In my previous post where I offered some tips to SMBs about faxing, scanning, copying and printing, I briefly highlighted why inkjet printers are generally not a good idea for general-purpose business printing.
Today, I shall elaborate a little more on the rationale behind this advice.
The Cost of Inkjets
One major attraction to inkjet printers is undoubtedly its the relatively lower upfront cost in comparison to other printing technologies. It is an no secret, however, that the makers of inkjet printers have adopted a business model where such printers are often sold at marginal profits or even at a loss, which is recouped when users replace their used-up inkjet cartridges. While one particular vendor would tout the "good-as-new" quality inherent to the print head on a new cartridge, the truth is that the cost per page for inkjet printers is widely accepted to be far higher than that of laser printers.
In this context, inkjet printers where the primary colors are combined into a single physical cartridge are the worst culprits. If you were to compare the cost of replacing the individual color cartridges of some inkjet printers, you would in some cases find it similar to, or even exceeding, the price of a new printer with bundled ink cartridges. If anything, this should at least tell us something about the profit margins of inkjet cartridges.
Quality of Printouts
Another disadvantage of inkjets would be its higher susceptibility to smudging. Of course, modern inkjet printers and more advanced ink chemistry mean that this is generally not a problem these days. However, the fact is that a laser-printed copy does not have problems with smudging to begin with. In fact, I would even say that the best inkjet printers generally cannot match the quality of a standard laser printout for non-color general business printing.
Consider Color Laser
One common rationale for getting an inkjet printer would be its ability to produce color printouts at a relatively lower cost compared to the cost of buying a color laser printer. However, the price for color laser printers has dropped substantially over the years. As I shopped around over the past two weeks, I found at least three or four different color laser printers retailing at an average of US$300 -- there was even one model selling at just US$200. As a bonus, all these laser printers come with separate cartridges for the three primary colors as well as a fourth one for black.
Of course, it is true that higher-end color inkjets will beat a general-purpose color laser for vibrancy. Then again, higher-quality printouts would probably be done better at a professional print shop instead.