Finding a low-cost quality laser printer isn’t impossible. In fact, there are a vast variety of printers out there that can meet your needs without requiring you to dig deep into your pockets. Here is some helpful advice from our editorial staff on how to shop for and buy a low-cost laser printer.
Is it Possible to Get a Quality, Low-Cost Laser Printer?
Some of the best laser printers on the market aren’t necessarily expensive. Often, price is determined by a printer’s feature set — but if you can make a list of the things you need a printer to do, as well as things you don’t need it to do, you can simplify your printer comparison. Most expensive printers are multifunction devices that include add-ons like fax machines, document copiers, and scanners. The real trick is to look beyond brand and price and find something that matches your needs. Consider how you’ll use your printer. If your needs require fast printing, put print speed at the top of your list. If you require quick and convenient connectivity to a number of different devices, compare printers to find one with an easy access front-facing USB port, or Wi-Fi capability so you can print straight from your smartphone or tablet. For purposes of volume printing, make printers with large paper trays a priority.
What are the Most Important Features to Look for in a Printer?
This is wholly dependent on your needs. Although many printers are packaged as such, there’s really no such thing as a “one size fits all” approach to finding the best printer. Instead of trying to find the printer that’s going to offer you everything all the time, determine what your specific requirements are. Including the aforementioned print speed and paper tray size for high volume printing, look for a printer that performs auto duplexing (the ability to print on both sides of a sheet of paper) if you want to save on paper usage and the costs associated with that. Likewise, you can cut ancillary costs by buying a printer that is Energy Star certified and has greater toner efficiency. This will prevent you from having to replace ink cartridges so frequently.
Most recently, we’ve seen the arrival of “eco tank” printers that never require you to change out a cartridge at all – instead, you refill the ink reservoir yourself, saving you from having to buy an entirely new color cartridge if all you’re low on is one color. These types of printers leverage permanent print heads instead of disposable thermal print heads. They’re a lot more expensive – often ranging from $300 to $1000, but many come with an extended supply of ink so you won’t have to run out and buy more for up to a couple of years. These aren’t exactly what you’d call low cost, at least not up front, but they could save you money ink cartridges over the long haul.
Which of Those Features Might be Missing from Lower-Cost Printers?
Failing to do your due diligence is the only thing preventing you from finding a low-cost printer that has the features you require at a good price. The answer is to know what you need and shop around for it. For example, if you need a low-cost wireless printer, you can find it so long as you’re willing to forego additional features, like a fax machine and a scanner, that may not be so important to you.
Why Should a Consumer Pay More for a Laser Printer than an Inkjet?
Inkjet printers are superior for producing photo-quality printouts. Laser printers fall more into the category of workhorse printers capable of handling high volumes for longer periods of time. Their quality is good for printing documents with graphs and charts, but fall short in the area of reproducing professional quality photo images. One of the most significant benefits of owning a laser printer is that you stand to spend far less on replacement ink cartridges. Laser cartridges cost more on average, but are capable of outlasting inkjet cartridges by a wide margin.