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Differences Between All Types of Printers
October 9, 2018
Purchasing a new printer can seem daunting, especially because new models are released fairly frequently. With so many options available, you’ll want to make sure you’re choosing the right type and model while paying the right price.
To choose the right printer, first think about your needs on an everyday basis, and if you want your printer to be capable of specialty print jobs. You might also want to consider how much you are willing to pay for ink cartridges and supplies on a regular basis.
For instance, a monochrome printer’s costs can be minimal, but if you get an A3 device, you may find yourself spending more in order to create large projects. Overall cost can also depend on the type of ink your new printer will use and how many prints you plan to produce.
An inkjet printer may seem like a good idea for your business until you have an entire office needing to print out reports with expensive color cartridges. For a home office, however, you don’t want a printer that takes up tons of space when you’re printing a few pages a day.
Not all printers can provide all the functions you may want depending on your expectations, which is why it’s important to weigh the pros and cons of each before you make a decision. With all this in mind, you can come up with the right solution for your needs, considering things like whether or not you have a business and how much you want to spend to keep your printer running.
Here are some of the main types of printers available on the market.
Types of inkjet printers
In most homes, you’re likely to see inkjet printers. These printer types have been a staple for many years, and they usually come in a few varieties depending on your needs.
Most are fairly inexpensive upfront, although constantly replacing ink cartridges can end up costing more if your printer is not well-designed. There are a few types of inkjets that are commonly purchased as home printers but also for small business use.
All-in-one or multifunction printers
The most popular printer for home use tends to be the “all-in-one” or multifunction inkjet printer. How much they cost, which actions they perform, and their sizes all vary, which provides you with many choices.
The upfront costs may be minimal, but you could end up paying more over time if you need to replace the ink often.
- Printing, scanning, and copying capabilities
- Requires ink cartridge replacements
- Can print in black and white or in color
The HP OfficeJet Pro 8710 all-in-one printer offers all the basics you need for your home office while saving you on the cost of ink. If you need quality color, the HP OfficeJet Pro is a nice alternative to a laser option and delivers a nice print job without costing as much. It also includes the option to fax and offers a security feature for a protected connection with your local WiFi network.
- Touch screen
- Preloaded apps to help with scanning
- Mobile printing
Photo inkjet printers
You can use multifunction printers to print photos, but professionals and hobbyists may want a machine capable of a little bit more.
Photo inkjet printers are designed to make pictures stand out while offering the opportunity to work with different print sizes. These printers are usually a bit more expensive than your typical inkjet option because of the type of ink they use and the fact that they’re usually both dye and pigment based.
- Used by photographers
- Printing, scanning, and copying
- Uses 6 to 12 ink cartridges
For all the features of a multifunction printer with added photo printing capabilities, the HP ENVY 7855 all-in one photo printer provides an easy-to-use interface with professional-style pictures.
Mobile printing is also an option, making it easy for both home users and business owners to get the most out of their pictures from any location.
- Print from email and web pages
- Copying and scanning
- HP Instant Ink compatible
Single-function inkjet printers
For your most basic printing functions, a single-function printer can do the job.
They’re simple to operate and can be a good addition to a home or small office where large documents need to be printed efficiently.
They’re usually quite affordable, too, but they can use up a lot of ink depending on what you’re printing on a regular basis.
- Black-and-white and color printing
- Easy to use
- Can print pictures depending on the model
The HP OfficeJet Pro 8210 all-in-one printer provides simplicity and enough power for five users. For all your basic printing needs, this works for homes and mobile printing while on your WiFi connection.
It also has ink-saving technology that can help you to save money because it uses 50% less ink than some other printers on the market.
- Display keypad for easy input
- One common driver for multiple users
- Print from your smartphone or tablet
Laser printers are typically reserved for office settings and similar environments that depend on printing a large number of text documents.
In terms of size, you can find larger and smaller options depending on the types of print jobs necessary. They can initially cost a little more than an inkjet printer, but they’re optimized to print large quantities of paper, so the toner prices are typically affordable.
Color laser printers
For those who want to make their presentations stand out with great color, a laser printer is a good option. It can be especially useful if you have graphics or illustrations on your documents and you want them to look their best. Using a color laser printer can also end up saving you money because you will only need to replace four cartridges.
While these printers can make documents look great, you may want to consider a photo printer if you plan to produce photos or anything with subtle variations of color.
- Only four cartridges to replace
- Great for small businesses
- Thousands of prints without toner replacement
Samsung has created a line of business printers that get the job done and can be purchased for a reasonable initial price. The Samsung ProExpress M3820DW laser printer works hard to help offices save on toner with its eco-friendly optimization.
It also includes another level of security so only those who need it can have access to the documents in the printing queue. It has several formatting options for reports and presentations, too.
- High-speed printing option
- Additional security
- Eco feature to save on printing costs
Monochrome laser printers
Monochrome laser printers have become less common as color devices grow more affordable and capable of printing at faster speeds.
However, if you plan to print large or numerous files and you need them quickly, a monochrome printer performs those tasks well. This includes the ENERGY STAR®-certified Samsung Xpress SL laser printer, which combines efficiency and high-quality printing.
These printers only print in black and white, so you only have one cartridge to replace. That factor makes it a solid option if you’re looking to reduce your printing costs.
- One toner cartridge
- LD-compatible cartridges can cut down costs
- Good for businesses
Other types of printers
Inkjet and laser printers are the most commonly used printers, but there are other options that can be ideal for those who work with niche projects or need to print with extra-vibrant color.
It may be a bit more difficult to find these printers in certain stores because they’re not as widely used, but they can provide you with a print job more suited to your needs.
Solid ink printers
Using new technology, solid ink printers use ink made from non-toxic vegetable oils to produce quality prints with less impact on the environment. Inside the printer, ink sticks are melted according to the recognized print jobs.
Because this is done on demand, the result delivers extra-bright colors and great-looking documents. Many are small and portable, as well. On the other hand, finished print jobs cannot be laminated, and it might take some time for the machine to warm up.
- Environmentally friendly
- Bright colors
- Compact design
Like their laser counterparts, LED printers are extremely reliable and can help businesses get the job done. They use light-emitting tech, making them inexpensive to produce. They also cost very little to maintain. Unfortunately, there are very few companies that produce them, which makes them tricky to repair or replace if anything breaks down.
- Fast print speeds
- Usually includes warranty extensions
- Environmentally friendly
Dot matrix printers
You won’t find many dot matrix printers on the market today, but they can be super-useful if you’re trying to keep your costs to the absolute bare minimum. Per its name, the printer uses dots to draw out an image or text for printing. The cartridges aren’t expensive, and this type of printer can be used in a variety of work environments because of its versatility.
- Low initial costs
- Low maintenance costs
- Can perform in almost all conditions
As the newest craze on the market, 3D printing has opened up new doors for enthusiasts at home and businesses alike. With a 3D printer, your imagination is your limit so long as you have the materials and budget.
It can be expensive to get into 3D printing right now, but with time it’s expected to become more affordable.
- New technology
- Endless possibilities for creation
- Useful for home and business
As a business, you may need to have printing options available outside just the standard options. An A3 printer can be invaluable if you are planning to use paper sizes that will not fit in your average inkjet or laser printer. This can also be useful if you are planning on creating large-scale projects or photography and would like to do it without going to a specialized shop.
They can be expensive, and you will need to make sure that you have the room needed in order to house this large piece of technology.
- Prints oversized presentations or documents
- Takes up a lot of space
- High initial cost
Finding the right printer can be a challenge, especially if you have a variety of projects that you need to have done. Fortunately, there is room for innovation in this space, and new printer models are constantly updating and improving.
Before you purchase a printer, make sure it has the functions necessary to complete the print jobs you need to do while also being affordable. The right printer will get the job done quickly and efficiently without costing more than you need it to.
- Best HP Home Printers
- Best HP Photo Printers
- 10 Best HP Instant Ink Eligible Printers
- 5 Best HP Laser Printers for Small Business
- What Types of Printers are Available Today?
About the Author: Daniel Horowitz is a contributing writer for HP® Tech Takes. Daniel is a New York-based author and has written for publications such as USA Today, Digital Trends, Unwinnable Magazine, and many other media outlets.