Cheap personal laser printers?
May 10, 2010 12:12 PM   Subscribe

What is a good bare-bones black-and-white laser printer for home use?

I am considering buying a new printer for personal use, and while questions to this effect have been asked before, there are always new products coming out, so I'll ask again.

My main concerns are price and portability. I do not ever need to print anything but text documents, possibly with some very simple grayscale postscript images. I also don't print things very often; maybe a couple of pages a week.

I would like text and vector art to look crisp and smooth, but I don't need it to be perfect (I would like better than inkjet quality). Also, I tend to move around frequently, so the smaller and lighter this thing is, the better. Wireless would be amazing.

I have a mac, if that makes any difference.
posted by fatty magoo to Computers & Internet (21 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
I have an HP1022n for this. It's been reliable, inexpensive and has good print quality. There's a non-networked version, which is likely what you want.
posted by kjs3 at 12:17 PM on May 10, 2010

When asked before, the concensus was the Brother HL-2170w.
posted by seanyboy at 12:22 PM on May 10, 2010

Response by poster: Oh, I also forgot to mention. Duplexing is a huge plus.
posted by fatty magoo at 12:25 PM on May 10, 2010

I have a HP deskjet D1520. It was the cheapest one at walmart that weekend (under $40 I think.), and the used computer places I looked at seem to only refurbish things with lots of bells and whistles. It does everything I ask it to do, and can do color but I never have.

(yeah, I confess to going walmart sometimes. I've got overhead that;s over my head.). </small
posted by Some1 at 12:32 PM on May 10, 2010

The Some1: HP deskjet D1520

That's an inkjet, not a laser.

I'm totally happy with the 2170W. Fast, simple, and wireless for $100. No duplexing, though.
posted by mkultra at 1:00 PM on May 10, 2010

yeah, sorry. I need to learn to read the whole question pre-comment more often
posted by Some1 at 1:37 PM on May 10, 2010

I'm sure I said it in the last couple of threads, but I'll say it again just to add another vote for those cheap Brothers.

Such great results/speed/software for such a cheap printer. Stunned me.
posted by rokusan at 1:42 PM on May 10, 2010

nth-ing the Brother HL-2170W. I've bought several for my job, one for myself, and recommended them to friends and family who have all loved theirs. It's an insanely good personal laser printer, especially for the price.

It also fits your requirements to a T:

- Low purchase price (often goes on sale too)
- Low toner costs - has a econo-print feature to save toner, it really lasts this way, and barely sacrifices quality! Note that the included cartidge is a lower-volume starter cartridge, like most brands, so it might not last as long as you'd expect; replacements are much better
- Great, crisp text quality, graphics look just dandy as well
- Perfect for your volume
- Footprint is barely over 1' square and 6" high, and it's only 15lbs- easy to move
- Quite Mac friendly (the driver/wireless setup software is a breeze)

The price is on the high side right now ($120-130 depending on your vendor of choice) but they often post sales, I got mine for well under $100 on sale. Even without, it's still a great deal IMO.
posted by sprocket87 at 1:44 PM on May 10, 2010 [2 favorites]

I buy HP LaserJet 5s on Ebay. Some government agencies dump them when they get to a certain page-count and I pick them up for peanuts; shipping is almost always more than the actual cost. They usually last 2-3 years for me.
posted by flowerofhighrank at 2:02 PM on May 10, 2010

I asked the same question in early February and went with the hive mind's recommendation of the Brother HL-2170W. It works like a charm. I did have to make a call to Brother to complete the wireless installation, however. I also use mac. Tip: There are sensor holes on each end of the ink cartridge so the printer knows when the ink is low. Cover those with opaque tape and the cartridge lasts much longer.
posted by partner at 2:34 PM on May 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Seems like Brother is the way to go.

Any reason not to go with the 2140? All I can tell from Brother's website is that it has less memory, and it's cheaper.
posted by fatty magoo at 2:56 PM on May 10, 2010

We have the wireless duplex mono Brother printer on our mixed Mac/Linux network, and it's lovely.
posted by scruss at 3:06 PM on May 10, 2010

Brother HL-5340D - I've really liked the one I recently got.

D=duplex; they also have a similar model that does network, wireless etc etc.

Link, link.
posted by flug at 7:16 PM on May 10, 2010

Best answer: I own both the 2140 and 2170. The only difference I see is that the 2170 lets you connect wirelessly. So if you aren't going to connect wirelessly, I'd save a few bucks and go for the 2140. Nthing that it's remarkably good, reliable performer for the price.
posted by exphysicist345 at 7:33 PM on May 10, 2010

Another vote for the Brother HL series. In my experience the toner lasts a very, very long time. I am on year 6 of my HL-1440, and have only bought one cartridge after the initial one that came with the printer - and THAT one lasted me through law school!
posted by rkent at 7:37 PM on May 10, 2010

I got the HL-5250DN when I was in grad school so I wouldn't have to buy coursepacks or use the expensive print lab on campus. The first two I got from Amazon were duds - something about the USB didn't work properly - but Brother set up a UPS pickup in both cases and I was back to work in a couple of days. After I got one that lasted I was completely satisfied.

FYI, the printer (like many others) uses a laser to check the toner levels, and often decides that you're out of toner when there's still a lot left. On the 5250DN you can just put some masking tape over the toner window and keep on trucking for another couple of weeks.
posted by awenner at 10:45 PM on May 10, 2010

Response by poster: I ended up buying a Laserjet 5 on eBay for $20 and $0 shipping, which worked fine on the printer end... except there were serious driver issues with Mac OS X. The computer had trouble recognizing the printer, I kept having to turn it on and off, etc. Also, it is really slow, noisy, and weighs like 100 pounds. Probably an okay solution if you use Windows/Linux, so I just gave it to a friend.

I just moved into my new place and bought a Brother 2140. They had a sale at Office Depot (which I'm told they do every now and then) and it was only $70. It's much faster, lighter, and has nicer print quality than the Laserjet. The price wasn't bad either. Definitely a good printer for someone who moves as often as I do.
posted by fatty magoo at 10:01 AM on June 4, 2010

When asked before, the concensus was the Brother HL-2170w.

I got one to use under linux IT DOES NOT WORK. I might like it if it did work, but for anyone who searches this thread looking for a printer DON'T GET A BROTHER HL2170 TO GO WITH YOUR LINUX BOX. I've been struggling since 8 o clock and I'm taking it back to Staples tomorrow. Ubuntu 10.04 by the way, which seems to be the problem, and connected via usb.
posted by fuq at 8:18 PM on August 27, 2010

A basic Google search will lead you to plenty of people who got it working under Ubuntu. Did you try any suggestions from there?

Also, Brother has a page for Linux drivers and installation.
posted by mkultra at 10:48 AM on August 28, 2010

etc etc etc. There are just as many people who couldn't get it to work, fortunately I'm not the only one. I tried CUPS, printconf, and the usual system settings>printers>blargh route. I also tried a variety of Brother drivers as well, since sometimes using a different printer's driver produces good results in linux. Making it work would have been/is a Big Linux Project and I have no time for such things right now. I need a device that can print words on paper after being connected to my computer.

It seems like the situation is that it works very well after it has been configured by a Windows box to work over a wireless network, the firmware must be updated by a windows or mac machine. No one has gotten it to work linux-only via USB, and it seems the problem is exacerbated by 10.04. Get the Brother if you have a mixed group of OSs and can risk having your printer connected to the network, but it doesn't appear to be a Linux-only compatible. I'm talking out of my ass here, but since the drivers are identified as "cupswrapper" the *wrapper makes me think that it's not a native driver, but something like ndiswrapper than allows the Windows driver to be used in linux.

I returned the Brother to the store and got an HP Laserjet p1606dn and it worked after being lightly configured in CUPS without any trouble what-so-ever. It's not as cheap as the Brother and the toner cartridges are more expensive, but it spits out pages like a Captain Planet villain that wants to turn the world's forests into pirated textbooks.

I picked the Brother based on this thread, so watch out ubuntu users!
posted by fuq at 9:18 PM on August 28, 2010

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