If you look at identical pages of text printed on inkjet and laser printers, the laser print will look sharp and clean and probably a denser black, too. New pigmented inks used in inkjet printers have made inkjet print much closer to laser intensity, but the best black print quality still comes from lasers.
Where you lose out, of course, at these kinds of prices, is that the lasers can only print black. If you want a sub-£100 colour printer, you have to go for an inkjet. There are still many small businesses, though, that don't need or colour print or simply can't afford it.
So, you’re looking for print speed and good print quality, and the third attribute is convenience. Even the hungriest of laser printers, and certainly of those reviewed here, can print 1,500 pages at five percent cover – a typical business letter – before needing replacement. You'll be lucky to get a third of that out of most inkjets between cartridge changes.
Three out of the six laser printers reviewed here are designed to be folded shut and the paper put away when not printing. They have no covers for their paper trays, meaning that house dust, biscuit crumbs and drinks can easily clog up the mechanism or ruin a stack of paper.
Many people also quote running costs as a reason for picking a laser printer over an inkjet, but if you compare ink and toner costs for equivalently priced printers, you’ll see this doesn’t bear up.
Take, as an example, the HP OfficeJet 6000, with an SRP of £87 – in the middle of the price range of lasers reviewed here. It has a black page print cost of 2.0p, based on an ISO page yield of 1,200 pages from its £24, 920XL black cartridge.
The most cost-effective of the laser printers in this group has a cost per page of 3.0p, a full 50 percent more than the OfficeJet. While inkjet ink prices may be something to get heated about in the pub, they’re still lower than those of equivalent toner.
Here are six entry-level machines showing the best that inexpensive laser print can offer, but with sufficient design differences to make them interesting competitors.
Buyer's Guide: Budget Mono Laser Printers
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.