In search of the world's most boring printer.
September 15, 2011 7:21 AM   Subscribe

I need the smallest, cheapest, most basic, mac-compatible printer on the market.

I have an old mac book. Up until now I've been using roommates' printers or local kinkos to print basic things like tickets or small word documents. But now I need one of my own.

What I'm looking for:

*Small. I want to be able to stick it in my desk drawer when I'm not using it.

*Cheap. Under $100 is a requirement. I don't need fancy print jobs or scanning or anything other than black-and-white basic printing.

*Must be Mac compatible.

*Wireless would be great, but it really doesn't matter as much as small and cheap.

I have looked at various printers online and in staples but I'm not sure what I'm looking at and what I need or don't need. Any suggestions would be helpful!
posted by greta simone to Computers & Internet (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I read somewhere (probably here on MeFi) about someone's grandfather, who had a sign in his shop that any job could be done 1) fast; 2) cheap; or 3) well, and customers were invited to pick any two of the three for a given project.

I think that's what you're looking at here. As far as I'm aware, there is no sub-$100 small mac printer. You can get this small Mac-compatible printer for $230. You can get this big wireless printer for $74. I don't think you can get both small size and sub $100 price tag.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 7:28 AM on September 15, 2011

You should be aware that the cheapest printers can be the most expensive to operate, because inkjet printer manufacturers have taken a page from King Gillette's book and they give away the razor (printer), make money on the blades (inkjet cartridges). And while you can get some cartridges refilled, some printer makers have gone to outrageous extremes to thwarts this.

If you only need B&W printing, a laser printer will be a better deal in the long run. Their cartridges are generally good for orders of magnitude more pages and they're easy to have refilled.

This Brother is probably the smallest, cheapest laserprinter I've seen. There are a few other printers linked on that page that cost a little more and also wireless or with other bells & whistles attached. AFAICT, they all work with a Mac.
posted by adamrice at 7:34 AM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

I should probably mention that my mac is still using OSX 10.4, which I've noticed can be an issue for some printers that need 10.5 and higher.
posted by greta simone at 7:35 AM on September 15, 2011

I bought a Samsung ML-1865W Wireless Monochrome Laser Printer for close to 50 bucks, but the cartridge costs 75 bucks (or 45 for the no-brand). The cartridge that comes with it is half or maybe one third full. A new cartridge lasts for 1.500 pages of text.
posted by TheGoodBlood at 7:46 AM on September 15, 2011

Here's one.
posted by TheGoodBlood at 7:50 AM on September 15, 2011

I just bought a Brother MFC-J270W at Best Buy for $50. It's fairly small, ink is inexpensive, and it's wireless; setup was a snap. The website has drivers for Mac OS X 10.4.
posted by chazlarson at 8:09 AM on September 15, 2011

I'll second adamrice and add that they'll play nice with MacOS 10.4 (Tiger) - either through Brother's drivers or CUPS.

If by "basic printing" you mean "mostly text, occasional charts or webpages, and never photos" then laser is BY FAR the cheaper, faster, and more legible alternative in the long run.
posted by GPF at 8:21 AM on September 15, 2011

Regarding the brothers, the generic el cheapo cartridges regularly go on sale for <$50 and work just fine. They'd be my recommendation.
posted by jmd82 at 9:39 AM on September 15, 2011

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