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What Types of Printers are Available?

What Types of Printers are Available?

New printer models are released every couple of months.  With so many options available, each with their own specialties, how do you know what to choose?  In this article, we break down the six most common types of printers on the market, so you have a clear understanding of your options before you buy.  Click one of the links below to jump to a particular printer type, or keep reading to learn about all six!


Inkjet Printers

Single-function Inkjet Printers

Single-function inkjets printers are designed for one thing, printing.  If you need to fax or scan, skip ahead to the multi-function printers below.  These printers typically have inexpensive upfront cost and the majority can handle basic black and color printing duties for everyday printing needs, including color photos.  Customers that use a single-function machine appreciate their simplicity. With less features, they are easier to use.

Key Features

  • Uses ink cartridges
  • Prints in black and color (text, color images and photos are all taken care of!)
  • Perfect for casual home printer users that aren’t looking for extra features

Operating Costs

Single-function inkjet printers are generally cheap to buy but cartridge replacement can get pricey if you pick an inefficient printer.  To avoid high printing costs, be sure to pay attention to replacement costs and their respective page yield.  Often times the least expensive printer will use high priced cartridges, so price comparison is essential if you are looking to keep printing costs low.

Recommended Printer Models


Multi-function or All-in-one Printers

Multi-function inkjet printers (also called “all-in-ones” by some printer manufacturers) are by far the most prevalent printer models available.  Multi-function means the printer offers print, scan and fax options, making them a smart choice for home offices.  There are dozens of multi-function printers on the market, each with slightly different features, cartridge pricing and page yield. To ensure you have the right one for your needs, pay special attention to the specs of each model you are considering.  If you are looking for the most cost effective model, check out our ink efficient printer buying guide.

Key Features

  • Uses ink cartridges
  • Prints in black and color (text, color images and photos are all taken care of!)
  • Print, scan and copy capabilities
  • Ideal for everyday home printer users and casual home office/small business users

Operating Costs

The initial cost of a multi-function printer varies considerably across printer manufacturers. But here’s something worth bringing up as it’s a very common scenario you’re sure to come across.

All too often, you will find printers–like the HP® Deskjet 2755 for instance–that are so cheap that a set of replacement cartridges costs about the same as the cost of the printer. For such printers, it’s like you’re buying a new printer every time you replace a cartridge.

Setting cost expectations before you buy is a smart way to start your printer search.  You’ll likely find a better deal with a printer that costs a little bit more upfront and uses economical cartridges. The Brother MFC-J805DW, a pricier printer, for example, uses LC3033 cartridges that print more than 3,000 pages at a cost of less than $35 for black and color cartridges that print up to 1,500 pages for around around $23 each. The higher initial printer cost might seem daunting at first but you’ll find you’re saving much more in the long run.

Compatible LD cartridges bring costs down even more, at just $12.99 for the black cartridge and $9.99 for each color.  No matter what multi-function you decide on, be sure that you are comfortable with the total cost of operation.  Factor in the price of the printer, the cost of replacement cartridges and cartridge page yield to paint an overall picture of your operating costs.

Recommended Printer Models


Photo Inkjet Printers

Although you can print color photos using any of the multi-function machines mentioned previously, professional photographers will want a printer with a little more finesse to bring their photos to life.  To get those vivid prints, photo printers require more ink cartridges than a typical inkjet printer.  The cartridges are either pigment based, dye based, or a combination of both, depending on your printer.  Printers are designed to work with a variety of photo papers and print sizes, with many offering wide format printing.

Key Features

  • Uses ink cartridges (pigment-based, dye-based, or both)
  • Prints in black and color (text, color images and photos are all taken care of!)
  • Commonly used by professional photographers

Operating Costs

Photo printers are costly, but for good reason.  Lower priced inkjet printers simply cannot compete with the quality and detail of a reputable photo printer, and if you have a photography business, they are obviously worth the investment.  Most printers uses anywhere between 6 and 12 ink cartridges to produce a print, making cartridge replacement equally expensive.  To keep costs low, consider LD brand compatible cartridges.

Recommended Printer Models

  • Epson Expression Photo XP-6100 (uses pigment black & dye-based color inks) – Buy on Amazon
  • Canon PIXMA Pro-100 (uses dye-based inks) – Buy on Amazon
  • Canon PIXMA Pro-10 (uses pigment based inks) – Buy on Amazon


Ink Tank Printers

Ink tank printers have grown in popularity over the last couple of years thanks to new printer options like the Epson Ecotank.  Instead of buying new cartridges, you buy ink bottles which supply ink to the printer.  Designed for heavy-duty printing needs, ink tank machines use super high capacity ink tanks to produce a print, offering thousands of prints at a very affordable cost per page.  The printers themselves can be expensive, however, so keep that in mind when mapping out your printing budget.

Key Features

  • Uses ink bottles and super high capacity ink tanks
  • Prints in black and color (text, color images and photos are all taken care of!)
  • Great for heavy duty printer users

Operating Costs

Ink tank printers are worth considering if you frequently print at a high volume but their expensive initial price point make them hard to justify for many consumers.  Printer price varies depending on which model you go with – Epson, Canon and Brother all offer quality options.  The printer’s ink bottles are where you will find the most value, for example, Epson’s 502 black cartridge prints 7,500 pages for just $19.99 and it’s color ink bottles print 6,000 pages for $14.59.  That’s a whole lot of prints for the price, but if you don’t print often, the cost savings may not be worth it.  It all depends on your printing frequency!

Recommended Printer Models


Laser Printers

Monochrome Laser Printers

Monochrome laser printers are a cost effective, speedy option preferred by businesses with heavy-duty printing needs that print strictly text-based documents.  These printers only print in black and white, so if color prints aren’t a necessity, they are your best bet.  With only one toner cartridge to replace, it’s easy to keep your printing costs low.  Toner cartridge yield and monthly duty cycle varies across machines, so make sure you choose a printer that meets your office’s monthly printing needs.

Key Features

  • Uses a black toner cartridge
  • Prints in black
  • Perfect for business users that print a lot of documents and don’t need color.

Operating Costs

Monochrome laser printers are optimized for the office, giving you high volume prints at a low operating cost. Look for a printer that uses high yield or extra high yield toner cartridges for the best overall value.  They may cost a little bit more, but the savings pay off in the long term.  To cut down printing costs even more, shop LD compatible toner cartridges.

Recommended Printer Models


Color Laser Printers

Looking to add a little color to your next business report?  Color laser printers are great for small to medium businesses, offering more flexibility and a significant cost savings compared to the typical color inkjet printer.  These machines use four separate toner cartridges, making replacements expensive, but you’ll only need to replace each cartridge as needed.  If your business needs to print color photos, you might consider buying an inkjet printer too. Color laser printers are not designed for photo printing, and typically work best on graphics or illustrations.

Key Features

  • Uses four toner cartridges (black, cyan magenta and yellow)
  • Prints in black and color
  • Commonly used by businesses that need the flexibility of a color printer

Operating Costs

Color laser printers usually start around $150 and can go up considerably from there depending on how many extra features you need.  With four cartridges, new cartridge replacements can add up quickly.  However, their high page yield more than makes up for the high price tag, with most offering thousands of prints per cartridge.  Like the monochrome laser printer, high yield or extra high yield cartridges are your best bet.

Recommended Printer Models


Understanding of what printer options are available to you is the first step to finding the right printer for your home or office.  Now that you know what options are available to you, check out one of our printer buying guides to learn more about specific printer models and pricing. We are certain you will find a printer that’s perfect for your needs and your budget.

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*Savings based on price comparison between remanufactured/compatible cartridge prices on www.LDProducts.com and OEM cartridge and printer prices from Amazon and Staples. All products are reviewed independently. As an Amazon associate, LD Products earns from qualifying purchases through links on this page. All prices effective as of June 1, 2021.  OEM names are registered trademarks of their respective owners and are not affiliated with, and do not endorse LD Products.

5 Comments

  • I need a printer that will scan, print, fax.
    For home use easy on ink cartridge.

    • I recommend using a laser printer. There are a lot of affordable monochrome laser printers in the market. If you need to print in color, you can find color laser printer models that don’t cost too much too. Check out this article to browse your options.

  • Canon TR8520 is my printer.

    Do you make/sell ink cartridges for this model?

    Rob Leeson

  • I need a printer that will straight feed and that can print on fabric (adhered to a backing page) with pigment inks.

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