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Home > Computer Buyer's Guide > Computer Printer

Different Types Of Printers

Inkjet PrinterFor most consumers, a printer is an essential add-on for your computer. You're not using your PC to its full potential if you can't print reports, letters, presentations, photos, and the rest of your creations. Just as there are Refurbished Computers, there are also refurbished printers which perform as well as new printers while allowing you to save a little money.

Currently, there are affordable inkjet printers that deliver top-notch color print quality and a new breed of personal laser models priced right for small / home office office users. Now high-quality printing is within reach of most computer users.

Recommendations: See the chart on our printers page.


Inkjet Printers

Inkjet printers can produce black and white or color images and in some cases photo quality images. However, inkjets can have trouble with sharp lines so text can vary from adequate to good depending on how fast the printer runs. Therefore, they are great for personal use since they can be very inexpensive, but won't necessarily make the best impression for business printing.

The most basic inkjets will have only three colors cyan, magenta and yellow (CMY) which are combined to produce a composite black. This eats up a lot of ink, and more often than not, composite black looks bluish or greenish which is less than ideal for text. For true black, you need an inkjet that holds at least two cartridges: one for the CMY cartridge and another for just black (K). The best configuration is a printer with a separate cartridge for each color, that way you only replace the color you need.

Decent color photo printing requires a true CMYK printer, and for professional quality photos you'll want a six color printer which adds a light cyan and a light magenta. These dedicated photo inkjets are great for photos but lousy for text. Keep in mind that to get those high quality images, inkjets go through a lot of ink and often print best on special stock so cartridge and paper cost are important factors to consider.

Inkjets aren't the roadrunners of the printer world either. Speed is 2-6 pages per minute (PPM) for text and about one page every 2 to 3 minutes for graphics. Naturally, speed increases with price. Overall, inkjets will fit a reasonable budget.


Laser Printers

Laser printers operate using the same concept as photocopiers which accounts for one of their main strengths -- speed. A monochrome laser printer produces sharp text at roughly 6-8 PPM (pages per minute) as well as black & white graphics at around 2 PPM. Laser printers are best at reproducing text, especially if you need to print fonts that are larger or smaller than the usual 10 to 12 point sizes.

A monochrome laser printer offers a lower cost per page since monochrome toner is comparatively cheap and regular paper does the job. Laser printers also tend to have better paper handling options. For example, they can hold more paper or make it easier to attach an extra tray for different paper sizes. These features make monochrome lasers a great choice for a home office.

There are also laser printers for color printing which use CMYK toner to produce images. They create high quality color graphics and photos, as well as sharp text, all at significantly faster rates: 6-8 PPM for text and 1 PPM for graphics. That efficiency will come with a sizeable increase in the price of the printer. In the long term, colored toner is less expensive per page than inkjets, but this will only offset the higher printer price if you're in need of very high volume, color printing.

If you are shopping for Refurbished Computers, then a good printer would be a simple refurbished Inkjet printer. They are the cheaper option over most laser printers, but in any case, make sure you understand the cost for printer ink or laserjet ink cartridges. That's where the real price of a printer can hit you.


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