Quick Refillable Laser Printer
April 23, 2013 7:17 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for a fast laser printer (black and white is fine) with low running costs and not too invasive software. Ideally one with separate toner and drum cartridges and easily refillable from non-official sources.

I bought the perfect printer last year, a Dell 5130CDN, we're able to refill it with a third party refill toner kit easily, because the Dell toner cartridges just let you slide open a hatch and pour more in, no melting holes, and replace a chip. Means refills are now ~$100 to print 12-18k pages, wonderful.

The only downside is the printer is the size of a small horse, so needs it's own desk to sit on in the corner of the office.

I need to buy another printer, to sit on someone's desk, that ideally is just as cheap and easy to refill as the Dell has been.

Given the choice, I'd prefer it not to be HP as their software seems to be getting worse and worse with each passing generation, but if you've had good experiences with them, please do share.

What's the least worst option? :)
posted by Static Vagabond to Technology (9 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Check out something like a Lexmark e260 or e360. It's not as easy to refill, but I think the toner cost is going to end up being about the same.

They have separate drums and toner, so you can buy generic toner cartridges without the usual problem of terrible print quality. As long as you buy their drums, which aren't all that expensive and last something like 20k pages, you should be fine.

Unfortunately, the smaller/cheaper the printer, the more expensive the consumables are going to be per page.
posted by gjc at 7:33 AM on April 23, 2013

If you're running Windows, you often don't need to install any of the supplied software, as Windows will usually find a basic driver. 90% of the software that comes with printers, cameras and other gadgets is cruft.
posted by pipeski at 7:36 AM on April 23, 2013 [1 favorite]

Okidata. Their printers are very reliable, have separate drums and cartridges, and the toner cartridges usually run around $20-30. They also have a fully enclosed paper tray, which seems to be a rarity. The toner cartridges are really easy to refill as well.
posted by fimbulvetr at 8:04 AM on April 23, 2013

I was going to say Okidata as well.
posted by zsazsa at 8:30 AM on April 23, 2013

Any objections to older HP office printers? I bought an HP LaserJet 4050N duplex printer off craigslist from an office liquidator 5 years ago for about $125, and toner cartridges are only about $40 on eBay and last FOR-E-VER (I'm still on my original!).
posted by mrrisotto at 9:13 AM on April 23, 2013

Yeah I was going to suggest old HP printers. They were expensive enough when new that they were well-built, and they're old enough that 3rd party cartridges and parts are widely available.

Laser printer quality took a serious nosedive when they became the sort of thing that everyone had at home, versus expensive shared office equipment. If you get one that was made before that transition, it will probably last longer than a new one, even considering that it's used already. That has been my experience anyway.

I've never seen a "desktop" small-size laser printer that took pour in toner though, just cartridges. Doesn't mean they don't exist but I think you will restrict your search significantly if that is an iron-hard requirement.

If you see old IBM printers around, I think they are just rebranded Lexmark. Might be worth considering as well, although I don't think they are/were ever as common as HPs so the cartridges aren't quite as dirt cheap.
posted by Kadin2048 at 9:38 AM on April 23, 2013

Thanks, I've gone and ordered one of the Okidata printers (431DN). Seems you can refill the toner easily without melting a hole, so worth a shot. We use a few of their dot matrix printers and they're very reliable, so hopefully it follows through to their laser ones. Duplexing will hopefully save a few trees over it's lifetime.

Kadin, by pour in toner, I just mean buying the powder 'refill your cartridge yourself' kits something like this Dell kit. It generally goes against the original manufacturers wishes, but it saves shipping a heap of plastic around the world and is a fraction of the cost.
posted by Static Vagabond at 12:44 PM on April 23, 2013

Just a quick followup, the printer seems good, though you'll need the extra paper tray if you do any serious printing, it only holds 350 pages, changing less then a ream at a time is surprisingly annoying.

The starter cartridge ran out quickly (as usual) and I bought an official high capacity cartridge just incase the internals are different to the starter version, so now I'm just waiting for that to deplete before I refill with the third party toner. The toner cartridge just twists open to expose a nice wide refill hole.

The drivers are nice and small, with a toner saver option that seems to work well, though I ended up turning it off because we print a lot of scanned photocopies (welcome to the future...!) and it can make some of the more poorly scanned copies come out a bit light.

I'll drop an update when I do the first refill.
posted by Static Vagabond at 7:32 AM on May 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

And the final followup-- refilling the toner was simple, you just 'unlock' the cartridge and it exposes a nice wide refill hole, pour the toner in, 'lock' it closed, then replace the chip, which is just held in with a small clip. Total cost: $15.

Also bought the additional paper tray (amusingly more expensive then the printer itself) which was simple to install too.

All around, a good little work-horse that's small enough to actually sit on someones desk.
posted by Static Vagabond at 1:35 PM on June 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

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