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Understanding and determining ink and laser requirements

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Deciding on a printer for your business used to be straightforward. If you wanted sharp text printed fast, you went with a laser. If you were on a budget or needed colour output, you bought an inkjet, writes Thierry Boulanger, HP IPG country manager. But in today's market, the lines have blurred. You'll find inexpensive laser printers that do a good job on colour documents, as well as speedy inkjets that deliver laser-quality text. 

So which is best, toner or ink? Like the other conundrums of our time (Rent or buy? Paper or plastic?), the answer is "It depends"—on your needs, preferences, and budget.
The ultimate choice of a printer starts with understanding your business needs and priorities. To match these needs with solutions, it's also important to understand the range of printing technology available. To begin with, it helps to know the basics of ink and laser technology to compare the benefits each provides. To elaborate on the benefits though, one must understand the unique differences between the two technologies.
Several types of inkjet technologies exist. The type HP pioneered and continues to advance is thermal inkjet technology (TIJ). TIJ-based printers use an array of tiny nozzles to create millions of ink droplets, placing them in precise combinations onto the paper or other print media.
This technology has been continuously perfected to achieve superior print technology using up to 31 exceptionally small ink droplets to print a single dot. This enables an incredible range, or gamut, of colours to be created for very realistic results.
To further enhance speed, reliability and cost savings, today's business inkjet technology uses a modular ink delivery system. In technical terms, this system separates printheads from ink cartridges, allowing printheads to move more rapidly and ink cartridges to hold more ink. Smart chips in the printhead, monitor ink use and printhead condition, for consistently efficient, quality operation.
Another predetermining factor is paper type, also known as media, which can have a dramatic effect on TIJ image quality. Based on your requirements, a variety of media can be chosen — from general office paper for economical high-volume printing to specially coated papers engineered for glossy, long-lasting, photo-quality results.
Laser printers are uniquely different since laser technology applies lasers to a photoconductive drum at specific printer dot locations. Technically through this process, the drum is "imaged" with an electrical charge that attracts exacting combinations of toner particles to the drum for transfer to the printed page.
Inkjet and laser technologies, in a range of printers, are both designed for outstanding, efficient, reliable results for a variety of needs. The technology differences of each lend themselves to certain printing uses and needs. Inkjet and Laserjet technology is reliable, easy to use with excellent print quality.
Inkjet technology is great for specialty papers, wide-format and unique media types where LaserJet is great for high volumes and fast output of lengthy documents. A real advantage with Inkjet technology is that there is no fuser or drum replacement cost while the advantage with LaserJet technology lies in its efficiency since it provides multiple high-volume paper trays and finishing options.
Apart from providing consistently excellent print quality, Inkjet and Laserjet printer families offer various strengths and capabilities that serve the needs of different users and printing tasks. There are also a wide range of tools available, both online and at the point of sale, to guide you to the printer that best fits your needs, preferences and budget.