The difference between inket and laser printers
There are fewer differences between inkjet and laser than there used to be, especially with high-end models. But some basic differences still apply.
Shop all inkjet printers
- Occasional printing.
- Great-quality colour printing.
- Cartridges are cheaper to buy up front, but you get less prints per cartridge.
- They may require several colour cartridges, depending on the printer.
Ideal for home use - printing documents, homework, tickets etc. They can be quite compact.
Shop all laser printers
- Fast, frequent black and white printing.
- General colour printing.
- Cartridges are more expensive up front, but you get more prints per cartridge.
- Needs a black toner and colour toner to work (black and white only models are available).
Ideal for home office and business use. They tend to be larger in size.
What are all-in-one printers?
These combine a scanner, photocopier and printer in one unit (some even include a fax machine). They're available in both inkjet and laser printer varieties.
Shop all-in-one printers
What are photo printers?
The only way to get photo-quality prints is with a dedicated photo printer. These use additional colour cartridges to produce more colour detail.
Shop all photo printers
What the printer specs mean
Measured in dots per inch - DPI. The higher the DPI, the better quality of print, but also the more ink that's used. Inkjets generally offer more detail.
The maximum number of blank sheets of paper you can place ready in your printer.
Auto document feeder
Useful for all-in-one printers. If scanning multiple documents, a feeder will take the next page to scan automatically, without you having to insert it yourself.
For scanners on all-in-one printers, also measured in dots per inch (DPI). The higher the DPI, the higher the copy quality is. Black and white documents don't normally require a high DPI.
This is measured in pages per-minute. Laser printers are quite fast. Inkjets vary but are generally slower.
Double-sided (duplex) printing
The printer can print on both sides of paper without you needing to turn the paper over.
Shop all document feeder printers
Shop all double-sided printers
Inkjet printers - how many ink cartridges should I choose?
2 ink cartridges
Used on less-expensive printers and great for occasional use. These contain a black cartridge and a 'block' ink cartridge, which contains multiple colours.
Cartridges are relatively inexpensive, but you'll need to replace the colour cartridge when just one colour runs out.
4 ink cartridges
Ideal for more frequent colour printing. These use 4 cartridges - black, cyan, magenta and yellow.
You can replace the cartridges as and when they run out. Generally, you get more prints-per-cartridge than with 2 ink.
5 or more
Printers with 5 or more cartridges would be used for printing high-quality photographs. The more cartridges, the higher the quality of the image.
Ways to save money on ink
HP's Instant Ink service will send you a new ink cartridge before an old one runs out. It's a monthly subscription service (postage included) that can save you up to 70% off the cost of ink.
Shop all Instant Ink printers
Epson Ecotank printers include cartridges that can be easily re-filled - you simply order a refill bottle. Each bottle has enough ink for 6500 prints, which would cover most users for over 2 years of printing.
Shop all Ecotank printers
Connecting your printer
Wireless & cable
Almost all printers can be easily connected to a desktop or laptop computer using Wi-Fi. You can also connect via USB if you prefer.
To connect with a network, your printer will need an ethernet port.
Most printer manufacturers offer apps you can install on your mobile devices so you can print from them directly.
Many printers are also compatible with Apple Airprint (for Apple devices) and Google Cloud Print (for Android devices).
More ways you can connect your printer
Email printing (e-print)
This connects the printer to any device that can send emails. The printer will have a special email address and will print files you send it.
Memory card slot
This allows SD cards to slot straight into the printer. You can then select want you want to print from the printer control panel.
This allows digital cameras to connect directly to the printer via USB. You can select which pictures you want to print using the printer control panel.
Near field communication allows devices to connect just by touching. Both the printer and the device need to be NFC compatible.