I need a printer for my Mother. Strange requirements inside
July 26, 2015 4:03 PM   Subscribe

So my Mom's old came from who knows where printer has finally died, and she has requested a new one. Easy! We just got a great Epson that comes highly recommended from Wirecutter! No problem! But wait she has ....esthetic concerns.

Mom's requirements
- Must be white (I have bargained her down to silver, or white with some black)
- Must not be too big
- Must be a copier/scanner

My requirements:
- Must be incredibly easy to use/set up
- Must work with a Mac.
- Must be wireless capable.
- Under $150 would be great
- Mostly used for documents, doesn't have to be great at photos.

I have searched amazon to no avail. Everything that looks ok I click on the reviews and they are a mess. Please metafilter, do you know the printer for my Mom?
posted by zara to Computers & Internet (12 answers total)
I recently purchased this Brother printer and have found it "suitable", meaning it does what I want and doesn't aggravate me. And, it's white(ish). It's a bit out of her prince range, but the really inexpensive printers are usually inkjets, which (I hear) need a fairly steady supply of expensive ink.
posted by DrGail at 5:13 PM on July 26, 2015 [1 favorite]

A couple of Canon printers come in white (or black) and tick all those boxes.
Also there's an HP.
posted by w0mbat at 5:21 PM on July 26, 2015

I have the a canon pixma and I like it well enough. It uses more ink than I'd like, but I just but the knock off brand on amazon and have had no problems with it. Wireless works great.
posted by sulaine at 5:29 PM on July 26, 2015

My household has been using a Canon MX 870 for a few years, both for Mac and Windows users. It's not white but I see that w0mbat recommended other Canons with that feature. We use our MX 870 for faxing, copying, scanning and printing hooked into our network (not USB). Standard deficiencies in a consumer printer: cost of ink (but I ignore the first few warnings and have acquired a sixth sense about when it really, really needs ink, plus Amazon has good prices), a bit slow to print, and the software is just adequate nothing more. But the output is good and as I recall we got a good price on it at Costco. Of course my comments are about my model not the one you will buy. I just wanted to give you a general idea about Canons.
posted by forthright at 6:04 PM on July 26, 2015

Combo printers (those that include scanner/copiers) are almost always ink jets. I would really advise against this if "easy to set up" (and, presumably, to maintain) is a concern. Especially if your mom prints b/w documents, you'll (your mom will) go through ink cartridges like diapers on an ink jet. Imagine having to change the cartridge on a monthly basis. Don't do it! The small smattering of combo lasers are where it's at to even spitball these requirements.

I have the same printer as DrGail, just the new edition. Right now it's $166. It's as small as it's going to get for a laser printer/scanner/copier - and it out performs my old Brother workhorse. It is the most silver of the bunch, you'll see if you scroll.
posted by sweltering at 6:30 PM on July 26, 2015

Canons with individual ink tanks are wonderful, though all the ones I know of are black. Some may well come in white, as someone mentioned above; I don't know. My current one is a MG5420, fits all your requirements except color, and is a pleasant (IMO) shape.

Heck... it's a rounded-edges-rectangular shape, it would be a piece of cake to make it a dust cover in whatever color desired.

And every cheap refill tank off Amazon I've bought has worked just fine. We homeschool, and even with the (insane - thousands of pages) amount I print, I consider it pretty thrifty on ink. I mostly print black and white, and rarely spend more than $50/year. It's those individual tanks that make the difference.
posted by stormyteal at 6:34 PM on July 26, 2015

We switched from an inkjet printer to a Brother laser printer a couple of years ago and it is SO MUCH BETTER in terms of being easy to use and maintain. After we got it onto the wireless network and set up on our computers, it's very easy to print and scan things. We don't have to change ink anywhere near as often as we did with an inkjet, and since we are just using it for printing text documents, it meets our needs. The model we have is black, though, but you should be able to find a version in the lighter color DrGail posted.
posted by bedhead at 6:34 PM on July 26, 2015

If you've already got a printer that suits your technical needs, you could probably get away with just painting the panels whatever color your mother prefers. All you need is painter's tape, trash bags, and white spray paint. Put the entire printer in a kitchen trash bag and seal the top of the bag underneath the printer. Next, press the bag flush with the side panels, cut windows, and tape down the edges of the windows. One or two layers of Krylon plastic paint would do you for. Works great for me when I'm stenciling laptops, and you can get extremely tidy results.
posted by fifthrider at 7:49 PM on July 26, 2015

Do you mean white white like HP and Canon printers were back in the day, or just ordinary off-white / taupe like printers and PCs commonly are? Because if I needed one like you are describing, I'd go into OfficeMax/Depot and pick up whatever Brother laser was in my price range. It's certainly easier than my $$$ HP inkjet, which needed new cartridges every few months even when we were barely printing anything. Almost all printers work with Macs these days.
posted by wnissen at 9:55 PM on July 26, 2015

I'd recommend seeking out a laser printer. If she only needs black and white this will be easy. If she also needs color, you're looking for a Color Laser All-in-one. They will be more expensive to buy, but MUCH easier to maintain. I have sworn off inkjets forever, because if you print a lot the cost per page will get really expensive over time compared to laser. And if you don't print often, well then the ink just dries up. You cannot win.

This Dell color laser all-in-one was on sale for $120 recently, maybe you could find a deal on a similar unit in white?
posted by reeddavid at 10:10 PM on July 26, 2015

If your mom happens to have a smartphone then consider setting her up with a scanner app to use as an alternative to a flatbed scanner. I find the workflow more simple (the app guides me through taking an image of each page, combines the whole thing into (say) a .pdf document and then lets me email it to myself or wherever). The scanning can be done anywhere and there is no need to fire up the PC.

If this happens to be a preferable route for her then you could consider non combination printers too.
posted by rongorongo at 11:52 PM on July 26, 2015

Easier to go into Office Depot or whatever and look over the selection there.

Samsung used to be all black, but recently went white.
posted by kschang at 12:15 AM on July 27, 2015

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