Printer vs Copier

It may seem obvious that the way to go would simply be to go to a nearby computer store (or online, for that matter) and get yourself a printer.

Simple enough, right?

Well, yes, but what if what you need for your business is many printed copies of a limited pool of the same document, so to speak. For example, you may need to print a bunch of government forms or a bunch of templates for some other project.

If this is the case, then it may make more sense to get a copier machine instead.

The thing is, these two contraptions used to be very much different back when they were first developed.

In this article, we will highlight the small but still existing differences between printer vs copier. We will talk about their features in detail, so you can have a better idea of which can be useful for what you need.

Without further ado, here’s the deal.

Printer vs Copier

As their names suggest, the main purpose of a printer is to print whatever content, whether visual or textual; you make using a computer program. With copiers, the deal was that these machines could make many copies of the same document. (Typically, to create this initial document that is to be copied, you would need a printer.)

Nowadays, however, as the technology gets more and more advanced every day, it’s becoming more and more difficult to pinpoint what a printer is and what a copier is. Since both of these contraptions have many overlapping features, figuring out which one to buy can be a bit of a tough task.

What is a printer?

printer on the table

First thing first, let’s see what these two contraptions are supposed to be in the first place.

A printer is a machine used to print images or textual documents (or the combination of the two) typically linked to a computer. For a printer to run, special printer software, including drivers and other supporting software, usually needs to be installed on the computer.

The printing parameters of each print, such as the quantity of the copies, the resolution of the print, the quality of the image, and so on, can then be easily set up on the computer.

With a modern-day printer, you can print both black-and-white images and colored images, and you also have many different options to work with so that the resulting image answers your needs perfectly, so to speak.

What is a copier?

men set function of printer

If you’ve ever seen any sort of movie where some scenes take part in an office with the cubicles, indoor plants, and other office paraphernalia, you’ve probably also seen a large contraption that the workers constantly go to and from.

These large machines are copiers.

As the name of this contraption suggests itself, copiers are used to copy documents or whatever other piece of paper you put into them.

Of course, these copiers you’ve seen in the movies or which you may have seen live and used yourself would fall into the category of large copiers, so to speak. Smaller-scale copiers also exist, and these are typically used for personal needs.

Now, although the main purpose of a copier is fairly straightforward, what brought about a lot of confusion in the last decade or so would be the technological advances that made virtually any computer periphery (meaning printers, copiers, scanners) feature a host of features that they originally didn’t have.

The easiest way to understand this is if we take a look at mobile phones nowadays.

Back in the day, a mobile phone was used to call someone and maybe send them a text message. Gradually, however, as the technology became more advanced, mobile phones have been gathering an increasing number of new features.

So, a modern-day smartphone can tell you the temperature outside, you can use it to play games, you can use it as a map, or as a camera, a voice recorder, and even as a flashlight!

The story with copiers follows roughly the same logic, so to speak.

A modern-day copier can, in addition to copying (its main purpose, lest we forget), also scan documents, fax them, it can be used to create ready-to-use booklets, and it can even print.

So, we can see how the difference between a copier and a printer gets blurrier the more modern-day models we’re looking at.

Speed of Operation

If you need to copy and print many documents in rapid succession, using a copier might be the better option.

The thing is, while you could arguably get the same results with a printer in terms of the quality of the print and the overall number of settings you can fiddle with (such as resolution, image quality, and so on), it’s also true that copiers can do it more quickly and for less money.

Since the accent with printers is on quality and not so much quantity, if you need to print and copy many documents and do it quickly, getting a copier rather than a printer might be a better idea.

Cost of Operation

As we already pointed out above, there are printers out there that allow you to print many pages per cartridge, but in terms of speed-over-quality parameters, which tends to be important for some businesses, using a copier would probably be more of a cost-effective solution.

Of course, if you don’t print too many pages for your professional or personal needs and don’t do it that often, buying a printer may be a better overall option. (Especially if you want to have advanced printing options and high-quality of the pages you print.)

All in all, as confusing as figuring out what a printer vs copier is nowadays, some general guidelines can still be observed and followed when it comes to the question of which devices you should buy.

The general rule of thumb would be:

  • If you need to copy a large number of documents regularly and the quality of the print is not your top priority, you should probably get a copier machine.
  • If you, on the other hand, don’t print or copy documents that often, but when you do, you want them to look top-notch, so to speak, getting a printer would be a better option.

We hope you found the printer vs copier difference in this article helpful, and we wish you the best of luck with your professional and personal copying and printing ventures.

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