Buyer's Guide: Budget Mono Laser Printers
The choices in black and white
Group Test If you can have a printer which can print black text on plain paper, as well as full colour on plain and glossy photo paper, why would you want to buy one which can only print black and only on photocopy paper? What does a laser printer offer over an inkjet?
The first feature is speed. While entry-level inkjets are rated at anything up to 30ppm and laser printers at around 15ppm, the lasers get somewhere near their manufacturers' claims, while the inkjets, in normal print mode, are lucky to make a quarter of their ratings.
In a small or home office, you might not think speed was that important, as documents tend to be small and printing occasional at best. In fact, though, the delays in waiting for important printouts, perhaps to get something in the post or to provide to a customer, can be frustrating.
As irritating as a slow overall print speed can be, the wake-up and first page out times are equally important. Most printers spend most of their time in sleep mode, often only printing once or twice a day. The speed with which they can wake up, heat their fusers and feed the first page of a print job is, if anything, more important. Eight to ten seconds is typical, and is pretty good, though not all these times are measured from sleep mode.
Another advantage laser printers have over inkjets is black text print quality. Because of the difference in the two printing techniques, laser print is much sharper and tends to be more densely black. Inkjet print is a wet technique, where drops of liquid ink are sprayed onto the paper and have to be allowed time to dry. In the process, even the best inks soak into the paper and spread out from where they first landed.
Laser print, in contrast, is dry, with small spheres of powdered ink held in place on the paper by electrostatic charges until the pressure of a heated roller melts the polymer of which they're made and squeezes it onto the paper fibres. Again, there will be some spread, but it's much smaller than from the liquid ink of an inkjet.
It's not the initial buy cost that matters - it's the running costs (and refillability)
People tend to get trapped into buying products only to find their running costs outweigh the perceived savings of the purchase.
An important feature is after-market supplies, i.e. the ability to refill.
This is why you will no HP products in my house or my employers offices but you will find a predomination of Brother products - built like the proverbial sh*t house, refillable and great after-market resources.
On the other hand, HP notoriously is continually engineering upgrades to make it impossible/very difficult to do this which makes them very wealthy in supplying refills, etc. This is not an honest policy, but the 'new' HP has long abandoned the scruples of it's founders, so anything goes. They are even suing some after market refillers who dare to refill HP cartridges.
Slightly lawed review
You quote the coast per page for Inkjets vs Laser.
one HUGE factor that will multiply the cost of Inkjets exponentialy, that most reviews miss out.
The "I use every now and agian factor"
I've an ancient HP LJ6L, which could go a month or two without use, the fire out 20 pages.
From a lot of experience, if you don't use inkjets on a regualar basis, you have to scrap a 90% full cartridge and replace.
Suddenly that 2p per pages become £2 / page.
Not an issue with toners.
Another inkjet cost
My Epson Stylus inkjet suddenly decided it needed service and quit working. I did a lot of research and found out after a dozen ink cartridges, a counter hits zero and it decides the "park pad" is full of ink and needs replacing. What actually happens is the service guy runs an app to reset the counter and charges you $100.
So I serviced it by replacing it with a Brother HL-5240, which prints Postscript, and no longer needs fancy CUPS crap & drivers.
Win. Not anonymous because, well, fuck you Epson. I'd had Epsons since my MX-80 on my TRS-80, but never again.
Ink Vs Toner
Your statement that inkjets cost no more per page assumes you get the full output from the cartridge. When printer use is very occasional, the lasers have no problems at all, but inkjets clog up and need cleaning cycles that chew up ink. Restart a disused laser after a year - no problem. Leave an inkjet alone for a month and you're better off chucking it and buying a new one.
El Reg - the article is broken - 404 going into first product page.