Replacing an inkjet printer with a laser printer
March 23, 2015 11:52 AM   Subscribe

Convince me to replace my inkjet printer with a laser printer!

Time to replace my inkjet. I don't often print in color. And I hate ink jet printers, with their clogs and their expensive cartridges and their poor build quality. I've always been tempted to buy a laser printer.

But once in a while I do need to print in color...or to print a photo...and there's no decent print shop within 5 miles. So I'm worried about going laser (color lasers seem expensive and less well-rated). Note: I do use my inkjet's built-in scanner, and I don't want a separate unit, so I'd need a laser printer with a built-in (color) scanner.

I worry that I'll feel seriously hassled when I do need to print something in color. Has anyone who's been through this transition offer their thoughts?
posted by Quisp Lover to Computers & Internet (31 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
I never looked back. I rarely have photo emergencies, can you combine your print shop errands with other errands?
posted by notned at 11:57 AM on March 23, 2015 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Nine months in and I haven't had a single regret. I also thought I'd miss color printing (mainly re: printing out my child's school projects) but we haven't even noticed the difference. The main thing I have noticed: the fact that we're still on the initial ink cartridge that came with the printer, and that's like a dream come true. This is the one I got -- with a color scanner. For photo printing: I just use shutterfly or the like.
posted by BlahLaLa at 12:01 PM on March 23, 2015 [4 favorites]

Best answer: We did the same thing with a Brother laser and haven't looked back. Keep in mind that laser printers (Brother's at least) like to tell you they're out of toner far before the cartridge is empty (and often refuse to print until the cartridge is replaced). We followed directions like these to reset the warning a year or so ago and are still using the same cartridge that previously refused to print.
posted by jeffch at 12:15 PM on March 23, 2015 [5 favorites]

Best answer: We love our color laser -- color lasers generally come with separate toner cartridges for each color, so if all you print is black, just the black toner will need to be replaced. Like jeffch said, toner lasts a lot longer and the replace warnings can be ignored until things really run out. Unlike inkjets, if you don't use the color for a while, you don't get plugged jets and stripes -- we waste way less paper now trying to get a good printout than we did with an inkjet printer.
posted by AzraelBrown at 12:25 PM on March 23, 2015

Best answer: Samsung ML-2010. The toner lasts forever. Put in paper and print. No more messy cartridges. Best thing ever.
posted by H21 at 12:26 PM on March 23, 2015

Response by poster: Guys, though it's not the thrust of my question, I'd love to know which laser printers you all bought (if you love them).

Also: what would be the most efficient way to handle color print jobs via print shops? I guess PDFs would work best...most universal, and contains size/margin info in the most compatible way. Any other tips?
posted by Quisp Lover at 12:26 PM on March 23, 2015

Best answer: Sorry for my poor reading ability :) At work we have a all-in-one color laser that scans, the Brother MFC-9970CDW, which does nice work. At home we have a standalone laser printer, a Samsung ML-2010.

Do you mean emailing files to a print shop? When I worked at CopyMax, they'd accept pretty much any common file format, depending on what you want done. I wouldn't put effort into converting a jpeg to a PDF if you're sending it someplace to be printed -- they should be able to open it and print it to your specifications without running the risk of recompressing or resolution issues or changing the color mode by converting it to a pdf.
posted by AzraelBrown at 12:49 PM on March 23, 2015

Best answer: I didn't have much luck finding a reasonably priced laser all-in-one. It seems like the small business market for all-in-ones is generally happy with inkjet, and they are very reasonably priced. So we have both an Epson WF-3620 all-in-one inkjet ($115) plus a Brother HL-2340DW laser ($120). I do find the inkjet to be faster to spit out a page, which surprised me.
posted by smackfu at 1:06 PM on March 23, 2015

Best answer: I lived this. Switched to a consumer (cheap, less than $100) Brother laser printer which I don't remember the model of. It's been about 5 years or so and I have yet to replace the toner. It did try to tell me I needed to replace the toner about a year ago, so I put some black tape over the detector per web advice and have been printing away ever since. My print volume is not very high, probably a few hundred sheets per year. Absolutely no regrets. Color printing gets done by or similar. I like my color prints, but I have no situations where I need them immediately. Outsourcing the color printing leads to far better quality than I got at home anyway and none of the hassle. Absolutely the right decision for me. I am embarrassed that I ever hesitated or doubted it.
posted by LowellLarson at 1:21 PM on March 23, 2015

Best answer: When I need help picking a particular model of whatever technology I happen to be in the market for, I have never been steered wrong by the in-depth reviews at

(I bought the Epson inkjet all-in-one based on the linked page, and have no experience with laser printers)

Note: They get a referral fee (?) or some such if you purchase an item using the link on their site
posted by ElGuapo at 1:27 PM on March 23, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Most drug stores print my photos way better than the fritz-y consumer grade color photo printer I ditched. Have you used a document feeder for scanning? If not, welcome to the paper-less office.*

The Brother lasers that I've owned have really been great and far more affordable in the long run.

*ACTUALLY going paperless still requires diligently using the I stare at a stack of papers waiting to be scanned.
posted by GPF at 1:48 PM on March 23, 2015

Best answer: Many MeFites have reported that they are happy with the Brother recommended by The Wirecutter. We have either this model or a similar one. We never got the wifi to work properly but we had pretty effed up wifi for a while.

Our Brother has survived 3 moves and also being hauled in and out of the closet a lot.
posted by radioamy at 2:07 PM on March 23, 2015

Also yeah I haven't looked back. Don't miss the inkjet at all.
posted by radioamy at 2:07 PM on March 23, 2015

Best answer: I got the Brother MFC9330CDW all-in one laser printer/copier/scanner/fax about 6 months ago for under $400 and it has been great so far. Separate toner cartridges for each color. I haven't used it to print photos, but it is nice for everyday color printing. Scanner is easy to use, if not the fastest thing in the world.
posted by msbubbaclees at 2:12 PM on March 23, 2015

Best answer: I've been using some (10ish year old) HP 2300 (not exact model) with a "nearly empty" toner cartridge that I bought used for $40 three years ago when I needed to print some sort of form. It doesn't get a lot of use, but by gum, every time I tell it to print, it prints.

I don't do many photos, but the last time I needed them, I banged a job off to Walgreens for a price that was probably less than I'd pay in materials, at a speed that was probably faster (for my large job anyway) than print at home (even counting travel time), with results that were (at worst) no worse than I could do at home.

I'd wager that if you had to do color documents, there must be somebody on the internet who can bang it out and ship it to you within a week for a reasonable price.
posted by wotsac at 3:20 PM on March 23, 2015

I'm still using the scanner from my inkjet but I print on a Brother I got by following a link in AskMe.
posted by Obscure Reference at 3:48 PM on March 23, 2015

Best answer: I got the brother hl-31c laser for the same problem - no scanner but I prefer taking a photo quickly with my phone and plan on getting a scansnap later anyway. The prints are fine for home use - a4 colour is fast and easy, and glossy laser paper makes a significant improvement. If you print photos mostly, consider a selphy with the cartridge packs for last minute prints at home. The printer is big and heavy, and occasionally jams with thicker paper. At work, we have a small b&w laser that's light and fast and inkjet for colour, but we print often at work and at home I do printing binges every few weeks. A colour laser is great.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 4:49 PM on March 23, 2015

Response by poster: Thanks, all, for the great thread.

Some standalone tips I found valuable. I'm excerpting them here in case they're useful to future people browsing this thread (they might otherwise get buried):

Color printing gets done by

For photo printing: I just use shutterfly

Most drug stores print my photos way better

no scanner but I prefer taking a photo quickly with my phone

posted by Quisp Lover at 6:19 PM on March 23, 2015

Best answer: Laser printer all the way, unless you need to print photos.

I have a Xerox 6500DN which is a color laser printer. I mostly print black-and-white documents but it's nice to be able to add a touch of color. It has a duplex unit for two-sided printing, which is really nice to have.

It speaks native Postscript and has Ethernet connections, which was important to me because I use it on a Linux network. Consumables are cheap and plentiful.
posted by pguertin at 6:32 PM on March 23, 2015

Response by poster: Ooh. the Brother HL2280 recommended by BlahLaLa is $174 at Amazon, but only $99 refurbished at STaples, with full one year warranty. Kind of hard to resist......
posted by Quisp Lover at 6:35 PM on March 23, 2015

Best answer: That one is really great, Quisp Lover. And though I was prepared for an epic war in setting up the wifi, it actually only took a few minutes.
posted by BlahLaLa at 6:38 PM on March 23, 2015

Response by poster: Hmm. One concern is paper. the HL2280 (and, for all I know, all laser printers) apparently chokes on everything but ordinary copy paper. I like to do labels and business cards.
posted by Quisp Lover at 6:44 PM on March 23, 2015

Best answer: I have two Brother HL-something-or-other monochrome printers (one I bought, the other is a hand me down from Dad) and I regularly run Avery label sheets and card stock through them without any problems.
posted by jamaro at 7:00 PM on March 23, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Get a $100 laser printer and a $100 inkjet printer!

That way, you get all the nice features of current inkjets (print from USB or flash drive, a scanner with sheet feeder, duplex, photo printing, you can even scan to a flash drive which is really convenient) and you can still use the laser printer for longer documents. Getting all that in one box would be at least $500.
posted by miyabo at 8:32 PM on March 23, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I have the cheapest consumer Canon laser all-in-one printer. I bought it at the end of 2008, and it's worked well since then. I especially like the duplex feature, but it's also nice to have the scanner and copier features when I need them. I think it also faxes, but I don't have a telephone line.
posted by capsizing at 8:37 PM on March 23, 2015

Best answer: I do use my inkjet's built-in scanner

It still works, right? I know it's sort of irritating to use a printer/scanner only for scanning and then get another printer, but it might be the best way. I have a Brother HL-2170 and the thing is a TANK. Great with all paper. Fast enough and SQUARE so you can put things on top of it and it's not an odd shaped blob that needs its own special credenza. Love it. I send photos to the drug store to be printed. They even have a scanner in-house if I need to use it. They will even mail photos to me for a small extra cost.
posted by jessamyn at 8:43 PM on March 23, 2015

Best answer: A printer with a built in scanner isn't fundamentally different than a printer with a shelf above it for a scanner. The only real difference is that it will make copies without involving your computer. For me, the scanner get's used to turn paper into a digital copy so I never have a need to make copies.

That also frees you up from having to live with whatever scanner they put in the all-in-one which is good because the quality of the scanner usually scales up with the capacity of the printer. So you might find that the scanning capabilities you want are only available with a printer that is built to serve a small office when you really just need an entry level printer.

We have a Brother HL-2270 (which I'm guess replaced the 2170 that Jessamyn has and has probably been replaced by a 2370 at some point if it hasn't been already). I see it and similar models go on sale regularly and will be more than adequate for your needs. The entry level Samsung laser printers are pretty similar. The only "extra" features it has that I really like are the built-in duplexer and wireless printer server, both of which I think are pretty common now.

We only ever have feeding issues when it gets down to the bottom of the tray. I've printed stuff on 3x5 index cards without too much trouble and I'm pretty sure that we printed a bunch of labels through it without any problems too. Labels are especially nice to have out of a laser since the way it prints is to fuse the toner to the paper so it doesn't ever smudge when you press the label down.

For a scanner, I picked up the wirecutter's pick, a Canon LiDE210 and it's been perfect. You should also see what they have to say about their pick for the best cheap printer. I did a quick scan of that article and I think there is a ton of information in there that you'll find relevant and, if nothing else, it will help you make a more informed decision.

We used to have an inkjet printer hooked up in case we ever needed to print a color graph or something but we went for something like two years without using it (we were already farming our photo printing out to shutterfly since it looked better and cost less than ink and fancy paper) so we didn't hook it back up when we moved about three years ago and I've never regretted it.
posted by VTX at 10:13 AM on March 24, 2015

I just moved in reverse but maybe temporarily. Just bought an HP Office Jet Pro 8610 for 100. Reason: I have an HP 1012 Laser from 12 years back that has been great but now to use it with my pc I have to monkey with drivers constantly so I end up mailing myself files and printing them out from my mac which is ridiculous. The 8610 claims a high page count per cartridge so we will see but in the meantime it lets me get rid of my scanner and fax machine and no wires. We will see however, I only used 3 cartridges in 12 years with the laser. I would be happy paying 500 for a good printer but printer shopping makes me want to kill myself because I can't tell from reviews and specifications whether anything will work as described or how long it will keep working.
posted by Pembquist at 11:27 AM on March 24, 2015

Response by poster: Follow-up:

I opted for the "get both" solution, but for substantially less than $100 x 2. I spent, in fact, just over $100 (plus $36/year for an ink program....see below).

Staples has a blow-out on printers right now, including both new and refurbs. I ordered a
Brother Refurbished EHL-2240 Mono Laser Printer for $50 with free shipping (after rebate). Full one year warranty.

I also ordered an HP Envy 5530 Wireless All-in-One Color Photo Printer from Amazon...used, in like-new condition, from a high-rated seller, for $55. This includes a scanner, lets me print photos and continue to use my shelf full of specialty ink-jet papers (cards, labels, etc).

I will enroll in the HP Instant Ink program, which allows me to print infrequently in color for $3/month, with no waste/loss due to print-head cleaning or drying. More on that in this wirecutter article (search down page for "instantink")
posted by Quisp Lover at 12:39 PM on March 24, 2015

Response by poster: Just a note of extra explanation. The HP Instant Ink Program seems made for people with both an inkjet and a laser printer. At the cheapest level, you're allowed 50 pages (or photos!) per month (@$3/month....and unused pages roll over). Since I'm doing all black and white printing on the laser printer, the inkjet will only print color pages. So the lowest, cheapest level works.

If I had no laser printer, all my black and white pages would accrue toward my HP monthly maximum, and I'd need to opt for a more expensive level in the program.

If you have both a laser printer and an inkjet, then opting for a cheap HP inkjet and signing up for this program is an absolute no-brainer. If you're not convinced, read again, and check out the links in my posting above.
posted by Quisp Lover at 1:11 PM on March 24, 2015

I bought a brother laser printer (with automatic two-sided printing, which is essential). and a cheap HP color inkjet.

I'm loving the Brother, and have not taken the HP out of its box yet.
posted by jimmyjimjim at 8:33 AM on June 18, 2015

« Older Cat Introductions, One Bedroom Apartment Edition   |   Home remedies for a dog with kennel cough Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.