Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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February 23, 2008
By: Kevin Drum

COLOR LASER PRINTERS....My 8-year-old color laser printer is finally on its last legs — rest in peace Magicolor 2200 — and now I have to figure out what to replace it with. I'm a longtime inkjet hater, so my initial research has been solely aimed at newer color lasers. The Xerox Phaser 6125 and 6180 both look nice. Or maybe the Dell 1320. Or how about an HP 3600? You can hardly go wrong with HP, right? Naturally I turn to my tech savvy weekend readers for advice. What say you?

Kevin Drum 12:21 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (92)

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Comments

Is it me, or have you had a whole line of really old computing gear die in the past year? Just asking...

Posted by: mc on February 23, 2008 at 12:32 PM | PERMALINK

Hey, Kevin!
We recently got an HP 6180 inkjet and have been pretty happy with it. It's one of those comination printer, copier, scanner, fax. It's also wireless, which is really cool! We've used all functions except the fax (you just scan it and e-mail it, right?) and everything works.

The only thing is the software is just nuts! It ends up using up all of however much your computer has (it shows up indirectly by making a program called svchost.exe to run all the time) and making everything slow. It makes my old laptop too hut to run (I finally had to take the software off) and it even freezes up on my wife's much newer Dell. So there are some serious problems with the software.

It's a shame, because when it's not freezing up or making the computer overheat, the software does really cool stuff.

Perhaps another commenter can help out? :)

Posted by: Joel on February 23, 2008 at 12:36 PM | PERMALINK

Go with HP.
Here's HP's take on HP vs. Xerox
http://www.hewlettpackard.com/united-states/public/competitive_xerox_worryfree.html

- A

Posted by: Asa Dotzler on February 23, 2008 at 12:37 PM | PERMALINK

buy a Mac! You will never have printers die on you.

Posted by: gregor on February 23, 2008 at 12:38 PM | PERMALINK

I forgot to add that just to be doubly sure that the electronics don't crap on you, vote for and support Obama.

Posted by: gregor on February 23, 2008 at 12:42 PM | PERMALINK

For text printing I suggest a used high throughput HP laser printer. I can usually find a surplus one around the university. They are work horses. Don't know about new ones. I generally fear new ones.

Posted by: asdf on February 23, 2008 at 12:46 PM | PERMALINK

epson. the best you can buy.

Posted by: mestizo on February 23, 2008 at 12:47 PM | PERMALINK

I've bought and used a dozen printers, 9 HP, 3 somebody else. don't know why I made those 3 mistakes. HP rules.

Posted by: Stephen Slade on February 23, 2008 at 12:49 PM | PERMALINK

"I'm a longtime inkjet hater"

Right, Kevin! Saving some dollars on such el cheapo stuff, and then paying out of your nose for the damn refills isn't worth the effort. Not to mention all the worries about constantly drying up print heads and that you are constantly refilling if you have to print some biger volumes. If had enough of this crap, too. I'm usinf a brother black and white laser, and for color copies I go to friends who have an Epson 1100. That's a very reliable machine, on the market for a long time now, so no untested technology inside. And the prints aren't too expensive, too. Easy to handle, good usability. Fast enough for small offices. Comes with all major connectors, even firewire and networking. I recommend it.

Posted by: Gray on February 23, 2008 at 12:55 PM | PERMALINK

People still print stuff?

Posted by: Orson on February 23, 2008 at 12:58 PM | PERMALINK

Problem with all HP lasers some years ago was that the rubber transport rolls harden after some time and then you get constantly problems with paper transport. There is a fix kit from HP for free, sure, but it's effects last only some hundred prints, and then the trouble starts again. We had about a dozen or so Laserjets at the job, and it was always the same. Maybe HP's new stuff is better, I don't know, I simply lost the trust in their products.

Posted by: Gray on February 23, 2008 at 1:01 PM | PERMALINK

I have a Tally Genicom T8016 laser printer (about 2 models back from the most current.)

The quality is wonderful.

A set of toner is $500 (for 8,000 copies, which is their estimate; I have gotten many more than this)

Their support is OUTSTANDING.

Posted by: aghast on February 23, 2008 at 1:03 PM | PERMALINK

Kyocera black and white printers have a good reputation, too, because of their almost indestructible long life components. When doing high volumes, you safe a lot over the lifecyle by not having to replace parts. However, I don't know anything about their color lasers.

Posted by: Gray on February 23, 2008 at 1:08 PM | PERMALINK

Gonna help the Fed print money, Kevin?

Speaking of which, the financial situation for America's families can improve instantly if the predatory practices of credit card, and other, lenders were brought to a halt. Might put a lot more instant money into family pockets than a check from Uncle Sam. Might be less inflationary, too. But I don't know.

Posted by: ferd on February 23, 2008 at 1:08 PM | PERMALINK

Epson, hands down.

Posted by: enozinho on February 23, 2008 at 1:13 PM | PERMALINK

I second Mestizo. My nanocompany suffered with HP and then started using Epson equipment, which offers much greater reliability. Our Epson CX11NF color laser printer-copier-scanner does a great job.

Posted by: Tirebiter in Sector R on February 23, 2008 at 1:13 PM | PERMALINK

Trying to Google info about cost per page of color lasers yields pretty old articles. If I were shopping for a color laser, that's what I'd want to know first. Is there an up-to-date source for this info?

Posted by: Borden Tarde on February 23, 2008 at 1:16 PM | PERMALINK

Unless you do a ton of printing (why? use Staples or Kinkos), get a multi-functional scanner/photo printer. And refill your own ink cartridges. Scan Google for refillable cartridges and compliant hardware. The brand is irrelevant now. They are all in the cartridge business.

Posted by: Sparko on February 23, 2008 at 1:18 PM | PERMALINK

I completely agree with you about inkjets.

I wouldn't recommend the Xerox printers that use solid ink - refills are expensive and quality/survivability of prints can be an issue.

I have a Dell color laser now. Meh. Price was right though.

You're probably right about HP. I'd just see what the cost per page is, and how soon you'd need the dreaded maintenance kit.

Posted by: geoff on February 23, 2008 at 1:19 PM | PERMALINK

We have an HP deskjet 990c that I adopted from work that is great for regular printing and color. Never (knock on wood) had a bit of trouble with it, and its probably at least 8 years old. We also have an HP laser jet 1010 that is great, but not color.

So yeah, HP all the way.

Posted by: Robin on February 23, 2008 at 1:21 PM | PERMALINK

I was a loyal HP printer buyer for years. They sent me a free cable when I lost my cable once--can you beat that kind of service? But that was about 10 years ago. Now I HATE THEM WITH A PASSION. When I upgraded to a MacBook Pro, I lost all support for my very expensive HP 2840 all-in-one color laserjet. They have not created an update for their driver -- and it's been almost a year that they've been promising. I now not only can't scan, but I also can't print, even by USB. I will never buy a HP product again. I hate to say it, but maybe they're better if you have a PC. But Mac users, beware. HP is on a vendetta against you.

Posted by: rabbit on February 23, 2008 at 1:24 PM | PERMALINK

Do your homework before buying a Dell. I've been suspicious of their printer equipment since they gave me a color inkjet with my last desktop system. I gave the printer away as the cost for cartridges was crazy expensive.

I've been using Brother black & white laser printers at home and at work for some time, now. They are simple to set up, inexpensive, and no printer software trying to take over my PC (think HP). I will probably try a Brother when I make the jump to color.

Posted by: AK Liberal on February 23, 2008 at 1:25 PM | PERMALINK

Actual call with HP support:

Me: My HP printer can't feed the paper straight through. The print is usually crooked.

Support: Yeah, some skew is acceptable.

Me: I'll never by another product from your company and tell as many people I can why.

Posted by: knut on February 23, 2008 at 1:26 PM | PERMALINK

My company did the site for the Espson Stylus Pro 3800. It was the best small printer I'd ever seen.

http://www.epson.com/cgi-bin/Store/WideFormat/WideFormat3800Landing.jsp?BV_UseBVCookie=yes

Posted by: enozinho on February 23, 2008 at 1:26 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin,
I recently purchased a HP 2600 LaserJet for $299.99 Costco has a verison that does doublesided printing for $349.00 It works great and the cost per page is much less than Inkjet. I have had for for 9 months and never a problem and it networkable a huge feature that really makes it great.
Hope this helps.

Posted by: John on February 23, 2008 at 1:31 PM | PERMALINK

Problem with all HP lasers some years ago was that the rubber transport rolls harden after some time and then you get constantly problems with paper transport.

Have you tried hooking it up to a mac?

Posted by: asdf on February 23, 2008 at 1:37 PM | PERMALINK

I should mention that I use the inkjet refill store; it is a green source in that you can reuse your cartridges again and again. I like laser jet print for work, and like John says, the HP 2600 two-sided printer is great, but they are resource intensive unless you print a lot. You can get ink jets for a song, and a refill set of inks that last about 10-15 refills for about half the cost. And do photos.

Posted by: Sparko on February 23, 2008 at 1:37 PM | PERMALINK

Or using Obama as a replacement roller?

Posted by: Model 62 on February 23, 2008 at 1:40 PM | PERMALINK

Borden Tarde @ 1:16 PM,I have no connection to the company, other than being an occasional customer, but Newegg.com has good customer reviews of their products. I usually check there before purchasing.

Posted by: AK Liberal on February 23, 2008 at 1:40 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin:

Check out the Konica-Minolta colour laser printers. I've had one of those and they work very well.

Posted by: Scott on February 23, 2008 at 1:43 PM | PERMALINK

After too many slow color lasers and pricey inkjet refills, I went with a Xerox Phaser 8500. It prints on everything up to heavy cardstock, and it's GREAT! (I use an Epson PictureMate for photos, though...)

Posted by: cognitive dissident on February 23, 2008 at 1:46 PM | PERMALINK

Hey Kevin, I got a Xerox Phaser for Christmas two years ago, I use it once a month or so, and the ink has not gone dry yet!

Posted by: KYDEM on February 23, 2008 at 1:53 PM | PERMALINK

Never mind the printer; get back to assailing the NYT. You've spent more time attacking them for their story on McCain than you have on their awful stories on all the Dems between 2000 and now -- combined. I want to see if you can make it twice as much time, and I have faith that you can.

Posted by: mg on February 23, 2008 at 1:59 PM | PERMALINK

I have several HP's and won't buy another HP. The software is terrible. Every couple of weeks, it thinks I have just plugged the printer in for the first time. As a result, it automatically re-installs the printer software, with the result that I now have 4-5 copies of the HP4150 software on my computer. And I've already deleted 2-3 copies. To top it off, only one of the multiple copies will work at any particular time, so I am stuck trying each print driver most of the time I print until I find the one that is working. Yuck!

Scott

Posted by: Scott on February 23, 2008 at 2:02 PM | PERMALINK

Hey, I just bought a printer yesterday! Went to Office Depot and bought the cheapest B&W Laser Printer they had. 50 buck after rebate. So that's what I recommend you do.

Posted by: godoggo on February 23, 2008 at 2:24 PM | PERMALINK

I have had trouble with both HP and Xerox drivers. I'd try an Epson just to not have to deal with HP and Xerox again.

Posted by: Andrew J. Lazarus on February 23, 2008 at 2:30 PM | PERMALINK

I would suggest staying away from the HP3600 Color laser. I have bought 3 of them for work and 2 had serious problems that took weeks to fix because the HP support staff didn't know what they were doing. We finally had an HP tech on site for each instance.

Posted by: madstork123 on February 23, 2008 at 2:38 PM | PERMALINK

Hi Kevin,

I have 2 Brother bw lasers and have had very good success.

The Brother color lasers get good customer reviews, also. The 4070 gets good reviewer reviews, especially for features. The 4070 is downgraded slightly for color text, but graphics score well. Supply costs are high, but don't know that they are any worse than Xerox or Dell.

Posted by: says you on February 23, 2008 at 2:38 PM | PERMALINK

My HP3800 ($1,000) has worked mostly trouble-free for several years now. I've had twenty or thirty paper jams in that time, but since I've run over 12,000 sheets of paper through it, I don't rate that as a serious problem.

I consider it a disposable printer since replacing all four toner cartridges runs about $700. If it fails, I'll pull the cartridges out, buy a new printer (it comes with toner) and use up the old cartridges at some point.

The only caveat is that when you install partially used cartridges, the printer treats them as non-standard and won't give you a status message on the amount of toner that's left. Just run it until the toner starts to streak, then replace cartridge.

One issue I have with the printer is its seeming inability to print grayscale images as grayscale. They always come out with a purple tint, even when the printer is set to print grayscale.

The 3600 ($600) is essentially the same printer except it doesn't have postscript software. My dad has run thousands of pages through his with no problem. The black cartridge is the same as the 3800, but the yellow, magenta, and cyan won't work in a 3800. It too is disposable as the printer is cheaper than the 4 toner cartridges it uses.

If you occasionally need postscript, the way around the problem is to create a PDF of your file. Then it will print properly on the 3600.


Posted by: Caslon on February 23, 2008 at 3:05 PM | PERMALINK

I have three Xerox Phasers and I love them. Plus, the solid ink option is cheaper and better for the environment. Can't lose.

Posted by: ben jamin on February 23, 2008 at 3:05 PM | PERMALINK

Epson got out of the laser business. They only make inkjets now. Don't buy an MFP. Canon or Okidata would be my recommendation. Look at per page cost. This is where the long term costs of owning a printer come in. Buy laser cartridges on EBay. It has saved me a lot, even with the added shipping costs.

Posted by: sferris on February 23, 2008 at 3:08 PM | PERMALINK

I should have included Xerox Phaser too, as an earlier poster mention. The solid ink refills are a revelation. Definitely the best innovation in printer design.

Posted by: sferris on February 23, 2008 at 3:13 PM | PERMALINK

HP Printers are not what they used to be. The old B/W lasers were amazing. They stuff you get now can be really bad.

For color I'd recommend the Xerox Phaser. We have an 8560 for a small office and have been very happy.

Posted by: Adam Thomas on February 23, 2008 at 3:15 PM | PERMALINK

I recommend the new Doolit-Wackard Crayon Master. 120 colors! No cartridges to mess with! Just buy a new box of Crayolas, load it up and away you go.

Posted by: Speed on February 23, 2008 at 3:58 PM | PERMALINK

Or how about an HP 3600? You can hardly go wrong with HP, right?

Carly Fiorina. Since 2002-3 or so, you can't go right with HP. They're just an ordinary crappy manufacturer now.

max
['Well, ok, an extraordinarily crappy manufacturer.']

Posted by: max on February 23, 2008 at 4:21 PM | PERMALINK

IMHO: Buy an HPLJ 1018/1020/1022 series (B&W)... for text and draft work. It's inexpensive and gives solid performance for a 'personal' printer. Get an a cheap inkjet for color work and toss it if/when you have problems.

Posted by: Buford on February 23, 2008 at 4:27 PM | PERMALINK

Knut and all other crooked printing HP users.,

The removable plastic piece on the back of the printer that lets you fix paper jams often doesn't get put back on right. I have seen it cause crooked printing on a number of HP printers, but the tech people don't seem to be clued in about it. It's an annoying problem since the back of the printer is often invisible and hard to reach, and it's not the kind of issue that tech support people are good at dealing with. Sort of like unplugged mice causing computer freezes.

Kevin, thanks for asking this question. I was wondering the same thing myself.

Posted by: Common Sense on February 23, 2008 at 4:30 PM | PERMALINK

About the inkjet cartridges drying up, Is it because of unuse? I had several go dry on me but could not tell why! Never had the time to look into it.

Posted by: ppk on February 23, 2008 at 4:31 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin: "You can hardly go wrong with HP, right?"

Only if you're a member of the HP Board of Directors, and happen to run afoul of its chairperson.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on February 23, 2008 at 4:39 PM | PERMALINK

I second says you about Brother. I have had a multi-function Brother 8840D black and white for several years as my only printer for my home-based practice. It is very reliable, both as printer and copier. It scans well, although I don't use that function enough to compare it with other multi-function machines. It also has a reliable and highly programmable fax function.

I don't have personal experience with Brother color printers, but I've been very pleased with the BW machines. My college-age daughter got a smaller Brother, a color multi-function (MFC 5840CN). It performs well too.

Posted by: anoregonreader on February 23, 2008 at 4:41 PM | PERMALINK

Have you considered hiring a small army of scribes? Not sure they're compatible with Vista, but they should work well on a mac.

Posted by: bored with this on February 23, 2008 at 4:45 PM | PERMALINK

Try the Brother 4070.

Posted by: bebimbob on February 23, 2008 at 4:50 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin,

I am on my second hp laser printer. Loved the 1200, but when the 2605dn color came out with duplex I had to go for it. Works great.

Posted by: Conrad Truedson on February 23, 2008 at 4:54 PM | PERMALINK

Hey Rabbit:

The HP 2840 supports postscript. Just set up a CUPS postscript printer, or use one of the Apple postscript printers. Use the port that the printer is attached to. It'll just work.

Posted by: bebimbob on February 23, 2008 at 4:56 PM | PERMALINK

HP made incredible black and white laser printers for years that lasted forever and worked reliably. They were expensive, but worked very well. Now, not so much.

I've had a Dell 3000 for a while now. I got a great deal on it through a coupon on techbargains or gotapex, and I buy the refill toner cartridges through the Supplies Guys.

It's a very good product, relatively jam free, good quality and speed. It pauses to recalibrate when it's doing large jobs, but it seems to be a good product with good speed on black and white and high quality on color.

Posted by: Aeolus on February 23, 2008 at 5:02 PM | PERMALINK

Third vote on the Brother. Recently bought 2 4070CDWs. Wireless, duplex, superb color output, nice graphics, easy setup. Paid $390!! We do trade show flyers with detailed color photos of wood products and they're great. All my research on HPs indicated perhaps better quality output, but lots of service problems and expensive toner. The Brother printers have high-capacity color cartridges which sell online as low as $60 - $.015 per page.

Posted by: wheeler on February 23, 2008 at 5:18 PM | PERMALINK

Have you considered the Xerox Phaser 8560 solid ink printer?

Posted by: Peter With on February 23, 2008 at 5:34 PM | PERMALINK

Go with the Brother 2008. Yes it can!

Posted by: Mary Contrary on February 23, 2008 at 5:54 PM | PERMALINK

Dell is not blue. Fuck you for even mentioning them.

PS. I'm serious.

Posted by: dennisS on February 23, 2008 at 7:09 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin

I just bought a Xerox 6180 (December) and am fairly happy with it for my mostly business letter w.some color purposes. It replaced a much more expensive Phaser 8400 that died after 4 years. I thought it would last a lifetime. Silly me. I print about 1,000-2,000 pgs per month. Duty cycle is very important part of your decision - the 6180 I think is rated 10K per month.

I switched to Xerox years ago after HP decided to start making their retail use printers out of flimsy plastic parts. Even the more expensive printers from HP seem to be designed for "throwaway" after 1-2 years of serious use. I can't stand the way they are made now. Be aware that all the companies make their $$ off the replacement ink and this is a fortune from both HP and Xerox.

Posted by: Martin on February 23, 2008 at 8:16 PM | PERMALINK

bebimbob: I'll try it, but will it allow me to print through my wireless network (this is a laptop and the printer is in my partner's office, not mine)? I know it won't help me scan - HP Director crashes in OS 10.5 every time I try to open it.

Posted by: rabbit on February 23, 2008 at 8:26 PM | PERMALINK

Amazing--over 50 posts, and no one has posed the most important, fundamental question:

Kevin, what are you going to do with this laser printer? That is, what are you going to use the output for, and how many pages per month do you intend to print?

Everything else is secondary. Important, sure, but secondary.

Posted by: vorkosigan1 on February 23, 2008 at 8:36 PM | PERMALINK

dennisS: "Dell is not blue. Fuck you for even mentioning them. PS. I'm serious."

When faced with such trying times, I find the bong to be quite useful.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on February 23, 2008 at 8:38 PM | PERMALINK

Vorkosigan1 is right, there is data you have to provide for a reasonable recommendation.

There are some basics. As someone who owns six printers and uses them regularly, I would say that any recommendations for Epson are off-base. Epson makes inkjet printers. Inkjet printers are good for photographs (I have four, I'm a photographer) but have high operating costs and low throughput.

I do think a networked laser printer is a real bonus if you are working from a laptop and move around. I use the HP 2600N for this.

BTW, Staples has the HP2605DN for $250, at least through today, that's half off. It might not be on sale by now, but it's worth checking.

Posted by: Spike on February 23, 2008 at 8:45 PM | PERMALINK

In my experience w/color laser printers (full disclosure: I've been a network admin + troubleshooter for 10+ years), Xerox/Phaser makes *much* better color laser printers than HP. The Xerox/Phasers I've used have been faster + more reliable than the HPs, and produced superior-quality prints to boot.

-Z

Posted by: Zorro on February 23, 2008 at 9:59 PM | PERMALINK

I've been using a Konica Minolta Magicolor 2300DL for about two years. It works great. It won't do glossy photo finish stock, but if you just want good looking copies, it does well. I am still working on the original color cartridge set, but I don't use it more than about once a week. For BW I have a great Brother HL 5140 that cost about $200 and works like a charm. Before that I used a slow but reliable HP IIP for 15 years.

Posted by: Tom on February 23, 2008 at 9:59 PM | PERMALINK

>i>buy a Mac! You will never have printers die on you.
Posted by: gregor on February 23, 2008 at 12:38 PM

Beat me to it. Damn! That's what I get for occasionally leaving the house.

Posted by: thersites on February 23, 2008 at 10:00 PM | PERMALINK

Use an inkjet that accepts an aftermarket
external kit with six 4 ounce $8 ink bottles
like the
Continuous Flow (inking) System (CFS)
http://www.inksupply.com/ --> CFS --> Epson
Specifically, eg,
http://www.inksupply.com/cfs_r300_new.cfm
These kits add 4, 6, or 8 tubes to your printer's
cartridge, then those tubes insert into 4, 6, or 8
external 4 ounce plastic bottles -- A LOT OF INK,
24 ounces total.
And that ink costs not $5000 per gallon from the printer manufacturer, but $8 for each 4 ounce bottle,
http://www.inksupply.com/epsoninks.cfm
that can replace an external 4 ounce bottle.
These aftermarket kits cost about $220,
as much as the printer,
but you need only worry about ink about once a year and you no longer worry about affording ink --
$48 for a complete refill of 6 bottles with 24 ounces.
I have looked at kits similar to the CFS,
but currently prefer the CFS.
I've found the images as good as OEM ink images.

From CFS website, select a printer that accepts one of their aftermarket kits.
Five years ago, CFS produced kits for Epson only,
since Epson didn't manufacture against the aftermarket.
CFS kits are now also produced for four Canon inkjets.
Epson did produce the best inkjet images with their piezo-electric rather than thermo,
but I hear Canon now also produces good images.
Five years ago, I read that color laser images were inferior to color inkjet images.
When I additionally noticed that most color lasers
refill of all cartridges costs about $600,
I cringed at the cost even if inexpensive per page.

You can see a popularity sorting and often a user ranking for Epson Inkjets at pricegrabber.com,
http://computers.pricegrabber.com/printers/epson/p/21/st=category/popup1%5B%5D=1:273
I often skip the more popular inexpensive ($100) models.
I like an inkjet printer with a 2.5" or 3" LCD,
so I needn't rely on some computer's software to interface with the printer for out-of-ink or other problems.
Two years ago, I bought an Epson R340 (now obsolete) and today I might suggest an Epson R380 for $140 or an Epson R320 for $270.
I see no CFS systems for All-in-One (printer, scanner, photocopier) printers,
and inksupply.com's R380 has an erroneous link
(so you'd double check that they really have an aftermarket kit for an Epson R380).

These bulk 4 ounce ink bottles are so inexpensive
that I even run an "autoprint" program twice a week, which keeps the inkjet heads clean
by printing 6 color strips covering 1/6 of an 8-1/2" x 11" page.


Nonetheless, I have seriously considered an All-in-One, which has no CFS aftermarket system, particularly the
HP Photosmart C8180
for $350, since it has good networking/connectivity (very rare for inkjets): WiFi 802.11G, Ethernet, Bluetooth, USB,
and also acts as a copier, scanner, but no fax.

Posted by: jamesonburt on February 23, 2008 at 10:02 PM | PERMALINK

preview is my friend
preview is my friend

Donald: I'll be right over.

Posted by: thersites on February 23, 2008 at 10:04 PM | PERMALINK

I strongly recommend a printer that supports automatic duplex printing (printing on both sides of the paper). You will save some trees that way. I also do not recommend "dumb" printers. Stick with printers that support standard printing languages, like PCL and/or Postscript. Having a standard printing language will assure the printer's compatibility with the widest variety of software, including future operating systems. Also, "dumb" printers tend to slow down your PC since it must spend more effort composing each page.

There are some decent duplexing ink jet printers with low running costs and high output quality. The "Business Inkjet" printers from HP are in that category.

The 1100DTN model is $139.08 plus shipping here:

http://salestores.com/hepadjbuinpr.html

This model costs about 2 cents per page for black printing and supports standard PCL.

If you insist on a laser printer, the HP 2605DN looks like a pretty good bet right now at $249 from HP.com. It's more expensive to operate than the 1100DTN, at least for black and white printing. Black and white is about 3 cents per page (side) and color about 4. The 2605DN comes with a full set of toner which is nice. It also supports both PCL and Postscript.

The Samsung CLP-610ND looks pretty good, too, at $299.99 from Costco.com. It supports PCL. Not sure about the per page cost since I haven't seen a calculation for that.

Posted by: Timothy on February 23, 2008 at 10:31 PM | PERMALINK

I recommend the HP Color Laserjet 3600dn. It works great.

However, HP was one of the companies boycotting Air America Radio.

Posted by: food4thought on February 23, 2008 at 10:43 PM | PERMALINK

Wait for this one:

http://jimlyonsobservations.blogspot.com/2008/01/
silverbrookmemjet-story-featured-in.html

Posted by: Paul on February 23, 2008 at 10:46 PM | PERMALINK

I would go B&W Laser - they are inexpensive and can readily be filled with bulk toner (buy the refill kit with the melting tool to cut a hole.) Then an inexpensive inkjet will provide color when needed. I would get a B&W MFP so you have a scanner as well - could also get fax - but get a flatbed MFP not a sheet feed or scans will suck (okay for fax only).

We have this arrangement, and have not used the color in more than a year now.

Posted by: George on February 23, 2008 at 11:13 PM | PERMALINK

"PC load letter!" What the f*ck does that mean?

Posted by: Steve Paradis on February 23, 2008 at 11:33 PM | PERMALINK

The key thing is the capacity and cost of the color ink cartridges. I have an HP 2600N. The printer cost $300. The cartridges cost $600. The question is how much you print. This was the tradeoff that worked for me.

Posted by: Mike Alsup on February 23, 2008 at 11:50 PM | PERMALINK

I would never buy another HP. EVER.

The company has really changed and does not stand behind its products, even those under warranty.

I've had 4 HP's, some printers some all in one's. I used to rave about them.

Not any more. And they gobble ink. AND I don't want to give HP my business any more.

Posted by: Clem on February 24, 2008 at 12:43 AM | PERMALINK

I don't have any good advice. However, at work I do have a 1993 HP LaserJet IV that still works well, and never developed the annoying roller problem. Truly an amazing printer. Bought a really cheap HP 1012 laser for home use a couple of years ago, and am still PO'd that HP apparently will never issue a driver for Vista.

Posted by: fdsa on February 24, 2008 at 1:36 AM | PERMALINK

I've got an HP Officejet 6310 inkjet. It's got builtin networking and is decent for the money, if a tad slow, but be VERY wary of their driver CD. I'm running WINXP and after installing their bloatware CD, my system would hang constantly. I think it was related to a runaway network monitoring service they added to my system.

A few months later they came out with some patches (which I didn't install), and a lean-mean corporate driver which I did. I purged my system of the consumer driver, downloaded and installed the corporate version and all has been well.
YMMV

Posted by: g.kerby on February 24, 2008 at 2:06 AM | PERMALINK

The Samsung CLP-6xx series has been very good. Deals abound; I got the last 3 I bought for clients for considerably less than the cost of the set of toner cartridges.

A very good home/small office networked printer; good support for XP, decent Vista; not so good Mac (but works fine with Macs; just not as simple to set up).

Solid construction, excellent paper handling.

Posted by: jhd on February 24, 2008 at 3:32 AM | PERMALINK

This just popped up on techbargains: http://www.officemax.com/omax/catalog/sku.jsp?skuId=21081614&cm_ven=Performics&cm_cat=www.techbargains.com&cm_pla=Primary&cm_ite=Primary&affcode=performics&siteID=k3736&mid=113248-n-10

HP2650DN for $250

Posted by: Daryl Cobranchi on February 24, 2008 at 7:57 AM | PERMALINK

Get some Magic Markers....

Posted by: Luddite Lou on February 24, 2008 at 10:06 AM | PERMALINK

Anything but a Dell. My assistant's Xerox 6200N has been working well for five years now (knock on wood) and the Xerox folks have been very good about service and service questions. If you are speaking to Bangalore, it doesn't sound like it. We got the best possible warranty and they've been here the next business day on the rare occasions they've had to come at all. I got the best possible warranty (next day on site service) with our original Dell computers and spent two days on the phone with Bangalore or wherever. Dell insisted that I take my computer apart to do testing inside before they would do anything. I insisted on an email guaranteeing that they knew I wasn't a qualified technician and my following their instructions as to taking the computer apart wouldn't breach the warranty. I spent another day on the floor with Bangalore before they finally decided a tech needed to come out. I got rid of all our Dells the next day and replaced them with IBMs, for which the service has been great.

Posted by: Malcolm on February 24, 2008 at 10:32 AM | PERMALINK

Alright I am alone in the sea of technology, but I ended up buying a Lexmark Color Laser, which is very fast and amazing quality and prints duplex (both sides) of the page. It also had the best tech support I ever had from a company where a single phone call resulted in a next day bulb change at my home.

What I don't like about it is that is enormously and unpredictably noisy and that its LED screen is so dim you require a search and rescue team at times. Still, I might buy it again. I'm an old HP user, tried and true, but kind of mortified by their board, so trying to branch out.

FWIW

Posted by: Shrink in sf on February 24, 2008 at 12:23 PM | PERMALINK

Most folks have very little need to print documents, especially in wasteful color ink. Keep your data on your computer and backup regularly.

Posted by: Hedley Lamarr on February 24, 2008 at 12:38 PM | PERMALINK

Printer ink and toner are both ripoffs. I've pretty much gone paperless myself, saving stuff as pdf, html, or txt.

Posted by: Luther on February 24, 2008 at 1:13 PM | PERMALINK

I am the owner of an hp 11c calculator that is about 25 years old and still uses the original battery. I also own a Laserjet 5mp, also from HP, which is in service now for about 11 years. That said, i have to agree with Max. I had to discard an an HP all-in-one printer after only two years of use. HP service also sucks and it appears that their main job is to try to convince you to purchase a newer model of the product you're having problems with.

Posted by: OldReader on February 24, 2008 at 4:52 PM | PERMALINK

Like Chinese products?

Posted by: Erig on February 24, 2008 at 11:10 PM | PERMALINK

I took a risk and bought the stripped down version of the HP 2600, the HP 1600, for $250. I've had it for about three months now, and man, it's a good printer.

Posted by: wetzel on February 25, 2008 at 9:22 AM | PERMALINK

ASDF said it right, near the beginning of this thread--a used HP laser printer is usually a real workhorse. I have an "ancient" LaserJet 4+ that is too tough to die and cranks out large productions in crisp, fine black and white. For the times I need color, I've got an HP 5610 (the standard all-in-one) which works pretty well, but 99% of what we all do is or ought to be in black-and-white, so the HP's expensive ink carts don't drain themselves too rapidly.

Posted by: hdware on February 25, 2008 at 10:05 AM | PERMALINK

I've owned a Dell 3000CN for a few years and it's been great. It's fast, cheap, and has a network port. I print to it from Vista, Linux, and Mac with no issues. The newer 3100CNs are a great price/performance value.

Remember, printer TCO is more than the initial purchase price. It's about consumables and maintenance. TomsHardware did a review of sub-$500 color laser printers when I was in the market, and the Dell printer had one of the better TCO's. With some of those real cheap color laser printers the replacement cartridges cost more than the printer. Plus, look at how many pages they are rated for. I saw a $70 b&w laser printer out there with a toner cartridge rated at 700 pages! That's pathetic.

Posted by: carr1on on February 25, 2008 at 10:09 AM | PERMALINK

I've had good experience with my Brother color laser multifunction (MFC-9420CN) -- both under Windows and Linux, though you probably only care about Windows. If I were buying now, though, I'd probably want something with automatic duplexing, and consider where you are going to want it: some of the newer models can be connected to your network wirelessly out-of-the-box.

HP used to be a solid name for printers, but I've heard nothing but bad about them for several years, at least for the consumer-targetted stuff; I'd avoid them. Xerox and Canon I've heard mostly good things about. I've heard nothing about Dell printers as far as quality.

Posted by: cmdicely on February 25, 2008 at 12:39 PM | PERMALINK

A Xerox solid ink printer like the Phaser 8860 is something you must consider. It is not ink jet and not laser -- works more like an offset printer in a box. It uses no cartridges and the quality is superior to laser. (The reason is that solid ink sits on top of the paper and laser toner sinks in.) Compared to a laser printer, a solid ink printer creates only 10% of the waste and you don't have to store all the cartridges. Cost is comparable to laser and maybe even less when you look at the whole cost of equipment and consumables.

Posted by: mjmeth on February 25, 2008 at 12:57 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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