Laser and LED printers are grouped into the same category because they both fuse dry ink (toner) to your print medium using heat. The major difference between the two is that a laser printer uses precision lasers (hence the name) as opposed to the Light-Emitting Diode array (hence the name LED) to affix the toner to the imaging drum or belt.
Both processes takes very little time, compared to the other print technologies, giving laser/LED printers an advantage in print speeds, especially monochrome (black and white) versions. While there are laser printers that can pump out 150+ pages per minute (think production printers), average small office, home office/home office (SOHO) or small and medium-sized business (SMB) laser printers will typically print 20-50 pages per minute, depending on the job style (color vs. black and white).
Laser printers often win the battle when it comes to print resolution, but since the LED process is less complex, LED printers often hold court when it comes to cost, efficiency and even reliability.
The features on each printer vary just as they would with any technology, but typically laser and LED printers find their way into office environments (small and large enterprise). Some of the features to look for in a laser/LED printer are: resolution, multifunction capabilities, duplexing, automatic document feeders, size/number of paper tray(s), monthly duty cycle and built-in networking.
The major setback for most consumers or small offices looking to purchase a laser or LED printer is going to be the high initial cost. Even an entry level monochrome laser printer can cost $100-$200 (usually the mid- to high-end inkjet price range) depending on the vendor.
On the plus side, toner for laser/LED printers has become easier to use and more affordable. Most manufacturers package toner in easy to use cartridges sparing users the mess and hassle of refilling toner, offer both standard and high capacity options, and allow customers to reuse or recycle their cartridges.
Read our full review of the Brother HL-3170cdw Digital Color Printer offering small businesses a low cost alternative to office AIOs.
The HP LaserJet Pro 400 M401dn single function laser packs plenty of features into a compact footprint but can you find a better deal? Read our review and find out!
Check out our full review of the single function monochrome Brother HL-5470dw and see if it stacks up to the flagship Brother HL-6180dw we reviewed last month!
Read our full review of the Samsung ML-5512nd single function monochrome laser printer targeted at businesses looking to increase their productivity.
Brother introduced a new line of monochrome laser printers for SMB in 2012. We've reviewed the HL-5470dw and the HL-6180dw and now we're sharing the MFC-8710dw review!
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