Please to hope me select a new printer.
October 1, 2011 6:35 AM   Subscribe

Please help me choose a new printer for my Mac-based home office. My current printer is a Brother DCP 7020 black and white laser printer I got in, I think, 2005, and it finally seems to be about to go. I need good and fast duplex printing, a decent flatbed scanner, and good/fast photocopying. Should I move to inkjet?? Should I get something with wireless networking?? More specifics within!

The Brother DCP 7020 has been acting up for a while -- sometimes not printing when I tell it to, needing to be turned off and on a lot, smearing toner all over my pages, etc -- and finally it is low on toner and I think I'd rather just go ahead and get the inevitable new printer rather than buy a new cartridge.

What I like about my Brother:
- good scanning
- no compatibility issues with our Macs
- very fast
- good quality until it started getting smeary in the past couple of years

What I wish I had:
- duplex printing (this is now a must for me and I can't believe I've lived this long without it)
- maybe color -- this is not a dealbreaker for me; we don't need to print beautiful/perfect photographs, but the option of color would be helpful sometimes
- maybe wireless networking (we have 2 Mac laptops and 2 iPhones in this house and it would be nice to be able to print from anywhere, but again it's not a make or break factor)

For price range, I am not really sure, but I mostly want to choose something that will be a good value in the long term. I guess it would be nice to keep it under $150-200, but I'm willing to go up more if needed if it would be a better decision for us. If we should be sticking with laser and we go to color/wireless, it seems like that's going to be a lot more expensive, which I am open to if it's the best option.

I don't really care about the aesthetics of the machine. It can be bulky/unsexy. Function is a lot more important to me.

I don't care about having a fax machine either.

cnet's favorite printers started me thinking about the possibility of going with inkjet, which I haven't had in many many years. The Epson WorkForce 840 looks like a good option, but am I going to get into an annoying and expensive ink- and/or special-paper-buying trap as well as have the quality of my prints suffer?

One final note - I am pretty distrustful of the HP brand. Prior to purchasing this Brother I have now, I had like 3-5 HP printers up and die on me in a row, each one crapping out just after going out of warranty. I guess I'll reconsider, though, if someone convinces me I should!!

Please be specific in your recommendation with brand name/model number if possible!! I'm a little overwhelmed by all the choices out there. Thanks for the help, guys!
posted by pupstocks to Technology (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I own the Epson Workforce 840 and am a Mac household (although I also have a PC, the Mac is my primary machine). I don't have a home office but I am a graduate student and I still print a fair amount of research. I bought my printer in March and am still using the cartridges that came with the machine. I use whatever printer/copy paper felt the best to my hands. (I hate the way some paper feels!) I haven't printed any pictures and I can't honestly see a day when I would print a picture at home and use a ton of ink for an uncertain outcome when I could directly upload them to Walgreen's or any of a hundred other places and get prints for pennies.

Having said all of that, I completely enjoy this printer. I was able to quickly connect it to my network for wireless printing and it does what it says it will do, although color photocopying is rreeaallyy slow. Color printing is fine, black/white printing is downright fast. This machine meets my needs and I'd probably make the same choice over again. The cartridges are available from Amazon and other places for cheaper than office supply places (but what isn't cheaper than office supply places?).
posted by heathergirl at 7:05 AM on October 1, 2011

Hey, I'm in the market for a new printer too! My requirements are:

- laser printer with cheap toner
- automatic duplex printing
- scanning/copying via flatbed or automatic feeder
- networking
- under $200

As far as I can tell, the only printer that meets these requirements is the Brother DCP-7065DN. It seems to meet all your requirements, although it doesn't have color printing. It has wired and not wireless networking, but you could work around that by plugging into a wireless router. Most importantly, it should be cheap to operate.

Good luck!
posted by Sfving at 9:54 AM on October 1, 2011

Personally, I like my HL-2270DW. I don't use a Mac, but I do use Linux, and it works fine. It is wireless. It duplexes. It's black and white.

It doesn't include an integrated scanner, however; I prefer to have a separate scanner because it has fewer moving parts to break than a printer and thus can last longer with no maintenance at all. (I view combination printer/scanners as a scam to get people to buy scanners over and over when a good one can last you 15 years.)
posted by sonic meat machine at 9:55 AM on October 1, 2011

Oh, and the HL-2270DW can be had for $80-$100 (I got mine for $75 during a Newegg sale). Its toner is about $35 with an expected yield of 2600 pages. (In the tradition of Brother printers, it will print more than that if you just press the "Go" button to force it past the warning.)
posted by sonic meat machine at 9:57 AM on October 1, 2011

I too made the mistake that cheap inkjets were a viable option, until I realized that in the time I've owned an MFC-8840DN I'd gone through 3 inkjets at a greater total cost to replace. Scanner's are pretty cheap and you don't care about faxing, so consider splitting the functions into two devices and you might be able to get a decent laser or led for not a lot more than an inkjet.
One of those inkjets was an Epson Workforce 610, and it was an absolute POS.
posted by Runes at 1:25 PM on October 1, 2011

Get wireless. It makes life so much easier. Do not save $20 by skimping on wireless. We had a similar dilemma and got two printers in the end, a plain black and white laser printer that is used every day, and a fairly nice all-in-one inkjet printer that scans and does colour printing on various media that we use a couple of times a month. If we printed colour more than 1-2 a week, I would have paid for a good colour laser printer because the inkjet consumables are expensive. We have to print occasional photographs, cards and labels that are odd-sized, and scan odd shaped books too, so the all-in-one works, but most of our scanning is with a ScanSnap (roller not flatbed) which cranks through paperwork quickly and easily. I would happily give up the flatbed and use a digital camera for the occasional book that the ScanSnap can't handle, but it was the same price as the inkjet printer without a scanner.

Roughly calculate how often you print b+w and how often you print colour in a month, and you can get laser and ink-jet per page prices online and compare. The printers are cheap, it's the consumables that will cost you.
posted by viggorlijah at 7:59 PM on October 1, 2011 [1 favorite]

If it were me with your requirements, I would get this printer, and live without color. color adds significant cost to a laser printer.

In general, almost everyone seems to bitch about inkjets and epson and canon and hp printers, and everyone loves brother and laser printers. So...
posted by contrarian at 6:44 AM on October 2, 2011

An alternative to wireless built into the printer is to get something like the Asus WL-330 to act as a bridge. So if cost is an absolute factor, the difference in cost between the DCP-7065 and the 7860 is wireless and fax for $120. The Asus can be had for $20, and is frequently on sale for $5-10 off even that price. This solution will be more complicated and require more setup, so it all depends on how comfortable you are in configuring wireless devices.
posted by Runes at 8:42 AM on October 2, 2011

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