Printer shopping

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My trusty Epson inkjet printer, bought secondhand at a church sale for $5, several years ago, finally gave up the ghost a couple of days ago, and I need a new printer. I am hoping some of the people here can advise me about currently available models.

First of all, I should say that money is very, very tight, so my first priority is to find something that is both cheap to buy, and that will not cost me too much for new ink (or toner, or whatever). I am happy to buy 3rd party, or refurbished and refilled, ink cartridges online, or to refill cartridges myself, by hand - I have done both successfully with my Epson in the past (and there is no indication that this had anything to do with its eventual failure) - but I am not sure if this is possible with all current models. I would rather get one for which I can get relatively cheap new ink in one or both of these ways.

On the other hand, I do not care greatly about speed or print quality (within reason). Mostly I will just be using for short text documents, scientific articles and web pages. Sometimes the articles and web pages do have colored diagrams, so I would prefer to be able to print colors, although I might be willing to sacrifice that if I can save a substantial amount of money by sticking to black and white and grayscale. However, I certainly do not need to be able to print out photographs with realistic color, or anything like that. Low price is much more important.

Also, I have no use for wireless connectivity (which appears to be a common feature of printers these days) and I do not need a built in scanner (which a lot now also seem to have). I also do not care much about how big it is (again, within reason). I guess I do care about reliability, though.

If it makes a difference, my computer is running Windows XP professional.

Any suggestions or advice?

Also, are secondhand printers generally a good bargain? (I was lucky with my Epson, but my intuition is that in general it is not a good idea, and that there is a high risk that they will soon fail. Maybe that is wrong though.)

Try to get a printer with separate color tanks. That way, you only replace each color as it runs out rather than throw out a multi-color tank that only ran out of one color. Plus, the individual colors are cheaper than a multi.

I recommend a monochrome laser printer. Color is not critical to you, so if you stick to monochrome printing you can get a B&W laser printer for $100 or less and the initial cartridge should last for 2-3000 pages.

I agree.

Yep. Laser. Refill once a year instead of once a month.

I haven’t researched availability of 3rd party refills, but checked out costs per page at Consumer Reports.

Color Inkjet – the clear leader is the HP Officejet Pro 8000 ($100.)
Cost per page of text = 1.9 cents
Cost of 8 x 10 photo = $1.05

The next lowest is the Officejet 6000 ($80) with costs of 3.1 cents and $1.30.

The other models average over 5 cents and $1.60. Two printers that cost $30, had per page costs of over 6 cents.

Among lasers the monochrome Brother HL-5370 ($240) costs 1.3 cents per page, which beats the other low cost printers. (The others run from 2 – 5.2 cents per page.)

The color lasers are mostly 2 or 3 cents per page. (They actually average less than the monochromes.)

The didn’t review any Kodak printers. I think Kodak has recently campaigned on the low price of consumables.

This is the one that I just bought, for $100 (with free shipping at Amazon). I saw it somewhere else for $80, but I don’t remember where. It’s a nice little printer, easy to install, etc., but I haven’t used it enough yet to recommend it.

Do you have ink left from your old printer?

When my printer died I had, as Murphy would have it, just bought 3 new ink carts. No printers being sold in the stores now use those carts anymore.

I looked on eBay and Amazon Marketplace and found a gently used printer that was exactly like the one that died, for slightly less than a new one.

The printer itself wasn’t a super great deal but being able to use my old cartridges sure helped with the final cost.

Older laser printers (HP Laserjet 4, etc.) are often offered on the local Craigslist for very low prices, or even free. And they often come with one or more toner cartridges. I’d look into that route.

Speed may not really be relevant, but having a laser is nice.

Plus, it is my experience that graphics printed on plain paper look better on a laser, as the toner often has built in gloss. Of course, that’s only for relatively low resolution graphics–but those are the types you encounter when printing web pages.

I say laser as well. Ink-jets can be finicky when they do not get regular use (drying out, etc), and this is an aspect to think about, imho. If you are not going to be printing somewhat regularly to keep the jets ‘fresh’, then a laser gives better performance, so to speak. I never regretted going with a laser (Brother MFC8120N, iirc, a 3-in-1 thing that does all I need), and whenever I must print color stuff, I just put the things on a memory card and hit a printing kiosk (like at WalMart or Walgreen’s, or Kinko’s even).

Its a real PIA to get decent color-printing, consistently(!), from a ‘cheap’ home-style ink-jet anyways, so I let others do that printing for me (at a minimal cost compared to keeping fresh ink/cartridges on hand, ime).