What type of printer is best in terms of output smoothness and clarity?

Drsunil V September 4, 2014

Which type of PC printer is best for clarity and smoothness of printing? How do Laser and inkjet models differ, and what DPI values are recommended? Please provide links to buy models meeting the above criteria.

  1. Rupert Taylor
    September 5, 2014 at 5:18 pm

    I take all my important graphics files to Kinko's and have them print it out on a $25,000 printer I could never afford. Depending on the quality, it's always a better solution to outsource the work. For example I bought an original peice of oil artwork and took a high resolution photo. I then had the printer create (3) 36" X 24" prints which I framed and presented as gifts to friends and family. I am now selling that same print as a poster, which is impossible to do at my house, but why would I when a professional print service can produce so many great options.

    • Drsunil V
      September 6, 2014 at 8:22 am

      Thanks for nice volunteering on this topic

  2. Jan F
    September 5, 2014 at 7:41 am

    Oron already gave a perfect answer – my personal two cents:

    If you primarily print text documents and don't need high-quality photo prints then a laser printer will probably be the best in speed and print quality.

    If you are looking for a printer for your vacation pictures you certainly want an inkjet printer as the prize for an equal quality laser printer would probably fiftyfold.

    Unless you do professional print outs of photos 1200dpi is more than enough for personal use. Beyond that the difference in quality is negligible for the most common page formats (A4/Letter, A3/B3). On top of that, the ink usage rises with higher resolutions.

    • Drsunil V
      September 6, 2014 at 8:21 am

      Thanks. I noted the two cents with care

  3. Oron J
    September 4, 2014 at 10:34 pm

    It depends on what you want to print. For text, laser printers are the best. Printout is sharp and very consistent. For graphics, and especially photos, things are more complicated but inkjets are often a better option unless you go for quite a high end colour laser printer.

    Inkjet printers work by going across the page one line at at time (a "line" is the height of the print head, not a line of text), and most inkjet printers are built of lightweight materials. They therefore tend not to last as long as laser printers (although there are exceptions), and print quality can be inconsistent. "Banding" tends to become a problem eventually if the printer is under heavy use. Laser printers don't suffer from those issues, and heavier-duty laser printers will last for ages,

    So, sticking to b/w text printing, any modern laser printer will print at 600 DPI which is excellent, and some will offer "smoothing" or 1200 DPI which may improve quality further Giweverm depending on what you are printing and on what paper, the extra resolution may make no difference at all. I would have no worries about print quality with any modern b/w laser printer, regardless of make & models. The price range of laser printers is vast (in the UK, from around £50 to several thousand pounds), so without a budget, I'm afraid I can't recommend a particular model.

    However, there ARE differences between printers. The main ones are in build quality, features (speed, networking, printer languages, no. of paper trays etc), cost per page and environmental impact (energy consumption, which consumables need replacing on a regular basis etc). If you need a printer for private use, then a low end printer will be just fine, but you may want to get a duplex printer (one that can print on both sides of the paper).

    The one thing to avoid is GDI printers. GDI is a printer language (or, I suppose it would be better described as the lack of a printer language). They work just fine, but you are almost certain to run into compatibility problems with them over the life of the printer.

    • Howard B
      September 4, 2014 at 11:13 pm

      "...(a 'line' is the height of the print head, not a line of text)..."
      Not really; a "line" is a single ink jet; many inkjet printers have 64 or more jets, arranged in an array, that disperse ink in a pattern.

    • Oron J
      September 5, 2014 at 8:57 am

      Howard, I'm not sure what your are correcting here. An inkjet's printhead consists of a vertical array of print nozzles (that is, a row of nozzles, each positioned exactly above another). If you printed with all the nozzles at once, you'd get a short vertical stroke. It's easy to check this - just look at a print head and you'll see the nozzles. A "line" is produced as the printer's carriage moves from left to right (or from right to left).

    • Drsunil V
      September 6, 2014 at 8:21 am

      At Oron : Thank you. Your answer is very helpful and dispelled doubts about types of printers.

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