Which Is the Best Printer for Double Sided Black and White?
February 5, 2010 1:05 PM   Subscribe

Which of these printers (or which other one) would be best for a grad student in political science who does nothing but print lots and lots of long black and white double-sided pdf documents?

I'm in the stage of school where I print a couple of hundred pages every week and I think getting my own laser printer would be more cost effective than paying to print on campus. I've been looking up printers online but I can't figure out what the difference is between them that explains the difference in price. All my printing is black and white and double-sided, but other than that I don't think there are any other special features I would need.

Here are the ones I have found so far that seem good from cheap to more expensive:
HP LaserJet 1320 Laser Printer $110
Brother HL-5340D High Speed Laser Printer with Duplex $196
SAMSUNG SCX Series SCX-4826FN MFC $199
HP LaserJet P2055dn CE459A Workgroup $399

A classmate recommended the $399 HP Laserjet but I'm not sure why to pay the extra 2 or 3 hundred dollars compared to the other ones. Any one got any idea which of these would be the best for my needs or have another printer to recommend? For what it's worth, printing on campus is 12 cents a page (double sided) and I've got another 4 years of printing ahead of me.
posted by andoatnp to Computers & Internet (11 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I have no specific recommendation, but the higher cost of a more expensive printer will generally go into more memory and a faster processor, which handles images and figures in PDFs more gracefully, faster and at higher quality — or the cost goes into connectivity options, like Ethernet or wireless, which are useful for sharing the printer with multiple users (i.e. "Workgroup").
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:24 PM on February 5, 2010

I believe mine's a 5340D and I have so far been quite happy with it, although as my prior laser printer was an $80 non-duplex variety, I can't necessarily make good comparisons with more expensive ones.
posted by larkspur at 1:40 PM on February 5, 2010

We have a Brother printer, similar to the one above, but not exactly the same. I love it. It is very reliable, does well with text (good resolution, no lines through the page), and seems very... sturdy. I got it a little over a year ago to print out wedding invitations, which it did admirably. It does okay, though not great with images. Since finishing the wedding invites, we mostly just print out directions or recipes. It hasn't run out of toner yet. It was easy to install and hasn't had any software or interface type issues. Also, it prints very quickly, which I like.
On the other hand, every HP printer I've owned has had crappy print quality, completely unreliable software, and has died after a few months. I've never had an HP laser, maybe they're higher quality.
Don't know anything about Samsung.
In general, I'd say go with the Brother. I know that they make good, workhorse-type sewing machines, and so far the printer I have seems to be in the same mold.
posted by Adridne at 1:41 PM on February 5, 2010

This is not a direct answer to your question, but with printers I always look at the cost of consumables first. A couple of hundred pages every week will add up.
posted by -t at 1:42 PM on February 5, 2010

I was looking around at this a while ago. On CNET I settled for this one:

SAMSUNG ML Series ML-2851ND Workgroup Up to 30 ppm Monochrome Laser Printer

$179, smilar specs to your Samsung prospect.

Did not buy yet. Did you want the multifunction? I didn't.
posted by supremefiction at 2:34 PM on February 5, 2010

FWIW, I've heard great things about the Brother.
posted by Thorzdad at 2:48 PM on February 5, 2010

I have a different Brother laser (HL-5250DN) that does duplexing and have had no problems whatsoever with it. If you can, consider a model with built-in networking as it's a fairly cheap feature now and has come in handy for me on a number of occasions.
posted by onshi at 2:59 PM on February 5, 2010

We have the 5370D wireless duplex, and it's made of awesome.
posted by scruss at 4:53 PM on February 5, 2010

I've had the hp 1320 for several years and have been very pleased wth it. Actually, I think mine is a 1320N(etwork) since it can be plugged into the router for shared use - and that works quite fine.

Don't know about the your other canidates vs 1320 but I was after low cost of consumables for which duplex printing makes a big difference, as does the high capacity cartridges (6000 pages or so).

Presumably newer models print faster than 1320; given the volume you're talking about maybe that would suggest something other than the 1320.
posted by Kevin S at 5:04 PM on February 5, 2010

This site should be useful. If you're really printing hundreds of pages every week, it seems like consumables will be the biggest contributor to cost per page, with initial cost soon becoming negligible.
posted by Monday, stony Monday at 5:30 PM on February 5, 2010

Watch out for a "starter" toner cartridge that might make it to 500 pages. Then you'll have to pony up full price for more toner. YMMV.
posted by bach at 9:59 PM on February 5, 2010

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