Well, our trusty Canon MX700 finally gave up the ghost. Sad to see, it is was quite reliable and we used the scanning and copying. The consumables were ridiculous, but at least they were the same as the Pro9000 we have. With camera phones, it isn’t clear how important scanning is anymore or copying for that matter and I’ve always found that a laser printer is cheaper and more reliable. 
So here are at least my criteria:

  1. Networked. Pretty important so that you can share it.
  2. Wifi. It is even more convenient if it is wifi enabled so you don’t have to worry about where
  3. Mac aware. So make sure it supports Bonjour and works out of the box for those of us with Macs 🙂

Then there are things to think about:

  1. Size. If this is an occasional printer, it should take up much space or find somewhere to put it.
  2. Inkjet dry up. Well one problem is that if you don’t use your inkjet very much, it clogs and dries up and the ink dries up too. That’s one of the big advantages of laser printing, they don’t have this problem.
  3. Consumables cost. The printer cartridges really eat you alive. Nothing like buying a $77 printer and then finding out the cartridges cost $80 a set which is actually pretty common these days, so read the reviews on cost per print.
  4. Reliability. I’m finding these things die pretty much regularly every 3-7 years. Our old HP LaserJet 4100 is still ticking after 10 years, but these new inkjet seems to love to have dying power supplies (not surprising given the cost pressure), so it probably makes sense to get a more expensive office quality printer for the long haul as the technology has pretty much stagnated. If you care about the environment, it makes me, at least, feel sad to junk this huge chunk of plastic every 3 years.
  5. Black and white Printing. I find that most printing is actually black and white and not color and consumables are the big cost. We don’t actually print much here, but color definitely costs something. This is a razor and razor blades business. For a while we had the Xerox printers which were great for cost (they used solid blocks of ink), but terrible for reliability (they both died in 3 years of light use) which is the Xerox 6500/DN
  6. Copying. This is definitely something that is declining but still finds some use

Then there are some non features at least for me:

  1. Photo printing. If you already have a good photo printer, then life is simpler, you just want something that is going to do everything else, you probably really want a dedicated amazing quality printer and then something else for every day (really every week use).
  2. Scanning. I’ve always had trouble using the scanning features. Most big documents are electronic anyway and the most of the time using a scanning application with your cell phone works better anyway.
  3. Faxing. Does anyone still do this?

So here are some choices based on Wirecutter, Consumer Reports, PC Magazine and CNet:

  1. Epson Workforce WF-3620 (Wirecutter). This thing is just $115, but does have reliability problems (so they recommend the HP OfficeJet 8620 at $200 is perhaps a more reliable option). It’s an inkjet
  2. Brother HL-L2430DW (Wirecutter). This is a $100 (?!) monochrome laser printer so it is really good if you don’t print too much and don’t need scanning or copying. The HL-L2460W has a few extra features like an ethernet port and is $5 more. The nice is that it has wifi, AirPrint and all the latest firmware and supports the Mac. This is a good companion to a nice photo printer if you don’t need the copying and scanning too much. Perhaps the best compromise is the new HL-L2380DW ($180 at Newegg, $142 Amazon) which adds the copying and scanning features for $150. Seems like a really good choice if you hate all those cartridges drying out 🙂

I’m Rich & Co.

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