What is an inkjet printer, how does it differ from a laser printer, and which will give you the best results? First, the inkjet printing process is radically different from the laser printing process. An inkjet printer sprays liquid ink onto paper through microscopic nozzles, a method that gives it an edge when it comes to documents with vibrant, blended colors and rich, detailed photos. Laser printers, on the other hand, have a laser beam that scans back and forth across a drum unit, fusing toner powder onto the paper, making them better suited for quickly producing large volumes of high-quality text documents. Today, however, the best inkjet printers have blurred the lines by rivaling laser printers for both high-volume speed and quality of text printing. Then there are the cost considerations. Generally, inkjet printers have a lower start-up cost since they are less expensive up-front, and ink cartridges are cheaper than the toner cartridges, though they output fewer pages relative to their cost.
Another reason inkjet printers are popular is their versatility. They're able to print just about anything, including essays, charts and glossy photos, on a wide range of types and sizes of printer paper, including matte, glossy, scrapbooking paper, business envelopes, labels, card stock and more. Inkjet printers continue to be smaller, lighter and easier to maintain than laser copiers, and in most cases, they consume less power. There are 3-in-1 inkjet printers that also scan and copy documents, while a 4-in-1 inkjet does all that and faxes too.
The Best Inkjet Printer for You: Considerations
As with any purchase, to make your best inkjet printer buying decision, it's wise to start by identifying what you need from your printer. Determine ahead of time whether double-sided printing or double-sided scanning is important to you; if you'll need an auto-document feeder; if you want touch-screen convenience or if a display screen will do the trick; if you'll use features like auto-reduction and auto-enlargement; and whether you want a printer that is ENERGY STAR certified to use 20-30% less energy thanks to an efficiency of design and power management. These and other performance features are readily available in the selection of inkjet printers you'll find at Best Buy.
Connectivity is also a consideration. You can have a wired connection, using a printer cable and the USB ports on your printer and computer, or you can use an Ethernet connection and router as part of a network. Or, you can connect your printer wirelessly via built-in Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. In that case, you'll get the added benefit of placement flexibility, since the printer is not tethered by a physical cable. Some printers have built-in memory card and USB 2.0 slots that let you simply plug in your memory card, USB drive, camera or other device to use as a source for printing. Others are easily configured to allow mobile printing directly from your smartphone or tablet. Of course, if you'd like help getting your printer up and running, Geek Squad will be happy to help with your printer setup, providing the support you want either online or in person.