Laser or inkjet printer? Color or Black and White? HP, Epson, Brother, Canon or Lexmark? Both sides ? When it comes to buying a printer, there are many questions that arise. Here is our selection and our buying guide to help you choose better?
Recent events have reminded us that having a printer at home can always prove useful, if only to print a simple certificate… On other occasions, you may need to print other types of certificates , domiciliation for example, or invoices (for professionals) or simple photos of holidays, weddings, birthdays, to send to relatives.
But to choose the right printer, it is necessary to precisely identify your needs: what types of documents do you print most often? At what frequency ? Do we really need the color? HP, Epson, Canon… which brand to trust?
As often, everything also starts with the budget that can be allocated! It goes without saying that these peripherals are connected to a computer via USB and that we have chosen to focus on A4 format printers, the most often used. We have therefore put aside mini printers, specialized in 10 x15 cm photo prints ( Canon Selphy for example ), or even smaller still, such as pocket printers ( HP Sprocket or Canon Zoemini ).
Whether they use inkjet or laser technologies, the printers sold in online stores are very numerous. They are carried out by the three major specialists in the sector, namely HP, Epson and Canon , to which we can add Brother and Lexmark in the field of laser printing. And unfortunately, it is not always easy to navigate among the many references and find the model best suited to your needs. Here is an overview of the printing market.
Another monochrome laser model from Brother , the HL-L2310D ( € 99.99 at Boulanger ), can be interesting if you don’t need Wi-Fi, but rather want a higher print speed, 30 pages per minute. In addition, its tray can hold 250 sheets and it can perform double-sided printing automatically!
Things to check before buying a multifunction printer
To choose your future printer well, you have to know the details, usually technical, which differentiate the many models on the market and which justify higher or lower prices.
Multifunction printer: what does that mean?
A multifunction printer integrates an A4 scanner. Suddenly, it can act as a photocopier, which is always handy. We are talking about a 3-in-1 printer. There are also so-called 4-in-1 models, which also include a Fax, for professional use.
Quite rare today are printers that do not include a scanner and are therefore single-function. Even the Canon Pixma MG 2555S, sold for only € 49.99 by Darty can scan A4 documents.
There are however some exceptions, such as the Canon Pixma TS 205 printer, the Canon Pixma MegaTank GM2050 ( 279 € at Materiel.net ) or even some entry-level laser models, like the Brother HL-L2310D and HL -1212W.
Inkjet printer or laser printer?
For many years, laser technology has fascinated users and enjoyed a more professional image than inkjet. Are laser printers really superior in every way to those that operate an ink-based printing system? As always, it depends on certain criteria, four in particular, which can differentiate these two technologies:
– Print quality . With a sub-question: do you mainly print office documents (letters, reports, invoices, etc.), for personal or professional needs, or rather photos, or both?
– Printing speed . Do you need a great deal of responsiveness because you regularly print documents that may contain many pages? Or do you only need the paper version of a document every now and then, which you can print without rushing?
– The price of the printer . The entry ticket for laser technology turns out to be higher than for inkjet printers. Indeed, the first price, in monochrome monofunction, is around 100 €, while it takes around 180-200 € in color (and in multifunction). Inkjet technology is much more affordable, as there are many offers between € 40 and € 100. These are of course in color and almost always 3-in-1 type.
– The cost per page . The purchase price of the printer is not the only item of expense to be taken into account! It can be important to know how much it will cost to print each page, if you are printing many documents, per day, per week or per month or if you are regularly taking A4 photos for family and friends. This criterion is of course less important, if you generally use your printer once or twice a month, just to keep track of an event.
Other criteria can of course be taken into account: monochrome or color prints? Need to scan large documents? Number of cartridges for an inkjet model? Presence of an automatic duplex mode? etc. Review.
Print quality : advantage with laser, except for photos
In the case of monochrome prints, such as letters, reports, or even invoices, the advantage has long been the laser, which produced very dark and contrasting texts, which gave documents a very serious, professional appearance. But the difference in quality with inkjet models has narrowed over the years with the widespread use of pigmented black inks. Today, it is clear that some inkjet printers, particularly efficient, can compete with lasers in this area. But there is no general rule for inkjet, while laser technology is – always – a guarantee of quality for this type of document.
For office documents in color, the situation is the same. Laser printers outperformed inkjet models. But, once again, they are now overtaken by some high-performance inkjet models .
For photographic quality prints aimed at immortalizing vacation or family memories, inkjet printers have a serious advantage . Indeed, they can use sheets of paper specially designed for this purpose (glossy, glossy, heavyweight pages), which make it possible to obtain this very visually pleasing rendering, which brings out the colors. This is not possible with laser technology, which can only print on plain paper. The manufacturer Epson also offers a range specializing in photographic quality inkjet printing ( Epson Expression ).
But as often, it is not possible to give a general rule: a good inkjet printer will behave better than a moderately efficient laser.
Printing speed : the laser wins the race
In some circumstances, it can be painful to start printing a document and wait several minutes for the last page to be ejected. With regard to printing speed, the advantage most often goes to laser technology, for printing documents in black and white, but also in color. The most affordable model, like the Brother DCP-L2510D (offered for only € 129.90 from Boulanger) supports speeds of 30 pages per minute (in monochrome only). In color, the Brother HL-L3210DW model (offered at € 179.99 at Boulanger) can print 18 pages per minute !
Entry-level inkjet printers, such as the HP Envy Photo 6230 (€ 148 at Cdiscount), advertise speeds of around 8 to 13 pages per minute in black and white, and from 5 to 9 ppm in color .
Of course, the higher or higher the price, the more these speeds increase: 15 and 10 ppm (monochrome and color) for the Canon Pixma TS6350 (€ 109.99 at Darty) or the HP OfficeJet Pro 8210 (€ 129.95 at Materiel. net), which supports print speeds of 22 and 18 ppm (always in monochrome and color).
However, be careful with the values announced by the manufacturer. For a long time, the latter communicated theoretical speeds for inkjet models, because they placed themselves in the best case scenario, by announcing speeds which corresponded to the printing of almost empty documents!
Today, the values put forward are (often) more realistic, since they are based on the printing of documents meeting certain ISO standards . This allows you to compare what is comparable! It is also necessary that the different manufacturers refer to the same ISO standards, which is not easy …
In short, the value indicated provides an order of magnitude, but its veracity is in any case unverifiable before a real practical test. Even if it means returning the printer and getting a refund (during the first 15 days for an online purchase), if you have the feeling that you have been cheated and that the speed observed is not satisfactory …
Because, with inkjet technology, there is a big difference between printing documents that are 30% filled and those that are 75% filled, because the print head has to fly over all the areas to be printed to deposit the print. ink as the page scrolls from top to bottom!
Laser technology is not affected by this detail! Whether a page is not very full or very full, it will be printed at the same speed, because it is therefore a laser beam – extremely fast therefore – which indicates where to deposit the toner on the page (by magnetism). The latter is then brought to high temperature in order to be fused to the paper.
Another setting can be important if you print business documents very regularly and need maximum responsiveness. This is the time it takes for the first sheet to exit . This duration can be more or less long, depending on whether the printer wakes from sleep mode or not, and includes the time of feeding the page from the tray, printing and ejecting the sheet in the output tray. .
What about the number of cartridges
For laser, monochrome or color models, the question does not arise! You need one toner cartridge per color . So one for monochrome models and four for those that print in color.
But for inkjet printers, two operating modes exist, depending on the printer ranges: a single color cartridge ; which groups the three colors (Cyan, Magenta and Yellow), in addition to the black ink cartridge, or an individual cartridge per color .
The argument is that if you print documents that often have a predominant color, for example an office document with a red logo or photos of landscapes often with a large blue sky, the corresponding cartridge will run out more quickly than those of other colors .
In this case, it may be financially advantageous to replace only the ink cartridge that will fail, rather than replacing a cartridge containing all three colors. So it depends on everyone’s printing habits!
It should also be noted that, most of the time, color inks are based on dyes , while black ink is said to be “pigmented” , which makes it possible to obtain deeper blacks, of better quality than still black based on dye. This is particularly advantageous for printing professional documents (letters, reports, etc.), since the pigmented black ink provides a result comparable to that obtained with a laser printer. Some inkjet printers carry two black ink cartridges : one pigmented for optimal printing of texts and another containing black ink based on dye, for photos.
On the other hand, some specialized models for photo prints exploit special additional colors . This is the case for example with the Canon PIXMA TS8350 which uses 6 ink cartridges : pigmented black, black, Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and a pigmented blue dedicated to photo prints .
Likewise, the Epson Expression Photo XP-8600 also uses 6 cartridges , but this time with Black, Cyan, Light Cyan , Yellow, Magenta and Light Magenta inks .
The latest trend, manufacturers offer printers on which cartridges are replaced by ink tanks . They are mainly intended for users who print many pages every month (students, auto entrepreneurs, liberal professions, etc.).
Their prices are quite high! For example, the Epson EcoTank ET-2720 model is priced at € 229.99 at Darty.Canon offers such models in its Pixma MegaTank range ( Pixma G1501 at € 179.99 at Darty )
Cost per page : ink jets are rebelling
In addition to the purchase price of the printer, it is mainly the price of ink cartridges (and their autonomy) that determines its cost per page. Users of inkjet printers know that it is especially the ink that is expensive in the long run! Again, this criterion is more important for users who use their printer very regularly.
For laser printers, a toner cartridge sold for around $ 50 typically has a yield of around 1,000 pages ! The cost per page is therefore 5 cents (in monochrome).
High capacity cartridges (called “XL”) save money. For example, a 3,000-page cartridge is sold for less than twice as much as a 1,000-page cartridge, or less than $ 100. The cost per page then drops to 3.3 cents (still in monochrome).
In the case of an inkjet printer, such as the Epson Expression Premium XP-6100 , black and color cartridges are offered respectively at € 16 and € 12 (on the manufacturer’s website) for respective print volumes of 250 and 300 pages . The cost per page in monochrome is 6.4 cents and 12 cents in color (because it takes three cartridges to print up to 300 pages!).
With XL cartridges , we then go to 26 and 20 € in black and color, to print 550 and 650 pages. The costs per page in monochrome and in color therefore drop to 4.7 cents and 9.2 cents …
To calculate a more accurate cost per page, you should also consider the price of the paper . Especially in the case of photographic prints, since glossy sheets are quite expensive. For example, 25 sheets of semi-gloss 200 g / m2 paper are sold for € 7.99 at Boulanger …
One solution to lowering this cost per page for inkjet printers is to replace removable cartridges , which must be replaced when empty, with simple ink tanks , which can be refilled, by buying ink bottles, which provide a very long autonomy, of several thousand pages , comparable to those of laser printers.
Epson offers a range called EcoTank while at Canon , it is the MegaTank range which includes this type of printers.
These models make it possible to achieve a very low cost per page, since the ink bottles are very affordable: only € 10 per color in the case of the Epson EcoTank ET-2650, despite an advertised autonomy of 4,500 pages. in black and 7,500 in color ! The cost per color page is then only 0.4 cents and 0.22 cents in monochrome !
Of visual gauges provide information at all times of the amount of black ink, cyan, magenta and yellow and the remaining tank filling operation is very easy.
Subscriptions to further lower costs
HP and Epson offer subscription plans, which can also help you lower the cost of using your inkjet printer. This can be interesting if you know how many pages you print each month, at most. As soon as the ink reaches a low level, the printer sends the information to the manufacturer, who then automatically sends you new cartridges by post. No need to go to the store at the last minute, because you have just realized that the urgent document that you absolutely must print is of poor quality because there is no more ink …
The most recent is offered by Epson . This is the Ready Print subscription system . It offers two formulas. The first, called Ready Print Go , automates the sending and invoicing of new ink cartridges as soon as the ink level of those installed is low (so it is not strictly speaking a subscription!) . The second, Ready Print Flexworks the same, but shipments are based on a certain monthly print volume. Three options are offered by Epson: 30, 50 or 100 pages for – respectively, € 1.99, € 2.99 or € 4.99 per month. Packages also exist for printers in the EcoTank range. They are more expensive (in particular with a down payment of 79.99 €), because they allow to print 300 pages, 500 pages or an unlimited number of pages, in monochrome or in color. However, these Ready Print EcoTank offers have the merit of including a printer from the EcoTank range (ET-M1170U, ET-2750U or ET-4750U depending on the option selected).
And if you go for the plan that lets you print up to 100 pages and actually only print 80, the missing 20 roll over to the next month. Conversely, if you print more pages than expected, you can either change the formula, or – if it is exceptional – pay each additional page (10 cents).
HP was a pioneer in ink subscription for its printers, with an Instant Ink service , which Epson Ready Print was inspired by.
However, at HP the service is free if you print less than 15 pages per month! The other four formulas correspond to monthly print volumes of 50 pages (€ 2.99), 100 pages (€ 4.99), 300 pages (€ 9.99) and 700 pages (€ 19.99).
On the other hand, with Instant Ink, the number of pages that it is possible to defer depends on the subscription formula selected, as does the price of the 10 additional pages “outside the package”: € 1 for 10 pages up to the formula corresponding to 50 pages per month, then € 1 for 15 pages for the 100 and 300 page options (and 20 pages for € 1 for the 700 page package).
Manufacturer’s inks or compatible inks?
The price of inkjet printer cartridges can sometimes seem so high that one may be tempted to turn to so-called “compatible” inks for a particular model designed by HP, Epson or Canon.
The offer is plethora in this area and the prices more interesting, which allows to make great savings each year.
Of course, manufacturers strongly advise against their use. They put forward three reasons:
- Better printing quality, since the inks from each manufacturer are specially developed to obtain the best results on their printers (on paper from the same brand, by the way!).
- Greater autonomy, with a greater number of printable pages (which is difficult to verify in absolute terms given the very variable filling rate from one page to another).
- Optimal security, since there is no risk, with the cartridges of the manufacturers, of accidental leaks, which could harm more or less seriously to the printer (and to your office!).
The other selection criteria
Print / scan resolution : limits are reached
In terms of definition of printing and scanning, manufacturers have reached ceilings, which have not changed much lately. So there aren’t too many surprises at this level.
For office, monochrome, or color printing, it is generally not necessary to use a resolution greater than 1200 x 1200 dots per inch . Some laser models even limit themselves to 600 dpi, without producing poor quality documents.
For color photographic prints, on the other hand, manufacturers have reached a plateau: 4800 x 1200 dots per inch (dpi) for Canon and HP, or 5760 x 1440 dpi for Epson .
Likewise, the maximum definition of the scans is somewhat limited by the size of the generated files, which can become gigantic if the values are pushed too far! If Canon offers a maximum value of 2400 x 4800 dpi, at HP and Epson it is limited to 1200 x 1200 and 1200 x 4800 dpi.
Control panel : a nice gadget
Some printers are equipped with a control screen. This can be monochrome or in color, tactile or not. In the latter case, the screen is completed by keys which allow you to move among the displayed options and indicate for example the number of copies to be made.
This screen can be especially useful when you want to print a file without going through your computer, using a memory card or a USB key. It is more like a gadget for users who mainly print from their PC or Mac …
Wi-Fi / Wi-Fi Direct for remote printing
With the rise of laptops, tablets and smartphones, printer manufacturers are competing in ingenuity when it comes to providing users with the means to quickly and wirelessly print photos, stored locally or on social networks like Facebook or Instagram , files (eg Word, Excel, PDF) or website pages.
To do this, the printer connects to the mobile device using Wi-Fi (via the Internet Box), Wi-Fi Direct (without going through the Internet box) or directly via Bluetooth .
In addition to the applications and services developed by manufacturers, functions related to cloud storage are widely used, as are remote printing services such as Google Cloud Print , Mopria or Apple AirPrint .
In the other direction, the applications of the manufacturers also make it possible to recover the files generated by a scan directly on his smartphone.
Manual or automatic duplex mode
Save the trees! Many documents could be printed on sheets in duplex mode. But if the option is not automatically supported by printing, the operation is somewhat tedious.
You should know that the speed in double-sided mode is slightly lower than that necessary for printing two pages, because – in addition to turning the sheet in the printer – it is necessary to take into account the few seconds necessary for the printing time. drying of the first side of the page before attacking the printing of the other …
The leaves trays of greater or lesser capacity
Entry-level inkjet printers, often limited by their compact dimensions, aren’t really designed for high monthly printing volumes. The introduction of the sheets is therefore carried out vertically, from the rear, and in this case it is not possible to have a great autonomy (60 sheets).
If we know that we will be printing many documents every day, it is preferable to opt for a printer equipped with a real front sheet feeder, as large as possible, otherwise you will have to fill it very frequently. which can become painful …
Unsurprisingly, laser or inkjet printers, which are primarily intended for printing office documents, are the ones with the largest trays, typically able to hold 250 sheets.
Some printers – like the HP Envy Photo 6230 – also come with a special tray that can hold a few sheets of 10 x 15 photo paper.
Topics: HP , printers