Many people ask me about my recommendations for printers. So, this blog post will help save time from now on. This is a guide to printers and with only one exception you will have to decide what printer to buy.

When it comes to printers you must always factor in the consumables: ink, toner, drums, and so on. As a general rule, cheap printer have more expensive consumables so that the manufacturer can recoup the cost of the printer. Not too long ago HP, Epson, and Lexmark were called an ink cartel because their high priced ink. Competition has forced them to lower costs.

Below are some guides to help you choose a printer. It is based on my opinion.

Ink, Laser, LED, Dot Matrix, or Thermal

First, don’t get a LED printer. They are really inferior laser printers and are only slightly cheaper.

Yes, dot matrix, or impact, printer still exist. And they aren’t cheap. These are for businesses that print forms with multiple copies. You will know if you need one.

Thermal printers are found in label printers and receipt printers. You will also know if you need one.

How much printer do you do each month? 50+ sheets. Then a laser is the way to go. The costs of consumables for laser printers are very expensive, but last much longer. The cost per page of laser printers is always cheaper than ink. Furthermore, laser printers tend to more mechanically sound. However, the cost of laser printers are greater than ink printers. And color laser printers are very heavy. Laser printers are excellent at text but so-so on pictures. Because of how they work a laser printer can never print a picture worthy of a frame.

If you do not print a lot then an ink printer is the way to go. If you print infrequently then the chances are good you will never experience cost savings over the life of a printer.

Here is my one exception: If you want a printer just for photographs, get an Epson printer. Not the ones sold in the stores, a specialty Epson photo printer. They are expensive and so is the ink, but there is no better print quality than an Epson printer using Epson paper. You must use Epson paper because Epson printers use piezo crystals to print. A piezo crystal is a crystal that changes shape when electricity is applied to it. So the Epson printer squirts the ink out, like you do when frosting a cake. Most of the rest of the ink printer heat the ink causing it to create a bubble that pops on the paper. At one time these were called bubblejet printers. Most photo paper is made for the majority and not for Epson.

Color or Black and White Laser

So you’ve decided you print enough to warrant a laser printer. Do you want color or black and white? How often will you need color? If it is infrequent to never, always choose a black and white. Printing using a black and white laser printer will be less than $0.01 per page, nothing else is cheaper. If you can live without color than you save money and stay with a black and white laser.

All-in-One or Printer Only

This is based on your need. Really, there are two situations where I do not recommend an all-in-one. The first is if you are getting a high-dollar Epson photo printer. The second is if you get a laser printer and you will hardly ever need to scan or fax. It has been my experience that most regular printers are not higher quality and not that much cheaper on the consumables.

Which Brand Do I Get?

These are my opinions on the brands. I only cover the major brands.

  • Brother: If I was to ever buy a laser printer, this would be the only brand I would consider. Brother lasers are solid as a rock and the consumables are lower than the rest. Their ink printers are good, not great. The consumables are not cheaper, but not outrageously expensive, and the photo quality of these printers is bad.
  • Canon: The printers are of good quality and the consumables are not unreasonable. But in my only experience with them I absolutely hate the control panel on their printers. I believe they have changed since I last used one.
  • Dell: These are just rebranded Lexmark printers.
  • Epson: The expensive photo printers are excellent and durable. Although be ready to pay for ink. The regular Epson printers are good and I would be happy if I had one. But some are needlessly big. The consumables for these are reasonable.
  • HP: HP laser printers are very well built. But they cost more than Brother lasers and not superior in print quality. I have had a lot of trouble with HP ink printers lately. Problems with the driver, problems with printing, problems with the mechanical part.
  • Konica Minolta: These are excellent laser printers. They tend to be very expensive too. I might would consider these over a Brother laser in certain situations.
  • Lexmark: I don’t see these as much anymore. Their laser printers are good but also more expensive than Brother while not being superior. Lexmark laser printers get much hotter too. As far as the ink printers, I don’t have any recent experience with them to give an opinion.
  • Oki Data: My only experience with them are their dot matrix printers which are of good quality.
  • Ricoh: No experience with them.
  • Samsung: No experience with them.
  • Xerox: These tend to be a combination of either bad or excellent. Their full copier/printers are very good. Some of their regular laser printers had a frustrating toner replacement.
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