Laser Printer Review

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Why Buy a Laser Printer?

Printers have become an everyday tool for both the home and the office. Even though a lot of business is conducted over the internet, including electronic signing of contracts, sales presentations and electronic communication, print media is still very important. Laser printers are becoming more popular than traditional ink printers because the images produced are more clear and impressive, and because of the speed these printers use to get the job done.

Laser printers use lasers to fuse images and text onto a large drum. Some printers use LEDs or LCDs to put the picture on the drums, but they still fall under the laser printer product line. After the image is fused to the drum, the drum is rolled into a toner reservoir that picks up the color and then rolls it onto the paper. Toner is not as wet as ink, so projects printed with laser printers come out relatively dry, eliminating worries about smudging the final project.

Laser printers are more expensive as an initial purchase than inkjet printers, but the cost of printing per item is a lot less. This is because more pages can be printed with laser printers with more time in between needing to replace the toner and drum. In the long run, laser printers are more cost effective, especially if you have large printing needs.

Our favorite laser printers are the Xerox ColorQube, the Lexmark MS and the HP Color LaserJet Enterprise. Read on to see what criteria we used to determine the best laser printers on the market and to learn what to look for when purchasing the best laser printer for your business or home. Don't forget to check out additional articles on laser printers in our Learning Center.

 Laser Printers: What to Look For

Purchasing a printer is a large investment and a needed one for most businesses. With so many features and functions, it's hard to sift through all the information to figure out which one is best for your needs. Below are a few of the features we felt were important as we reviewed laser printers.

Printing Performance
It is important to consider the needs of your office before deciding on a laser printer. Firstly, you will need to determine whether your business needs a color laser printer, or whether a monochrome laser printer will be good enough. If you will be using your printer for basic accounting needs or printing text documents, a cheaper black and white laser printer may be a better option for you.

Another thing to consider is the print resolution of anything you are printing. The minimum resolution for all printers is 600dpi, or dots per inch. The more dots, the higher the resolution, and the better the image will look. However, 600dpi may be all you need if you are simply printing paychecks every other week. If some of your projects include presentation handouts and advertising media, higher resolutions will make your final projects pop. The highest resolution available for laser printers is 2400dpi.

Something else to think about while you're shopping for a printer is how fast the machine can perform. The first page out time describes how long it will take the printer to warm up and print out the first page. After this initial wake-up, your printer will be faster at printing off documents. Printer speeds are measured in pages per minute, or ppm. Some printers are just as efficient printing in color as they are in black and white. Others have a substantial difference in print time depending on whether you are printing in color or monochrome.

Other features to consider are the duplexing ability of the printer, its networking capabilities and whether it can network wirelessly. The installed and expandable memory is also important, especially if multiple users will be connected to the same printer. The more memory your laser printer has, the more projects it can hold in queue and the faster it can print out those projects. However, it is complicated to upgrade memory once it is installed. If you know you will need additional memory than what your laser printer comes with, consider upgrading at the time of purchase and let the professionals install it before the printer is shipped to you.

Cost of Operation
Cost is a big concern when deciding to purchase a laser printer. Laser printers are a major investment, and you want to know that yours will be cost effective and last a long time. One feature that gives some insight into the durability of a machine is the duty cycle. The duty cycle indicates how many pages can be printed in a month. While manufacturers don't recommend actually printing this much, a high duty cycle indicates that your printer has been built to handle many tough jobs and will probably last and long time.

Another indication of the cost of operation is the toner yield. This tells you approximately how many pages your printer can print before needing its toner cartridges replaced. This is important to know, since replacement cartridges are really expensive. Toner yield can vary depending on how much color is used in your printing projects.

Finally, because printers are pretty large machines, they take a fair amount of power to operate. The maximum power consumption is the amount of power needed for the printer to actually print. The power consumption reduces drastically when the machine is off or in sleep modes. Some of the best laser printers don't need much energy to produce wonderful images quickly.

Design
For home and small-business offices, space is usually limited. Many laser printers are small enough to fit into an unused corner or between a couple of computers. Because of the bulk of the toner cartridges and drums stored within laser printers, most are fairly heavy. Consider where your printer will sit and whether you need to move it often.

All printers come with a tray to hold paper. The drawer-like tray is referred to as the input tray 2. These trays hold several hundred sheets of paper. Most printer models are designed to connect to additional trays to help reduce how often you need to reload paper and to better support offices with heavy printing loads.

The best laser printers come with a multipurpose tray. This tray flips out from the main body of the printer and makes it easier to hand-feed special-sized paper, including envelopes and index cards. Some of these trays have adjusters that help keep the media straight while the printer automatically feeds the paper from the tray.

Compatibility
All of the printers we reviewed are compatible with both Windows and Mac operating systems. Some of the best laser printers also support Linux and Oracle in addition to small, specialty operating systems. If you have a laser printer with networking capabilities, you can connect workers who use a variety of operating systems to the same machine.

Help & Support
It's easy to push a button and see a beautiful masterpiece slide out of your printer, but laser printers are complex to set up, network and fix if something goes wrong. Good customer service is always a good thing to count on. Telephone and email support is nice to have at your fingertips. Several companies offer online chat, FAQs and electronic versions of their user manuals for easy access.

Every laser printer comes with a warranty. The industry standard is one year, though some manufacturers offer longer warranties and most will allow you to extend the initial warranty for a fee.

There are an array of options when it comes to laser printers. Some are monochrome, or black and white laser printers, while others print in color. All laser printers can print with a minimum resolution of 600dpi. Some printers let you adjust the resolution up to 2400dpi, the highest available in the laser printer industry. Regardless of your office or small-business needs, you will be able to find a laser printer that is perfect for you.

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Electronics » Printers » Laser Printer Review
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Rank #1#2#3#4#5#6#7#8#9#10
10-9  Excellent
8-6    Good
5-4    Average
3-2    Poor
1-0    Bad
Xerox ColorQube Lexmark MS HP Color LaserJet Enterprise Lexmark CS Canon imageCLASS OKI Data C Brother HL Samsung ProXpress HP LaserJet Pro Samsung Printer Xpress
Xerox ColorQube Lexmark MS HP Color LaserJet Enterprise Lexmark CS Canon imageCLASS OKI Data C Brother HL Samsung ProXpress HP LaserJet Pro Samsung Printer Xpress
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Ratings
9.78
9.63
9.13
8.73
8.58
8.38
8.28
7.88
7.63
7.55
10
9
8
7
6
5
4
3
2
1
9.38
10.00
10.00
10.00
9.38
9.38
9.38
10.00
10.00
10.00
8.75
8.75
9.38
10.00
10.00
8.13
8.75
8.75
9.38
10.00
8.75
8.75
8.13
8.13
9.38
8.75
8.13
8.13
8.13
9.38
8.13
8.75
7.50
8.13
10.00
8.13
7.50
7.50
8.13
9.38
8.13
6.25
7.50
8.75
10.00
6.88
8.13
6.88
8.13
9.38
 
Print Resolution
Max Resolution B&W (dpi) 2,400 2,400 1,200 1,200 2,400 1,200 2,400 1,200 1,200 2,400
Max Resolution Color (dpi) 2,400   1,200 1,200 1,200 1,200 2,400    2,400
Printing Performance
Color/Monochrome Color Monochrome Color Color Color Color Color Monochrome Monochrome Color
Print Speed B&W (ppm) 40 50 42 32 10 31 23 35 25 19
Print Speed Color (ppm) 40   42 32 10 31 23    4
First Page Out Time (sec) 5 8 9.5 10 16 7.5 16 6.5 7 14
Paper Capacity (sheets) 625 350 600 900 300 350 250 250 26 150
Min Media Size (inches) 3X5 3X5 3X5 3X5 3X5 3X5 3X5 3X5 3X5 3X6
Max Media Size (inches) 8.5X14 8.5X14 8.5X14 8.5X14 8.5X14 8.5X52 8.5X14 8.5X14 8.5X14 8.5X14
Installed Memory 512MB 512MB 512MB 256MB 768MB 256MB 125MB 125MB 32MB 32MB
Expandable Memory
  
    
Duplexing
 
Networking
 
Wireless
      
Cost of Operation
Toner Yield (pages) 4,400 2,500 8,500 1,400 3,400 5,000 2,200 3,000 2,100 7,000
Max Power Consumption (W) 252 575 740 580 440 480 660 700 440 290
Duty Cycle (pages per month) 85,000 250,000 120,000 75,000 40,000 60,000 30,000 50,000 8,000 20,000
Energy Star Qualified
 
Design
Transfer Technology Laser Laser Laser Laser Laser LED LED Laser Laser Laser
Width (in) 16 24.2 21.3 17.4 16.3 16.1 23.5 14.4 15.24 15
Height (in) 20.5 22.2 20.6 16.6 13.6 9.5 9.4 10.3 9.69 8.3
Depth (in) 14.5 21.1 16.5 16.4 19.7 19.8 18.3 14.4 11.18 12.2
Weight (lbs) 75 51 84.6 54.5 12.2 48.5 39 21.7 15.4 21.7
Trays Supported 5 6 5 4 3 3 2 2 2 1
Multipurpose Tray
 
Compatibility
Windows 8
 
Windows 7
Windows Server 2008
Windows Vista
Windows Server 2003
 
Windows XP/2000
Mac OS X
 
Linux
 
HP-UX
      
Solaris
      
Help & Support
Warranty 1 Year 1 Year 1 Year 1 Year 1 Year 3 Year 1 Year 1 Year 1 Year 1 Year
Telephone
Email
Online User Guide
Facebook
Live Chat