Choosing Home Office Printers
When choosing home office printers, there are two basic choices, which are the inkjet type or the laser printer.
Both types can print in either color or black and white and you need to weigh up the pros and cons of each based on
what is best for your particular printing requirements.
Just as with computer monitors, the office printer has changed considerably over recent years. Lasers, once very
expensive, have seen a sharp decline in cost. Inkjets are now often given away with other purchases. However, the
stated purchase price is not the only figure you want to consider. Running cost and usable lifetime are equally
important, for they determine the true cost over the long term.
Inkjet printers function by shooting a small jet of fast-drying ink from a cartridge onto paper. They can
produce stellar output, sometimes almost indistinguishable from a photograph made from a film negative printed on
special paper. Today, they can often be bought for less than fifty dollars and may last as long as several years.
However, they do have some drawbacks.
Inkjet printers maybe cheap, but, as the marketing maxim goes, give away the razor and sell the
blades. In the case of inkjets, this adage translates into – sell the printer cheap and charge an arm and a
leg for the replacement ink cartridges. A basic four-color inkjet cartridge (black and 3-primary colors that
combine to make a range of tones) runs anywhere from twenty to fifty dollars or more. If you only print a few
pages per day, the cost per sheet may be as low as ten cents. However, it will generally range between twenty
to fifty cents per page although that is not a huge expense at small volumes.
However, for larger volumes, the cost of cartridges can balloon into something substantial before you know it.
Since they only last a few hundred pages, you may have to replace one often. Even a black-only inkjet cartridge,
which might be as low as ten dollars, can last only as long as four hundred pages for average documents with no
A color inkjet cartridge will often last less than half that and the cartridges are double or more the price of
just black. Full color documents with complex graphics can consume a color cartridge in a few dozen pages.
The most serious drawback, though, comes in at ultra-low volumes. If you print a document only occasionally, the
cartridge may not work at all after a while. The ink at the nozzles has a tendency to dry out, making printing
impossible if the printer sits unused for a few weeks.
Although the initial purchase price of laser home office printers is typically higher, the total cost difference
is sometimes minimal depending on your use.
A quality black and white laser printer can be purchased for less than one hundred dollars. Desktop color laser
printers may go anywhere from two hundred dollars or higher. A high output laser printer can be as high as a few
Cartridges are more expensive, as well. A black and white toner cartridge starts at about forty dollars and may
be as much as one hundred. Color cartridges can be up to two hundred dollars each. However, they may print as much
as three thousand pages before running out, so the cost per page is typically much less than with inkjets.
Depending on the type of document and the cartridge cost, two cents per page is achievable. The average for
printing a page is in the ten to twenty five cent range for a color laser printer. In part, the higher price is due
to the increased amount of graphics that tend to appear on a color page.
A good laser printer can reliably print many thousands of pages, producing several hundred to a thousand or more
per day for years before wearing out. They also do not suffer the same low-volume problem as inkjets. Laser toner
can sit unused for months and still print a clean, crisp page on demand.
Choosing home office printers should be done according to your personal circumstances, but keeping in mind the