What's the perfect printer for me?
June 27, 2005 6:07 AM   Subscribe

I need a printer. I rarely print, and when I do, it's always black and white. Inkjets seem to dry or clog if not used for a long time. Plus, they're HUGE. Should I get one of those cheap lasers? Are lasers and inkjets the only options?
posted by skryche to Computers & Internet (18 answers total)
Sounds like a laser is the way to go. The cheap Samsungs are great printers, and the output looks very nice and professional. Even with moderate use, I'm only on my third toner cartridge in five years of having the printer. If you don't use the printer for a while, it won't be a problem. In the highly unlikely event of the toner caking up, all it takes is a little shake of the cartridge and you're back in action.

No, lasers and inkjets aren't the only options. There's solid ink and dye-sublimation, but those are made for professional color output and are expensive. There's also old school dot-matrix, which I wouldn't consider an option unless you had to print out multiple-part tractor feed forms.
posted by zsazsa at 6:15 AM on June 27, 2005

I got a cheap Brother laser printer and haven't regretted it. It blows away inkjet in every way, except that it's black and white. My experience with inkjets is they're always dried up when I go to use them, and the refills are a joke. The laser is a workhorse, fast, sharp and reliable. (It's a Brother HL-1440, cost $150 a couple years ago, they're probably cheaper now.)
posted by knave at 6:35 AM on June 27, 2005

When you say rarely, how rare is rarely? For example, can you print at work if you have to and once a month or so you need to print at home?

I had an HP DeskJet that I bought for $150 - it lasted 3 years with me printing on it every other month or so. The ink didn't dry out.
posted by k8t at 6:40 AM on June 27, 2005

It sounds like you'd be happy with a laserprinter. I've got another of the cheap Samsungs, and I've also been very happy with it. I also don't use it that often---mostly for hardcopies of receipts and bank records, but it works perfectly every time, even after being off for a month or so.

Lasers are also generally much cheaper to run than inkjets, so that's another advantage.
posted by bonehead at 6:44 AM on June 27, 2005

Got my $99 Samsung at Sams Club and no problems so far.
posted by Saucy Intruder at 6:46 AM on June 27, 2005

k8t, that's it exactly: I do most of my printing at work. Or if I want a photo printed, I use Shutterfly or somesuch, or a kiosk at the nearest drugstore. But every so often I need something printed at home.
posted by skryche at 6:46 AM on June 27, 2005

I'd just get a cheap ink jet then. HP has cheaper toner than most brands.

Try www.bensbargains.net for cheap printers.
posted by k8t at 7:51 AM on June 27, 2005

I rarely ever printed anything before I got my laser printer. If I had something I absolutely had to print, I made a PDF and took it to work. Since I've had my printer, though, I print a lot more. Once having a printer, your "rarely" requirement may become "frequently."
posted by zsazsa at 8:07 AM on June 27, 2005

I'd go with a personal laser. Inkjet printers are generally poorly made, messy, and expensive in the long term.

FYI: Dell is coming out with a laser pretty soon that's going to retail for 99 bucks american. Toner cart. will be 60 bucks. This will probably drive down prices even further.

I've been ogling the Samsung ML-1740 myself.
posted by selfnoise at 8:34 AM on June 27, 2005

Inkjets are awful, in my experience, and as others have mentioned, they're worse if you don't print often -- the cartridges clog with disuse. Also, they're slow.
posted by redfoxtail at 8:35 AM on June 27, 2005

I have a Canon i250 inkjet that was dirt cheap and is not big at all. The best thing about it is that I can buy generic ink cartridges for it on eBay for roughly £1.50 ($3) each which last me a few months. I've thought about upgrading to a printer/scanner but the ink cartridges for this are so unbelievably cheap that I just can't do it.
posted by gfrobe at 8:49 AM on June 27, 2005

Get a cheap laser. I've been happy with my HP 1012 (for about $150.)
posted by Zed_Lopez at 9:00 AM on June 27, 2005

Cheap lasers are great, but today there are pitfalls you need to watch out for:

- Cartridge killer chips. Print 5,000 blank pages, still have a drum full of toner, and the printer says "Nuh-uh, not gonna print no more, time to spend money on me!" like a whiney brat.

- Expensive consumables. I have a laser printer (A Konica Minolta 1350w) where consumables cost more than the printer does. Totally ridiculous! It also has the problem above, causing Konica Minolta to get away with this theivery.

- Drum and other consumables. Some printers, most notoriously Brother lasers, have a separate drum and they charge out the ass for it. More than, again, the cost of the printer. Example: My old HL-760 was $300 at its best price, replacement drum cost? $350. And the printer didn't come with a "starter" drum. And it has a convoluted reset mechanism.

- Refillability. You can refill most decent laser printers with fresh toner manually with a very cheap (cheaper than a cartridge) refill kit. Some printers use weird toner and you can't do that.

Some laser printers (usually HP brand) avoid all these pitfalls. Others run headlong into them. At the low end you'll find more bad than good so be careful.

Personally, if I were you, I'd just buy a used Laserjet 4. Cheap, reliable, no BS workhorse of a printer for a single computer. I picked my last one up for $15 at a university surplus sale.
posted by shepd at 10:52 AM on June 27, 2005

Another vote for the Samsung from this occasional printer user. And I got it for GBP50 (= USD91). The small size is handy for keeping it tucked out of the way if you're not using it that often.
posted by i_cola at 11:11 AM on June 27, 2005

I too have the Brother HL-1440. I will never go back to an inkjet for B&W printing. I've had it over a year and half and it's on it's original toner cartridge, not that I print a whole lot. But an inkjet would have dried up by now. Get a cheap laser!

But...it is a big printer. You mentioned inkjets as being huge. The average size of a laser is bigger than the average size of an inkjet.
posted by 6550 at 11:12 AM on June 27, 2005

Count me as another satisfied Samsung ML-1740 user. My home printing usage is in line with skryche's, and it has served me well. It's perhaps a bit loud, even when idle, but my needs are such that I usually leave it off.
posted by boombot at 11:51 AM on June 27, 2005

I'm totally going laser. Circuit city (around the block from me) has the Samsung for a sweet $75 after rebate.

Oh, and 6550, the Samsung has a smaller footprint than my current monstrous (and broken) Epson inkjet.

Thanks, all.
posted by skryche at 12:31 PM on June 27, 2005

Sounds like you got a good deal on your printer! You can see my printer isn't so small.
posted by 6550 at 11:49 PM on June 27, 2005

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