college, a cheapie, and it still works but it's wireless connection didn't work anymore (too many moves I guess) and it's quality just wasn't where I wanted. Then I got an Epson Workforce 3620. It had a nice print quality but eventually the print head got clogged (may have been my fault - I would rotate between 2 sets of cartridges that I would get refilled, so the extra cartridges may have been dried out before being refilled. I don't know). I tried everything but nothing worked. The proper cleaning fluid made it worse. Womp womp. Last year for my birthday I got a Samsung Xpress C410 (shown in photo) laser printer on a great sale and while it was cool, the colors were always off no matter how many times I adjusted them and the greys continuously got lighter. Eventually it had a hard time applying even black on any setting other than high quality. Not exactly good for my planner pages which include lots of grey. 

In November of 2016 I purchased the Canon MG7720 printer (shown in photo) after months of research (not exaggerating, I was so afraid of getting another 2 year dud). While it's only been 7 months, they've been wonderful. We're so happy together and the honeymoon period really hasn't ended. It's still great, accepted 3rd-party ink, and I haven't had any problems with it. I wrote a review about it here.

BUT I wanted to give a nice roundup of information so that you can make the best decision for you. If you're just printing planner pages and the occasional sticker sheet, I suggest the Canon. Otherwise do you're own research and find something that will last for you in the long run.

Inkjet

  • Pro: Inkjet printers are cheaper up front. You can purchase an all-in-one (print, scan/copy, fax) for around $80. You can find lots of low-budget options cheaper than that.
  • Pro: They have cheaper ink than laser. You can also find places to refill the cartridges (I get mine done at Costco) to save even more money & lessen waste.
  • Pro: Inkjets are great for color and photos, which also means they usually can handle a variety of paper sizes - they will definitely be able to handle half-letter and A5.
  • Pro: They can also handle a variety of materials to be printed on - regular paper, glossy paper, high quality paper, card-stock, heat transfer paper, etc. These varieties however do vary from printer to printer.
  • Con: Inkjets can smear. This is being fixed with newer models and ink technology, but it can be a problem.
  • Con: If you do a larger amount of printing, you'll have to change out the ink cartridges fairly often, and that adds up. 
  • Con: On the flip side, if you don't do ENOUGH printing the nozzles can get clogged with dried up ink and they can be a huge pain to clear out (I'm currently in that battle now). Replacement of the printhead can be quite costly. To combat this the printer will clean the print-heads fairly frequently, which uses ink as the cleaning agent, so that costs you.

Inkjet notes - it's a lot of peoples favorites, but if you get one that consistently gives you problems, it can really put you off from Inkjet all around. Super budget models may not be worth it in the long run if they are unreliable (down time and possible repairs cost time and money). Also on paper sizes, even if it says it can handle a small paper size it might not be able to. My epson would always jam with personal size pages. So, take the minimum size with a grain of salt.

Color Laser

  • Pro: You replace the toner a lot less frequently than you replace ink in an inkjet. This ends up meaning you save money in the long run, and if you print mainly black & white (or grey & white) and a lot of it, you can save lots of money.
  • Pro: Laser printers also are faster (though inkjet it catching up) and they typically hold much more paper. All these combine to mean laser printers are the bomb dot com for businesses that print LOTS of black and white prints from multiple people.
  • Pro: Laser printers also create much crisper lines than inkjet.
  • Pro: Laser printers do need a bit to warm up, but they have no problems if you go a while without using them.
  • Big Pro: The cost savings on high-volume printing. If you print the right stuff the right way, you can save big dollars.
  • Con: Laser is more expensive up front. They have gotten so much cheaper than just a few years ago, but overall they start higher than inkjet. It used to be you could get one on the low end for $1,000, but I just picked one up for $80 (Independence Day Sale)! Home office models are around $180, but you can find them cheaper (and for more if you want an all-in-one).
  • Con: Toner replacements are also more expensive than inkjet ink cartridges, but they last longer. So while they cost more upfront, they can save money in the long run.
  • Con: Laser printers are not as well suited for graduated-color printing (e.g. photos).
  • Con: They are bigger than inkjets (a simple color laser is about the same size as an all-in-one inkjet).
  • Con: Since laser printers are designed more for business, they don't have quite as many options for paper size, though small home ones should be able to handle half-letter and A5.
  • Con: They also can't handle as many different types of print materials, though it depends on the printer. They can't do heat transfer sheets, since they use heat to print. 

Color Laser notes - I've found that my laser creates a slight sheen from the laser/fusion process. This prevented me from using gel-based pen on printed out stickers. Just wanted to note the difference. Color lasers can have a big range of difference in color between screen and print; you can download a color management system and do some tweaking to get the color right. If colors are wrong on inkjet there's not much you can do besides replace the cartridge. 

So which is the winner? For most planners, I think inkjet is the way to go - it's perfect for every-so-often printing of pages and stickers. However if you print a heavy amount compared to the average person, take a look at laser printers. They can be very well-priced during holiday sales. If you do get an inkjet and aren't a frequent user, put a note in your planner or calendar to print out  a few pages every other week to keep it fresh. 

 

So what kind of printer do you have? Do you have one you just need to recommend to all the planner peeps? Let us know in the comments!

Happy Printing,
Amanda

 

*some of my links are affiliate links. if you purchase anything through these thinks I receive a small commission. this doesn't effect the cost of the item. i only link items i use and would suggest to friends.