Can you help me replace my printer with a better one?
June 19, 2012 3:34 PM   Subscribe

Can you help me pick out a new multifunction printer/fax/scanner? My (small business) office printer died. It's okay, I hated it anyways. But I need to buy a new one pretty much immediately. Every printer gets mediocre reviews online (and rightfully so, they're all awful in their own special ways)-- but I'm hoping someone here can make a recommendation? Specs included.

We have a color inkjet for 11x17s, but I need a small/efficient laser workhorse for everyday printing.

Here's what I need it to do:
-- Print/Copy (Laser, B/W only, fast is good but I mostly print single-page docs at a time and usually <50 pages per day so it's not a huge deal, and letter size only is fine)
-- Fax (with "phone book" number storage)
-- Scan (B/W and color, must scan to PDF and must not be a pain in the ass about it)

It should also:
-- Hold a quarter-ream or so of paper at a time
-- Network (I'll plug it directly into the router, two PCs will be accessing it wirelessly)
-- Have a decent interface when I access the IP in my browser (which should be able to be set as "static", but maybe that's an option in all of them, not sure)
-- Be available in Canada (they usually just have a slightly different model number of any US one)
-- Be, say, $500 or less (CAD)

An extremely short list of the things I hated about the now-dead one:
--- I take my laptop home every night. Every morning when I come in my laptops connects automatically to the network but this printer wouldn't recognize the connection and every morning I had to convince it that it was already friends with my computer-- twenty clicks. That also meant that I either had to reset all of my PDF preferences (annoying, another 15 clicks) or else select everything per scan which meant pressing sixteen options on the printer itself to get the scan I needed.
--- I fully get that a laser printer has to heat up to bond the toner to the page, but this printer went through the warm-up cycle even when I told it I was going to fax or scan something. I'm mostly alone in my office so I can just keep swearing at it like a sailor, but it'd be awesome if they make newer ones that aren't so fucking stupid.

Things that are not important:
-- Touch screen
-- Print from USB
-- Color (have a small one of those already)
-- Printing anything bigger than "letter" size
-- Duplex printing or copying

And finally, I can't lease due to my very remote location, so I'm looking to buy and hoping that it will last me ~4-5 years if I manage to keep the welding and general machine shop dust out of it (well, better than I did this last one, anyways!)

Thanks so much!
posted by mireille to Work & Money (12 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
I can't speak to its availability in Canada, but I have a Brother 7860DW that I am very happy with.

It holds about a third of a ream, it's got wireless and wired networking, and it can do about 12,000 pages on a cartridge. It takes about a minute to warm up for anything. No problems with the autofeed. Maybe once a week I need to refresh the printer from my laptop to have the computer find the scanner. I've never had to refresh to get it to print. It's perfectly happy working with three computers.
posted by freshwater at 3:53 PM on June 19, 2012

Oh, and it was about $250 US.
posted by freshwater at 3:54 PM on June 19, 2012

freshwater, that one gets better reviews than most and is available in Canada at around the $300 mark. When you say it takes a minute to warm up, would that mean that if you hadn't used it for more than (x) minutes, it has to warm up to perform any function, or just printing?
posted by mireille at 4:11 PM on June 19, 2012

I have no experience with the particular unit freshwater mentioned but I've been ordering cheap Brother laser printers (HL1440 and HL2220) for years and years and not one has, to my knowledge, gone out of service yet. (My personal printer is an HL1440 I bought in 2004. It's still chugging along and has never had any problems.)

I've also had good, though not extensive, experience with the 8080DN multi-function units and have yet to have any problems. When I connect to wireless networks with such units attached, I'm always able to print on demand with no fuss. (And I'm a linux user.) Brother toner tends to be inexpensive and I've found non-OEM toner and drum kits have worked well with all of the units I have experience with.
posted by ferdinand.bardamu at 5:34 PM on June 19, 2012

I've said it before: Brother printers rock. Just like ferdinand.bardamu's printer, my MFC8840 is 8 years old and going strong.
posted by Runes at 8:12 PM on June 19, 2012

Also a fan of Brother printers. They seem more reliable than other brands - the print head on mine has never got clogged up, in like 4 years, which is good going for an ink jet.
I also like their iOS scanning app. I believe some of their current models support AirPrint from iOS too. Not that you asked about iOS.
posted by w0mbat at 10:03 PM on June 19, 2012

Regarding the Brother 7860DW's warming up - the printer goes to sleep after a few minutes (I can't give an exact number, since I haven't watched it). It "warms up" in different ways for different things, though. For example, if you're scanning, it sounds like only the scanner light is turning on (no printer involvement), while copying involves both the scanner light and the printer. I can't speak as to any warm up period for the fax, however, since I don't have a phone line or a need to fax, generally.

As far as scanning goes, it's pretty simple to get it to scan to PDF (at least with a Mac - I haven't tried it with Windows).

Note: This is from memory, since I can't test it first hand at the moment.
posted by smangosbubbles at 10:38 PM on June 19, 2012

I have had positive experience with 5 different Brother printers over the past years, all but one of them a multi-function unit. I will buy Brother printer again without hesitation.
posted by ydant at 4:23 AM on June 20, 2012

mireille, it doesn't warm up to scan. I don't use the fax function, so I couldn't say as to that. I use windows, and it's pretty straight forward to get it to scan to whatever file type you want.

One thing to know is that unlike many laser printers, the toner and the toner cartridge are both replaceable. The toner gets replaced every ten or twelve thousand pages, and the cartridge gets replaced every 30-40 thousand. This makes toner cheaper, but adds another expense. I have yet to replace the cartridge, but doing the math, it should still be around the same price as other manufacturer's toner.
posted by freshwater at 8:43 AM on June 20, 2012

Thanks so much for the advice, everyone! The fact that the general answer was a resounding "you want a Brother machine" made it so much easier to narrow it down. I liked the one that freshwater recommended but I ended up going with the MFC8890DW (which seems as though it might be the Canadian version of the MFC8840DW that rune recommended) because it had a couple of extra features and a higher dpi which should make for an improvement in the rendering of our logo on invoices.

Yay! It's done! Thanks again.
posted by mireille at 8:04 AM on June 21, 2012

Oh, I'm so sorry-- I should have written "Runes". How rude of me, I apologize!
posted by mireille at 8:05 AM on June 21, 2012

No problem. I forgot to mention the one issue that Brother's have, which is an overly conservative print count resulting in it asking you to replace cartridges more often than you really need to. Fix for that is here.
posted by Runes at 11:05 AM on June 22, 2012

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