We Know: All About Laser Printers

What is a laser printer?
Laser printers work like copying machines, producing high quality text and graphics output. It uses a small laser to apply powdered ink (toner) onto paper. Today's laser printers come in black or white and color. Prices for laser printers fluctuate depending on the features.

Who needs a laser printer?
Laser printers are high quality printers that produce accurate, crisp, and professional output suitable for office environments and high workloads. However, anybody who prints large quantities of text should consider the laser printer.

How do laser printers work?
Laser printers operate much like a copying machine. A laser beam etches text and images onto paper using toner.

What features should I look for in a laser printer?
If you're in the market for a laser printer, invest in a printer with the highest resolution your dollars will buy. Typically, most laser printers produce quality output with 600 dots per image (dpi), but you'll want a printer with a more adequate 1200 dpi, with the capacity to print 20 pages per minute. Another consideration is the available memory in the laser printer, and whether there is room to expand the RAM. The more RAM the laser printer has, the faster the print speed. Optional features on laser printers include:
  • Duplex capabilities - can the printer print on both sides of the page?
  • Does the paper have more than one paper tray? Having more than one paper allows you to select different paper mediums.
  • PCL or PostScript capabilities that work with a Windows-based PC.
  • Availability of a network port so you can share the printer with other computers in the workgroup.
  • High capacity paper trays.
  • Color vs. monochrome laser printers.

Who makes laser printers?
Hewlett Packard makes the reliable LaserJet printer line, one of the most used in businesses. Lexmark produces inexpensive laser printers that are suitable for home offices. Samsung also makes a cheap model for home users. Other manufacturers include Kyocera-Mita, Brother, Okidata, Dell, and IBM. Xerox makes high end monochrome and color laser printers.

How does the cost of a laser printer compare with inkjet printers?
Adequate quality laser printers range typically range from $300 to $500 or more, while a good inkjet printer will cost under $200. Factors you need to take into consideration include the costs of the paper, toner/inkjet cartridges, and maintenance costs (i.e. drum replacement, fuser and transfer assembly replacement).

Overall, the per page cost of printing with a laser printer is cheaper than that of ink jet printers, but you invest more up front (equipment cost) for a laser printer than you do with an ink jet printer. If you print lots of black and white text, a laser is a better bargain. One laser cartridge generates thousands of pages and lasts a long time. One inkjet cartridge can print a couple of hundred of pages (less if you print images) before you have to replace the cartridge.

One additional advantage of owning a laser printer is that images don't fade with time, which is not the case with ink jet printers.

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