Most business people look at printers as a necessity. After all, how else do you get documents in a "usable" format? Given the widespread use of electronic documents like Adobe's PDF format, e-readers and increased environmental consciousness, paper is less necessary with each passing day. Electronic files can be sent instantly around the world and offer a convenience for travelers. Still, holding a piece of paper with your data has its advantages.

Advantage: Convenience

One of the key advantages of printing out material is that it is convenient. If you need to mark it up or make notes on it, it is easy to do. Most printed documents are lighter and, when folded, smaller than a tablet or notebook computer. They are also easily replaced, so losing them or getting them wet isn't a major concern.

Advantage: Secure Delivery

Paper records can be anonymously delivered. Emailing a document creates a chain that shows who sent it, when they sent it and to whom they sent it. Once someone prints out a document, on the other hand, they can deliver it or not deliver it to anyone without creating a record of the delivery. This can be useful if you need to send information without having someone intercept it or without creating a record that you sent it.

Advantage: Ease of Reading

For many people, printed documents remain easier to read. The text on a printed document is, as of 2012, sharper than the sharpest display. While the iPad 3's display renders text with 264 dots per inch, even inexpensive printers can output 600 dots per inch. Most tablet and computer displays are backlit and glossy. This makes them prone to washing out in direct sunlight and prone to glare. The printed page, on the other hand, is easy to read in anything but dark conditions.

Disadvantage: Cost

While there are a number of variables that determine what it costs to print a document, the simple fact of the matter is that printing costs money. While the toner or ink for a black-and-white page is frequently in the range of 1 to 2 cents, you also need to pay for paper and for the printer itself. Color printing is even more expensive. Electronic documents, on the other hand, cost essentially nothing to create and to send. You could send an entire high-definition movie, which is roughly equivalent in size to hundreds of pages, over the Internet for less than the cost of printing a single color page.

Disadvantage: Environmental Concerns

Printers kill trees. On average, a smaller office with 10 to 15 employees will consume enough paper to necessitate cutting down 18 trees a year. Toner and ink are made with chemicals that can cause environmental damage. The paper and toner or ink get delivered to your office generates carbon, and the garbage gets hauled away, which generates more material in landfills and more carbon for the delivery process. Printers also consume a great deal of power, with the fusers in laser printers consuming hundreds of watts when they run.