Printer Buying Guide

Kai Ping Lew By Kai Ping Lew - updated July 6th, 2018
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When shopping for a new printer, for home or office use, large or small volume, there are a few things to consider like speed, capacity, functions and running costs.

This printer buying guide is here to help you understand the differences in printer types and the costs involved for running each.

Cost Per Print

First off, let's cover the basic maths involved for working out the cost per print or C.P.P for short, this can be applied to everything from printing a small quantity of vibrant large photographs in full colour on special paper, or mass printing a large amount of simple black ink flyers for a promotion.

Each kind of printer, no matter which type you choose, has a running cost for each page you print. This is based on the price of the ink toner cartridges vs the yield for said cartridge and finally the cost of the paper you printing on, while factoring in the efficiency of the printer.

The starting calculation is the Cartridge Price divided by Page Yield

Let's look at how this plays out with a simple black prints on a inkjet Printer cartridge VS a Laser Printers Toner.

The CANON Ink Cartridge PG645OCN has 180 page yield stated in the description with an RRP showing as $28.52

28.52 / 180 = 16 cents per print

The BROTHER Toner TN240BK Black has a 2200 page yield stated in the description with RRP showing as $120.75

121 / 2200 = 5 cents per print

From here we will factor in the cost of paper, for this, we'll look at three different types of paper to give a clearer idea of what's involved in printing a high-quality portfolio or CV, a photograph, and a standard office memo.

For an important document, such as a CV you'll possibly use a vibrant coloured type of paper like this Trophee Tinted Canary Yellow A4 Paper which has a recommended retail price of $19.49.

The formula is similar to the one above, with the cost on the paper first divided by the sheets, in this case, it's 19.49 / 500 for a cost at around .04 cents per print so we simply add this to the ink/toner cost above.

So printing 5 pages with this paper and the inkjet above is around $1.07.

When doing standard office prints you're hopefully using very cost-efficient paper options like this APRIL EKON A4 Premium Quality Office Printer Paper which provides 500 sheets with an RRP of $10.34.

Cost efficiency really shines here if we take this in combination with the laser toner detailed above, printing a full 500 pages for a total of 23 cents each, or $115 per ream of paper used.

For photos, you'll likely use a glossy option like this HP Everyday Photo A4 Paper which has 100 sheets at an RRP of 22.21.

Again we take the cost of the paper and divide it, in this case, 25 / 100 for 22 cents per print, but we are unlikely to print a photo using just a black cartridge right!? Let's quickly see how we would factor in a range of colour cartridges. The number of colour cartridges used can vary from printer to printer, with HP Printers frequently using a single Tri-Colour cartridge and Brother splitting the colours into individual packages.

Looking specifically at the Brother LC73 range we would need 3 different cartridges without our colour inkjet for photo prints, each with an RRP of $33 and a yield of 600 prints. We also need to factor in the black ink, for this model one has an RRP of $39.69 with a yield at 600 also.

From here we add together all our costs, $33 X 3 + 39.69 which we then divide into our yields 600 giving us a cost per print at around 23 cents, taking this and again adding the cost of paper, which brings us to around 45 cents per photo printed.

Factoring the yearly number of expected prints into your printer purchase

Choosing the right printer for you and your business can be helped by figuring out how many pages per year you will be printing, so you can choose a model printer with consumables that will match your output.

These may not be the most economical to run because in most cases the more your printer costs the more efficient the consumables but factoring in how long the consumable will last once opened and fitted in your printer - let's move forward by presuming this is one year (though I can't say for sure how this is as I haven't tested, I'll ask some technicians and update this).

Important here also, is the expected life of your printer (most come with 3 year warranties now which is great!)

Looking at big business printer options like the HP Laserjet Enterprise 700 M775DN A3 Colour laser MFP CC522A which has an RRP of $6198 it uses the HP Toner 651A CE340A Black Toner, this provides a yield of 13,500 pages and has an RRP of $301 - giving us an incredible CPP of around 0.02 cents!

Let's assume that a print cartridge or toner lasts 2 years before expiring. 

So, if we're only expecting to print 20 pages per day for a full year total of 1,700, you're most likely better to go with a lower cost printer that has a cartridge yield more aligned with your expected prints per year.

Take some time to do the math and you're sure to find the right one for you.


Two-sided printing (duplexing) helps to lower your printing costs. Printers offer manual duplexing where a mode provides prompts telling you how and when to rotate and reload paper to print on the reverse side. Some models offer fully automatic duplexing as well. If you will be duplex printing on a regular basis, this may be a useful feature for you.

Paper Trays/Capacity

To minimise paper loading, the number of sheets of paper your printer takes should exceed the number of pages you print a day, by a considerable amount. Typically a personal printer holds between 100-150 sheets of paper in a single tray. A business printer holds about 250 sheets of paper, minimum, where higher-end models hold about 500-1000 sheets. Some models include a specific photo tray in an attempt to cut down on paper swapping. If you're wanting to print a lot daily, printers are available with multiple paper trays, ideal for if you switch between printing on blank and headed paper. Depending on your needs, choose a printer with a paper tray that works for you.

Inkjet, Laser and LED Printers

Some home users may require a lot of printing and some may not, however, all are in need of professional output. To do this, there are three types of printers to choose from, inkjet, laser or LED. Inkjets have adapted over time to become an affordable, reliable printer with many features for office users. Home offices with light printing needs would benefit from an inkjet printer mainly because of the low initial cost to purchase the printer. For office use, you'd be best to go with a model which has a 150-250 sheet main tray and a standard or optional second tray, for those that print often, as well as a dedicated output tray. An automatic duplexing (double sided) feature is also useful to have. On the downside, inkjets tend to be average performers when it comes to speed.

A variety of laser and LED printers including colour models are available that are suited to home office users. Laser printers combine fast speeds, sharp output and a low cost per page. You should consider a laser or LED printer if your needs include printing perfect text, printing exclusively on plain paper, and quick/frequent printing. Laser and LED printers create precise black text as well as coloured text very well, suitable for printing important documents. They work with laser compatible paper which enables the printer to handle high heat. Most laser and LED printers are faster than many inkjets and are designed to print high volumes of work easily.

Other Features to Consider

Multifunction models

Multifunction printers are available which include a scanner, ideal for when you are wanting to create copies or digitise documents. Unless you are 100% sure you will only ever need to print, getting a multifunction model would be useful. You will benefit from their versatility and gain the ability to provide centralised document management, distribution and production in your home office.


There are multiple printer connection types for many modern printers, including, USB, Wi-Fi Bluetooth and Ethernet. Wi-Fi is essential on most home-office printers these days for simple, convenient and mobile printing purposes.


USB has the advantage of plug and play technology. This enables a computer to identify a device, from which you can print your documents. Just about all computers on the market support the USB protocol. USB 3.0 standard offers faster speeds and backwards compatibility. Using a USB connection comes with the downfall that it is limited to only one device at a time.


With Bluetooth you can achieve a connection without the need for wires. Bluetooth is well known for its uses with smartphones and audio systems. Due to its limited range which doesn't particularly suit many large offices, Bluetooth printing hasn't necessarily 'taken off'.

To use Bluetooth, direct pairing between two separate devices needs to be done which may not be suitable or convenient for all users.


Wi-Fi has become the standard for wireless printing as it is easy to setup, versatile and offers a wide signal range. Most, if not all modern computers support Wi-Fi protocol, where inexpensive adapters are available for those few that don't. Wi-Fi also allows file sharing, shared printing and streaming, and the range improves regularly. 802.11ax is the latest wireless standard. To increase Wi-Fi convenience, new printers have the ability to print from tablets and smartphones. The only downside here is the potential signal interference that could occur, as well as the need for a wireless router.

Ethernet cable

Printers that include an Ethernet port give the ability to connect straight to a home office network allowing shared printing between multiple devices. The advantage being that more space is created as you only need one central printer for all users. The disadvantage being, each device must be connected to the network through cables, this can be costly and doesn't give much flexibility to use different devices.

Now that you're armed with all the information it's time to find the best printer for you, we hope this guide helps you on your adventure to purchase a new printer, now you can confidently shop the wide variety of printers for home and office available today!

Written By

Kai Ping Lew

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