When it comes to choosing a printer there are two basic issues you need to address.
First there's the colour/mono debate, which do you really need? Then you need to decide whether you'd prefer an inkjet or a laser printer. Simple on the face of it, but there's plenty to consider.
The first, and arguably the easiest decision you need to make is on whether you'd prefer a mono or colour printer. This is usually determined by two things: 1) your budget, and 2) your printing needs. If you need to produce prints swathed in colour regularly, a mono printer is going to be useless.
If you are unlikely to require colour in your prints, for example you might only be printing black and white reports, you could save yourself some money by just going mono.
Laser versus Inkjet: The laser and inkjet debate is a little more complex. Essentially they both perform the same fundamental task; however, they do it in very different ways.
Whilst an inkjet printer applies liquid ink, a laser uses a powder which is burnt onto the paper (figuratively speaking). These varying processes affect speed, quality and, above all price.
The major benefit of the colour laser printer is the speed with which it can produce pages. Due to the powder filled toner cartridges used, a laser printer can produce documents with far greater efficiency than an inkjet. This is why they are often favoured in offices, where time is often of the greatest importance.
In terms of expense, you will end up having to spend a little more when it comes to buying a colour laser printer. This is largely due to the added cost of the laser technology required along with the other components that support this method of printing. Laser printers, as a rule of thumb, also tend to be larger than their inkjet equivalents; again, this is largely due to the onboard technology as well as increased paper tray capacities.
Capacity is certainly one of the major benefits of a laser printer. Your standard desktop inkjet, mostly due to the speed with which prints are created and their comparatively low usage levels, can only usually hold a few dozen sheets at one time.
Depending on the make and model you choose, a colour laser printer can handle anywhere between 150 and 2,500 sheet capacity. Of course that doesn't mean that it can't print any faster, but in busier offices it will certainly reduce time wasted replenishing your paper levels.
Returning to the sticky subject of cost, there is actually some better news on this front if you are considering a colour laser printer.
Whilst the initial purchase price may be higher than an inkjet, you will save money on each print you produce. This is primarily due to the comparatively low cost of toner cartridges and the number of prints each one can handle. But again this is all subjective, as an inkjet generally has less usage and therefore might cost significantly more per print, but the cost of a cartridge is still lower than that of a toner.
The reliance on volume to make it financially viable, along with the speed with which a colour laser printer can produce prints is what makes them a luxury for homes, but essential for businesses. They offer greater practicality in a busy environment, with more expensive models often featuring more feeder trays and greater memory capacity to deal with larger jobs or to queue numerous smaller projects.
The colour element of a colour laser printer is of course extremely important too. The quality of the reproduction is often dependent on the quality of your device. Most are of a good to very high standard, although some models may lose a little clarity when it comes to very fine details.
However, when compared with a mono laser printer it has one distinct advantage, a varied pantone range - not just tones of black.
As you may expect, this additional colour facility will add to the cost of your printer. But it is often far better to err on the side of caution when you do choose to purchase a new printer. Whilst you could save money by going mono, ultimately this will restrict you in the future should you wish to produce colour documents.
You'd have to be confident that at no time presently or in the future of your device that you'd want to produce colour prints to go mono.
A printer, particularly a colour laser printer, is an investment and should be treated as such when it comes to choosing the style and model you want or need.
Offices throughout the world are already benefiting from the exceptional efficiency of these machines; don't be put off by the initial price tag, look long-term by making sure you get a printer that matches your needs and can deliver fantastic results for years to come.