Frequency Ask Questions

Category: Laser Printers

  1. What do I do with an empty toner cartridge?
  2. What's the difference between a laser printer and an inkjet printer?
  3. My printer has a parallel cable, but my new computer doesn't have any parallel ports. How can I use
    the printer?

Q. What do I do with an empty toner cartridge?

A: It's easy to see that most toner cartridges are a good sized chunk of natural resources that should not be tossed into a landfill. That plastic shell will not be decomposing and the whole thing will be talking up space for generations.

Printer manufacturers will take back your cartridge. They'll see that the plastic is ground up to be used as raw material for other goods. However, a super recycling alternative is to turn in the cartridge for remanufacturing. All of the parts that wear can be replaced, making a cartridge that is good as new, for less cost, using local labor instead of overseas machinery.

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Q. What's the difference between a laser printer and an inkjet printer?

A: In general terms, laser printers have higher resolution so they have better print quality. Inkjets create images by spitting out tiny droplets of ink, so their resolution is lower. If you look closely at a page printed on a laser printer and the same page printed on an inkjet, you will be able to see that the laser has smoother edges to the fonts.

Inkjets are the way to go (as of 2003) for cheap color printing. Some of the more recent inkjets provide excellent color clarity and brightness, and are very well suited for printing photographs. Also, inkjets are usually quite a bit cheaper than lasers, and color inkjets are MUCH cheaper than color laser printers.

While inkjet printers themselves are cheaper, their ink is much more expensive. Ink cartridges need to be replaced fairly often if you print a lot, and especially if you're printing pictures, and ink cartridges are not cheap. On the other hand, toner for laser printers is pricey, but will rarely need to be changed. If you're using a laser at home, you may never need to change the toner.

All in all, each printer has its function. Inkjets are great for limited home use and for photo printing. Lasers are good for high-volume applications, like offices, or for applications that need extremely high print quality.

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Q. My printer has a parallel cable, but my new computer doesn't have any parallel ports. How can I use the printer?

A: What you can use is a parallel card - this is a card that you can put into the computer just like a sound or video card, and it provides a parallel port. I've seen ones that work in ISA or PCI slots, and they should be available at most computer hardware stores, but probably not at consumer electronics stores.

The card should come with a CD with drivers for your operating system. (Drivers tell your computer how to use the new card.) If you're using Windows, once you install the card and start Windows, you should be prompted for the driver, so just insert the CD then, and Windows should be able to find the appropriate driver.

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