The lowdown on laser printers

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Why a laser? Laser printers generally are faster and can handle higher volume than ink-jets, and have lower per-page costs. Now that prices for color lasers have fallen, they are a viable option for small offices that have relied on ink-jets.

Why not? Ink-jet printers themselves are still less expensive than comparable lasers. Their print quality is high and they use less power. So if you don't really need increased speed or volume, ink-jets might still be a better buy.

What are the key factors? In comparing products in the accompanying chart, you'll notice that prices within each category'laser or LED'are tied closely to three factors: the duty cycle, the maximum resolution and pages per minute. The most important factor in durability is monthly duty cycle; in cost, it's the toner cartridges.

Must-know info? If you buy a laser, don't be too quick to throw out your old, multipurpose, ink-jet scanner-fax-printer. It can be used in conjunction with a new laser printer either for select printing jobs or as a scanner that can turn your new printer into a copier. For best results with lasers, expect to replace the drum about every 25,000 pages.

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