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Buying colour laser printers for schools

Buying colour laser printers for schools

Posted on 18 Feb 2012 at 11:50

Colour lasers are a natural fit for many schools. Ian Marks looks at six of the best

For many ICT coordinators, printers are often seen as one of the bugbears of the job. Whether inkjet or laser, network or standalone, they can act as a time sponge, soaking up your precious hours in a morass of paper-jamming, faded prints and blocked heads.

This is a shame, since printing is important to successful ICT work. There's often no point in asking your children to complete any work if they can't have a printed record of it once they're done. In addition, if staff can't print out resources or importnat documents then it can be tricky to keep everything running smoothly. For these reasons, choosing a printer for a school will be one of the more importnat choices you make. While speed and quality are important, picking a reliable, trouble-free model can save you plenty of time and money in the long run.

Colour laser printers can be an excellent choice. In the past, they've been beyond the budget of many schools, but prices have now dropped and you can pick one up for a few hundred pounds. In fact, you could spend less than £150 on a personal model, although these aren't really designed for the kind of throughput they'll face in classroom use.

Lasers vs inkjets

You need to think carefully about this decision. If you're after true photo-quality printing then you may be better off with an inkjet printer, since the quality of photo prints is generally superior. What's more, inkjets are a cheaper initial purchase and, when printing, single pages can be faster off the mark (a laser printer always needs time to warm up). However, colour laser printers are usually cheaper to run, and faster when printing a lot of copies. For any sort of bulk printing a laser is always the better option.

Sadly, not every affordable laser printer is as much of a bargain as it may at first appear. As with inkjet printers, the laser printer business often runs on a variation of the old cheap razors/pricey blades model, and it's the running costs that will hit in the long-term.

The bargain-priced model may have a toner cartridge that's only 25% full, and it's only when it's gone that you discover a replacement will cost you nearly £100. It's important to consider these costs, looking at how many pages can be printed per toner cartridge, and how much the cartridge costs. Remember also that colour laser printers usually have four cartridges, so you need to factor this into your budget. The average cost per page ranges from about 5p to 20p, depending on the model- but this clearly need to look at smaller models. compares favourably with inkjet printers, where the costs can be twice as high, or even more than this.

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For more details about purchasing this feature and/or images for editorial usage, please contact Jasmine Samra on pictures@dennis.co.uk

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