Laser vs. Inkjet: Finding the Right Printer for Your Business

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Discover the best printer for your business. Dive into the pros and cons of laser and inkjet printers, with expert insights for resellers.
Discover the best printer for your business. Dive into the pros and cons of laser and inkjet printers, with expert insights for resellers.

For many businesses, when deciding on printer fleet, it comes down to a choice of laser or inkjet – but which is best and what role does a reseller need to play in helping customers to come to the right decision?

The death of business printing has been greatly exaggerated. Over the past 20 years or so, the ‘paperless office’ has been touted regularly, but today it is still nowhere near being a reality and printing for many businesses is a daily necessity.

This means that businesses still need to buy printers, and getting the right one for their business is imperative. Often the choice comes down to laser or inkjet – and resellers have a vital role in ensuring that customers get the right printers for their business.

Distinct qualities

Inkjet and laser printers have distinct qualities. “Inkjet printers and MFPs are devices that squirt measured drops of ink onto paper, making them fantastic to use for printing high-quality images on coated stocks like gloss,” explains Rowan Jeffreys-Hoar, director indirect sales, Ricoh UK. “However, the ink can bleed when used on recycled or standard office paper. This means you can likely expect a lower print quality compared to laser printers unless you use expensive coated paper.

“It might cost less to buy inkjet printers and MFPs, but the printing costs can be higher as you have to replace the ink. This means they are probably more attractive for personal or home use where we print less so use less ink. Those who print at higher volumes should consider laser technology as it presents lower page and lifetime costs.

“Ultimately, the advantage of inkjet printers is their lower initial cost, the unparalleled photo quality when printed on glossy stock, and the fact they consume low energy during operation. However, they have a higher cost per page and can slow down when printing high-resolution graphics. Additionally, when unused for long periods the ink can clog in the print heads meaning they need manual cleaning to fix them.”

Janis Kemers, VP print and supplies, TD SYNNEX Europe, agrees on the quality of the colours that inkjet printers can provide: “Inkjet printers produce good colour rendition, brightness and accuracy compared to laser printers, so enable better quality prints of graphics and photographs,” he says. 

But there are downsides, he adds. “Once printed on a page, standard inkjet ink could be more likely to fade over time, and not all ink prints provide water resistance.” 

Janis adds that, going forward, technology such as refillable tank printers will be important. “These enable longer periods of printing with bottles or bags of ink supplied with the printer in the box, ranging from consumer, to SOHO, to SMB and now to enterprise printing,” he says. “This solution is not only providing a low cost per page, but very importantly the most eco-friendly approach to printing.”

Cheaper and faster

Meanwhile, black and white laser printers tend to be able to print faster and cheaper than inkjet printers but are typically better suited for clients needing to print a lot of text-heavy documents, Janis adds. “Colour lasers produce very high-quality documents, but the cost per page is very high,” he says. “Laser printers can also create large quantities of plastic and electronic waste, a higher CO2 footprint impact from shipping the large cartridge boxes, and higher energy consumption during the printing process comparing to ink technology.”

But as to which option is best, it comes down to the needs of the business. “Say the business’s modus operandi was an advertising firm which printed a lot of coloured imagery – they might want to opt for inkjet,” Janis says. “But if they were a law firm which needed to regularly print a lot of lengthy contracts, they might prioritise laser printers. An estate agency group might wish to have a mix to cover off both marketing materials and text-heavy documents and would go for colour laser. 

“A work from home and SOHO optimal would be refillable ink tank multifunctional printers with good document and photo print capabilities, scanning and no need to purchase cartridges for year or two.”

No one-size-fits-all

Richard Stewart, workspace portfolio marketing manager at Canon – which offers inkjet and laser printers – agrees that there is no one-size-fits-all solution. “Choosing between laser and inkjet printers depends on the organisation’s unique requirements, preferences and specific printing needs,” he says. 

When comparing the productivity and print quality of laser and inkjet printers, several factors come into play, Richard adds. “Inkjet printers require no wake-up time and offer superior printing of images and photos, they are often smaller than laser printers making them ideal in workplaces where space is at a premium,” he says. 

“However, laser printers often have faster printing speeds and don’t experience ink clogging. In comparison, laser printers excel in high-volume printing, producing sharp black text, and handling small fonts and fine lines with precision. So the business needs to consider the type of documents it prints the most and assess the volume and speed of output required.

“Cost is another factor when it comes to evaluating the advantages and disadvantages of inkjet and laser printing for businesses. For small-scale work, inkjet printers offer affordable initial investments and produce high-quality documents and images. While laser printers are more expensive upfront, they can prove more cost-effective and reliable over a period of three to five years offering long-lasting reliable printing solutions.

“In regard to sustainability, both technologies have made significant advancements in recent years becoming more energy efficient. They deliver improved performance and generate less waste, contributing to a more environmentally friendly printing ecosystem.”

Crucial role 

With so many factors to consider – as well as options for printers – the role of the reseller in helping customers to get the right solution for their business needs is imperative. “Resellers play a crucial role in the decision-making process for businesses by offering a range of options, providing detailed information on printer features, performance, and pricing,” Richard says. “They will be able to assist in selecting the most suitable printer for the customer’s needs and provide ongoing after-sales support.”

Janis adds one question should be asked when considering buying printers. “Businesses need to ask: ‘Are we getting the best printing stock for the best deal?’” he says. “Established IT distributors offer platforms that enable them to benefit from cloud print services on a consumption or subscription basis that offer seamless and full flexibility via trusted resellers. In turn, this enables them to save time and money.

“They should choose resellers that have access to these modern designed for purpose platforms because they were built specifically in consideration of resource prioritisation, strategic impact, size of the end customer’s organisation and more,” he adds.

Resellers can also position themselves as managed print service providers, helping business customers simplify how they run their printer fleets. “Remote monitoring software can assess the performance of individual printers, supporting robust decisions on maintenance and replacement as well as proactively replenishing consumables like cartridges, ink and paper,” he says. “Leveraging these tools resellers can satisfy complete IT infrastructure requirements to business customers and provide managed services with very efficient headcount requirements.”

Important considerations

Rowan adds that costs should be an important consideration when considering printers – and not just the initial outlay. “When looking for the best investment value, you must look beyond the purchase costs and consider the total cost of ownership,” he says. “All-in-one printers offer more than printing capabilities; they provide excellent productivity features that work to nurture a digital workspace. It’s also vital to consider productivity features (e.g., integration with Microsoft 365), security and sustainability credentials and service levels to bring ongoing innovation to your print investment.

“Here’s a useful tip: If you’re aiming to reduce energy consumption and minimise your carbon footprint, opt for a printer or MFP with a low TEC (Typical Electricity Consumption) rating. This can make a significant difference in energy efficiency.

“Managed print service providers play a key role in helping businesses to analyse their printing and scanning needs. They can help organisations create a truly tailored solution that maximises their print for a good return on investment. Resellers do this by conducting detailed audits and examining print volumes across locations and departments to gather valuable data.”

Rowan adds that with post-pandemic working patterns looking stable, now is a prime opportunity for businesses to evaluate their current solutions and needs. “Using data from the past few years a reseller can confidently design a solution that aligns with a business’s long-term contract – typically three to five years – and one that will stand the test of time,” he says.