Buying a Laser Printer

Business.com / Business Solutions / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

If you're routinely printing out 100-page contracts, lengthy service agreements or thousands of sales letters, a black and white laser ...

If you're routinely printing out 100-page contracts, lengthy service agreements or thousands of sales letters, a black and white laser printer is a must-have. A significant step above inkjets in terms of sharpness of text, laser printers also handle greater output, offer diverse paper handling capabilities, utilize long-lasting ink cartridges and are designed for network use. They also offer finishing options such as two-sided printing, stapling and collating. These features come with a larger price tag than inkjets. Table-top models with work-group capability start around $800 while full-function models go up to about $4,000.

When buying a laser printer, consider the following:

1. Print quality.
2. Print speed.
3. Number of pages that can be printed before the laser printer cartridge needs to be replaced.
4. Network capabilities.
5. Paper-handling capabilities.
6. Reliability.
7. Price.
8. Cost of ownership.

Printing in black and white

If the bulk of your printing is black and white text and quality is a must, a monochrome laser printer is your best bet. Many lasers are designed with networking in mind, allowing a group of people in an office to print to a common laser printer.

Cost of ownership

Ongoing costs include replacing toner cartridges, maintenance (cleaning and replacing warn parts) and the cost of laser printer paper, which is more expensive than inkjet paper. Regular maintenance prolongs the life of the printer as well as maintaining the quality of the printed page. Compare the manufacturer’s service plan with that of local independent service companies.

Print Speed

Print speed is expressed in pages per minute (ppm) and the range in black and white printers goes from about 12 ppm up to around 45. It is advisable to buy a printer that prints at least 27 ppm. Note that manufacturer’s speed claims are usually based on small files and simple formats. Large files with graphic elements will often not print at the rate the manufacturer has specified.

Laser printer cartridges

The market for laser printer toner cartridges is highly competitive, allowing you to manage the ongoing expense of replacing toner cartridges.

Color laser printers

Most companies find that they need quality color printing on a regular basis. But using a color laser printer is more expensive than a black & white laser printer. That’s why most companies use a monochrome laser printer for the bulk of their printing needs, reserving a separate color laser printer for marketing materials and other graphic files.
color printer suppliers on Business.com  You can also find color laser printers suitable for home offices and small businesses at SuperWarehouse.com.

Printer rental

If your business hosts events or has occasional special projects that require additional printers, renting is your best bet. This is especially true for off-site events because renting alleviates maintenance, transportation and supply costs.
Printer Rentals resource page.

Large format printers

Banners, signs, maps, architectural plans and posters are all examples of work that must be printed on oversized paper. Large format printers are inkjets that produce photo-quality images on paper sizes of 11x17 and larger. Some use continuous rolls of paper. Note that large format printers sometimes require professional installation.

Used, refurbished and discontinued printers

Companies with limited budgets should consider buying a used, refurbished or discontinued printer from a reputable dealer. Often these products are new for all intents and purposes. Whenever a printer is sold and returned, it cannot be sold again as new and it shows up for sale as a used item. When a new model becomes available, manufacturers need to unload the remaining stock of the old model. Many manufacturers offer these products on their websites at deeply discounted prices and often with warranties.
  • Assess your total printer needs. Rather than just adding laser printers as your business grows, take the time to evaluate your workflow and determine how printing fits into the picture. Always consider network options and capabilities.
  • Keep up with new technologies. We associate new technology more with computers and portable devices rather than printers, but the first Bluetooth printers have just hit the market and might be a perfect networking solution for a one-room office.
  • Check compatibility. Don’t assume that all laser printers work with all computers.
  • Consider your space needs. The size of the laser printer is not the only consideration. You will want nearby space for paper stock, trash or recycling bins, and possibly surface space for collating and stapling.
  • Off-brand toner cartridges. While off-brand cartridges are cheaper than those made by the manufacturer, they do not always work. Some manufacturers design their laser printers to work only with their own toner cartridges.

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