Inkjet vs laser printer

Inkjet vs laser printer

There are so many questions when it comes to buying a new printer. Will it suit your needs? Will it cost the earth? Will the print quality be up to expectation? But the biggest question is a very basic one - do you want an inkjet or a laser printer? To decide this you need to know what both are.

Inkjet relies on dye or pigment based ink. They are generally smaller and slower than laser printers, but produce superb colours. They are a good option for people who want high-quality results, and print lots of graphics, and suit home users, along with schools and small offices, that don’t print huge volumes.

Laser printers use toner instead of dye or pigment. The toner is attracted electrostatically to the page and heated into the paper. These printers are bigger and faster than inkjet ones, and suit larger businesses and busy offices. 

Table of contents

Is a toner printer a laser printer?

Yes, if you are told you have a toner printer, you have a laser printer. The toner is a fine powder which is melted onto the page by heat from the printer, leaving a permanent impression. 

How does a toner printer work?

First, you have to understand what toner is. We are used to ink, a dark liquid that stains everything it touches. Think of a leaky biro in your shirt pocket. But toner is dry. It is a very fine powder. It can be black, or a range of colours. 

A toner printer, or laser printer, will scan your image and then use a laser to temporarily etch that image onto a metal drum in the heart of the printer. The fine powder of the toner is then attracted electrostatically to the drum. This is basic static electricity, the same as if you rub a balloon against your head, your hairs will stick to the balloon.

The drum, now covered in toner, rolls against the page in the printer, and the toner transfers to the page, producing the print.

There is one last step. A heating element then melts the toner, so that it sticks to the page and doesn’t brush off when the page comes out. Ever wonder why the paper is warm coming out of your printer? That’s why.

What is the best printer that uses toner?

That’s a loaded question. Let’s ask another question. What’s the best bicycle for you? That depends - are you commuting three kilometres to work, or hoping to go mountain biking at the weekend? The best bicycle for you depends on what you need the bicycle for.

The same goes for printers. The best printer that uses toner is the printer that does what you need it to do. If you need it to handle large sizes such as A3, then the most expensive A4 printer will not cut it for you. Do you need something fast? Something that can handle high volume? Something that produces great graphics with colours that pop?

Decide what you want from your printer, then talk to an expert. At we would be delighted to help you make the right printer choice.

Black toner cartridge pricing 

See our table below with pricing for popular black toner brands and multipacks that can save you money. Just search our website with your cartridge or printer model for many more results.

Black Toner 

Number of Pages

Price (ex VAT)

Generic Brother TN247 XL Black & Colour Toners

2300 pages


Generic Brand Multipack of HP 415X Black & Colour Toners

2300 pages


Canon 2662B005/718BKVP Toner cartridge black twin pack

6800 pages


Original Brother TN247 twinpack of black toners

2 x 3,000 pages


Generic Brand HP 415X XL Black Toner

7500 pages


Generic brand Xerox (106R03528) Versalink C400 XXL Black toner

10,500 pages


Generic Brand OKI C833 / C834 XL Black toner

10,000 Pages


Generic HP 05A Black Toner

2700 Pages


Generic Brother TN1050 Black Toner 

1000 pages


Does compatible toner damage the printer?

The short answer is no, a compatible toner will not damage your printer. If the toner is truly compatible, there should be no problems. 

Every manufacturer would love you to continue using their products for the lifetime of the printer, but often compatible toner is cheaper, and every business needs to watch the bottom line. Just be careful you don’t opt for the cheapest on the market and end up buying a bad product. Shop carefully from compatible sources and you should have no problem using compatible toners in your laser printer.

Where can I buy toner for my printer?

You have a wide range of options when it comes to buying toner. Stationary shops, computer stores, and office suppliers will carry all the popular ranges - Brother, Canon, HP and so on. But if you want to buy large volumes then you will probably get the best value from a specialist. At Inkshop we can supply all the popular makes such as Brother in large volumes. And we ship fast. 

Troubleshoot toner cartridges

Although laser printers are normally trouble free, you may occasionally encounter issues. There are many sources of help to sort you out. We came across this handy toner cartridge troubleshooting FAQ, which we are happy to pass on:

How does an inkjet printer work?

The clue is in the name - a tiny jet of ink is sprayed onto the page.

Inkjet printers have a print head which runs across the page and produces the image, rather like the old-fashioned typewriter ribbon. But the print head, which travels very fast, has thousands of tiny holes. Microscopic droplets of ink are squirted through these holes onto the paper. The ink is completely different from the dry toner of a laser printer. It is a liquid, which is either a coloured dye, or a liquid that contains solid pigments in suspension.

Is Inkjet printer ink waterproof?

We have covered this in detail in a previous blog, what printer ink is waterproof. But the quick answer is that no, they are not waterproof. Inks are generally water based, and run when damp. There are options to make your printing waterproof, and these are covered in the blog. But if this is important to you, rather than being an occasional requirement, then inkjet might not be your best option.

Which inkjet printer uses less ink?

Each printer is different, and if you are looking for the one that uses the least ink, you can’t go wrong with the Epson ET-2750 EcoTank Ink Tank. Among its many features is an increased ink capacity to ensure users can get the most out of this all-in-one printer for high-volume printing without high cost.

An alternative is to find the most economical ink for your printer. Our blog ‘What is the cost of printer ink?’ will help. And you can get cartridge free printers, again bringing down costs. Instead of cartridges, they have a reservoir or tank that you fill with ink when needed.

Which inkjet printer has the cheapest ink cartridges?

One of the cheapest ink cartridges is the Canon PGI-280/CLI-281. You may be more likely to use Canon PGI-580XXL & CLI-581XXL ink, which we supply in a value pack. But an even cheaper option is to go for a cartridge free printer. These have an ink tank that you top up when needed, from a bottle of ink. The EcoTank range is very economical, and easy to use. Here is a link to more information: And we have blogged about it: Epson Ecotank Printer Ireland. In fact, we have blogged about the entire range of Epson cartridges!


A printer is like a pair of shoes. Not only does one size not fit all, different printers suit different kinds of use. So you need to decide before you purchase what is important to you. It might be vibrant colours, or cost, or the ability to handle high volumes fast. But whatever you need, once you are happy, you should talk to an expert and get advice on what model best suits your needs. Doing the right preparation work will ensure you are very happy with your final purchase.

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