The Home and Home-Office Two Printer Solution: The Laser-Inkjet Combo

May 5, 2010DavidHardware2

Previously I’ve reviewed some helpful tips that will hopefully allow inkjet users to save money on ink.  In this article I want to go over what I call the “Laser-Inkjet Combo” for the home and home-office user.

The majority of home and home-office users will print the majority of their documents in black and white and have an additional limited number of documents  that need color.  The most efficient way that I’ve seen over the years to handle this problem from the perspective of cost effectiveness is to own to printers: an entry-level laserjet printer to handle the b&w printing, as well as a  low t- medium end inkjet printer to handle color.  Color laser printers are available and the costs of these printers are coming down;  the price of the toner and the number of color cartridges, however, still makes these printer costly to run.  Clearly if you are doing a very large volume of color printing then a color laser printer may be what you need, but for most home users a color laser printer is overkill.

The most glaring problem with my solution is that you are required to have two printers running instead of just one.  As I said, this article is about cost-effectiveness — not about saving space in your office.  Regardless of your printing volume, inkjet printers are simply more expensive to run than laser printers.

Printer Selection
When it comes to selecting an inkjet printer, you really need to evaluate what you will need it for.  Sometimes the entry level two-cartridge inkjets that Dell used to throw-in with a purchase may do the job if all you need it for is to print some color stationary or pages for a report.  As you move up the scale, you will find printers that have four or even five different color cartridges — these printers are usually for high-quality photo printing. Pick your inkjet based on what your needs are and volume of color printing prediction.  Remember, some injkets will not let you replace individual ink cartridges so when one “goes” you have to replace all of the cartridges — even the ones that aren’t empty! So before you buy an inkjet make sure you head to a site like and read the reviews from people with real-life experience with the product. You may not necessarily purchase the printer at Amazon, but their reviews are very helpful.

When it comes to laserjets, I’ve always used HP’s Laserjet series — from the Laserjet IIIp and up.   There were some bad models (anyone who had a Laserjet 6L remembers the multiple sheet feed problem) but overall the HP Lasejets released in the last few years are pretty reliable.  The major difference between the entry-level black and white HP Laserjet printers is usually the printing speed (pages per minute).   The lowest entry-level HP laserjet printer should be more than adequate for the home and home office user.  These printers are usually available for under $200 (and can be found sometimes under $150 when on sale), and a toner cartridge for these printers usually runs around $70 and will handle 5,000 pages;  try getting that volume out of an inkjet.

Note: When you look at the model number of an HP Laserjet Printer an “n”  at the end means that the printer has a built in ethernet port so that you can connect the printer to your network via an ethernet cable.  But you could also just as easily setup the printer connected to a single computer on your network and then just share the printer.  Both of these solutions work well.

What about Multifunction (Print, Scan, Fax) Devices?
Multifunction printers (MFPs)  can fit into this equation, too.  If you already have an MFP keep it and add a laserjet and then just use the MFP for scanning and faxing.  Most MFPs print in color.

So now that you’ve read my “Laser-Inkjet Combo” solution, let me know what you think about this approach and what you do in your home office.

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