Freedom from ink jet hell
March 21, 2014 12:44 PM   Subscribe

Recommendations for laser printers that are affordable and work good?

I can no longer abide the BS from Epson and their printer and its gobbling, greedy demand for ink (I'm told this is the most expensive liquid on earth), and insistence that I purchase 1 black cartridge and 5 color cartridges (that all must be equally full) in order for the machine to print a simple black and white page.

I never use color anyway, and regret having bought this piece of sh_t several years ago (I think it might have come free with my computer or something).

Epson explains the scam like this. Uh huh.

Anyway, would like to know if other folks have had success and saved money by using a laser printer. I don't care about color, just being able to print black and white stuff without paying 85.00 a year for ink.

Any affordable models or brand recommendations?
posted by zenpop to Computers & Internet (37 answers total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
I have a Brother HL-2270DW and it has been perfect and I'm still using the initial toner that came with it 9 months ago.
posted by ndfine at 12:50 PM on March 21, 2014 [10 favorites]

Monochrome lasers are incredibly cheap. I have a Brother multifunction unit (scanner, printer, fax), and it's been kicking around for 6 years. I think I've replaced the toner twice, and one was a refill.

Here's a cheap basic Brother laser.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 12:51 PM on March 21, 2014

I had this same question a while ago, and I went with the Brother HL-2270. It works great and I have no complaints.
posted by Camofrog at 12:52 PM on March 21, 2014

2270DW here as well, something like 8 months old on the original starter toner. Super quiet, wireless function works a treat, I never have trouble adding it on a new computer.
posted by Lyn Never at 12:54 PM on March 21, 2014

n-thing Brother - I have a 5050 that is over 10 years old. Works great, toner lasts a very long time - even longer if you cover up the sensor!
posted by azlondon at 12:55 PM on March 21, 2014

I have an HP laserjet 4000N here in the office that uses one toner cartridge every two or three years. It was here when I arrived in late 2003 and I expect it will outlive me. The grad students print on it constantly.
posted by gyusan at 12:56 PM on March 21, 2014

I bought a Canon MF laser printer for $117 back in 08 and have never looked back. Replacement toner is $20.
posted by Ferrari328 at 12:56 PM on March 21, 2014

I also have the Brother 2270 and it's very sturdy. It's survived moving several times, which in my experience is the kiss of death for a lot of printers. The wireless function never worked that well, but we use it infrequently so I never bothered to investigate.
posted by radioamy at 12:57 PM on March 21, 2014

I've used 3 or 4 different monochrome and color Brother printers, and for cheap, low-volume printers they've all done really well. One monochrome printer I installed at a business several years ago hasn't even needed new toner yet. Our color laser I picked up as a 'display model' two years ago is almost out of black toner, my guess is because it was the display model and got used a lot.
posted by AzraelBrown at 12:58 PM on March 21, 2014

nthing Brother. We LOVE ours.
posted by Sassyfras at 12:58 PM on March 21, 2014

Wirecutter recommends the Samsung Xpress M2825DW. The Brother 2270DW is their second choice. For more detail than you'll ever want, read their review.
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 12:59 PM on March 21, 2014

per AskMe recommendations, I got a Brother 2270DW too, and like it.
posted by Zed at 1:08 PM on March 21, 2014

Qualifications: I'm the office print nerd.

Samsung: already mentioned. I've found their builds to be a bit better than

Brother: already mentioned, a lot. I've had bad luck in small offices with high print loads. But home users seem to do okay.

HP: Don't buy anything released after the LJ 4000/4050 era. That was the last of the good HP printers. But holy heck, those 4050s lasted forever. I have a 4MP that I love - it's gotta be twenty years old now, and it's still going strong. (Yup, bought in 1994. Gonna buy that printer a drink.)
posted by BrunoLatourFanclub at 1:09 PM on March 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

Brother HL-5470DW works well for me so far.
posted by Brent Parker at 1:13 PM on March 21, 2014

With a smidge of room to get your fingers alongside, the 2270 is 15" wide (that allows almost no space for the vent, though, which is on its left side), 15" deep, and 7" tall.
posted by Lyn Never at 1:13 PM on March 21, 2014

nthing Brother. I have the HL-2280DW, which is the 2270 plus scanning. It's a fair bit taller.
posted by holgate at 1:25 PM on March 21, 2014

Jumping in on the Brother 2270 train. Mine is going on 3 years (with 6 moves). I spend maybe $60/year on third-party toner (3 cartridges), but I'm also a student with lots of slides to print out. (The 2270 does auto-duplexing. I save probably 10 minutes a day because of that.)

(If you also need a copier/scanner, I think the 2280 is the way to go.)
posted by smangosbubbles at 1:29 PM on March 21, 2014

Response by poster: This is awesome feedback. Thank you. Leaning towards Samsung.
posted by zenpop at 1:33 PM on March 21, 2014

I have an older model Samsung laser printer (an ML2010, not the one in the Wirecutter review) that I bought around 7 years ago, and it's performed solidly and I've only changed the toner cartridge twice, so I'd lean towards the Samsung one as well.
posted by Aleyn at 1:50 PM on March 21, 2014

Might be worth checking out sites that sell refurbished units. I had good luck with the BrotherĀ® Refurbished EHL-2240 Mono Laser Printer ($50 at Staples)
posted by nostrada at 1:52 PM on March 21, 2014

I inherited an old Canon ISensys MF laser printer, it's still going strong after two years in grad school. Best part - cheap generic toner costs about 25$ for ~2000-3000 pages and it prints double sided automatically.
posted by sockpuppetdirect at 1:58 PM on March 21, 2014

Whatever you get (I'm partial to ancient HP LasetJets) I'd recommend one that is on the network.
Having a network printer reduces the need to have the cables and drivers always up to date on all the machines you want to print with, and allows you more flexibility in locating the printer.
posted by bottlebrushtree at 1:58 PM on March 21, 2014

Response by poster: Hi Bottlebrushtree

Non-geek here. When you say 'on the network' -- do you mean going wireless?


posted by zenpop at 1:59 PM on March 21, 2014

I wish I could make the switch from inkjet to laser again because it was so goddamn satisfying. Inkjets make me mad just by continuing to exist and I haven't used one in years.

I have a Samsung SCX-4200 that includes a copier/scanner. Unfortunately Samsung apparently does not offer a similar model anymore (well, this would be similar but it seems like it's not available in the US). Their current US multi-function model is a lot clunkier and has a fax (lol). Anyway, my first Samsung had a jamming problem but they replaced it with very little hassle. My replacement model has lasted five years or so with no issues despite a handful of moves. But I'd probably get the Brother 2280 if I got a new printer because it has the scanner/copier in a compact unit.
posted by mullacc at 2:13 PM on March 21, 2014

I have had:

* a Samsung ML-6060 workgroup laser which was built like a brick and rock-solid reliable.
* a Samsung SCX-4100 consumer multifunction laser which is a lot more flimsy and a lot less reliable -- much more prone to paper jams.

It has made me a bit wary of cheap Samsungs; I would probably go for a Brother next time based on the overwhelming recommendations here.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 2:27 PM on March 21, 2014

Brother 2270DW.
posted by ryanrs at 2:35 PM on March 21, 2014

HP 1200

This thing has been a workhorse. I would not hesitate to buy a used one. Mine is really old but still working great.
It's been a while since I bought toner. I think an off-brand cartridge is about $79-$100. Prints a lot of pages.

Only problem: It's huge. You have to have enough space to keep it.
posted by hot_monster at 2:49 PM on March 21, 2014

I like the Brother 2270DW and HL5450-DN which is a little more workhorse like. They have built in drivers for Mac OS X so you don't need to use use the software from the CD or download from the printer company website. The software from the printer company is always a bloated mess while the built in driver is just the driver. Any printer not on the list of bundled drivers for Macs is a non starter for me.

The Samsung up thread that is mentioned in wirecutter looks good and Airprint is a plus, but it looks like it isn't on the Apple list so that would be a mark against it if you are a Mac user. Note that Printopia allows Airprint to any printer.

Also, be sure to set it up via USB or Ethernet. Wi-Fi for a printer is universally terrible.
posted by ridogi at 2:51 PM on March 21, 2014

I'm on my second Brother printer. My current 5370DW is at 15,743 pages with no problems. I only upgraded from my old 1270N because I needed duplex printing. It was still in perfect working order after something like 35,000 pages.
posted by Max Camber at 2:54 PM on March 21, 2014

HP: Don't buy anything released after the LJ 4000/4050 era. That was the last of the good HP printers. But holy heck, those 4050s lasted forever. I have a 4MP that I love - it's gotta be twenty years old now, and it's still going strong. (Yup, bought in 1994. Gonna buy that printer a drink.)

Shout-out for our loveable grizzled old HP 6MP.
"The last of the V8 Interceptors... a piece of history!"
posted by ovvl at 3:11 PM on March 21, 2014

Nthing Samsung. Got my parents an ML-1210 (or maybe ML-1250) many years ago and it's still chugging along reliably. Supplemented it a few years later with whatever Samsung's cheapest laser was at that time (sorry, I forget the model number) and that one's also been doing sterling service ever since.

I've also met a lot of LaserJets in various institutions where I've worked and studied, and they seem to be more or less immortal. Suspect they might be a bit pricier than a Samsung though.
posted by pont at 3:18 PM on March 21, 2014

zenpop By "on the network" I mean that it is connected to your home network, either by a direct ethernet connection or via a wifi connection.

What's nice about that is you can put the pretty anywhere it has power and a network connection and multiple people in your house can us the printer without having to plug in.
posted by bottlebrushtree at 3:55 PM on March 21, 2014

I have a Brother HL-2170W (probably the ancestor of the HL-2270DW) which has been going strong for years now with never a problem. I guess the test of a good printer is that you don't even notice it. It doesn't have duplex printing but it does have wireless. If I were to buy a printer now, I'd go with the newer Brother with no hesitation.
posted by peacheater at 3:58 PM on March 21, 2014

Samsung ML-2240 here. Very happy with this basic printer, and Samsung in general. I also ditched inkjet for laser, and it was soooooo satisfying.
posted by Simon Barclay at 8:36 PM on March 21, 2014

holgate: "nthing Brother. I have the HL-2280DW, which is the 2270 plus scanning. It's a fair bit taller."

I've got this one, scanner is adequate and it took me a year and a half to burn through the first toner. Replacement generic toner was only $12-15.
posted by wcfields at 1:38 PM on March 22, 2014

Echoing everyone else above, I've got a Brother HL-2170W that I've been using for a few years and love it. I hate my Epson R1900, but photos on B&W laser are ugly. Go laser for B&W document printing and never look back.
posted by Brian Puccio at 2:39 PM on March 22, 2014

Samsung ML-2240 here too. I even refilled the cartridge that came with the printer with cheap toner refill on eBay. It's a bit of a DIY project involving a modding chip and loose toner (some of the tiniest and evilest particles in the world) and running a program that hacks the printer. Works great so far and cost half as much as a new cartridge.
posted by yoHighness at 3:35 PM on March 23, 2014

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