We did a posting earlier this year titled Small Business Tech Advice about some technologies to avoid in 2011. We've also posted frequently on such tech things as the importance of frequent computer back ups, computer security, software licensing, power backup, and many other tech topics. Now comes a new article from PCWorld that provides a pretty comprehensive list of 15 common tech mistakes that a lot of small businesses make. We won't go into the whole list here, but I have some personal experience on tip number seven, Not researching your printer so I'll focus on that one.
A technically challenged friend of mine (not that I'm a wizard by any means) recently bought a new computer and was having trouble getting his old inkjet printer to work, so he asked me for a recommendation. I suggested a laser printer for many reasons based on my personal experience. I have an 11 year old laser printer that has been incredibly reliable over the years and you never have to clean print heads with a laser printer, so reliability was a big factor in my recommendation.
Another factor is that a laser printer is more cost effective in the long run. While it is more expensive up front, the cost per copy is much less. My wife has a combination inkjet printer and scanner that I think cost us less than $150 (I've seen them on sale for under $100). Imagine my shock when I had to replace both inkjet cartridges and it cost me $80! I know you can have them refilled, but I had a bad experience with that with a different printer so I stayed away from that option.
The laser printer is a whole different story. The one I have has two different capacity toner cartridges so you can save some money by buying the high yield cartridge which will print 2400 copies. You can save additional money ($34.00 vs $54) by purchasing a recycled toner cartridge as opposed to a new one. As opposed to the refillled inkjet cartridges, I've been using these for years with absolutely no problems.
There is a great link in the article to a study PCWorld did comparing the cost per page of inkjet vs laser. Inkjets cost 4-5 cents a page while they found that lasers cost 1-2.5 cents a page. Actually, according to my calculations for my old printer using recycled toner cartridges the cost drops down to .8 cents a page.
You say you need to print color? Simple, buy one of each and only use the inkjet when you have to have color. You'll pay for the other printer very quickly with the money you save on inkjet cartridges and in addition get better quality. The whole article is a great resource of information for your small business and there are many great links to get even more information on the fifteen tips.