Looking for cheap mac-compatible multifunction network duplex printer.
June 1, 2008 8:40 AM   Subscribe

Where can I find the cheapest, most reliable, multifunction network duplex printer that is mac-compatible? (Don't need fax.) I am not looking to spend much more than $200 - is that even possible?

I've been doing some searching online, but the printers I find all have bad reviews or are way past my budget. We just need this for a "small home office" type setting.
posted by ssnickerer to Technology (9 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I can't recommend a specific model, but go with an HP. By far the best all-in-one printers (that aren't commercial) I've ever encountered are HPs.
posted by phunniemee at 9:09 AM on June 1, 2008

If 12 ppm speed and 600 dpi are sufficient, find a used HP LaserJet 4M Plus, or HP 4250, either model with a duplex attachment and a JetDirect network card. Should cost less than $200, complete. Those things are tanks, capable of 500,000 page counts, with only minor maintenance (roller and friction kits) and toner cartridges. I have several.
posted by paulsc at 9:45 AM on June 1, 2008

+1 about the used LaserJet 4M. It's pretty much the standard in printing, there are probably drivers for every known platform. I just gave mine away *sob*. Current printers, especially in your price range, aren't designed to be useful for a long period of time. Also, voice of experience: stay the hell away from inkjet.
posted by lowlife at 10:38 AM on June 1, 2008

I too have a 4M Plus. I paid $1500 for it -- fifteen years ago. I will never need another laser printer. I gave mine away for a short time when a friend was starting a medical practice, but it came back to me. Mine has the auxiliary paper tray unit and the duplexer.

The only bad thing I can say about it is that it is considerably slower than modern units. First, its Ethernet is only 10 megabit, which can be quite noticeable when you're printing graphics, and second, it has a slow processor, which comes into play with complex PostScript documents. And third, even running flat out, it's simply not very fast -- takes a relatively long time to warm up, too.

As an aside, you will want to make sure the one you get has a memory upgrade, otherwise it will only be able to do 300 dpi on duplexed pages. It may be difficult to find the memory module you need to upgrade it if the printer doesn't already have one.
posted by kindall at 10:58 AM on June 1, 2008

Amazon sells the Brother HL-5250DN for $220 and $150 (refurbished). It is a B&W postscript laser printer with built-in duplexing, Ethernet, 1200 dpi, and 30 pages-per-minute. I've found the paper handling to be rock-solid. I use mine in a home-office (approx. 20,000 duplex pages printed so far). Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard has drivers for this printer (and the other Brother printers in the 5200 series) built-in.
posted by RichardP at 11:07 AM on June 1, 2008

I second the Brother HL-5250DN. Best non-HP laser printer I've ever used, by far, and vastly cheaper than an equivalent HP.
posted by onshi at 11:38 AM on June 1, 2008

If I'm reading the question correctly, the OP is looking for a MULTIFUNCTION device. At a minimum that would include scanning/faxing functionality, which neither the HP LaserJet 4M or Brother HL-5250DN possess.

I'm looking for something similar and I've also found that everything that seems like it would fit the bill in terms of features seems to get poor reviews in one or more critical areas. For example, the Brother MFC series, particularly the MFC-8860DN ($449 on Amazon), is perfect, save for the fact that the entire MFC series seems to have trouble printing envelopes with mangling them. They do have straight through paper paths, but these require opening a back panel, flipping one or two levers and then returning the printer to its original configuration once done. A royal pain, if you ask me.

Also, from what I've read, Brother is one of the only major printer manufacturer whose Mac software isn't crippled somehow relative to the PC version. Canon multifunctions seem to especially suffer from poor Mac OS X supports.
posted by pantheON at 11:41 AM on June 1, 2008

I have a Brother MFC [something something], can't find the model #.

it prints, faxes, scans, all that good stuff. it's ok, certainly not great. The main reason I would not buy another one is that it refuses to print when one of the color cartridges is empty, EVEN IF YOU SPECIFY GREYSCALE. I thought I was doing something wrong until I read the notice right on the damn software. I'm sure there's a way to hack it, but what intentionally awful design. I guess they were worried people wouldn't buy enough color ink.
posted by drjimmy11 at 12:12 PM on June 1, 2008

(just found it: MFC5460CN)
posted by drjimmy11 at 12:13 PM on June 1, 2008

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