Recommendations for a printer/scanner?
June 4, 2019 11:34 PM   Subscribe

My old printer/scanner is dying, so I'm looking for recommendations for a new one for home use that's reliable without being too costly.

My much-used HP Officejet 6500 is finally biting the dust, so I'm looking for recommendations for a reliable printer/scanner that's not too pricey but won't be an ink hog or jam up six months in. I'd be using it mainly for home use, scanning items for eBay and potentially a music blogzinewhatever (as well as the occasional document), and printing addresses, parking passes, etc. (and perhaps the occasional color picture). I do not need a fax. I'd print mostly from my desktop computer (Windows 7, though I'll probably upgrade once support ends next year). Any recommendations (pro or con) would be greatly appreciated.
posted by gtrwolf to Computers & Internet (13 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Which of these features do you want/need?
  • color printing?
  • double-sided printing?
  • print directly from mobile devices?
And how much printing do you typically do?

For most people with typical home printing requirements, assuming you don't need color, I recommend a light-duty all-in-one laser. I've got a Brother HL-L2395DW and it's great for light use, though I think it has been replaced by another (similar) model.

Unless you have very specific printing requirements it's usually a mistake (in my opinion) to buy an inkjet.
posted by Nerd of the North at 12:12 AM on June 5 [1 favorite]

I recommend a low-end Brother monochrome laser printer to handle the bulk of your printing, and the cheapest Canon printer/scanner combo you can find to deal with your scanning and the very occasional colour print.

Stand-alone flatbed scanners now generally cost more than low-end inkjet printer/scanners and don't work notably better.

Buying the laser printer will probably cost you about the same as two to four replacement sets of inkjet cartridges.
posted by flabdablet at 12:45 AM on June 5

"Costly" is in the eye of the beholder and also depends on whether you're looking at the long-range costs or short range.

My suggestion is to look into a Brother color laser printer. Since college in the late 90s, I've owned three printers, all Brother laser printers. The first one lasted probably eight years, finally gave up the ghost when I was doing magazine work and printing lots and lots of proofs every month.

The second one still works, but I wanted a color printer, so I bought a color laser (HL-3170CDW) on Amazon for $169. That was 2017, I also bought a set of replacement cartridges with it at the time that were $135. Haven't had to break those out of their box yet. If I remember right, the model I have was on sale when I bought it, but the replacement (HL-L3230CDW) suggested by Amazon is $199. (List is $249, apparently.)

Note that these are networked (wired or wireless) and I've always had good luck with Brother laser printers and Linux. (Can also vouch for macOS and Windows, have used with all three.)

They're probably slightly more spendy than InkJet but I'm pretty sure the per-page costs ultimately will be in your favor and the print quality is better.
posted by jzb at 4:40 AM on June 5 [1 favorite]

Crap. I didn't notice the scanner bit, I have a separate ScanSnap that I use in addition to the printer. Does not work with Linux AFAIK, but the thing is a workhorse at scanning in documents/receipts. Currently it's gathering dust since I'm not doing much work travel anymore (yay).
posted by jzb at 4:42 AM on June 5

My recommendation is to figure out your usage (of ink, usually measured in pages). At least if you stick with official supplies, you can then figure out what your budget for supplies will be.

Printers are machines for selling ink. And since you mentioned costliness, that's where the long term cost is.

A year or so ago my multifunction small office type printer wore out and my mom and partner replaced it with a Canon inkjet. Now we have used it a few times with photo printing paper to duplicate 4x6 photos for ourselves or friends (something the old printer wouldn't do) but mostly it's just done black and white printing. And it chomps through ink like it's free (it most decidedly is not). (Fwiw, ours is the Canon TR8500.)

This model also does scanning, which it's decent at. I do recommend that if you get a printer with scanner that you get one that has an automatic document feed.
posted by kalessin at 5:35 AM on June 5

I'd never get an all-in-one because I don't think they work that well, and because I'm in the small group of size queens who has an A3 scanner.

My setup is a Mustek A3 for scanning, a Canon Pixma for color printing, and a cheapass Brother for black and white. If you're really set on an all-in-one, I'd stick to Canon or Epson and just compare features in your price range.
posted by bile and syntax at 7:13 AM on June 5

bile and syntax: I have an AIO with an A3 + bleed scanner. It's part of the Epson WorkForce series. Likely not ideal for the OP as it's the size of a smallish nuclear reactor.

Still digging the Brother lasers for mono work, but the latest/lowest cost ones now have DRM in the print cartridges that my local printer guy says is tough (but not impossible) to defeat.
posted by scruss at 8:08 AM on June 5 [1 favorite]

Scanners are hard. Not because of hardware problems, but because driver support seems to end 15 minutes before you buy one. I’ve never been able to get the proprietary crap to last through on OS upgrade, and you have one coming up. My main solution is to simply use a camera for most scanning. If you like cameras, this is an excuse to buy good lights and a better tripod. Commercial ocr software is regularly updated and you can maintain it easily without the drivers.

On the high end, networked scanners that support FTP and network drives are obsolescence proof. This includes some of the scansnaps. When the oEM software stops working you can switch to commercial software.

N-thing the brother printers. Do consider if you or a family member will ever want a chromebook. It’s much nicer to use a printer that supports google directly instead of bodging a windows computer to connect things.
posted by unknown knowns at 11:21 AM on June 5

I don't need double-sided printing, and probably don't need to print from my mobile device. Color printing would be nice but not something I'd do on a daily basis.

I might have gotten spoiled by my HP Officejet 6500 since it actually managed to last quite a few years (ironically it's the scanner that still works while the printer is glitchy). I'd be willing to pay a bit more now to avoid massive ink costs or having to get a new unit after the one I get breaks down right after the warranty expires. I'd also prefer an all-in-one unit since I don't have too much space at my workspace, but I might be able to work around that.
posted by gtrwolf at 11:43 AM on June 5

scruss, that is without question some sexy hardware but probably excessive for both the OP and myself.

And yeah, I'd be careful about the DRM issues.
posted by bile and syntax at 12:10 PM on June 5

"Costly" is in the eye of the beholder and also depends on whether you're looking at the long-range costs or short range.

My suggestion is to look into a Brother color laser printer.

So much "this" - I once bought an HP "all-in-one" colour laser for about $400... A great deal, right? A year later when I had to replace all 4 non-refillable proprietary toner cartridges for $100 each, it was no longer a good deal... Inkjets have always had issues with their consumables being refillable (even by specialists, and aftermarket cartridges never printed the same) - and if you didn't print for a couple months, the ink could dry up and boom, now you need new cartridges again.

Last year, I bought a small business class Brother all-in-one and even though I only print 2-3 times a month, it is wonderful - works over the wireless flawlessly (but also has ethernet if I need it), Brother supports their printer drivers for pretty much every version and brand of operating system, whereas these days Canon/HP drop support for older versions.

It is hands-down the best technology purchase decision I have made in 10 years.
posted by jkaczor at 3:51 PM on June 5

Thanks for all the advice. I finally decided on a Brother monochrome printer MFCL2710DW. (Figured how not-so-often I print in color and decided to save the $70 on a monochrome printer). I'll let you know how it goes.
posted by gtrwolf at 1:54 PM on June 6


I'm late to this question but would have suggested something very much like what you bought - I've had Brother all-in-one's like that and they've worked great for me.

Just wanted to say that on the rare occasion when you do need color printing, it can be super easy to take a PDF on a thumb drive and just pop over to the local FedEx/UPS-type office shop - or even your local library. I need to do color printing VERY rarely, and this kind of solution has worked great for me.
posted by kristi at 3:39 PM on June 9

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