Last December, I found that my old and reliable HP LaserJet 4 was on its last legs. My LJ4 is built like a tank and while it is not the fastest, it has dutifully served since 2000. However, the time had come to introduce a new printer. Given my changing needs, I decided to focus my search on multifunction devices that incorporate scanning, printing and faxing, and the first question was whether to go with an inkjet or laserjet.

Historically, the choice of inkjet versus laser printers was clear. Laser printers were more expensive to purchase, but were significantly cheaper when it came to buying toner and inkjets were the opposite – inexpensive to buy with expensive ink. Thus when it came to purchase a new printer, I assumed that these long held assumptions were still true and was I ever wrong!

Below is a simple chart comparing two HP MFN devices one being an inkjet and the other a Laserjet. The two printers were chosen due to similarities in functionality and acquisition cost.

 

Laserjet Pro M1212nf

Officejet Pro 8600 Plus

Amazon Price

$174.98

$196.00

Output

B&W

Color & B&W

Duplex Scan/Print?

No

Yes

Pages/minute

19 PPM (Black)

20 PPM (Black), 16 PPM (Color)

Black cartridge

CE285A – $54.49

950XL – $35.49

Number of pages

1,600

2,300

Cost per page

$0.034

$0.015

 

The biggest surprise was the cost per page. I was shocked to see that the 8600 Plus was more than 50% cheaper per page than the LJ Pro. The inkjet further benefitted from the ability to include color and to provide speeds that are comparable to the laser. To be fair, if you print in full color, you will need to purchase additional ink for the OfficeJet which adds to the price. However, I was only comparing the cost for pure black since that is the configuration most comparable to the Laserjet. On a side note, it is trivial to configure the 8600 Plus to print only in Black and White.

In summary, this analysis suggests that inkjets have come a long way in performance and price since I last looked. Clearly the historic assumptions about the two technologies no longer apply and inkjets now appear to provide a compelling value. Needless to say, I bought the OfficeJet Pro 8600 Plus and have been very happy with it.

Disclosure: I work for HP in the storage group.

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