Laser printer or ink tank? | Benefits and limitations

Whether you're going through a bureaucratic process, finding it easier to study, or reading from written materials — or even a desire to print your photos — a printer can still be handy to have at home. A common question when deciding which model to buy, however, is to question whether the ideal option for your use is standard, ink, or laser.

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Both can handle most tasks, but depending on your goals, one may work better than the other. Therefore, let's clarify the main benefits and limitations of each model.

(Image: Disclosure/Tookapic/Pixabay)

The article considers the ink tank models, evolution of the version with cartridges. These small items were replaced by good ink reservoirs, and the good news is that this has brought a number of improvements to ink printers, as you will see in the paragraphs below.

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Which has the best price?

This is a choice criterion often used by users, after all, we can only have what we can buy. Ink tank printers offer slightly lower prices than monochrome laser models: in our research we found them at an average price of R$900.

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Laser versions start at R$ 1 thousand. It may not seem like a big difference, but it turns out that this average value refers to monochrome models, that is, capable of printing only in black and white. Color laser versions start at R$ 2,200 — a huge price jump that certainly doesn't fit every budget.

Which prints faster?

The higher price of a laser printer, however, starts to justify itself at the time of the first print – especially if it is bulky. Models can deliver 20 to 100 printed pages per minute (on more advanced models), which gives up to 1.5 seconds per sheet. Imagine that a handout or documents of dozens of pages can be printed while you reply to a message on your cell phone.

(Image: Photology75/Envato)

The ink tanks are able to work, on average, with 8 to 15 pages per minute. When they are in color, the work is larger, so the average is 5 pages. It's not the end of the world, but keep in mind that printing dozens, or hundreds of sheets, can take some time.

Which has greater printing accuracy?

Another good advantage of a laser printer model is the printing accuracy: texts in small fonts are really valued, because this type of model does not liquefy the print material. That is, there is no chance of a smudge being caused, by expansion of a liquid paint, for example.

Ink tank models can print text too, of course, but there are greater limitations on reduced fonts. This is a natural problem with these models, as they work with liquid rather than solid ink. The mere fact that the material is liquid creates a problem if the distance between letters or graphic elements is small, since until it dries, there may be expansion of the ink on the paper that collides with other elements.

Which one is best for photos?

On the other hand, ink tank printers do better in photo printing. This is for a number of reasons: the first is due to the higher DPI (dots per inch, or dots per inch), which translates into greater condensation of dots on the paper, generating greater definition.

(Image: mohamed Hassan/Pixabay)
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The second is because even the most affordable models already have very decent DPIs, which in laser models can be very expensive. These were designed for large volumes of pages, and never focused on print versatility. Which creates another problem for them…

Which is the most versatile?

Laser printers are designed to work with specific papers as they tend to be used repeatedly for similar tasks.

The ink tank models, on the other hand, are aimed more at the domestic consumer, and for this reason the models are designed with more care for the common user. Here you can use a glossy photo paper for the best effect on photo prints or textured sheets for business cards or party invitations, for example. Laser models don't do well with a variety of roles.

Which impression lasts the longest?

Lasers are once again highlighted when we talk about the durability of printing. The data transfer process to paper happens by melting solid particles fixed immediately on the paper. It is often possible to notice a kind of layer on the leaves given the process.

This makes the prints not even slightly damp, or being affected by moisture. Even a laser print can get wet and it won't smudge anything that has been printed.

(Image: Pixabay)

Ink tank models, on the other hand, face all of these problems: if the sheet has a lot of graphics, it may be necessary to wait for it to dry. Handling them beforehand can get your hands dirty or smudge the document itself. And contact with water tends to damage the leaf.

Which ink lasts longer?

Again laser models provide an advantage here: as explained, the print material is always solid, and only melts at the time of printing.

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Ink tank models can “stuck” ink at a slower rate than conventional cartridges, but are still susceptible to this problem. Furthermore, the ink, if left for too long, can clog internal connections in the long term.

Which is the most cost-effective recharge?

Here comes another very relevant calculation to be considered before choosing.

Laser printers have a much higher acquisition cost, especially if colored. Looking at the values of a toner — what their printing material is called — it looks like the cost is pretty high.

When ink cartridge printers did not have the competition of ink tanks, it was wiser to give the victory, in this regard, to models with toner. That's because cartridges printed very little per refill, and laser models offered a thousand or more prints per “refill”.

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With the arrival of the ink tank models, the situation has changed: a tube sold at an average price of R$100 can offer 7,000 or more prints in black and white. Toners have not evolved, and continue to offer an average of 1,000 prints at twice — or more — the price.


Even if we include the color refills for the ink tank model (there are three or four, depending on the manufacturer), the average cost of the complete refill of the dispenser can reach R$ 400. But this guarantees around 13 thousand pages (between black and color) printed, which still makes the cost-effectiveness of this model much more interesting than those supplied by toner.

Of course, it's important to note how many prints the printer manufacturer promises and how much it charges for refills. The numbers above are just an average, but hardly a laser model can surpass them in this regard, nowadays.

Best to buy ink tank or laser printer?

As we have seen, there is a universe of possibilities for each type of printer available on the market. What is possible to crave is that the time of cartridge printers is in the past with the arrival of the ink tank version.

If you're always making the same prints, need agility, and everything can come into the world in black, a laser model might be a good fit — despite the higher starting price. This should translate into practicality in everyday life, especially in environments that deal a lot with text.

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If you prefer versatility, color, and photo printing, the ink tank may be the best solution. It also has a more affordable price, and is more cost-effective when recharging.

With this guide we hope we can help you make the best choice that meets your needs. Remember, you can print your documents from your cell phone. Here you can get more information.

Read the article on Canaltech .

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