Laser vs Inkjet Printers | What is the Difference?

If you don’t know the difference between an inkjet and a laser printer, have no fear! Buying a printer for your home network doesn’t have to be such a pain in the you-know-what. I’ll explain what your options are and how they will affect your wallet in the short-term and the long-term.

Laser Printers

laser printerLaser printers use heat to fuse powdered ink onto the paper. It does not bleed into the paper, so it produces a very sharp, crisp result. These are the best printers for documents with a lot of words. They print very fast and your text comes out crystal clear. They will also print images, but are not recommended for high quality image printing.

Key points here are:

  • Heat
  • Speed
  • Crystal clear word documents
  • Great for text

Check out these laser printers on Amazon with great customer reviews.

Inkjet Printers

inkjet printerInkjet printers spray tiny, microscopic dots of ink onto the paper. This ink absorbs into the paper and “bleeds” a little. You can purchase special paper that will not bleed like normal paper will. You can print word documents on an inkjet printer just fine, but the words will not be as crisp, due to the slight bleeding. The bleeding effect is actually useful for photos because gradients work well. These are an excellent choice if you print more images or photos than anything else. Most photo printers are actually inkjet printers with a few extra features.

The key points here are:

  • Ink “bleeding” (good for photos, bad for text)
  • Microscopic dots
  • Great for photos

Check out these inkjet printers on Amazon with great customer reviews.

Cost of Ownership

You will find that inkjet printers are a bit cheaper than laser printers. This goes for both the printers themselves and the ink/toner. However, inkjet printers have a significantly higher cost per page due to them being less efficient. So the cartridges will be cheaper for an inkjet, but you will have to buy them much more often.

  • Inkjet printers are cheaper
  • Inkjet ink cartridges are cheaper
  • Laser printers are more efficient
  • Laser printer cartridges will last much longer, sending you to the store much less often

Black and White vs Color

You can purchase black and white (monochrome) versions as well as color versions of both laser printers and inkjet printers. Note that laser printers are on the more expensive side and a color laser printer will be even more expensive. On the upside, you will be refilling your laser printer much less often, as mentioned before.

What About All-In-One Printers?

When you purchase an all-in-one printer, you still have to choose between laser or inkjet. The two technologies are very different. Laser and inkjet all-in-one printers both typically offer printing, faxing, copying and scanning features.

Can They Both Connect To My WiFi Router?

Yes, both technologies offer wifi printers. However, not all printers support wifi. You will need to pay special attention when you purchase a printer to make sure it will connect to your wireless home network, if that is what you desire.

Here are some WiFi printers with great customer reviews on Amazon. (Both laser and inkjet printers are there.)

Which Type of Printer Should You Buy for your Home Network?

Both types of printers will print photos and text. However, you should think about which is more important to you or which you will be doing the most of.

If you will mostly be printing text documents, you should go with a laser printer.

If you are mostly concerned with printing high quality photos, you should choose an inkjet printer.

If you're on a lower budget, an inkjet printer may be right for you. But if you can spend a little more up front, a laser printer will be more expensive but will save you money in the long run.