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Photo inkjet printers vs. color laser printers

by Lee Koo (ADMIN) CNET staff/forum admin / October 18, 2007 4:19 PM PDT

My question for you is photo inkjet printers vs. color laser printers. I use a ton of ink in my inkjet printers, and as you know, ink cartridges aren't cheap. Since color laser printers have come down in price quite a bit these past years, I'm interested in picking up one to see if over time (while initially it will cost more upfront for the laser printer) I can start to reap the benefit from switching to a color laser. However, I do have a few questions and hope you can help me out.

How do color laser printer fare as compared to inkjet printers when it comes to printing photos?

Will color laser give me the quality of an inkjet printer?

How about cost per page for color laser over inkjet?

What are some of the tradeoffs going to a color laser printer for photos? And are their any downsides to laser?

Thank you for your help.

--Submitted by Edward H.

Answer voted most helpful by the CNET Community newsletter readers:

Inkjet or Laser

Isn?t technology wonderful, inkjet printers are truly amazing examples of what can be accomplished when there is a buck to be made. And what is even more amazing is that manufacturers have come up with ways to package ink into small plastic containers that we are willing to pay up to $40 a piece for. If my calculations are correct, that $35.99 ink cartridge I purchased just yesterday with 21ml of ink in it, would come out to about $6,487 per gallon. Some cartridges work out to more that $11,000 per gallon of ink. And you thought gasoline prices were ridiculous. This is why they can afford to give you some printers for free when you purchase a computer. Ok, you get the idea that replacement Ink is expensive. I understand your dilemma, but a color laser may not be the answer especially when it comes to printing color photos. Yes, Color Laser printers can be less expensive, per page. But the print quality is just not there when it comes to photographs. Don?t get me wrong, Color Lasers are great for printing color documents, spec sheets and brochures but not for high quality photos. Don?t be fooled by the lowering prices of these units. A set of replacement toner cartridges for my color laser is almost $400. So, with that said, how do you lower your overall printing costs? In many cases the least expensive way to go is to have more than one printer but the first thing to do is step back and evaluate your total printing needs.
1. How much total printing do you do?
2. How much of it needs to be printed in color?
3. What kind of color printing? Are these Photos or just general purpose printing?
4. Are you printing a lot of letters and other black and white documents to an inkjet printer?

If you divide up your printing so that you use the most economical printer for that specific type of job, you will save a fortune in the long run. Here is a look at the different types of print jobs and which printers to use for what.

* Photographs *
Printing high quality photos is the most difficult and costly type of printing. Not only do you have the high cost of ink, film or cartridges but high quality photo paper can also be very expensive.

1. LIGHTJET ? This is one of the processes that the big guys use and is as close to real photographic printing that you can get. It actually is the same developing process as normal photographs accept for the way that the photo paper is exposed. You are not likely to be purchasing any of this technology for home use, but you can certainly take advantage of it by simply sending your digital images out to be printed. Many people believe that this type of process produces renders the best quality images and will not fade with time as much as inkjet and other processes.

2. DYE-SUBLIMATION ? This type of printer probably produces the best quality photographic prints out of the printers that are normally available for home or small business use and is one of the few printers that can actually print true continuous tones. The cost per print is a little higher and you are locked into special paper and supplies. You would not normally use this printer for anything other than printing photographs. Both Sony and Kodak makes a nice little units for printing 3x5 and 4x6 prints. These units typically run about 29 to 50 cents per 4x6 photo, so double check the price of the supplies before deciding on a specific model.

3. INKJET - Inkjet printers have become very popular mainly because of their excellent color printing capability as well as there low initial cost. Even though you may even get one for free, the cost of ownership is very high due to high ink replacement costs. In many cases just purchasing a NEWER model printer can save you a bundle. Printer manufacturers are constantly improving the print quality and lowering the cost per page to keep their printers competitive with sending your photos out to be printed. For the best photo reproduction, select a 6 color version.

4. OUTSOURCING - In the long run after you add up the cost of ink, photo paper and factor in for waste, printing errors and paper jams and if you are printing mostly standard 4x6 and 5x7 photos then your best bet may be to send them out to be printed. You can get standard 4x6 prints for under 20 cents each just about anywhere and I have seen them advertised as low as 6 cents (with a coupon) delivered to your door. That is less than the price of the photo paper alone. If you would like to see some reviews and prices for off-site photo printing, check out . The nice thing about outsourcing your photo printing is you don?t even have to leave home. Just sign up online, download your photos and they are delivered to your door. If you prefer, you can take you camera memory card down to Walgreens, Walmart or your local photo store and get them printing, usually in less than an hour.

* General Purpose Color Documents *
This category of printing includes any color documents such as newsletters, brochures, spec sheets or even just printing a web page in color. These documents may include photos but is not the main focus and photo quality is not the most important requirement.

1. INKJET PRINTER ? Virtually any model inkjet printer can print general purpose color documents on standard paper. However, the cost of the ink can be very costly if you print a lot of pages. NOTE: If your specific printing needs consists of printing more of one color than another such as a color logo on every page, then purchasing a color printer that has individual ink tanks for each color can save you money in the long run.

2. COLOR LASER ? The color laser printer is ideally suited for general purpose color printing and typically has a lower cost per page then the inkjet printers. Color Toner cartridges generally last between 2500 and 5000 pages instead of a few hundred pages for an inkjet cartridge. NOTE: Some color laser printers can be rather noisy and may take up to a few minutes to warm up to print the first page. Keep in mind that even though you can purchase a new color laser printer for under $400, replacement toner can run you another $300 or more.

* Black and White Documents *
This is just your normal black and white printed page such as a document from Microsoft Word, spread sheet or could even be printed pages from the internet or other sources that are actually in color but do not need to be printed in color.

1. BLACK AND WHITE LASER ? The Black and White (monochrome) laser printer is one of the best deals you can get when it comes to printing. The cost per page is roughly 1/10 that of an inkjet printer and the printing speed is equally impressive. You can get a monochrome laser for under $200 now and I have seen some units on sale for under $100.

2. INKJET ? Any inkjet printer will print black and white documents, well, accept maybe the small dedicated 4x6 photo printers. Although, if you don?t mind your documents on a 4x6 inch piece of glossy paper, I suppose you could even use one of these. If you print a lot of documents, inkjet is not the most economical way to do this and you will find that you are constantly replacing ink cartridges.

3. DOT MATRIX ?These are not used that much anymore, especially in the home, but still have a place where impact printing is required. Applications that require printing multi-part forms or printing through special mailing envelopes still use this type of printer. Some business users still prefer printing reports on a dot matrix or line printers.

**Notes on AOI (All-IN-ONE) Printers** ? Both Laser and InkJet printing technology come in the very popular All-In-One format. These units combine Printing, Copying, Scanning and sometimes Faxing in one unit. If you have the need for any of these features you may want to include one of these in your printer wish list. Due to common conflict problems, avoid installing more than one All-In-One printer on a single computer.

**Notes on Networked Printers** ? Many printers are now available with built-in networking and some even with built-in wireless networking capabilities. This feature can add anywhere from $50 to $100 to the price of the printer, but may be well worth the investment. If you have a network, either wired or wireless, a printer with networking would allow any user in the home or office to print to this printer without having to connect to it directly. Great for those of you who are roaming around with that wireless laptop.

No one printer is ideal for all types of printing and there are many other types of printers that were not discussed here such as thermal label printers and solid ink printers. In most cases, the most cost effective way to handle all your printing needs is to have multiple printers installed on your computer or network. For example: I personally have 8 different printers on my Network.
1. Black and White Laser for Documents and spread sheets.
2. Color Laser for color Spec sheets, flyers and printing color letterheads.
3. All-In-One Inkjet for scanning, copying and the occasional color photo.
4. Large WIDE Format Inkjet Printer for printing large items.
5. 2nd Inkjet printer preset with roll stock photo paper (Just for 4x6 photos)
6. Thermal Label Printer for printing rolls of labels only
7. 2nd Black and White laser for backup printer.
8. Thermal CD/DVD Printer for printing directly onto disks.

Now most of you will not need this many printers but probably the most cost effective thing you can do is purchase one black and white laser printer to be used for all your general printing needs for when you can get away without color. Many of you might ask, why not use the color laser for the black and white printing too? And the answer is you could, but if you ever looked at the inner workings of a color laser printer, you would quickly come to the conclusion that it is amazing that this thing even works at all. I would prefer to wear out the cheaper B&W laser and if you happen to like to print labels or on other unusual paper stocks, the paper path on a color laser is just too complex. Save it for the color jobs.

Wayland Computer

Submitted by CNET member waytron

If you have any additional advice or recommendations for Edward, click on the reply link and share. Please do check out all the additional and very helpful advice below. Thanks!
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photo inkjet printers vs. color laser printers
by sangrant / October 19, 2007 9:53 AM PDT

WOW if ever there was a question that gets to the heart of the matter. Color Lasers are about the same cost when you look at replaceables as Ink Jets are right now. Their intital costs have gotten cheaper, but their toner costs are still high. Count on spending $200-$300 to replace the starter toner they give you. (Yes the manufacturers are doing the same thing with lasers that they do with Ink Jets, a starter set of cartridges)Plus after a heavy number of prints you will need to replace the drum or transfer roller mechanism which will set you back another $100.00 or more. Finally depending on the Color Laser their Photo Quality Output will not rival their inkjet counterpart. Photo Inkjets are made to print Quality photos. Color Lasers are made to print Qulaity Color presentations not necessarily photos. I would say it is still too early to look for a low cost Color Laser to print quality photos. I would instead look at the manufacturer of the Ink Jet and see if there are alternatives to buying their ink. A few Ink Jet printers can use generic Ink Cartridges without blinking. Make sure though that they are from proven or dependable sellers. Sometimes the aftermarket ones do not work and then you will want them replaced.
It comes down to trade offs. What are you willing to trade off for what you do now. Is cost the only factor? (Now to let you know what I do. I have two color Ink Jet machies at home two different manufacturers, plus one mono laser. I have one mono laser and one color laser at work.)

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Inkjet Probably Still the Cheaper Way To Go
by whbos / October 19, 2007 11:11 AM PDT

I agree with "sangrant." The drums and rollers are very expensive and, if you will be printing a lot, tend to become worn out very quickly.

I also agree that inkjet cartridges are expensive, even the black cartridge. I mostly use my inkjet printer for color photos and haven't even gotten halfway through a pack of 5x7 paper and have to replace the tricolor cartridge (not the starter; the replacement I just bought).

If you print a lot of photos, you might consider putting the images on disc and taking them to Eckards or some place that processes film onsite. I've done this several times. It's relatively cheap compared to the cost of replacement ink and toner cartridges.

I had thought of purchasing a color LaserJet printer, but I can't justify the need for one since I usually print to a B&W LaserJet printer.

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Color inkjet vs. laser for photos
by Watzman / October 19, 2007 9:58 AM PDT

Edward, if what you are printing and what you want are photos, you really have no choice here. You are going to have to stick with color inkjet.

The fact is that color laser is just NOT a "photo quality" technology. There is just no comparison, it's really not even close. If what you want is photos, you simply won't be happy with any color laser. The only print technologies that can really produce something that is close to what we think of when we say "photographs" are Inkjet and Dye Sublimation.

Laser is fine for "business color" .... flyers, bar charts, etc. It's even ok for most product brochures. But it's just not a technology that is capable of producing anything that most people would find acceptable when what they want is a photograph.

Now, as for your ink situation, you can save a ton of money (90% of your ink cost, approximately) by refilling cartridges, but it's a true pain in the butt, you have to find actual OEM quality inks (not easy, and not even always possible) and many inkjet printers simply can't be refilled (but some can). Other strategies exist for cutting ink cost that involve careful buying and taking advantage of various promotions (for example, some of the office supply stores will buy back empty cartridges for $3 each).

But inkjet (or dye sublimation) are your only real options if what you want is what we conventionally call photographs.

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Color Laser is (mostly) a big improvement over InkJet
by daryllafferty / October 19, 2007 10:34 AM PDT

I went through this same decision a few months ago, and finally decided in favor of a color laser printer.

The advantages for me (comparing my old HP Deskjet 890 with my new HP 2605dn) are:
1) Laser is a generally a little cheaper per page even compared to an inkjet where the ink cartridge doesn't dry up or the nozzles get plugged. Since these things happen all too often, that swings the balance even further towards laser in terms of price.

2) Text quality is significantly sharper with a laser printer.

3) Color graphics quality is actually better for me with the laser printer than with the inkjet. Laser color on plain paper has the shine and richness of inkjet color on photo paper. Admittedly, I am comparing an old inkjet with a new laser. Generally, you will hear the opposite -- that laser color printers are not as good as current generation inkjet for color graphics. That's not my experience, with my particular printer. There is laser photo paper available that is supposed to produce even better photos. I have not tried it yet.

4) My laser printer is significantly faster than my inkjet, and my particular laser is considered one of the slowest color lasers around (according to benchmarks). The first page always takes longer to get started, as things warm up, but subsequent pages come quickly. Inkjet printers sometimes have an "econo" or "fast" mode that will print at speeds rivalling a laser printer, but the print quality usually suffers significantly. Lasers print a high speed with high quality.

5) The laser printer takes up quite a bit more space on my desk than the inkjet did, and is a lot heavier.

I have been very happy with the transition from inkjet to color laser. I keep looking for things to print just for fun!

Hope this helps.

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Deskjet 890 ..... ???
by Watzman / October 19, 2007 2:58 PM PDT

You are comparing a 2007 color laser printer to an inkjet printer from almost a full decade ago, about 1998. Those printers really were not "photo quality". The comparison, to be valid, has to be with current products, and there is just no difference at all between the inkjet printers of today and those of a decade ago.

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Inkjet is the way to go for photos
by fergusbp / October 19, 2007 10:41 AM PDT

I have a HP 2840 color lazer and I donnot use it alot because of the cost of toner. Now there is a company in florida that sells toner to refill your cartiages.

Now I am using an Epson 1800 13" wide injet printer for photos. Now if you go to you can download softwear that you can reduce the ink used in a printing from 0 to 75%. I ussually print at 50% reduced ink with good printing for general printing. For photos I reduce the ink used by 0 to 25% with great results.

Now for reduced ink cost, you can go to They sell refill cartarages, a continious ink system which had cartaiages that go in the printer, with silicon tubes going to external tanks. I use it on the epson 1280 and it works great. Three ounces of ink is $8.99 per bottle. That is really cheap. It will fill a cartiage many times over.

Now for good photo printers I am familiar with epson. The replacemet to the epson 1280 (six colors- off the market now) is the epson 1800R and the 2400R.
The 1800R is great for photos with 8 colors. It has meganta, cyan, yellow, black , photo black, true red, true blue and a gloss spray. The ink is pigment ink with a life of 100 to 200 yrs. has pigment, dye and subliminal ink for most photo printers.

The 2400R is also an 8 color system, that is designed for black and white photos and fine art printing. had ink for most all photo printers.

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Color inkjet vs Color Laserjet
by seanfsinclair / October 19, 2007 11:17 AM PDT

I work in a reprographic shop that uses a color laserjet for all small documents and a wide format color inkjet for the anything over 12" wide. My experience is that the color laserjet will do as good of a job as a color inkjet (provided that your screen colors and printer colors have been calibrated to match). The modern color laserjets have a much smaller operational cost (after they are bought or leased). However, just like inkjets, if you put the wrong color toner in the wrong slot, your colors will be off accordingly. I use the color laserjet for any small format document I have to print.

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Good Question!
by Gabrielle64 / October 19, 2007 11:33 AM PDT

The question of ink jet vs laser is interesting. I am now of the opinion that laser color printers can be considered disposable, just as the small ink jet printers...however, I say this with great frustration. I have purchased a minimum of 4 Lexmark printers, (all ranging from $75.00 CAD and under)one Canon and recently I have purchased an Epson R260 for approx. $120.00 CAD ~ the cartridges are approx. $78.00 CAD...two days ago I found this same printer now reduced in price to $89.00 ~ so what does one do?? How frustrating this really is. Ink is NOT cheap.

Now in order to remedy my many years of frustration with the "disposable" ink jet printers I decided that buying a laser jet would not only jet me into awesome quality, but also I would be getting something that I could invest in knowing that when I purchased replacement laser cartridges I wouldn't be throwing money into something disposable.......wrong again. Last year I invested approx. $550.00 CAD on what I thought was a fairly good color laser jet. (All four cartridges would come out at approx $400.00 to replace, but of course you rarely replace all of them at one time....I hope ;o}). So, imagine my shock that this printer has been on sale at two different locations for retail less than the cost of the cartridges. Trust me I was tempted to buy the clearance printer just for the cartridges........I didn't ~ I will wait until I need to replace one or all and hope to heck I don't have to buy all at once!

The saddest discovery for me is that this printer is unable to print the 'higher' MB photos and my modest graphics designs. I have learned since purchasing it that it must be upgraded in order to facilitate higher graphics printing........a whole other investment in something which would seem disposable.

Printer companies of course must have their reasoning ~ I for once would like to understand the sheer waste! Is this the best they can do? I'm looking for an ethical company that I can work with.


Gabrielle M.

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New printers may not have as much ink/toner
by albizzia / November 3, 2007 3:51 PM PDT
In reply to: Good Question!

Unfortunately, printer companies sometimes include "half filled" ink or toner cartridges in their new printers, ostensibly to lower costs. The replacement cartridges may contain much more ink or toner, and thus cost almost as much as a new printer, but will print many more pages than those "half filled" cartridges.

Sometimes, the manufacturer sells both partially filled and full replacement cartridge, at two different prices. If you see the same cartridge from the same manufacturer at two different prices, check the amount of ink or toner included - you may find the more expensive version is actually a much better deal!

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RE: Color Laser Printers
by sideburnz / October 19, 2007 11:51 AM PDT

Hey, you need to sit down and figure up what kind of volume your going to be running before you do anything else! If you only do a little bit of color and you ink jet is drying up really fast take it out and put in a ziplock bag. Also if you only do a little bit this sounds really wasteful but it is the cheapest way I know of: Go to Wal-Mart (or insert big box store name here) and by the cheap Lexmark they make decent pictures as long as you expect what your paying for and nothing more. They usually cost about $25 for the printer with black and color cartridges. However, when the ink runs out throw it out and buy a new one! The cartridges cost more than the whole package.

Second route, if you do run large volumes you might look into a CIS (Continuous Inking System) the higher end Photo Inkjet printers usually can run one of these. Personally I use an Epson R1800 with one and it does professional quality at about 1/8 the cost of the cartridges it replaced.

Finally after beating the bush down, the laserjets are good if you want a "waxy" look. The ink sets on the page and then it is baked on. Plenty good enough for most people but it depends on what exactly your looking for. My experience has been really good with both. However, if you do photography I would go with the inkjet; laser printers tend to leave streaks from the fuser that you might or might not notice. Toner also depends on the equipment... try not to buy the discount online brands unless they are guaranteed. If not they may have @#$^ in them that will cause your machine to fubar, then your out of alot o' dough. Good luck, hopefully I didn't loose you.

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laser printers
by beau511 / October 19, 2007 12:21 PM PDT

I have an HP color laserjet 1600 now for over a year with no problems apart for the slow ******* of the vista driver,
The drawback is the price of the cartriges (i stll have the original) about $100 each for the 5 cartriges.
I paid $199 for the printer on Christmas boxing day sale, and i have seen it on sale for the same price last week, so i think that it whould be cheaper to change the printer than bying the ink.


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Color Laser vs Inkjet
by jaytmoon / October 19, 2007 12:40 PM PDT

Hi Ed,
I use an (HP Photosmart)inkjet for color photo printing and yes, it does get costly at times. I have considered a color laser printer as they have come down in cost. However, that being said you should be aware of the differences between the two imaging technologies. Inkjets can (and do) mix the ink colors to create a fairly wide palet of colors as they impact the paper. Color lasers can not (as yet) mix the toners together to achieve the tonal range of ink jets. They (color lasers) must make multiple passes of the paper thru the transfer and fuser process to "layer" the colors on top of each other to get a final image. To date, the color output of lasers just can not stack up to a quality inkjet printer. They are more suited for generic documents requiring colored images and graphics.
Lasers ARE cheaper to use than inkjets for everyday use (eg: documents etc) and the cost pp is way less (6 to 20 cents for Inkjet vs 2 to 5 cents for laser. I use a low end laser for all my documents but still use a good inkjet photo printer for my photo hobby.
I'd suggest picking up a sample of paper suitable for each unit you are considering and go to your local Office Supply house. Test an image you are familier with from a flash card and compare the outputs.
Compare them to your regular printer's output and decide from there...
Good Luck and Happy Shopping.

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Ink Jet Printers Vs. LazerPrinters
by timoteo222 / October 19, 2007 12:44 PM PDT

I used to use Ink Jet Printers, but now I have two Lazer printers, one black ink, and one color. I prefer the Lazer printers as they "never seem to run out of ink". They cost a little bit more, but I save a lot on not having to purchase ink cartriges. Tim.

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No answer just an opinion(and you know everyone has one LOL)
by bobfox321 / October 19, 2007 1:33 PM PDT

The ink jet manufacturers got upset that the 3rd party ink jet companies like were selling replacement cartridges at less than half the cost of the manufacturers that they figured out a way around it. They developed new cartridges with electronics built into it under the guise to help you better. Yeah right! They said use only our new cartridges or VOID any/all warranties on the printer. They also raised the price of each color cartridge. I hope the replies here will give us better options from these new exorbitant prices. With competition someone will figure a way towards cheaper and better.

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Thanks for all of the good information regarding Printers...
by sparqmark:) / February 18, 2008 1:29 PM PST

Here is a site that explains how you can adjust the settings of a color laser printer to turn off the electronic chip in your laserjet 1600 and 2600 series printers. Perhaps there are other companies with this ability. I am going to try this with my printers since I own both of these models to see if I can squeeze a little more out of them. My only gripe with laser printers is the cost of toners and the print quality of photos. I use epson inkjets for that... they seem to have the best results... just my two cents. Here is the link.

Thanks for listening... Sparq

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Tools for the job...
by MrGadgetman / October 19, 2007 2:32 PM PDT

If you are wanting to print speedy documents of different types and mass production is your thing? Go laser. Inkjet gives you the best of all worlds when you through practicals in the mix like money, or efficiency. If you are going to do photos like you mentioned then without a doubt, hands down..., get a dye-sub photo printer. Don't even bother racking your head trying to find the best laser photo printer. Laser or inkjet printers cannot nor do not print with the quality, accuracy, color gamut or resolution that dye-sublimation photo printers do. By design they are inherently limited. Look at it this way..., Most photo labs or developing houses use commercial grade dye-sub printers to produce the positives from digital media. Do the research first, and just save your money by buying a basic laser (if you just like them that much) printer and a dye-sub printer. They aren't that much and SONY makes a few models in various price ranges.

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Inkjet vs Colour laser
by Jillnjase / October 26, 2007 12:46 PM PDT
In reply to: Tools for the job...

I am not too sure what that noise is about when you whine about the cost. I run an HP3110. I bought it because it was the only one available at that time that recycled the ink during the head cleaning cycle. I use premium grade paper that I buy on good specials (half price), and the colour cartridges are not expensive. I get absolutely amazing results, and if I use the onboard enhancements to copy an existing photo from a commercial lab I am able to produce a superior result to the original. I manage all this for a 6x4 for under 20 cents. It works out far cheaper than a lab as I can print only the photos I wish to put in an album or hang on the wall. My 3110 is now getting old and I am sure there are even better printers now. Mine is fast and I have four machines in one, and i can print directly from my disk. If I were to change I would be seriously looking at a dry powder printer, but for now I am very happy. Rod
PS a dry powder printer is nor a laser!!!

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by MrGadgetman / November 3, 2007 4:19 PM PDT
In reply to: Inkjet vs Colour laser

I believe you may have responded to the wrong post. I never made any comments as to the cost for inks or references about powder inks or laser ink/toner. Nor did I say anything about ink refilling.

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printer ink use to much.
by tonyghosti / October 19, 2007 2:45 PM PDT

You are useing to much ink because you are turning off you printer after use, I goi,s through a cleaning cycle each time you turn it on, so leave it on standbye, Also you w3ill not use anymore power as your printer needs to warm up before starting, so Its cheaper to leave it on standbye, good luck tonyghosti.

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Inkjet v. Laser
by firehire / October 26, 2007 11:04 AM PDT

My main reason for printing with laser is you can get it wet and it won't be ruined. It's plain and simple. You get inkjet wet and your printout is ruined.

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new inks are water proof
by snavelyz / October 27, 2007 1:43 AM PDT
In reply to: Inkjet v. Laser

Dear Discussion board:

new HP inks are better water-proof. If one buys the color-lock paper from HP ( only less than $1 per 500sheets more than the store brand), it also assits the water proof.

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laser v ink
by monsieurms / October 27, 2007 6:46 AM PDT
In reply to: Inkjet v. Laser

I recently bought the Magicolor 2550--it is SO much faster than the ink jet. For normal color printing, it is not only quick but looks great. It is a Postscript--dpi 9600.

Now, the price has come way down these days. This is was under $400 with four high capacity cartridges pre-installed! Basically, the printer was free!

Someone mentioned enormous power drain and weight of a Laser, but certainly mine is not terribly heavy, has a small footprint and doesn't blow my electrical system. Lights don't dim. Computer doesn't go offline. If you've got a laser that powerful, it is probably an office laser. You can go lots smaller for home.

If I were printing color photos often though--and I don't--I would get an ink jet. They are clearly better at that. But using the ink jet as your all around printer I found to be difficult whereas the Laser is a great all around printer. The ink jet would have issues on wetness and crispness of text for formal letters. Plus, if you didn't use it for a few weeks, the ink cartridges would seem to dry out and stop working. I can go a month without using my laser, print, and it produce another perfect copy.

As a default printer, I think it has to be a Laser if you have any serious need for a printer at all. If you're just a home enthusiast printing photos, get an ink jet.

Really, I could see an argument for one of each. Neither is perfect. For me, considering that I don't print photos that often, the clincher was the tendency of ink cartridges to dry up. For normal uses, a laser is vastly superior.

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Laser vs. Inket Answers
by anpav / October 19, 2007 2:55 PM PDT

I'd like to share something with Ed on my experiences as both a color laser and injet owner. Let's see if I can break it down a little from my own experience:

Q: How do color laser printer fare as compared to inkjet printers when it comes to printing photos?

A: In my opinion, if you want 'picture quality', stick with the injet. I've printed a few pictures with my laser and was disappointed. There is no match for an injet that has correct ink and correct paper - the laser will do an adequate job - only adequate.

Q: Will color laser give me the quality of an inkjet printer?

A: It depends. If you're printing term papers and recipes, the quality will exceed that for injets. In fact, the laser will exceed your expectations for all but the finest picture. Again, if you print primarily pictures, stick with the inkjet.

Q: How about cost per page for color laser over inkjet?

A: This is a hotly debated topic and both have good and bad points. I would suggest more research on CNET and other sites to see if the costs calculated match your printing style. Keep in mind that each printer manufacturer rates their products for so mnay pages with a percentage of page coverage (e.g. 4500 pages at 5% coverage per page)

Q: What are some of the tradeoffs going to a color laser printer for photos?

A: Using a laser primarily for photos will leave you disappointed in the lack of detail. A good consumer laser will provide ~600dpi - a good, inexpensive inkjet can exceed 1440dpi or more. These dpi do make a difference in picture detail, crispness, and clarity.

Q: And are their any downsides to laser?

A: Definitely. The power consumption and heat generated are way more than an inkjet. The size and weight of the printer must be accommodated in your home or small office. When my laser wakes from it's power save, the current draw can and does dim lights and knock computers offline. Your home power must be able to handle the increased load. You will eventually need to replace the drum - granted at about 40-50,000 pages, but these drums are really expensive. Laser toner cartridges can cost upwards of $150 for some models - research consumable costs if you have a printer in mind.

I know Ed didn't ask this, but I feel it would make sense to answer the next question:

Q: And are their any upsides to laser?

A: Again, definitely. Printouts are very fast. If you have a printer with memory expansion, the prinouts are delivered even faster. I also like that the printouts are waterfast - ever been in a rainstorm with an inkjet printout? Some lasers are able to be networked and make a great network printer for the family with multiple computers and a home network.

I chose my laser because it seemed I kept using too much ink for the small amount of printing I was doing. If an inkjet isn't used for a while, the heads will require cleaning using even more ink. Speed and networking were the ultimate clincher for me for everyday printing on a network with multiple computers. For printing pictures, I still use my inkjet Happy

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Inkjet VS LaserJet
by evilxo / November 2, 2007 2:51 AM PDT

Injets offer a much higher resolution when printing photos, but use a lot more ink and really isn't beneficial unless you do a lot of photo printing.

Replying to anpav's comment on networkable lasers: Many inkjets as well as lasterprinters are now network capable (some even wirelessly) so that shouldn't be a factor to rule in favor of the laser printer.

If you print any photos, go inkjet. If you find that you do a lot of black and white (text) printer and is running through your ink cartridges too quickly, then I would suggest purchasing a photoprinter (I have the HP Photosmart 5280) that uses inexpensive ink but still maintains high quality. 02 inks on HP photosmart printers run about $45 for all 6 tanks and it includes 150 sheets of 4X6 photopaper. If you're running through the black too quickly, I would suggest purchasing a small monochrome laser printer for those specific ink consuming tasks. The Hp LaserJet 1020 comes with full toner right out of the box (will print approx 2000 pages), and the drum is built right into the toner cartridge, so the drum is replaced everytime you buy more toner (this will save you A LOT of money in the long run). It'll give you much lower cost per page compared to any photoprinter.
Printing text on a laser will give you a "crisper look" with a nicer finish as well as being water proof (when run when wet).

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Ink refill kit and buying bulk ink resolved all my ink woes.
by Michael Tsark / October 19, 2007 4:29 PM PDT

Thank you, Edward H., for asking. I've owned 3 different inkjet printers but from what I've read from time to time is that consensus still tends to agree that inkjets are still better for printing photos while lasers are still better for printing documents. Although my main use is for printing documents my own priority was for overall initial cost of everything and I liked the idea of having the option of printing better photos incase I ever wanted to which is how come I opted for inkjet. I eventually bought an ink refill kit and soon later began purchasing bulk ink from The Printer Ink Warehouse and therefore the ink costs me only a small fraction of a penny per page to the point where I just don't worry about the cost of ink anymore. Even if and when I make a printing mistake or if I don't like the way the whole printing job turns out and decide to do a printing job all over again, the cost and supply of ink is no longer an issue for me to be concerned with because I always have lots more affordable ink in stock on hand and I no longer have to worry about running out of ink and/or running to the store to get more costly ink cartridges. My old ink woes became completely a thing of the past and now it's only something that other people might still have to worry about and contend with. The first few times of refilling the ink cartridges were only slightly messy and slowly awkward to do but after a short while with practice it got so much easier and cleaner at getting the job done quickly to the point where now there's no longer any mess since practice-makes-perfect. If you already have extra spare cartridges it still only takes a few to several minutes to refill all of them for re-use as needed. I've enjoyed doing business with The Printer Ink Warehouse and there's free shipping with purchases over $45. Plus, at least two or maybe three(?) times a year I get their email letting me know that I can get an additional 15% discount as a returning-customer. May I also suggest purchasing at least a few additional syringes up front because they do wear out and get ?sticky? over due time.

My current inkjet printer is the Canon multifunction PIXMA MP180 which uses the newer type cartridges that doesn't allow the printer's display readout to read as ?cartridge full? again after the cartridge been refilled and instead it says ?ink unknown? but other than that the refilled cartridges still works just as well when it comes to printing. Another time after I had refilled both cartridges (black & color) and re-inserted them the display readout on the printer kept saying there's ?no cartridges? but after I kept re-inserting both cartridges several times it finally accepted the cartridges as ?ink unknown? and I was able to continue printing again.

The only other thing I can strongly recommend is to stay away from ill-greedy Hewlett-Packard products but that's because of my lousy experience with HP servicing. I used to have a Compaq computer and then HP bought out Compaq and my two year warranty had just expired but I tried calling HP for help over the phone which was a mistake on my part. I got handed through 3 or perhaps 4 HP customer service phone operators before I was finally connected to a service computer technician. I had clearly expressed my deep concern to each one of the phone operators that I don't want to be charged the $40 for the phone call if the technician can't help me at all but none of the HP phone operators gave a damn and just kept passing my phone call onto the next person. When I finally connected to the service computer technician he instantly made me wait for 3 to 4 minutes before he finally came back to the phone and helped me troubleshoot my computer which lasted roughly a minute and then he quickly made me wait for another 4 to 5 minutes. When he finally came back onto the phone again all he said was that he can't help me any and that I would need to take the computer into an authorized HP shop for servicing. In other words it had cost me $40 for roughly a minute's worth of troubleshooting only to be told there's nothing he can do. To add attempted insult to injury, it would have cost me another automatic basic fee of $80 just to have the computer ?looked at? if I had taken it into the HP shop and that would NOT have included the additional costs of labor for servicing nor for the replacement parts. I opted instead to throw the Compaq computer away and decided to have nothing more to do with ill-greedy Hewlett-Packard. But, of course, the choice is solely up to each individual?

Thanks again, Edward H, for your inquiry. Tsark out.

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by Michael Tsark / October 20, 2007 6:49 PM PDT

RE: cost per page (Post 31)
by Big_Toe - 10/20/07 7:10 AM
In reply to: Answers for Edward H. by Lee Koo (ADMIN) Moderator
"What are your recommendations for the cheapest cost per page and most reliable printers for black and white as well as color?"

RE: Cheapest cost is ink refill kit and buying bulk ink. (Post 32)
by Michael Tsark - 10/21/07 1:26 AM
In reply to: cost per page by Big_Toe
Big_Toe, thank you for asking and for more detail please consider reading my previous post number 21 under this thread to Edward H where I mention that buying an ink refill kit plus buying bulk ink from The Printer Ink Warehouse is the by far without a doubt thee very best way I know of to obtaining the cheapest cost of ink per page. I've never actually calculated the exact cost but I'm satisfied that I've reduced my costs to a minute fraction of a penny per page to the point where I never worry about the cost of ink anymore. If I had to make a wild guess I'd say I'd probably get anywhere between 50 to 100 pages per penny which may or may not be an over-estimate but I do know that it now only costs me at least a small fraction of a penny per page to the point where I stopped worrying about ink costs altogether, plus, I never have to worry about running out of ink anymore because I always have lots of affordable ink on hand nor do I have to stop what I'm doing in order to run to the store to buy more expensive cartridges. Between running out of ink and needing to go to the store to spend big bucks, I'd rather stay at home and take the few to several minutes to refill the cartridges myself without having to worry about how much the ink is costing me. One doesn't need to have a master's degree in rocket science in order to simply refill a cartridge and with a little of practice it can be done within minutes and without making any mess at all as practice-makes-perfect.

Sorry but I've only had a total of 3 inkjet printers and so I'm not qualified to give you any valid opinion about the most reliable printers. But I do know The Printer Ink Warehouse also sells bulk toner for laser printers as well as bulk ink for inkjet printers besides the refill kits for both types of printers.

Thank you again, Big_Toe, for asking. Tsark out.

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50 pages or more per penny is feasible with bulk ink.
by Michael Tsark / October 21, 2007 8:01 PM PDT
In reply to: Addendum.

As I recall, it used to cost me between several cents per page when I had used the expensive recommended manufacturer's ink cartridges. Later I was able to reduce the cost to a few cents per page by buying alternative generic type replacement cartridges that were less expensive. When I switched to the refill kits which provided several refills for the same cost as the original cartridges I was able to reduce the cost per page to under a penny and as I vaguely recall estimating I was getting somewhere between 10 to 20 pages per penny depending on how dark or light I printed things out. Then I went for bulk ink and all I know is that the cost went down to a much smaller fraction of a penny per page. Relatively speaking, I've only bought "small bulk" a couple of times and that's how come I only wildly guess I get somewhere between 50 to 100 pages per penny but if I were to ever buy ink in "big bulk" I'm sure the cost would automatically improve to hundreds of pages per penny. In summary no matter how one looks at it, buying cartridges makes one think in terms of PENNIES-per-page whereas purchasing refill kits and/or bulk ink makes one think in terms of PAGES-per-penny. That's just simple arithmetic, go figure? Most people seem to prefer spending all the money to get the expensive cartridges as though most people are either rich and/or have a lazy aversion to refilling the cartridges themselves but I can't afford all the expensive cartridges and it always made me feel like I was getting scammed every time I had bought another overly expensive cartridge which contained such little amounts of ink in it and so switching to refill kits and then switching to bulk ink was a very easy no-brainer for me. Some printing jobs that would've cost me perhaps between $30 to $50 in ink costs now only cost me a few dollars worth. And if for any reason I decide I don't like the looks of how the whole printing job turns out then I'll merely splurge and spend another few dollars to do the whole printing job all over again just to be satisfied that it looks good. If I were filthy stinking rich I'd probably opt for buying all the expensive cartridges too without ever having to refill any cartridges but my annual income is under $11,000 and more than half of it goes towards rent so like I said, ink refill kit and bulk ink was a no-brainer for me and more of a necessity. PENNIES-per-page versus PAGES-per-penny, it's up to each individual to choose for themselves how they want it done.

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by Michael Tsark / October 22, 2007 2:10 AM PDT

I decided to sit down and work out the math. Here's a breakdown of the costs but keep in mind the cost can widely vary to some degree depending upon the brand of printers and the models and type of cartridges and type of refill kits to fit the specific models, for instance, my old printer Canon cartridges used to cost around $10 and alternative brands cartridges went for $3 but now my current printer black cartridge costs between roughly $20 or $25 depending upon who's selling it. Comparatively, such variables significantly alter the cost of ink per page including bulk ink prices depending upon the printer model. And your own method of working out the math may or may not differ from mine.

When I had first gotten my Canon multifunction PIXMA MP180 model last year I vaguely recall the Canon brand replacement black cartridge used to be priced at roughly $25 while the color cartridge was roughly $30 but I just checked again and they're now reduced priced at Canon for roughly $20Black [$19.99] and $25Color although most (but not all) alternative brands still sell them for roughly $25Black and $30Color. I've never refilled a completely empty cartridge but it's my guess that a black cartridge holds approximately somewhere between 10 to 12 cc's or ml's for roughly $20 and prints out around 170 pages before the ink starts running out and the pages begin to get only partially printed out. With this specific model in mind, 170pages/$20 congruent to 1page/n [where n is the cost of pennies per page], that is, 2000pennies x 1page divided by 170pages = 1page costing 12cents per page when using a $20 cartridge.

For the same price of roughly $20 the ?large? size starter refill kit for the PIXMA MP180 model from The Printer Ink Warehouse contains 120 ml's and does 7.5 refills. That's comparing 10 to 12 ml's for a roughly $20 cartridge, compared to 120 ml's for a roughly $20 [$19.95] starter kit. Math-wise, 170pages x 7.5refills = 1,275pages. 1,275pages/$20 congruent to 1page/n [where n is the number of cost of pennies per page], that is, 2000pennies x 1page divided by 1,275pages = 1page costing 1.6cents instead of the 12cents per page.

However, the X-large refill kit for $29 gives 250 ml's and does 15.6 refills which works out to 170pages x 15.6refills = 2,652 pages for $29. 2,652pages/$29 congruent to 1page/n [where n is the number of cost of pennies per page], that is, 2900pennies x 1page divided by 2,652pages = 1.1pennies per page with the 250ml's refill kit.

Refill kits from The Printer Ink Warehouse roughly costs $5 [$4.95]. If buying 250 ml's in bulk ink without a refill kit the price is reduced by roughly $5 or roughly a total of $24 instead of $29 for the 250 ml's which brings the cost down to 2400pennies x 1page divided by 2,652pages = .9 cents or 9 tenths of a penny per page. At this point and in this particular specific instance the cost of ink per page is reduced to a fraction of a penny per page. Keep in mind that the same amount of bulk ink have different prices for different models even within the same brand name printers. Bulk ink also comes in 500ml's, 1000ml's, and 1gallon sizes and of course the bigger the bulk the slightly bigger the savings.

Now that I've looked over these figures I can see where my old printer gave me a much better cost per page than my current printer does since cartridges and bulk ink prices are significantly more expensive with my current printer. It looks like I'm currently getting only around 2 pages per penny which is drastically far from the 50 to 100 pages per penny like I thought although it only feels like it because I had stopped worrying about the cost of ink altogether. I suppose if I lightened my printouts to get more prints per cartridge it would improve the cost a little but me thinks I'd be better off with a different printer that comes with less expensive cartridges and hence less expensive bulk ink prices?

To conclude, it appears actual cost in general is more realistically around a few to several pages per penny for most people when using bulk ink, that's my guess but I suppose some people could perhaps get 10 or more pages per penny? Or maybe my math is off? Each individual would have to visit The Printer Ink Warehouse for themselves to calculate their own numbers to see how much of a fraction of a penny per page it would be for their own printer model but never-the-less the fact still remains, refill kit and bulk ink is thee most economical way to go in terms of PAGES-per-penny which makes sense and only logical when I think about it.

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Addendum #2
by Michael Tsark / October 23, 2007 4:24 AM PDT
In reply to: BIG, BIG CORRECTION...

Have you checked out the price of ink online?
by gzwalker - 10/22/07 7:56 AM
In reply to: Answers for Edward H. by Lee Koo (ADMIN) Moderator

Hi Edward,

I can't really give you a comparison between inkjet and laser printers, but I can tell you that I was able to find a very cheap source for ink cartridges. I was using a printer where the cartridges were around $7 for black and $16 for color at local office supply chains. I was even buying refill kits and going through the pain of doing it myself to try to save some money. Then I came across a site ( where I could get both black and color for $1.50 each if I ordered in quantities of 10. Since I was using a lot of ink, that was a no-brainer for me (10 color cartridges online for the price of 1 at the local store). I have a friend that found cartridges even cheaper on ebay. So I would advise you to consider that option if you haven't checked online yet. NOTE: I have been very satisfied with the quality and life of the cartridges I have gotten online - YMMV.


The good news a little too late for me.
by Michael Tsark - 10/22/07 11:17 PM
In reply to: Have you checked out the price of ink online? by gzwalker

I wish I had heard about when I used to have a Canon Multipass MP360 and would've taken advantage of such a good deal. Canon MP360 brand cartridges went for around $10 and I was only able to find alternative ones for $3. Then my MP360 broke and Canon discontinued the model and so they gave me a free upgrade to the PIXMA MP180 printer but problem is near every where I look the cartridges are still expensive between $20 to $25 for Black. Even doesn't offer that much of a savings for the PIXMA MP180 cartridges. 1 to 4 cartridges still cost $20 each at while buying 5 or more will only save me a dollar on each cartridge. No matter where I've searched and searched I still can't find reasonably priced cartridges for the PIXMA MP180. The cheapest thus far is $16 for a refurbished cartridge. These things are massed produced like all the rest and I know it doesn't cost the manufacturers a leg and an arm to mass produce these cartridges. Meanwhile, I'm devoted to using a refill kit plus buying ink in bulk quantity from The Printer Ink Warehouse but right now I'm still unprepared and don't have a spare cartridge on the side incase something goes wrong with the original cartridge because I'm still waiting for someone to NOT be so ill-greedy about the PIXMA MP180 cartridges. But thanks for the info, I'll keep it in mind the next time I get another printer.


Refillable ink cartridges.
by fergusbp - 10/23/07 6:40 AM
In reply to: The good news a little too late for me. by Michael Tsark

Check out They have cartridges made for refilling for different printers, they have continuous ink systems and bulk ink. 3oz. is $8.99. The refillable cartridges and continuous ink systems come with ink or with out. You can use bulk ink from other suppliers in them.


"Automatic cartridge refilling systems."
by Michael Tsark - 10/23/07 11:19 AM
In reply to: Refillable ink cartridges by fergusbp

WOW! What an idea, I wish I had invented it, automatic cartridge refilling system where I don't need to remove any of the cartridges from the printer anymore as long as the attached outer refillable 100ml tank bottles don't go below an ink level of 2 inches. I wish I could get me one but doesn't have one designed for the PIXMA MP180. As of yet ?MP180? isn't even in their vocabulary but sooner or later I'll get around to asking them if perhaps one of the other refilling systems might be adaptable for the MP180. I noticed the 100ml ink for the Canon brand is slightly cheaper than The Printer Ink Warehouse whereas the 500ml and 1gal are still cheaper at The Printer Ink Warehouse and the 1000ml are the same price at both places.

Thanks, fergusbp, for the info.

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Bulk ink prices
by ronmac60 / October 29, 2007 9:31 AM PDT

For those who don't mind learning to use a syringe and fill the cartridges,bulk ink is certainly the way to go. You simply have to drill a small hole in the top of the cartridge, fill it and then seal the hole.I just use a small glue gun which puts a seal on the hole in 1 second. The seal is easy to remove next time.

As for Michael's problems I fully sympathize with your efforts and wonder how in the world you are able to do mass printing on an income of $11,000 per year. My apartment rent alone is $18,000 a year but that is not what we are here to discuss.

I just want to say that anyone that wants to save money should buy bulk ink. I pay $39 a quart and shipping is free if order is over $45.

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