Color laser printer with Linux/UNIX drivers available
August 31, 2009 7:23 AM   Subscribe

Could anyone recommend a color laser printer for ca. 500 GBP for a small office? Compatibility with Linux and Solaris---essential. BONUS question: should I also buy a monochrome laser for B&W printouts or is an unnecessary overkill when one has a color laser?
posted by noztran to Technology (3 answers total)
As long as your color laser has separate toner cartridges, drums, and transfer belts (generally not a problem in decent office printers), I don't think there's any reason to have a separate monochrome printer. I use a single big Xerox CMYK in my home office, and just replace the "K" cartridge more frequently than the others.

The printer I have, and am very happy with, is a Xerox-branded Tektronix Phaser laser (not one of the solid-ink ones). I got it used at a corporate liquidation sale, which I think is one of the best ways to get printers if you're on a budget. Your budget is probably big enough for you to get a new one, but if you wanted to be cheap that's the route I'd suggest.

Anyway, the Xerox I have is very much compatible with Mac and Linux, and supports a huge variety of network-printing protocols (LPD, SMB, IPP, direct upload of a .ps or .pdf via its built-in webserver, some legacy stuff like NetWare too). There are no drivers (at least not specific to the printer) required, because the printer speaks a standard dialect of PostScript; exactly how a printer ought to work. I don't use Solaris but I've had no problem printing from Windows, various flavors of Linux, and BSD.

The admin interface is nice and provides a lot of information useful when you're trying to troubleshoot it remotely, including status of all consumable parts. I've only glanced at the admin interface for their newer printers but it looks similar, so hopefully they haven't nerfed it.

If I were buying today, given the good experience I've had with the Xerox/Tektronix, I'd almost certainly look at them first. I'd also look very hard at their solid-ink systems rather than just at the standard lasers; I've used one of the solid-inks at work and they seem really slick. (The ink is almost like wax, and you add more just by dropping it into a hole in the printer, no big cartridge to swap. Slightly higher initial cost but very low running costs.)

The one option I wasn't sure about but I'm now totally sold on is the duplexer. I didn't think I'd use it that much, but I now have my default print profile set to always duplex, and it saves a tremendous amount of paper. (Granted, it's toner and not paper that's the biggest per-page cost, but it does reduce print costs significantly.) I'd recommend shelling out for it, unless you have specific requirements that mean you'd never be able to take advantage.
posted by Kadin2048 at 7:50 AM on August 31, 2009

I'm a big fan of brother laser printers, we use them absolutely everywhere. If you get a decent laser (which you should at that price!), then it'll do monochrome just fine. The only reason to have a mono is as a backup is should you run out of toner, or the belt gets damaged or the like and you don't have a spare to hand and you need to print something urgently. It's also useful in larger offices where they get paper jams, and have to wait for a techie to clear it.

I can recommend the 4050cdn, I'm using it with cups as a postscript printer and it works just fine. They even provide cups ppd files on the driver cd, or you can get them from here, and it'll print via pretty much anything you like.

Stay the hell from samsung and HP, their quality has dropped like a stone this last couple of years.
posted by ArkhanJG at 2:53 PM on August 31, 2009

I have a Brother MFC-9450, and am very happy with it. It does the whole suite (Print / Scan / Copy / Fax), and is networkable by Ethernet, and does duplex as well.
posted by GJSchaller at 3:41 PM on August 31, 2009

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