Need recommendations for a reliable printer.
September 1, 2017 12:06 PM   Subscribe

1. Preferably inkjet, but I'll consider good value b&w laser printers. 2. Preferably for less than 200 dollars. 3. Preferably sold at Amazon, Best Buy, Walmart, or Newegg.

The last two sub 100 dollar printers I've purchased (HP and Canon) were waste of my money, and I don't have more money to waste, so reliability and ease of use are most important to me. I can live w/o scanner.
posted by Beholder to Computers & Internet (22 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
If you're using the printer infrequently, a laser printer will be more reliable than an inkjet. Inkjet printers use liquid ink (as opposed to the solid toner that laser printers use), which if left unused for a while can dry up, clogging up the works.
posted by aubilenon at 12:14 PM on September 1, 2017 [4 favorites]

Best answer: This is one of those weird questions where there is almost AskMe unanimity. You want this, or a variant of this. Brother printer. Nice boxy shape. Laser. Just works.
posted by jessamyn at 12:17 PM on September 1, 2017 [22 favorites]

Best answer: The current version of the Brother that always comes up #1 in these threads. Works like a charm every time, even sitting unused for weeks at a time. Duplexes well. I bought a knockoff laser cartridge after the weensy sample one ran out and I regret it because it's not as good, but I keep using it because I paid a lot of money for it.
posted by Lyn Never at 12:17 PM on September 1, 2017

Best answer: I can recommend the Brother HL-L2340DW it's $99 dollars on Amazon. It's a workhorse-- the non-official toner is just as good as the real thing like this one.
posted by Static Vagabond at 12:20 PM on September 1, 2017 [1 favorite]

I have used Brother laser for years. Never fails.
posted by JayRwv at 12:24 PM on September 1, 2017

I've been very happy with my older Epson XP-200 scanner/4-color inkjet printer... I think I've had it going on five years now, no issues. (Looks like the current equivalent model is the XP-440.) I don't do a ton of printing (maybe a couple of pages every week or two) but I've never had an issue with ink drying up or heads clogging. The individual color cartridges last a long time if you're printing mostly text. Their Durabrite ink is also basically waterproof and archival, which is a plus.
posted by Funeral march of an old jawbone at 12:27 PM on September 1, 2017

I too have the Brother HL-2270DW, the earlier model of the one above, for many years and it keeps working.
posted by tman99 at 12:43 PM on September 1, 2017 [1 favorite]

Nthing buy the $99 Brother printer. Magic little machine. All the wifi/ethernet/etc stuff works too.
posted by gregr at 12:46 PM on September 1, 2017

I'm going to phrase it differently: do not buy a different printer than the Brother recommended above unless you have a specific reason to do so, and you are prepared to spend money for that reason.
posted by aramaic at 12:57 PM on September 1, 2017 [4 favorites]

For more points of reference you might want to check out the Print / Scan page on The Wirecutter.
posted by ringu0 at 12:58 PM on September 1, 2017

Brother laser. I'm on my second one, the first was only replaced because it didn't support duplex printing.

Purchased: March 2010
Pages printed: 23,746
Toner replacements: 3
Total paper jams: 4 (and I'm fairly sure each of those was due to human error)
posted by Max Camber at 1:00 PM on September 1, 2017 [1 favorite]

There's a reason all my clients who have needed cheap laser printers (usually for use when working from home on rare occasion) for the last 15 years have been provided the HL-1440 and its modern descendants. The toner cartridges are a bit higher than they are for the expensive models that don't subsidize the cost of the printer with the toner, but they are much more reasonable than most and far far cheaper than ink. It's perfect for low volume printing. If you are doing thousands of pages a month get something high end. It will pay for itself over time, otherwise, the cheap Brother is the way to go. They are fine being used only once or twice a year.

The only thing to watch out for is something that you need to be aware of with any laser printer: remove the toner cartridge before moving it further than across the room. Jostling a laser printer (especially throwing it in the back of a car for a few hour drive) can get toner dust on the drum, leading to black marks or streaks on all your prints. They can be cleaned with some effort or the drum can be replaced, but better to just not cause the problem in the first place. Obviously, this is only an issue once you've already unboxed, installed the toner, and have used the printer.
posted by wierdo at 1:04 PM on September 1, 2017 [1 favorite]

Came to recommend the exact model Jessamyn and everyone else here recommends. I have it. It has great print quality for a little B&W laser printer, very easy to print wirelessly, very fast, cheap to maintain. I'm a graphic designer and use it constantly to do quick little proofs on jobs and prefer to use it over the very expensive, fancy color printer my girlfriend's mother gifted to me. I was going to get rid of it when she gave me the other one but I like it too much to give it up.
posted by the thorn bushes have roses at 2:36 PM on September 1, 2017

Response by poster: A Brother printer it is then. I'll miss color, but I don't do enough color printing to keep getting screwed on inkjet cartridges.

Thanks everyone!
posted by Beholder at 2:50 PM on September 1, 2017

I have the same Brother printer folks are recommending and it has been great except that it gave me some network trouble that I found difficult to resolve. Once I had my router assign it a static IP it has been fine, so maybe try that if it misbehaves.
posted by exogenous at 3:18 PM on September 1, 2017

Response by poster: Is the 154 dollar toner bundle a better deal? I will probably print around a dozen full pages per week.
posted by Beholder at 3:34 PM on September 1, 2017

The toner bundle might not be a better deal.
You'll get a toner with the printer. You can get this compatible toner on Amazon for $10:
Shop At 247 Compatible Toner Cartridge Replacement for Brother TN660 ( Black , 1-Pack )
I'm a teacher and print a lot, and the toner has lasted me over a year.
posted by Linnee at 4:39 PM on September 1, 2017

Best answer: Agreeing that the $100-ish Brother laser printers are fantastic and a great value.

Fun fact: when laser ink cartridges from many brands (including my Brother printer) read "empty", they often aren't really. 10 minutes with a pair of pliers, and jamming a bit of cardboard into the spool, will yield another 100 pages or so.

Search the printer model on YouTube with the word "hack" for a video tutorial.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 7:05 PM on September 1, 2017 [1 favorite]

I have the same Brother that everyone else here has. The only issue I've had was a spate of error messages saying it was "out of paper" when it wasn't. Google said to do a reset and I'm hoping that has solved it. Note that this is not a PostScript printer which would cost at least two or three times as much. It runs a PS simulation and any graphics will print with a dot-screen pattern; even black lines will not print solid. It's fine for proofing though.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 8:27 PM on September 1, 2017

Worth knowing: it might depend on which model you get, but many Brother (and probably other) laser printers have an annoying feature where they tell you you're out of toner before you actually are. (One minute you'll be printing a page where everything looks perfect and the next minute you'll get the out-of-toner error.) However, it's possible to get the printer to actually use up the toner to the end. Brother has these official instructions, and there are also ways to override or reset the toner sensors, which involve pressing the printer buttons in certain sequences (see here for example).
posted by trig at 1:27 AM on September 2, 2017

nthing the Brother recommendations. I still have a HL-1440 that works perfectly well, I buy it cheaper non-Bro toner cartridges and it works fine. I just 'upgraded' to a 2300L as it does duplex when I need it. The large number of positive reviews was a big factor in my choosing this particular model. Still going to use the 1440 though.
posted by carter at 4:26 AM on September 2, 2017

Response by poster: Bought a Brother. No hassles. Works like a charm. Thanks everyone!
posted by Beholder at 10:05 PM on September 9, 2017

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