Laser printers are generally more expensive than inkjet printers, but they do offer two major advantages: faster speeds than an inkjet printer and much lower costs per page. In the past, laser printers also offered much finer quality for text printing, but that edge seems to be disappearing as inkjet technology improves. This combination of pros and cons makes inkjets the better choice for most home users.
However, for small offices that need to print out reams of text and don't need photo printing, a laser MFP may be the most economical choice. Nearly all laser MFPs include faxing capability, along with the standard print/copy/scan functions. Extra or high-capacity input trays are included or are an add-on option. This is perfect for many small businesses, as well as home offices that require high volume output capability. For standalone laser printers, see our color laser printer and monochrome laser printer reports.
Color laser all-in-one printers are great for documents that require color graphics, such as newsletters, circulars and sales materials. However, they cost significantly more than their black-and-white equivalents. The photo quality of color laser MFPs, however, is not as good as on inkjet MFPs.
The Brother MFC-9970CDW multifunction color laser printer (*Est. $600) has everything a small- to medium-size office needs. The 5-inch color touch screen sits comfortably alongside a numerical pad for entering fax numbers, and setup is easy, though moving the 46 pound printer into place may take some effort. The MFC-9970CDW produces high-quality text at a fast speed, but graphic and photos quality is average. For a printer designed to handle a heavy printing load, the paper tray, at 250 sheets, has a low capacity and needs refilling often.
An alternative, and less expensive, color laser MFP is the Dell 2155cn (*Est. $330) . Reviewers agree that the text and graphics output from the 2155cn are of excellent quality, but assessments of its photo quality are mixed. The 2155cn printer includes an automatic document feeder that holds up to 25 sheets, but two-sided printing can only be done manually. The speed is above average for a color laser MFP, but a downside may be its lack of a Wi-Fi connection.
Monochrome laser machines, which print and copy only in black, are smaller than color laser printers and much less expensive. In this category, consider the Brother MFC-7460DN (*Est. $225) . This printer offers a variety of handy features for business users: a built-in fax, a 35-page auto document feeder for scanning and copying lengthy documents, a 250-sheet paper tray (which holds letter or legal size paper) and automatic duplexing. It can connect to a network through Ethernet, but not wirelessly. This laser MFP also lacks features for photo printing such as memory card and PictBridge compatibility.
The HP LaserJet Pro M1212nf MFP (*Est. $195) is suitable as an entry-level monochrome multifunction laser printer for home offices and small businesses. However, if you have a heavy print load, you might be concerned about its low-capacity paper tray of just 150 sheets. One nice feature of the M1212nf is its extremely simple installation procedure, involving connecting the printer to a PC via a USB port, turning it on and following guided instructions. This model's printing speed is above average, though it is a little slower at copying, and the text and graphics are of a high quality. Although the M1212nf has a 35 sheet automatic document feeder for the copier, it lacks some other features, including automatic duplexing and Wi-Fi connectivity.