Peripheral needs - printer/scanner/copier
April 12, 2011 11:18 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for a home office solution for B&W laser printing, scanning, copying (in approximately that order of importance, with the ability to fax coming in a very distant fourth). I'd like to spend less than $350. Network connectivity nice but not critical. Pony optional. Suggestions? Am I doomed to a choice between an endless string of near-disposable crappy all-in-one desktop models and far-out-of-budget business class maintenance contract solutions?
posted by rmd1023 to Technology (12 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I've got a few Samsung SCX-4623F printers on desks here at my job in a facilities management office. They work well and do everything you want, fax included. It's USB only, that's the only thing you may not like. And it's currently on sale for $90 at Newegg. Go ahead and buy another toner for it to start, the starter toner is rather inadequate.
posted by deezil at 11:29 AM on April 12, 2011

We've been pretty happy with Brother laser printers, and their all-in-ones use the same printer engine. They list for $150-$300, depending on options. The bottom-of-the-line model is about $100 on-line.
posted by Mad_Carew at 11:51 AM on April 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

nthing the cheap samsung/brother lasers. They're not the GREATEST, but they're definitely a fantastic value for the money, and I'd find it hard to justify spending much more.

It's a bit more money, but I'd definitely recommend getting something with network connectivity, especially if you do much work wirelessly. Wireless connectivity also lets you shove the printer in a closet, across the room, or someplace else that isn't in your way.
posted by schmod at 12:59 PM on April 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

Do you really need a separate unit (not connected to your home office computer) to do these functions? A $300 laser printer and a $100 flatbed scanner will absolutely do everything better when connected to your computer than any all-in-one, even for twice the price.
posted by bartleby at 1:26 PM on April 12, 2011

I want to chime in that for the scanning and printing part, you may want to have duplex capability to scan and print both sides of the paper at the same time, i.e., without having to manually print the odd pages, feed the papers again, and then printing the even pages.
posted by jchaw at 1:34 PM on April 12, 2011

I love my Brother laser printer. The downside is that they are so cheap that the drum replacement doesn't make much sense when you can replace it for about the same price. If you can expand your budget a bit, consider a Fujitsu ScanSnap. The software it comes with helps justify the price (Acrobat Pro, among others). The speed and duplexing make it work well for both a "paperless" office. Instead of fax, you can use an e-fax service for about $10/month.

In my experience, multifunction machines that do everything well are far more expensive than a small business owner should probably pay when starting out, and the service on them can be prohibitively expensive. The Brother multifunctions, in particular, are awfully slow, and the file sizes of scanned images are incredibly bloated.
posted by Hylas at 4:46 PM on April 12, 2011

Whatever you do, do not go anywhere near an HP and don't even let your neighbor get one. The software that they insist on installing will cause you nothing but grief, grief, grief.

Brother does a good job with laser printers and the copy and scan functions are okay but there can come a day where it will insist that your brand new or nearly new toner cartridge is kaput and it will refuse to print. There are tricks posted in the 8 million complaints about this problem but no trick I have tried works.

I have tried almost everything and always come back to Brother.
posted by bz at 7:13 PM on April 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

I could not be happier with my Brother MFC-7840W, which I bought and promptly exposed to an office fire. My insurance covered it, but really, due to the deductible, I got nothing for the damage.

I cleaned and fixed it, and have been using it since. Does everything pretty well, is easy to use, has good drivers, etc. Autofeed. Wireless or wired networking, fairly cheap supplies. I keep wondering how Brother makes any money on these things? I paid maybe $300 for it 3 years ago. Neat machine. I use the manual duplex for two sides.

As an engineer, I'd love to have an 11x17 version of the same thing, and once in a LONG while, I'd like color and auto duplex, but the bang/buck ratio on this thing is very high. There are at least a dozen HP boxes that are probably good, too, but Brother has my business unless something really compelling comes along.
posted by FauxScot at 7:19 PM on April 12, 2011

Look at per page costs for printing. A $100 printer will usually cost more per page than a $200 one. Look at the cost of toner and the expected pagecount.

I would normally say to separate the functions, but it seems like scanners these days are awfully expensive on their own. Almost as much as a whole MFP unit.

Important features (to me): network connectivity, and the ability to scan-to-computer somehow. I've never really gotten it to work with my $100 HP, but I never really tried that hard either. But the ability to walk up to the machine, load some paper in, hit and button and walk away is awesome. Much nicer than having to fire something up on the computer, load the paper, walk back to the computer, answer a bunch of questions, etc...
posted by gjc at 7:31 AM on April 13, 2011

I love the Canon 4730dn. It's got all those features, networking, duplex, and is very fast. It's now around $300 or so I think.
posted by reddot at 6:26 AM on April 16, 2011

Response by poster: I mostly need it for printing. I'm not doing a lot of scanning these days, but I've started doing a lot of scanning via my phone, which has me eager to scan more stuff so i can get rid of the damned paper, but I don't think it's worth getting a separate scanner. And I'm so used to wired peripherals, the idea of being able to stash the thing a ways away hadn't occurred to me but is quite appealing.
posted by rmd1023 at 5:57 PM on April 16, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks for all the suggestions, folks. I was looking at a couple of the brother models, and then found the 7840 on sale, so I went with that.
posted by rmd1023 at 8:19 AM on May 14, 2011

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