Recommendations for a cheap, goof-proof printer
May 24, 2020 12:06 PM   Subscribe

The last printer I bought couldn't/wouldn't talk to my laptop. In frustration I finally gave the printer away (that I was moving and it was a $40 printer didn't hurt). I've upgraded my laptop, sort of, this HP (15-dy1xxx running Windows 10) seems to have issues of its own but returning it may be problematic in this day and time. I am definitely a Luddite, feel free to explain to me as such.
posted by intrepid_simpleton to Computers & Internet (9 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Any black and white Brother laser printer has, in my experience, been kind of set-it-and-forget-it. I have, I think, an HL-L2350DW and it has been more or less bombproof. The first toner cartridge is kind of a starter and won’t last as long as the replacements, but no complaints otherwise.
posted by charmedimsure at 12:13 PM on May 24 [19 favorites]

Any time anyone asks a similar question on AskMe, a Brother laser printer is overwhelmingly recommended.
posted by praemunire at 12:23 PM on May 24 [6 favorites]

I'm another happy Brother laser printer user (cost $120, model DCP L2550DW). My only minor disappointment is that the built-in sheet-feeding scanner doesn't scan double-sided.
posted by anadem at 1:54 PM on May 24 [3 favorites]

Nowadays, any printer that connects via WiFi or Ethernet vs plugging directly into your computer is a standard sort of thing that you can treat like a web page. If it doesn't plug directly into your computer over a cable.... it's a generic Internet Printing Protocol device and you might as well consider it just another computer on the network.

Some are better at doing this than others. Like many I've heard good things about Brother.

If you have to plug the printer directly into your computer, you either have a crap printer, or a very special snowflake use case. Otherwise, if it's a networkable printer, the "doesn't play nice with my Windows" is probably a Windows problem. Decent printers/scanners are computer agnostic because they talk IP and will be happy with a phone, Mac, Windows, Linux, etc. because they talk over IP using IPP (or some variant).

This doesn't necessarily help you, but unless you have crap must plug into Windows machine printer... It's sorta down to either printer is broken or your laptop is broken. Only shite setups are where the printer and computer actually give a shite about each other.
posted by zengargoyle at 3:40 PM on May 24

Nthing brother laser printers. I love mine.
posted by smoke at 10:45 PM on May 24

Yep, brother mfc laser machines are the best. Must be laser. Look for model ending in "DW" which stands for Duplexing (two sided printing) and Wireless (MFC itself stands for multi function - copy, print, scan.) I can even print to mine wirelessly over home network from older tablets and phones using an app called brother iprint and scan that they make. (This is even easier and doesn't require the app if you have newer phones/tablets than I do.) Depending where you are if you keep an eye on craigslist, etc, they be found for less than new; just be sure to check the total pages printed figure.
posted by elgee at 12:17 AM on May 25

Dot matrix printers are malevolent bastards that use their attractive price tag as a lure. Once you have succumbed you will be in a world of eye-wateringly expensive official refills that sometimes work, moderately expensive refills that don't work, paper mechanisms that jam, networking software that is useless and print quality that is heavy on streaks and now on saturation. They know that your disdain for them will mean that they are unloved and little used - but they will save their revenge for that moment when you really need them to do the right thing - which is when they won't.

So nthing - "Get a laser printer". Here is Wirecutter's latest review with a couple of recommendations. The key thing here is that you are buying a product which is aimed at the kind of small business owner who would (or should) have no truck with the domestic market dot-matrix horse shit. For even less money - second hand reconditioned models might work. I've been using their HP recommendation for several months and would recommend it - their economy suggestion is a Brother. I did not subject its predecessor to an Office Space style send off - but wish I had.
posted by rongorongo at 3:04 AM on May 25

I'll nth a Brother laser printer. I have model HLL2395DW. I get the Lynko cartridges off Amazon and haven't had problems.

I have weird print issues from Windows via wifi, but everything eventually prints. Works great plugged into my Raspberry Pi.
posted by kathrynm at 8:28 AM on May 25 [1 favorite]

kathrynm, the printer is going to sleep and Windows isn't sending the Wake On LAN packet or your router is blocking it so the computer can't reach the printer. Eventually the printer wakes up and becomes alive and the spooled print job goes through. Laser printers are also heat based and have to warm up to fuse the toner to the page, it can take a bit to get up to working heat from a power saving cold sleep.
posted by zengargoyle at 12:57 PM on May 25

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