Do good, cheap colour laser printers exist?
February 10, 2010 8:25 AM   Subscribe

Can my friend get a good colour laser printer for around £100?

Asking for a friend here, so I'll relay info back and forth if necessary.

A friend of mine currently has a colour inkjet printer that's just given up the ghost — it doesn't seem to want to turn on at all. She's not bothered about fixing it, since it was cheap and the ink cartridges were pretty expensive. Anyhow, she asked me for advice, and I recommended that she get a laser printer because there's no ink to smudge, they're quicker, ink lasts a lot longer, etc.

So far, so good. The only fly in the ointment is that she needs it to be able to print colour, as in addition to essays she prints out a lot of colour maps and suchlike. Obviously, a good black and white printer can be had for about £70, but I'm not sure which brands or specific printers are worth having in this region.

The main requirements are size (preferably not too big, though this isn't the end of the world), and hopefully toner cartridges not being too expensive. Is £100 a realistic pricepoint for a good product of this type?

(I know there are quite a few threads of this sort, but some of them are a bit outdated and a lot of them have requirements for networking that my friend has no need for. :)
posted by jaffacakerhubarb to Computers & Internet (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I have this Samsung CLP-315W in the US, looks like it goes for around £130 in the UK. I don't do any heavy printing by any means, but I've done some full page color and a lot of black and white and I've loved it. The wireless can be a bit of a pain to set up (required using an ethernet cable to my laptop to enter the wireless password), but the wireless capabilities more than make up for the hassle. My girlfriend and I can both print from our laptops anywhere in the house! Like magic!
posted by CharlesV42 at 8:46 AM on February 10, 2010

Note: the cheaper the printer, the more expensive toner will be. You should be able to refill yourself or buy knockoffs, though.
posted by CharlesV42 at 8:47 AM on February 10, 2010

They do indeed exist. Here's a few to get you started (with customer reviews).

Of course the toner cartridges (for a set or an all-in-one, depending on the printer) typically cost more than the printer at that end of the scale. And there are usually other parts that need replacement over the lifetime of a laser printer.

Compare that with inkjets where you can generally get a half-decent printer for £70 and a set of perfectly good 'compatible' cartridges for £25.

Personally I'd recommend a half-decent inkjet (Canon Pixma range is reliable in my experience) and 'compatible' cartridges. I use these people (just down the road from me) and have found the quality of their ink to be really good.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 8:47 AM on February 10, 2010

we use the samsung CLP-310N colour laser in our office as a small network workgroup printer; it's perfectly reasonable for that price point. It's a bit sluggish to get the first page out (around 30 second warm-up) but the mono is excellent and the colour is passable. I wouldn't necessarily want to do high quality photo printouts on it, but for portfolios, office docs and google maps etc it's fine.

There is the non-networked version - the CLP-310 - that is a bit cheaper as it only has USB, but is otherwise identical so may well be more appropriate given LAN connectivity isn't needed.

The biggest advantage of a laser is price-per-page; the catridges cost more up front, but last much longer and give you better coverage without soaking the paper. Inkjets do cost more per page, and given their focus on light use these days, it can be hard to find a decent one that doesn't wear out in 6 months. That said, I too can recommend the canon pixmas as solid little inkjets that keep on trucking with cheap cartridges. If high quality full page colour is more important rather than cost per page, something like the pixma iP4700 would likely be the better option.
posted by ArkhanJG at 10:51 AM on February 10, 2010

CLP-310 looks like the only real option I can find in that price range. As others have said, toner might cost more than for an inkjet, but it lasts WAY longer and won't dry out on you if you're not printing a ton, unlike most inkjets.
posted by jjb at 11:03 AM on February 10, 2010

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