Selecting the Best Printer for the Office

Years ago, laser printers were the norm in corporate offices, and the price point for inkjet printers was usually the deciding factor for home use. But with advancements in technology and more streamlined costs across printers, the number of printer options has increased for both  home and commercial use.

Most printers we see in the market now have been designed specifically for office and home requirements. The new and improved models perform multiple functions beyond just printing, making them convenient and economical. However, with so many viable options for printers today, the question remains, which one is the best for you?

Both inkjet and laser printers can be used in commercial or home offices. Still, the type of printer you select will need to meet your requirements and business needs. The two types of printers work in significantly different ways, so it’s essential to understand how they work when doing your evaluation.

Ink vs. Toner

Inkjet printers use liquid ink. Tiny droplets of ink are sprayed onto the paper to create text, photos, or illustrations. Technology has improved over the years and the ink dots have gotten smaller, making the final prints crisp and excellent for printing photos and detailed color images. However, a disadvantage of inkjet printers is that the ink cartridges can dry over time.

In contrast, laser printers use toner to create printed pages. During the laser printer process, a round drum is used to apply and melt powdered toner onto paper as it moves through the printer. Unlike an inkjet cartridge, the powder in a toner cartridge won’t dry up over time.

How Will the Printer Be Used?

Both inkjet and laser printers are available with multifunction capabilities. With a multifunction printer (MFP), you can print, scan, copy, and fax from the machine. So, you’ll need to think specifically about how you’ll use the printer and what features are most important. The foremost factor to consider before selecting any printer is your printing requirements.

To better understand your printer requirements, here’s a few questions to ask yourself:

  1. Do you need to print in color and black and white?
  2. How many pages will you print each week or each month?
  3. How fast will you need each page to print?
  4. Will you print text and images?
  5. What are the costs of supplies (ink/toner)?
  6. What’s my budget?

Workload Requirements

You likely already know that all printers are not created equal. Some printers are great for occasional use while others are workhorses, built for bulk printing and big jobs.  So, it goes without saying, when it comes to evaluating the work capacity of your printers, there’s a few variables you’ll need to assess.

1. Print Speed. If you’re printing many documents, then it makes sense that you would want a printer that prints pages quickly. Laser printers print significantly faster than inkjet printers. However, your speed requirement may still allow you to use an inkjet printer.

  • Inkjet.Depending on the resolution and amount of color required print speed average is 5-25 pages/minute
  • Laser. Laser printers’ average speed ranges from 20 to 50 pages per minute, and higher-end commercial laser printers can reach 100 pages per minute

2. Print Volume. The print volume is the maximum number of pages your printer can print without replacing supplies or requiring service. Laser printers have a much higher print volume than inkjet printers.

  • Inkjet. Monthly print volume limits are usually less than 1000
  • Laser. Monthly print volume is more than 1000 documents

3. Print Quality & Resolution. The print quality of the finished page refers to how good the document looks when it’s finished printing. Many factors influence the print quality, including the printing format, the paper, the resolution/dots per inch (dpi), and how clean and smooth the printer mechanisms are.

  • Inkjet.The print quality is usually superior to laser printing because inkjet printers can handle high-resolution printing. However, since it uses ink, inkjet prints must dry or risk smudges. Print resolution ranges from 1200 dpi to 5000 dpi
  • Laser.Laser printers still have excellent resolution capabilities and can print quality documents with medium-quality-colored images. Print resolution ranges from 600 dpi to 1200 dpi

4. Total Cost. When considering your budget, it’s essential to consider the price of the printer and the additional supply costs. Will you need special paper? How long will ink or toner last? How often will it need servicing?

Printer Costs

  • Inkjet. Inkjet printers generally cost less and are more compact than laser printers. However, the minimum life span is only three years and can cost more in the long run.
  • Laser. More expensive than inkjet printers costing twice as much or more. Over time, laser printers can cost less because their minimum life span is five years.

Supplies and Operating Costs (Ink vs. Cartridges)

You may think that laser printers are more expensive to operate than inkjet printers, but since toner cartridges hold more than ink cartridges, they last longer, and fewer cartridges go to waste since toner doesn’t dry up. Looking at the cost per page will give you an idea of the operating cost for each printer.

  • Inkjet. Black and white cost per page printing ranges from 5-10 cents. Color cost per page printing ranges from 15 to 25 cents
  • Laser. Black and white cost per page is less than 5 cents. Color cost per page printing is around 15 cents

5. Network Connections & Security. Printers, by default, are a security risk if not configured correctly to connect to a corporate network. However, printers can work securely either as a local printer or on a corporate network with the correct setup and configuration.

Local Printer

If you’re looking at a laser printer or inkjet printer for your home office, you’ll want to set it up as a local printer. A local printer means that it’s connected to a specific computer using a cable, and it’s only accessible from the computer. Minimizing a local printer security risk is much easier than reducing the risk for network printers.

Follow these best practices to keep your local printer secure:

  • Keep printer software up to date
  • Change login passwords regularly
  • Set up two-factor authentication
  • Turn off services that you don’t use
  • Store only necessary data

Network Printer

A network printer means that a printer is connected to either a home network or a corporate network and is accessible from multiple computers. Connected to a network, a laser printer or an inkjet printer is easily accessible by cyber criminals. You can protect a network printer by following these basic guidelines:

  • Change the default password
  • Check and update the firmware when required
  • Allow only HTTPS or SSH connections
  • Disable unused services and ports
  • Don’t allow internet connection
  • Require password printing
  • Clean hard drives when finished with a printer

With many printer options available today, it’s critical to make sure you’ve evaluated your printing requirements to make the best decision when selecting a printer. As we’ve explained, there’s much more to consider than just the printer features and price. Looking at your requirements and the total cost of printing should help narrow your printer options.