Choosing a Laser Printer – How to Make an Informed Choice
Given the confusing array of features and options available, consider carefully what aspects are most important to you.
Is cheapest best ?
The cheapest laser printer may not necessarily be the cheapest one to run and this depends largely on print volume. It is essential to determine your expected monthly print volume, as the cost/number of pages the cartridge and other consumables last is of critical importance.
|PRINTER||COST OF PRINTER||COST OF TONER|
Typically, cheaper models need to have their cartridges replaced more frequently. In the example above, assuming reasonable print volumes per month, Printer B would definitely be the wisest choice. The number of pages printable from a cartridge varies considerably and depends on make/model and price of the printer. Low end machines often print 1000+ pages whereas high end machines can print in the 10,000’s.
Does the cartridge come as a single combined unit which includes the drum or as separate components?
Whilst it's convenient to replace/dispose of a combined unit, separate units offer greater flexibility and lower operating costs. Why? Because the various components of a combined unit wear out at different rates i.e.toner will deplete way before the life cycle of the drum is reached.
Are the cartridges easy to source/ buy and simple to install?
What work do you intend to do with your laser printer?
High volume work means that print speed is important. Speeds above 20 ppm (pages per minute) are now common but remember:
• A3 pages take longer than A4 to print
e.g. AcuLaser EPL-N2550 17 ppm (A3) / 30 ppm (A4)
• Colour printing is often slower than monochrome
e.g. Kyocera FS-C8500DN A3 printing: 25 ppm colour 'v' 28 ppm monochrome / A4 printing: 50 ppm colour 'v' 55 ppm monochrome
Do you require a duplex capable laser printer? The ability to be able to print both sides of the paper can reduce paper usage and tray filling time by 50% but will decrease overall print speed because the path the paper takes is increased by the addition of the duplex unit.
Do you understand the terminology?
Laser printer resolution dpi (dots per inch) is often cited as a distinguishing feature of laser printers. The range of 300 dpi to 1200 dpi depends on make/model and how long ago it was produced but be aware that figures quoted may be stated in marketing terminology such as ‘effective output’.
'9,600 dpi printing quality with multibit technology' = 600x600 dpi multi-bit technology e.g. FS-C8500DN
Higher dpi comes at a cost, do you actually require it for the work you will be undertaking?
If you intend only to produce text documents, a 600x600 dpi rather than a 1200x1200 dpi resolution printer is usually sufficient.
How easy are the printers to install, configure and connect to your computer system?
Does it have network provision as this allows sharing of the printer with others which can save on the cost of purchasing additional printers? Note that some printers can only be connected to a single computer. Also, different laser printers have different wait times when networked.
Set aside some time to check out reviews and ask questions in forums. Bear in mind that the advice offered might be ill informed or biased but proceed by aiming to narrow down your choices through asking increasingly specific questions. Reliability varies between manufacturers and even within models in a series, so do ask about this issue as ultimately, downtime means loss of productivity and money. Once you have bought and had time to try out your printer, remember to add your own feedback to assist future potential buyers.
Do side by side comparisons of the manufacturers' specifications and, if possible, visit a store to see the printers up close and in action.
Always shop around for the best deal as prices can vary considerably and remember to compare warranties and service contracts.
Enjoy your new product. Having proceeded in a systematic and sensible manner, you will hopefully have bought the laser printer that best meets your requirements and budget.