What to Expect From Your Next Color Laser Printer. Part 2

We started a discussion on what your next laer printer should be like, and we’ve covered first aspect of a printer – the speed. Now we’re moving on to


Today you are hardly to worry about a printer’s optical resolution. Even the least expensive color laser printers have a true, optical resolution of 600 by 600 dpi, which is suitable for most mainstream business needs. Many vendors apply enhancement algorithms to emulate higher resolutions, and some offer true 1200 x 1200 dpi resolution.

An equally important factor in your buying decision should be the cost per page to operate the printer. All printer consumables come with a page-life specification that tells you how many pages the unit will print, based on a sample set of printed pages. Your mileage will vary, depending on what you actually print.

The lowest-end color lasers have smaller toner cartridges that usually last just a few thousand pages. They cost a lot to replace, but if you use color occasionally, then you won’t be changing the cartridge often. If you print a lot of color, you need a machine whose toner cartridges have longer page lives; they cost less per page and, of course, don’t have to be replaced as frequently.


Another significant difference among color laser printers is how they handle paper — how much, and of what size. The main paper tray on the vast majority of inexpensive (sub-$500) printers tops out at 250 sheets. Often you don’t get an option to add an extra paper tray. Another potential drawback is that such printers usually can’t handle anything larger than legal-size paper — and in a few cases, the only way to print legal-size documents on such models at all is through the manual-feed tray. In fact, lately we’ve seen a few lower-end printers that skip legal-size paper entirely in their standard configurations.

As you go up the price scale, you’ll find paper-tray capacities of up to 600 sheets for midrange printers and nearly 1200 sheets for higher-end units. Paper trays on these models almost always accept both letter- and legal-size paper. Wide-format printers will take tabloid-size paper, which could be handy if you want to print booklets or other, more-sophisticated documents in-house.

To be continued.

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