Laser printer or inkjet printer – which is right for you?

Buying a printer for uni? We’ll help you decide whether to go for a laser or inkjet model with our comparison of costs, benefits and ink...

Laser and inkjet printers may both essentially do the same thing but they use very different technologies. Each has its own pros and cons.

But first, ask yourself:

  1. What do I want to print? Are you going to be knocking out loads of text-heavy essays, or presentations rich in graphics and photos?
  2. How much will I be printing? A high volume of long essays, or the occasional project? The more you print the more of an issue ink costs become.
  3. Do I want to scan and photocopy? Some printers can scan and photocopy as well. These are called all-in-one, and come in both inkjet and laser models.
  4. Do I want to print from other devices? You can now print documents from your phone or tablet without having to be plugged into your printer. Look out printers with AirPrint and Google Print compatibility to print from Apple and Android devices.

Inkjet printers

Hp Inkjet Printer

In a nutshell: A great all-rounder. Cheap to buy, takes up less desk space in your room and is the best option for printing photos.

If you have a printer at home already it’s probably an inkjet. The cheap and relatively compact inkjet printer triggered the home printing revolution.

They work by spraying liquid through tiny nozzles at high pressure onto your page – hence the name ink jet. They print from ink cartridges. Liquid ink secured in an airtight foil container. 

What makes them good for students?

Printers are affordable: You can buy one for less than £40.

Cheap ink for light use: Ink cartridges are usually cheaper to buy than toner. They’re perfect if you’re printing occasional essays and photos.

Small: Moving into a tiny room in student halls? An inkjet printer will take up minimal desk space.

Great for photos: Plan on taking plenty of snaps on uni nights out? An inkjet printer will give you better quality photos than a laser.

Copy and scan: Most inkjet printers these days are all-in-one models. This means you can also scan and photocopy too.

Other things to consider:

  • Speed: A laser printer will produce pages faster than an inkjet.
  • Ink costs: Ink cartridges are cheaper to buy than toner, but they don’t last as long. If you print a lot then costs can stack up.
  • Print on both sides: Save money by getting a printer that can print on both sides of your paper (this feature is called auto-duplexing)

An inkjet printer we love: You can copy, print and scan in colour and black and white without breaking the budget with the HP Envy 5532. You can print double-sided, and also hook it up to print from your iPad or iPhone.

Laser printers

Hp Laser Printer

In a nutshell: Perfect for printing loads of text documents in black and white, fast.

Ever worked in an office with a printer, or printed work out in the school or college library? It’s most probably been from a laser printer.

They print using toner cartridges. These are not containers of liquid ink, but powder. Laser printers work by scanning the image you want to print before fusing it to the paper using specs of toner dust.

Ink cartridges and toner should never be mixed up.   

What makes laser printers good for students?

Fast printing: Printing large text documents often? You’ll appreciate the faster print speed of laser printers. They can produce around 10 pages per minute on average – perfect for your dissertation or other large reports or essays

Sharp text: Your essays will look crisp and clear – laser printers are known for producing sharp text

Cheap printing (if you print lots): Toner cartridges are more expensive than ink cartridges, but you get lots of prints for your money. If you’re printing high volumes these are generally cheaper per page than an inkjet printer.

Other things to consider:

  • Photos: If you want to print photos you’re better off with an inkjet model
  • Space: Laser printers are larger and bulkier and will take up more room in your tiny student halls bedroom
  • More expensive: Laser printers generally cost more to buy than inkjet printers
  • Ink costs: Toner cartridges are more expensive to buy than ink cartridges.

A laser printer we love: If you just want to print out essays you’ll love the HP Laserjet Pro 1102w.  It only prints in black and white, but your essays will look sharp and print fast (around 13 pages per minute). It has built in Wi-Fi too.

Discover everything you need for your studies at Currys.

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