ThimphuTech was the first technology blog in Bhutan. We started writing it in 2009, just as broadband and mobile internet started to take off. (Although internet in Bhutan was launched in 1999, it was either super-slow or super-expensive, and was only used by a selected few).

In the blog, we wrote about technology and food, but also about plenty of other stuff. The blog became popular and influential in Bhutan. A companion bi-weekly column -- Ask Boaz -- was published for many years in the Kuensel, Bhutan's national newspaper. (The complete Kuensel columns are available as an ebook, Blogging with Dragons).

We stopped updating the blog when we left Bhutan in 2014, but the information within the posts can still prove useful, and thus we decided to keep it online.

We thank all our readers.
Tashi Delek,
Boaz & Galit.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

The True Cost of Printing (#78)

Question of the Week 
I am looking for a cheap way to print at home. Which is cheaper, inkjet or laser printers?
— Mukul, Thimphu

Dear Mukul,

Need chilies? With a 3D printer, you just
hit the print button.
Trick question! Inkjet printers are, in general, cheaper than laser printers. They can also print in colour, unlike the cheap black-and-white laser printers. If you are looking for a low-cost colour printer, an inkjet printer is your only option, and you can stop reading this column and head to the shop! If black-and-white printing is all you need, read on.

Low-end inkjet printers, such as the Canon PIXMA iP2770 or the HP DeskJet 1000, are available at around Rs 2,000. In comparison, cheap laser printers start at three times that price. The price of the HP LaserJet P1108, for example, is around Rs 6,000.

When buying paper for a printer, look for the paper weight on the package (measured in gsm, or grams per square meter). Typical weight for everyday paper is around 75 gsm. For professional documents, use the heaviest paper you can find. It will have less “show-through” and a smoother finish.
The story, however, does not end here. Buying the printer is only the initial investment. In the long run, the biggest expense is the cost of the ink. Other factors are the cost of the paper, electricity, maintenance, and depreciation (printers are usually replaced every three to five years). All these need to be taken into account when calculating the total cost of ownership.

While inkjet printers are cheaper, the ink itself is very expensive. An original black ink cartridge for the Canon PIXMA printer costs a hefty Rs 1,000 and prints only about 220 pages. That’s almost Rs 5 per page. Costs for the HP DeskJet are similar. In contrast, an original toner cartridge for the HP LaserJet costs around Rs 3,000 and yields about 1500 pages, which amounts to Rs 2 per page – less than half the price than the inkjet.

The more pages you print, the more it makes sense to go with a laser printer. In fact, if you print an average of one page a day, it makes sense to use an ink printer. At two pages a day, you’re in the break-even zone. Three pages or more per day? Invest in a laser printer.

Note: prices were obtained from and Thimphu street prices may vary. It is worth comparing multiple shops.

Readers are encouraged to submit technology-related questions to

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