Low cost printer deals in the UK.
March 13, 2006 11:58 AM   Subscribe

Have you recently bought a great printer? - tell me about it. I've been asked to do some research for a friend who needs to buy a new printer - and I'm swimming in data. The main criteria are: low-to-medium price; colour/black & white (as opposed to some of the amazing deals on b&w only laser printers around); reasonably priced consumables (this may be the trickiest part to assess); reliability. We're in the UK - any online deals have to be accessible to this country. TIA!
posted by dash_slot- to Computers & Internet (31 answers total)
If you have any links to product reviews, I'm interested in them, too. There seems to be a lot to wade through, as there are so many around right now. Cheers.
posted by dash_slot- at 12:01 PM on March 13, 2006

Define "low-to-medium price". How much is your friend printing (pages/day)? What fraction of these print jobs are color?

I think you still might be better off with a laser printer....
posted by mr_roboto at 12:05 PM on March 13, 2006

Recently bought the HP 2840 color laser multi-function. Not an inexpensive option, but does a great job on color graphics, B&W text, and even the occasional scanning and (increasingly infrequent) faxing. There is promotional pricing and an occasional rebate on this printer, particularly with increasing competition in the color laser multifuntion market.

Also, easy to add into the network.

Our workload is primarily text, but the HP 2840 does a great job with presentation graphics, too. Still, it may not be in the "low-to-medium" range that your friend is seeking. I would not hesitate to look at other HP color lasers, as their print engines are probably identical.
posted by flyingrock at 12:10 PM on March 13, 2006

Advise your buddy to buy a HP 1200 laser printer. I sourced mind used on eBay. It was £90 delivered, had a low page count and serves my needs (text) with panache. I'm on a Mac but Wintel is of course also supported.
N.B. I didn't need it to print my digital photographs (because it's not financially a good idea) don't, of course, but it and expect it to be any good at this.
posted by dance at 12:17 PM on March 13, 2006

Hp Colour Laserjet 2840 - £553.08.

Sorry - that is not cheap or low-to-medium price.
This is for a PhD student in some financial difficulties - so I am guessing that something less than £100 would be good.

This one looks great value at £74.99 - but can decent non-original cartridges be found readily? There's the rub.

on preview:
dance - she does occasionally print pics from her digital camera. eBay is actually not a bad idea, we'll look there too (if she is prepared to do the eBay thing, with attendant risks).
Having just chatted to her - reliability seems to be paramount. Having a dodgy printer at this stage of her thesis is a worry she can do without.
posted by dash_slot- at 12:28 PM on March 13, 2006

Laserjet 3020 or 3030 (3030 has fax) is a wonderful multifunction laser printer. I would recommend getting a laser no matter what, because it will be less expensive in the long run. I expect mine to last all the way through college and then grad school, and it's showing no signs of slowing down.
posted by mr.dan at 12:30 PM on March 13, 2006

I have a Canon Pixma IP1500 for £50. I don't know if a low-end inkjet is what you want, but it's fast and the consumables are very cheap (like £1.50/tank).

Kyocera laser printers are also much cheaper consumables-wise than most other brands (though I don't know about colour ones).
posted by cillit bang at 12:38 PM on March 13, 2006

networking is not too important. If it comes with a usb cable, that'll do - although my friend does have a wi-fi network associated with her BT Openworld broadband connection.
posted by dash_slot- at 12:47 PM on March 13, 2006

Dabs has the Canon iP1600 for under £50, and while the cartridges aren't cheap, there are generic alternatives, and the range is sufficiently configurable that it won't bleed ink if you tweak the settings.

Ultimately, though, it's not going to be economical if you're wanting to print multiple copies of a submission-quality thesis: for that, you need a laser printer, or to go to somewhere that does cheap laser printing.
posted by holgate at 12:52 PM on March 13, 2006

InkGrabber has very low priced generic inks for my Canon IP4000. On my 3rd or 4th set now; no problems so far.
posted by omnidrew at 1:20 PM on March 13, 2006

I'm doing the same research as you. The low-end printers, at least the HPs, have turned out to be a big NO for me, because a set of cartridges (1 color plus 1 black) almost ALWAYS cost more than the printer itself. What a scam!

I'm going to investigate InkGrabber as recommended by omnidrew.

Right now I'd just like to find a $50 compact inkjet for a retired friend who only prints color/bw occasionally. Just needs to be easy to use, small and mac-compatible; she won't be printing photographs.
posted by luriete at 1:32 PM on March 13, 2006

Because Canon printers use a permanent print head, as opposed to HP printers which give you a new head in each cartridge, you'll probably find that supplies are cheaper for Canon printers. Plus it's easy to get third-party refilled cartridges for them.

The downside to this configuration is that the printheads may have to get cleaned more often and if they go bad, the printer is toast. I think someone from HP posted a long description of the technical differences in AskMe once.
posted by GuyZero at 1:39 PM on March 13, 2006

This may be even more data, but I have always liked the PCWorld ranking/reviews. They are updated regularly as new products enter the market and prices changealthough it is not as good or as frequently updated as it was a few years ago). They have Color Laser Rankings as well as other review categories.
posted by Tallguy at 1:48 PM on March 13, 2006

Thanks for all your help so far - if you have any more that are UK specific, please keep 'em coming.

posted by dash_slot- at 1:53 PM on March 13, 2006

I picked up a HP Photosmart 7762 for a reasonable price... and it has been the absolute bane of my life!
Paper feeding is hit-and-miss. It sometimes randomly smudges, or puts lines on pictures. It stops printing halfway through a document (usually a photo-quality image, on expensive photopaper!) and reports back that the print jobs have been stopped. It's almost impossible to feed A5 paper into it properly (A4 and 6x4 photos are supported, albeit fiddly) - and when you manage it, it will sometimes feed the paper in at a slight angle - very noticeable when you're printing important documents such as wedding stationery, etc.

It has a built-in multi-function card reader too, which is what sold me on it - although once I got using it I realised that the "USB2.0 compatible" brag on the box didn't actually mean that it would operate at USB2.0 speeds. Doh! I ended up getting a separate USB2.0 card reader, so make sure that the features you're looking at are useful, functional, and if not unique, then perhaps at least not readily available elsewhere...

The quality however, when it works properly, is very impressive - we did all our own wedding thank-yous using it - printing 2 photos onto A5 card, folded to make a proper card. Impressed everyone, but nearly gave me a breakdown in the process!

Personally, I wouldn't buy an HP again unless I had a chance to physically hold and examine it, and ideally see it in operation doing several different things. It may be that more recent models (this one isn't too old, but I think it's discontinued... thank heaven!) resolve some of these issues... but it would be worthwhile looking out for things like this - if your friend values their sanity!
posted by Chunder at 2:50 PM on March 13, 2006

Thanks Chunder.
As it happens, my friend has resolved 2 problems (1 - she installed an Epson monitoring prog from their website, which renewed some drivers; and 2 - she noticed she had snapped some retaining pins, and fashioned a workaround for that) which changes her needs now.
She is looking at mono laser printers - and some of the advice above has proved useful. I am now looking at the brother laser printer recommended by PCWorld.com.
Thanks all - and especially to tallguy & mr roboto. [Any and all further suggestions still welcome though!]
posted by dash_slot- at 2:59 PM on March 13, 2006

I bought the OKI 3200 a few months ago for use at home; £170+VAT. Purchased from printerland. Both printer and retailer are recommended.

eBuyer are usually pretty good for this sort of thing, too - if your friend were after a b/w printer, I'd recommend the Sumsung ML-1610 wholeheartedly.
posted by blag at 3:04 PM on March 13, 2006

I'm in the UK and got a HP 1510 all in one a few months ago. I think it's recently been updated to the 1610.

You should be able to find one for under £70. I actually went into a PCworld and got an extra set of cartridges and some photo paper for £90 all in.

The print quality's ok, and it's quite speedy. There's a USB port on the front so you can plug your camera straight into it which is pretty cool. Nothing's gone wrong with it yet. The only problem is the ink cartridges don't last that long, but a black cartridge is only £12 or something.
posted by derbs at 3:06 PM on March 13, 2006

Samsung ML1610. £50 incl. VAT.
posted by blag at 3:10 PM on March 13, 2006

Epson R220 delivered for £60. Set of 6 compatible inks are around £12 delivered. Prints directly onto CD/DVDs too.
posted by hmca at 3:12 PM on March 13, 2006

If you are prepared to spend a bit, we bought the Dell 3000cn colour laser directly from Dell US for $399. Dell UK is selling it for 253 quid. It's fast, it's reliable and it's colour.
posted by TheRaven at 3:45 PM on March 13, 2006

Whatever the current model of the HP series that basically looks like a square breadbox, and comes with a scanner/copier and card reader slots. I've got the 1350v myself, though it's a couple years old, and I'm really happy with it.
posted by Hildago at 5:29 PM on March 13, 2006

I know you said color/bw, but if the color is just for digicam pics, just print them at target or online, it always works out cheaper. Then you can get a Samsung ML-2010 (got one a month ago, i'm at about 500 pages, works fine, 22ppm is fast for a $50 printer!). The starter cartridge is rated at 1000 pages, probably 1500 in toner save mode (which I use, no discernable difference). 90g of generic refill toner is $10 on ebay, which is worth 3000-4000 pages or so. I looked into printers for a long time before I settled on this one.
posted by oxonium at 6:14 PM on March 13, 2006

I bought an HP 7755 PhotoSmart printer about a year ago and it's fabulous. It was one of their models that they were discontinuing and so it was about $125.

I don't print many photos (it does a very nice job), but the quality/clarity of color printing in maps, for example, is outstanding. It, of course, can print plain old text too. And the paper always feeds correctly and the printed text doesn't come out cockeyed.

This is not the printer for you, though, if you want to print out 10 copies of a hefty thesis. However, if you want one mighty fine copy to xerox, this would work nicely.

I had a Lexmark multi-whatever before that and was a total piece of crap. I would buy another HP printer in a heartbeat. In fact, I went out and bought an HP scanner about 6 months ago because of my good experience with the printer. The scanner has been perfect too.

If only everything else I've ever bought worked this well!
posted by bim at 6:48 PM on March 13, 2006

my office just buaght a monlata QMS - we got it in today. seems great so far! we got it for 750 US dollars. We were high impressed that it has a duplexor!
posted by crewshell at 1:04 AM on March 14, 2006

3100 sorry
posted by crewshell at 1:04 AM on March 14, 2006

Dell has a deal on right now for their lowest end inkjet - 28 pounds! And I think free shipping (at least, they advertise free shipping on all their printer stuff, that might not include the actual printers). Print cartridges are a bit on the expensivo side though, at 20 pounds apiece. Ouch.
posted by antifuse at 2:10 AM on March 14, 2006

I recently bought a HP Photosmart 2575. Colour printer, flatbed scanner, photocopier all in one. Cost now is a tad under £100. So far I'm pretty happy with it. Consumables aren't cheap, as with all printers, but third party inks are cheaper than HP inks (I don't know how well they perform in comparison). It also has a 3-colour cartridge, which is less efficient than seperate colour cartridges.

Overall, I think it's a good all-round purchase for people who need to be able to do a little bit of everything. Whether it's the printer for your friend, I don't know. It may be a bit over-featured for what she needs.

oxonium: Which part of 'in the UK' did you not understand?
posted by salmacis at 2:12 AM on March 14, 2006

What follows is a spew of my personal prejudices; backed up by a fair degree of bitter experience, but personal prejudice all the same.

Four main cheap inkjet manufactureres: Canon, Epson, HP, Lexmark.

Lexmark inkjets suck because they're unreliable as hell, their ink cartridges cost a packet, they make it ridiculously hard to use refill inks, and their Windows drivers are nasty invasive horrible resource sucking piles of crap that keep wanting to talk to the Lexmark website. They're also the only one of the big four that don't manage to print a decent photo.

HP's suck because their ink cartridges (actually complete printheads) are really expensive (although they tolerate refilling well), their paper feed mechanisms are squirrelly, and the only thing worse than their Windows drivers is their Windows installers. A failed install of an HP printer on a network workstation is pretty likely to kill the entire print spooler service and require much fiddling to fix.

Epsons suck because they clog if left unused for more than two weeks (or almost instantly if you run non-Epson inks in them), their head cleaning cycle uses up incredible amounts of ink and usually fails to work first time, and replacing a clogged printhead is a screwdrivers and swearing exercise that usually costs as much as replacing the whole printer. I bought one (a Stylus C63) for its moderate Linux compatibility, but I wish I hadn't.

Canons, in my experience, suck scarcely at all. They're tolerant of dodgy inks (at least, the low-end ones are - the newer ones with 1 picolitre minimum droplet sizes, not so much), replacement ink comes in fairly inexpensive ink tanks that you snap into the existing print head, and if you do need to replace the print head it just snaps out like the HP ones anyway. Also, their installer and driver software is very well-behaved.

I work in primary schools, which are a pretty tough environment for an injket printer, and I've been impressed by how much punishment the cheap Canon inkjets can absorb and still print nicely.

If I were you, I'd just buy whatever Canon inkjet best fits your budget.
posted by flabdablet at 4:19 AM on March 14, 2006

Thanks - particularly to salmacis & flabdablet for being on-topic & informative.
posted by dash_slot- at 10:01 AM on March 14, 2006

At work we buy Kyocera printers, Total cost of ownership was our main criteria. We have purchased hundreds and I can count the failures on the fingers of one hand.

The print quality isn't leading edge, and the drivers arent perfect (but they do suck less than Lexmark/HP) but in short they work and they don't break the bank.
posted by Lanark at 10:56 AM on March 14, 2006

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