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Addressing Common Misconceptions about Laser Printing

Addressing Common Misconceptions about Laser Printing

Harry Stewart
The laser printer is becoming increasingly popular in Britain for its budget-friendly toner, lightning-quick print speeds, and massive monthly page volumes. But despite substantial technological improvements, many misconceptions remain.
Some consumers believe laser printers only suit office settings. Although true a few short decades ago, that’s no longer the case. Lower retail prices, a smaller physical footprint, and superior photo printing quality make the laser suitable for home and office use.
In this post, we’ll briefly explain the laser printer’s history and how it works before covering the most common misconceptions. Then, to wrap up, we’ll present the top four HP laser printers in the UK Store.

The history of laser printing

In 1969, Gary Starkweather invented the first-ever laser printer in a New York research lab. It took almost 10 years for the tech to hit the market.
HP became a laser printing pioneer after releasing the HP 2680A in 1980. Despite relying on brand-new technology, HP used the device to print its first 2680 high-clarity user manuals. Later, 1984 saw the release of the first HP LaserJet, a ground-breaking device combining laser and xerographic technology. This industry-leading series is still our flagship laser printer today.
For the first couple of decades, laser printers remained too expensive and cumbersome for home use. Large corporations and educational institutions were the primary consumers.
By the late 1990s, the laser printer had become small and affordable enough for most offices and some homes. The 2000s brought further cost and size reductions, as well as multi-function printers (MFP) devices. More recent years have seen the incorporation of colour-printing and wireless connectivity.

How laser printers work

While inkjet printers squirt liquid through tiny little nozzles, the laser jet does things differently. This innovative technology harnesses the power of static electricity to attach powdered toner to a page.
  1. High-voltage electrical circuits charge a photoreceptor drum.
  2. A laser bounces off a mirror onto the drum.
  3. The mirror rotates so the laser beam can draw a negatively charged image on the drum.
  4. The printer releases positively charged toner onto the drum, which clings to the negatively charged image drawn by the laser.
  5. A feeder rolls negatively charged paper through the printer, which pulls positively charged powdered toner off the drum.
  6. The printer pushes the paper through hot rollers to melt the toner powder, fusing it onto the page.
Sound impressive? It is. But perhaps more astounding is how quickly the whole process occurs. Most modern laser printers spit out between 30 and 40 pages per minute (ppm). That’s a full A4 sheet of text-heavy paper in less than two seconds.

Common laser printer misconceptions

Now you know the history of laser printing and how the tech works, let’s clear up some common misconceptions.

Laser printing is expensive

There’s no doubt about it. Purchasing a laser printer was prohibitively expensive during the technology’s debut. The first HP LaserJet retailed for a whopping US$3,495 in 1984. That’s US$10,350 adjusted for inflation, or about £8,400. No financially sensible home user (or even a medium-sized business) would drop over eight grand on a printer.
But things have changed in the last four decades. HP now sells reliable, full-colour laser printers at a competitive £250 and up. Although a considerable investment, low toner replacement costs rapidly outweigh the initial outlay. Even users with moderate printing requirements find laser printers work out cheaper after a few years.
Here’s a brief - and very approximate - snapshot of how average laser printer prices have declined over the years:
  • 1980s: £3,000 to 10,000
  • 1990s: £500 to £1,500
  • 2000s: £400 to £800
  • 2010s: £300 to £700
  • 2020s: £250 and £500

Laser printers are only suitable for offices

Again, the laser printer was only suitable for offices due to its high retail price. As we know, earlier models came with eye-watering price tags only the most profitable companies could afford.
But nowadays, the price of a typical laser printer has dropped a lot. Plus, lower ongoing printing costs can easily offset the higher purchase price for the average home user. Whether you’re a student or work-from-home professional, switching to a laser printer could quickly pay for itself.
Laser printers are also much smaller now, making them more attractive to home users with limited room.

Laser printers are bulky

The laser printers of yesteryear were gigantic, often comparable to photocopiers - think 5 x 4 x 4 feet and 200 to 500 lbs. That’s not something you can squeeze into the spandrel under the stairs.
These days, however, technological advancements have seen laser printers shrink. Although bulkier than most inkjets, the average modern laser printer is small enough to fit into a standard home office. The precise dimensions vary between models. Expect a typical present-day device to measure around 16 x 17 x 15 inches.
Many modern models are also MFPs, meaning they offer a printer, scanner, photocopier and fax machine in one. This versatility enhances space efficiency as you don’t need to find room for each individual device.

Laser printers can’t produce high-quality photos

There’s still some truth behind this misconception. While the laser’s photo printing capabilities have come a long way, you won’t get the same quality as a decent inkjet. Creative businesses, such as photographers and design studios, printing high-quality images will invariably prefer inkjet printers.
Nonetheless, the modern laser printer pumps out vastly superior images than older models did a decade ago. For most home and office users, an HP LaserJet produces high-quality photos suitable for their needs.

Laser printers harm the environment

Thanks to various environmental initiatives, modern laser printers are no more ecologically harmful than their ink-spraying cousins.
Technological advances mean these once energy-hungry devices use far less electricity per page than before. Although laser cartridges are more resource-intensive to recycle, they last much longer and thus require recycling less often.
Purchase an HP LaserJet, and you’ll support earth-friendly initiatives like Forest Positive. The program aims to replenish more trees than our printers consume worldwide by 2030. Furthermore, an HP Instant Ink subscription makes recycling used toner cartridges a breeze.

The best LaserJet printers from HP

As HP’s flagship laser printer series, the LaserJet has been a hit among Britons since 1984. Here are a few of the best-selling options available.

HP Color LaserJet Pro 4202dn: Best budget colour printing

Users seeking a cost-effective colour printing solution should check out the HP Color LaserJet Pro 4202dn. Capable of handling up to 4,000 pages per month, this durable printer will withstand the rigours of heavy office use. Its affordable price tag and relatively small stature make it an attractive option for home users.
HP Color LaserJet Pro 4202dn
  • Function: Print
  • Colour: Full colour
  • Speed: Up to 33 ppm
  • Monthly page volume: up to 4,000 pages/month
  • Features: Two-sided printing, optional high-capacity trays

HP Color LaserJet Pro 4302fdw: Best colour MFP

Fancy including a scanner, photocopier, and fax with your shiny new laser printer? Then take a squiz at the HP Color LaserJet Pro 4302fdw. This top-end LaserJet is a worthy investment for busy offices thanks to its massive 4,000 monthly page volume and zippy 33 ppm printing speed. Dynamic security safeguards your sensitive data from prying eyes.
HP Color LaserJet Pro 4302fdw
  • Function: Print, copy, scan, fax
  • Colour: Full colour
  • Speed: Up to 33 ppm
  • Monthly page volume: Up to 4,000 pages/month
  • Features: Wireless, print from phone or tablet, automatic document feeder (ADF)

HP LaserJet Pro MFP 4102fdw: Best high-volume B&W

If black and white printing will suffice, consider the HP LaserJet Pro MFP 4102fdw. This versatile MFP runs at a speedy 40 ppm and has a high monthly volume for heavy office use. Best-in-class security features come courtesy of HP Wolf Security.
HP LaserJet Pro MFP 4102fdw
  • Function: Print, copy, scan, fax
  • Colour: Black and white
  • Speed: Up to 40 ppm
  • Monthly page volume: Up to 4,000 pages/month
  • Features: Wireless, HP Instant Ink eligible; print from phone or tablet, ADF

HP LaserJet Pro MFP 3102fdw: Best moderate-use B&W

The HP LaserJet Pro MFP 3102fdw is a mid-range black-and-white laser printer for users with moderate needs. Thanks to its compact, lightweight design and reliable nature, it’s a popular option among home users dabbling in the laser printing realm.
HP LaserJet Pro MFP 3102fdw
  • Function: Print, copy, scan, fax
  • Colour: Black and white
  • Speed: Up to 33 ppm
  • Monthly page volume: Up to 2500 pages
  • Features: wireless, print from phone or tablet, two-sided printing/scanning


The laser printers of yesteryear were too cumbersome and expensive for home users and small businesses. But the times they are a-changin’. Technological innovations have allowed manufacturers to create increasingly cost-effective and space-efficient laser printers.
While these fast-printing, high-volume machines use a smidgen more space than an inkjet, they’re small enough to squeeze into homes and small offices. Although the laser costs more to purchase outright, lower ongoing printing expenses rapidly cover the higher initial price.
Looking to give laser printing a crack? Review our four recommendations or see what else is available in the HP UK Store. Already got your own? Read some laser printer tips with this user-friendly maintenance guide.

About the Author

Harry Stewart is a Tech Takes contributor covering everything from laptop reviews to how-to guides.

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