1. Do You Want a Dedicated Model or an All-in-One?
A dedicated or “regular” printer does nothing but print. All-in-one models offer additional functions such as scanning, photocopying, and faxing, and they come in inkjet and laser versions. The advantage of an all-in-one is that it can save space and is less expensive than buying a separate scanner, fax, and photocopier. The downside is that an all-in-one printer doesn’t generally offer the range of features of a dedicated scanner, fax, and photocopier. And if one of the functions of an all-in-one printer stops working, you’ll have to repair or replace the entire unit.
2. Should You Go With an Inkjet or a Laser Printer?
Each type has distinct benefits and drawbacks. Here’s a comparison of the two:
These printers create text and graphics by transferring toner (powdered ink) to paper passing over an electrically charged drum.
More popular than laser printers for home use, inkjet printers spray fine droplets of ink onto paper to form letters, graphics, and photographs.
|Price||$100 to $550||$30 to $400|
|Pros||Black-and-white lasers are able to quickly print extremely sharp black text and charts (12 to 25 pages per minute) for 1 to 5 cents per page. They generally have low ownership costs. (Color laser printers are usually slower and more expensive.)||Inkjets print text and color graphics and are by far the best choice for printing color photographs. They accept several sizes of paper and have become much faster at printing text, with many models now just as fast as laser printers.|
|Cons||They’re not good at printing photos (though color laser printers do a fine job with color graphics).||On average, they cost about 33 percent more to operate than black-and-white laser printers, mostly because of ink costs.|
|Novelists, students, and anyone else who prints text and graphics exclusively and is looking for high-quality copies and a low cost of ownership.||Photographers, hobbyists, and anyone else who wants to print in color.|
More on Printers and Ink
More From Consumer Reports
- Best Home Printer: You Can Find Just Your Type!
- How to Get the Most Reliable Printer for Your Home
- 5 Ways to Save on Printer Ink
- Printer Buying Guide and Ratings
Editor's Note: This article also appeared in the March 2017 issue of Consumer Reports magazine.
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