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Inkjet Printer vs. Laser Printer: What's the Difference?

Edited by Harlon Moss || By Janet White || Published on January 19, 2024
Inkjet printers use liquid ink for high-quality, color-rich prints, while laser printers use toner for fast, efficient, and cost-effective monochrome printing.

Key Differences

Inkjet printers work by spraying tiny droplets of liquid ink onto paper, creating high-quality images and smooth prints. Laser printers, on the other hand, use a laser to form an electrostatically charged image on a drum, which is then transferred to paper using toner (a fine powder).
Inkjet printers excel in producing vibrant color prints and detailed photographs, making them ideal for photo printing and color documents. Laser printers are better suited for text documents, offering crisp and clear black and white printing, which is why they're commonly used in offices.
Inkjet printers typically print slower and are suited for lower volume printing, making them a popular choice for home users. Laser printers are known for their high-speed printing and higher capacity, ideal for environments with a high volume of print tasks.
Inkjet printers generally have a lower initial cost but higher operating costs due to the price of ink cartridges. Laser printers have a higher upfront cost but are more cost-efficient over time with lower per-page printing costs, especially for black and white documents.
Inkjet printers are often smaller and quieter, suitable for home or small office spaces. Laser printers are usually larger and noisier, but their speed and efficiency make them a staple in larger offices and business settings.

Comparison Chart

Printing Technology

Uses liquid ink
Uses toner (powder)

Print Quality

Better for color and photos
Better for text and monochrome

Speed and Volume

Slower, lower volume
Faster, higher volume

Cost and Maintenance

Lower initial, higher operating cost
Higher initial, lower operating cost

Size and Noise

Smaller and quieter
Larger and noisier

Inkjet Printer and Laser Printer Definitions

Inkjet Printer

An inkjet printer excels in producing vibrant, high-resolution color prints.
The artist used an inkjet printer to create stunning photo prints for her exhibition.

Laser Printer

Laser printers provide exceptionally sharp and clear text prints.
The contracts were printed using a laser printer for crisp and professional-looking text.

Inkjet Printer

Inkjet printers are popular for home use due to their affordability and quality.
I bought an inkjet printer for my home office to print occasional documents and photos.

Laser Printer

Laser printers are a staple in businesses for their efficiency and durability.
Our business relies on the laser printer for all our internal and external communications.

Inkjet Printer

Inkjet printers are ideal for printing high-quality photographs.
The photographer used an inkjet printer to produce vibrant and detailed prints of his work.

Laser Printer

Laser printers offer high-speed printing, especially for text documents.
The office's laser printer quickly churned out hundreds of pages of reports.

Inkjet Printer

Inkjet printers can print on a variety of media types, including glossy and textured paper.
We used the inkjet printer to print our wedding invitations on textured cardstock.

Laser Printer

Laser printers generally require less maintenance than inkjet printers.
The company chose laser printers for their low maintenance and reliability.

Inkjet Printer

Inkjet printers are user-friendly and easy to set up.
Setting up the inkjet printer was simple, and I was printing within minutes.

Laser Printer

Laser printers are cost-effective for high-volume printing, particularly in black and white.
To save on printing costs, the school used a laser printer for all its course materials.


Can laser printers print in color?

Yes, color laser printers are available, though they are more expensive than monochrome ones.

Do inkjet printers use more ink for maintenance?

Yes, inkjet printers often use ink for cleaning and maintenance tasks.

Are laser printers faster than inkjet printers?

Generally, laser printers are faster, especially for text documents.

Can inkjet printers print on different paper types?

Yes, inkjet printers can handle a wide range of paper types, including glossy and textured paper.

Are inkjet printers good for photo printing?

Yes, inkjet printers are excellent for high-quality photo printing.

Do laser printers have a lower cost per page?

Yes, laser printers typically have a lower cost per page, especially for black and white printing.

Is the print quality of inkjet printers better than laser printers?

For color and photos, inkjet printers usually provide superior print quality.

Are inkjet printers suitable for small businesses?

Yes, inkjet printers are suitable for small businesses with moderate printing needs.

Can laser printers handle heavy-duty printing?

Yes, laser printers are ideal for heavy-duty printing tasks.

Do inkjet printers require special ink?

Yes, inkjet printers require specific ink cartridges compatible with their model.

Are laser printers better for the environment?

Laser printers are more energy-efficient but toner cartridges are less eco-friendly than ink.

Can inkjet printers print on CDs or DVDs?

Some inkjet printers have the capability to print directly on CDs or DVDs.

Do laser printers produce ozone?

Older laser printers may produce small amounts of ozone, but modern ones are much safer.

Are laser printers more expensive to buy?

Initially, laser printers tend to be more expensive than inkjet printers.

Do inkjet printers dry out if not used often?

Yes, inkjet printers can experience dried ink if not used regularly.

Is the ink of inkjet printers waterproof?

Not typically, but there are waterproof inks available for specific models.

Are laser printers good for printing labels and stickers?

Yes, laser printers are suitable for printing labels and stickers, provided the right media is used.

How long does toner last in a laser printer?

Toner in laser printers can last much longer than ink in inkjet printers, often thousands of pages.

Are inkjet printers noisy?

They can be, but generally, they are quieter than laser printers.

Can I use third-party toner in my laser printer?

While possible, it's not recommended as it may void warranties and affect print quality.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.

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