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Printer Hardware

Choosing a Personal Printer For the Long Haul 557

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the i-thought-they-were-disposable-now dept.
The Optimizer writes "After 16 years of service, my laser printer, a NEC Silentwriter 95, is finally wearing its internals out, and I need to find a replacement. It's printed over 30,000 pages and survived a half-dozen long-distance moves without giving me any trouble. I believe it's done so well for two reasons. First, it's sturdily built and hails from an era when every fraction of a penny didn't have to be cost-cut out of manufacturing. The other reason was its software. Since it supported postscript Level II, it wasn't bound to a specific operating system or hardware platform, so long as a basic postscript level 2 driver was available. A new color laser printer with postscript 3 seems like a logical replacement, and numerous inexpensive printers are available. I'd rather get a smaller, personal-size printer than a heavy workgroup printer. Most of all, I would like it to still be usable and running well with Windows 9, OS X 11, and whatever else we will be using in 2020. Can anyone recommend a brand or series of printers that is built to last and isn't going to be completely dependent on OS specific proprietary drivers?"
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Choosing a Personal Printer For the Long Haul

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  • hmmmm (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 01, 2009 @10:19AM (#29605291)
    Pencil and Paper? You want a well built device that is not going to rely on OS specific closed source drivers? I'd say that leaves a pencil.
  • HP (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 01, 2009 @10:19AM (#29605301)
    I realize things have changed, but I still stick by HP laser printers. Try to get a midrange one with a network connection and PostScript Level3, and you should hopefully be set.
    • Ditto. Probably for what submitter wants, a 2XXX would be fine, although I've even got a little 1320n I bought for a couple dispatch terminals at the police dept that's seen moderate use pretty much 24/7 for a couple years now and just keeps happily running along.
      • Re:HP (Score:5, Informative)

        by afidel (530433) on Thursday October 01, 2009 @10:43AM (#29605703)
        I don't think a 1xxx will fulfill his needs, the 1xxx series are almost all win-printers (host based). For duty cycle it would absolutely be enough as 30,000 pages is the monthly duty cycle for a 2xxx series printer. If you need a more substantial printer I think the 4xxx series are the best built printers HP still makes. They are nothing like the LJ3/4 printers though, I once repaired a decade old LJ3 that had over a million pages on it, the only reason it needed repair is that a tooth on the single plastic gear had broken (everything else in the unit was metal). Personally I have an old Lexmark laser with a 500 page feeder and the backup is a LJ4. My primary color need is photos and those are best done by a mini-lab on real photo paper.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          I disagree about the 1xxx series, I have a 1020 laserjet, and it works just fine on my freebsd cups print server I use to provide print services to all the machines in my house (2 OSX, 3 or 4 windows boxes, and a bunch of openbsd and freebsd boxes).

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by Reece400 (584378)
            Yes, so long as the printer supports PCL5 (which almost all HP laserjets do) it should be nearly as universal as one which supports postscript. However that said, if he is looking for postscript, I don't believe the 1xxx series support that.
    • Re:HP (Score:5, Informative)

      by pz (113803) on Thursday October 01, 2009 @10:38AM (#29605589) Journal

      I realize things have changed, but I still stick by HP laser printers. Try to get a midrange one with a network connection and PostScript Level3, and you should hopefully be set.

      I'd go one farther. I've bought a handful of printers (4 total) to do some medium-duty printing (25k pages per year). HP's consumer-level stuff is reasonably well-made, but ends up being very expensive in toner. Many people use aftermarket toner for that reason. HP's entry business-level stuff is GREAT. Printers made with an anticipated lifetime of over 100k pages. The newest ones (like the 2055d and related B&W laser printers) are pretty small, too. They speak PS and PCL. You can get off-lease units on eBay for not too much, or wait for one of the sales at tech stores. If you get a used one, the most important thing to watch for is the number of pages on the print path, and try to find one with less than 10k. From time to time HP has trade-in bonus programs where you send them an old printer and get money back, when you buy one of their new ones.

      But, if you elect to go the color route, be prepared for sticker shock on the toner. You should expect to start paying 3-4x the money because you'll be buying 4 times as many cartridges. Even if, like most, your printing is primarily black-and-white, you'll be replacing the K (black) cartridge quite often, because for a given size printer, the four carts for color reproduction (CMYK, cyan, magenta, yellow, black) hold less than 1/4 the amount of toner each as the single K cartridge in a B&W printer.

      My wife and I have a Dell 1710 printer at home, that's a B&W non-duplex model made by Lexmark, and I'm waiting for it to die to replace it with an HP equivalent. The Dell prints great at first, but altogether too quickly , the output becomes shoddy. I've not had such problems with the HP printers in my lab (again, with 25k pages per year at work).

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Kagato (116051)

        I just don't think they make HP's like they used too. Even the medium duty office printers like the current 4500 series are a bit dodgy. Brand new laser printer and the gears inside are so loud you can hear it from across the office. Not to mention the odd squeeks. Those aren't good signs.

        I used to repair prints as a lad just out of school in the 90's. Most HPs back then never broke per se. You'd replace rollers and other consumable parts now and then, but an actual failure was pretty rare and often a

    • I've had terrible luck with HP printers. It seems like they're only recognized properly about 1/3 of the time, and if I do get a computer to recognize it, it will randomly stop recognizing it at some point in the future. Not to mention the terrible software that it seems is pretty much required in order for the damn things to work. I don't think I should have to install software at this day and age to be able to use a damn printer.

    • I'm going to leave the longevity and O/S driver issues to the other posts as they have done a great and humorous job.

      Instead, I'm going to present a different perspective.

      You state that you printed about 30,000 pages over 16 years.

      Rounding up, printing 2,000 pages a year on an old used HP Laserjet II, II, or IV might cost you between $0.10 and $0.12 a page when you calculate the cost of energy and supplies even if you get the printer for FREE. That amounts to between $200 and $240 per year. (FOREVER

  • Laser printers (Score:5, Informative)

    by DurendalMac (736637) on Thursday October 01, 2009 @10:20AM (#29605313)
    Get another laser printer. Take care of it and it'll last forever. Postscript means no serious OS dependence. Hell, I just set up a new Ricoh printer at an office that needed to be used with a Mac OS 9 application. It only needed very basic printing, so no biggie. It worked fine, so thank God for Postscript. Ricoh and Brother are good in my eyes, but I'm sure someone with more experience will chime in.
    • Re:Laser printers (Score:5, Interesting)

      by TheRaven64 (641858) on Thursday October 01, 2009 @10:39AM (#29605631) Journal
      Try to make sure it supports PCL too. I had a Brother laser printer (I don't anymore; I have it to my mother, who still uses it), but it only had a 50MHz MIPS CPU. Complex PostScript documents took a very long time for it to print. Some LaTeX-produced pages containing just text took 20-30 seconds before it would start printing. PCL, in contrast, is a much simpler language and converting form PS to PCL on my computer and sending the result let it print with only a couple of seconds between pages. I'd also recommend getting one that supports network connectivity. This pretty much guarantees that it isn't doing anything magic in the drivers, as some USB printers do, and will work with any OS you care to try.
      • by RingDev (879105)

        After getting fed up with an ailing Lexmark and it's freaking ridiculously priced ink cartridges, I started looking around for a replacement. I pick up a Brother HL2170W for $60 on sale at some box store. That's right $60.00. The same cost as the two ink packs for the Crapmark I had been dealing with. It has it's own WAP built in and can auto detect and configure for most modern wireless routers (my Linksys WRT54GL's one-touch config picked up the printer with out me having to do a thing), or you can connec

    • by Jeff Carr (684298)
      Exactly, and make sure it's single function and black and white if you don't print in color often, less things to break that way. I picked up the Brother 2070N [brother-usa.com] myself a few years ago. Works with or without drivers, works great in Linux, perfectly reliable for me (and others based on reviews), and cheap enough to not worry too much about it if it doesn't last more than a few years. Plus it has a toner drum available if you do a lot of printing. I'm still perfectly happy with this one, but there might b
  • Samsung (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Tet (2721) * <slashdot@astrady ... E.uk minus punct> on Thursday October 01, 2009 @10:21AM (#29605319) Homepage Journal
    I went for Samsung printers for precisely that reason. I have an ML-3051ND at home (and its replacement, an ML-3471ND at work) because they're well built and they use PostScript, and hence aren't tied to any obscure software drivers. They're not colour, but then I remain unconvinced that colour laser printers are worth while yet. Cheap inkjets give significantly better print quality, at the cost of having to keep two printers around, one for colour and one for black and white. But it's a solution that works for me, at least.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by outcast36 (696132)
      I bought a Samsung ML 1710 about 5 years ago, and it's worked from Ubuntu, Xandros, OSX10, Windows 2000-2008. Cheap workhorse, not a lot of extra features that you don't need breaking down and slowing things down. When it goes, I'll replace it with another one.
    • by u38cg (607297)
      Yeah. I'm not convinced anything like what the OP seeks is available any more, but at the price a new ML1610 costs, I don't see why you *would*. And so far, mine has been a great wee workhorse: three full toners through it and it chugs away like a trooper.
    • Re:Samsung (Score:5, Informative)

      by datapharmer (1099455) on Thursday October 01, 2009 @10:38AM (#29605601) Homepage
      I second the samsung printers. We purchased a ML-2851ND for work and have been very happy with it. For a laser printer it is relatively small (not as small as an hp-p1005, but the hp already requires you to track down a driver for osx - at least for 10.5, which worries me); the ML-2851ND printed on windows, osx, and over the linux network just fine without any special drivers. There are easy configuration drivers on cd for several operating systems, but for osx and xp I just listed it as generic postscript and it prints great. It offers duplex which is nice and the dual usb/ethernet interface means it will be more likely to survive changes in technology over time... there is bound to be something that can convert to either usb or ethernet 20 years from now. The memory can be upgraded or replaced if needed and it is fast out of the box.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Khelder (34398)

        We've had a Samsung ML-1210 laserprinter (back & white) for several years (more than 4, maybe 6) and it works just as well as ever. It got quite a lot of use for a home printer since my wife was in a web-based grad program for 4 of those years and had to print lots of stuff for that. The only feature I really miss is that it's not duplex.

        It isn't PostScript, but on Windows and Mac the Samsung drivers work just fine, and on Linux it works with foomatic no problem. They do also provide drivers for it for

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by damnbunni (1215350)

      My Brother HL4040CDN color duplexing laser was only $224 shipped - not a lot more than a color inkjet and a couple of ink refills. Factor in how much cheaper toner is per page, and that toner doesn't dry out sitting there if you don't print, and in a few years I come out ahead. Plus the Brother prints both sides without fiddling with flipping paper around, which is a plus. Inkjet prints can be more vibrant than color laser, but frankly the laser's 'good enough'.

      Unfortunatly the HL4040 series aren't PostSc

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Kagato (116051)

      Here's the problem I have with color inkjets. I rarely print in color. I do a lot of black and white printing. What I was finding was when I needed color the ink had dried out. So I was running out to the office store to buy more ink. I can't imagine what the cost per page was.

      A little over two years ago I bought a Xerox color laser for Costco. Nice printer, with built in network support, quiet and able to run heavy paper stock out of the tray. No problems printing to it via Mac, Windows or Linux. S

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by raju1kabir (251972)

        Here's the problem I have with color inkjets. I rarely print in color. I do a lot of black and white printing. What I was finding was when I needed color the ink had dried out. So I was running out to the office store to buy more ink. I can't imagine what the cost per page was.

        You've discovered one of the dirty secrets of inkjets.

        Under optimal conditions, the cost per page tends to be a few times that of a laser. But for many users, who only print occasionally, and have to deal with the dry-ink problem, the

  • by BadAnalogyGuy (945258) <BadAnalogyGuy@gmail.com> on Thursday October 01, 2009 @10:22AM (#29605363)

    The problem is that you are assuming that printers made today have any sort of longterm lifespan. They do not. They are cheaply-made and will not last you more than a couple years at the longest.

    Add to this that you would lose the ability to buy toner after a few years due to planned obsolescence, and your dream of buying a cheap personal printer that will last you two generations of Windows is simply impossible.

    • So buy a bigass office printer. Problem solved.
      • by 16384 (21672)

        So buy a bigass office printer. Problem solved.

        I did that. It's big. And loud. Uses about the same amount of power as a small space heater. I still like it though :)

    • by Yvan256 (722131)

      Your dream of buying a cheap personal printer that will last you two generations of Windows is simply impossible.

      You mean today's printers can't last more than three years?

    • by Thelasko (1196535)

      your dream of buying a cheap personal printer that will last you two generations of Windows is simply impossible.

      No, it's only impossible if you are looking for one made by Lexmark.

    • Actually, we can recommend something: a laser printer. The manufacturer probably doesn't matter as much as the fact that you go laser, which seem to have far longer lifespans than inkjet printers. Other commenters below recommend HPs, but I doubt it really matters; I have a Brother HL 2040 and have for about four years, and it's given me no problems.
    • by green1 (322787) on Thursday October 01, 2009 @01:39PM (#29608211)

      The big problem I've seen evolve in the printer market is the difference between a "home" and "office" printer (they used to all be just printers)

      Office printers are expensive to buy, but they last forever, they get TONS of printing out of their ink/toner cartridges, which are dirt cheap to replace (on a per-page comparison) and because of their simple designs can usually be re-filled easily, and will be available to purchase for decades to come. Office printers also use standard formats like postscript and don't require a special program running on your PC...

      Home printers by comparison are the opposite, they're cheap to buy, and don't last long, their ink/toner cartridges cost a fortune (again, on a per-page comparison) and print very few pages, and often contain all sorts of proprietary chips to try to prevent you from buying generic cartridges (this same added complication ensures that you often can't re-fill the cartridges, and the original manufacturer is likely to phase them out after a fairly short period of time). Home printers also usually require bloated software running on your PC which tries to make you buy all sorts of "accessories" every time you open them, and hog half your system resources even when you aren't printing...

      So basically my recommendation is that it hardly matters what brand you buy, just as long as you look at their office line-up, and not their home printers. (even some of the worst offenders in the home market still make amazing office printers)

    • by mobby_6kl (668092) on Thursday October 01, 2009 @02:19PM (#29608835)

      Oh fuck, is this the whole "they don't make them like they used to" thing again? The cheap laser printers you can get today might not have as much attention to quality as the magical NEC from 1993 or whenever, but that's the thing, they're cheap, and the NEC wasn't. How much was it back then?

      LaserJets from mid 80s were apparently about $3500, and according to this magazine review [atarimagazines.com], the Silentwriter 95 was $1749 back in 1992, so that's about $2500 in today's money. Go ahead and buy a monochrome laser printer for two and a half grand, I'll just get one for $150 which will last me most of a decade, if not more.

      Anecdote time! The KonicaMinolta Page Pro I got 6 years ago for maybe $90 still works perfectly fine today. I can still get original KM toner if I wanted to, and the only thing that went wrong with it was a tiny piece of plastic which held up part of the paper tray. Now if I shake it, it wobbles a bit more than it should. This might be explained by the fact that I put all the shit that didn't fit on my desk on top of it though, but oh noes! Obviously it's not as good as the one from back when you were my age. And get off his lawn, you damn kids!

  • by Chas (5144) on Thursday October 01, 2009 @10:23AM (#29605375) Homepage Journal

    Most of the stuff out there now is cheap plastic crap for "personal size" printers.
    You get 18-24 months of moderate use out of them before they die, and ALL of them are proprietary drivers.
    If you want more flexibility and longer lifespan, you pretty much HAVE to go up to workgroup printers.

    As to a specific model, again, I'm not someone who goes through printers that often. I'm fairly happy with my LaserJet 3005x though.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by jimicus (737525)

      Most of the stuff out there now is cheap plastic crap for "personal size" printers.
      You get 18-24 months of moderate use out of them before they die, and ALL of them are proprietary drivers.

      Not strictly true. Kyocera's printers are Postscript throughout the range, and they have got a cheapie model, the FS-1100.

      I don't think it's as sturdy as the HP Laserjet 4L I bought it to replace, but it's not as bad as some.

    • One thing that I don't understand about those cheap-o printers is, why the hell are they still so big? I have a cheap Canon inkjet printer and I'm reasonably happy with it. I mean, it works and it looks ok most of the time, and I don't use it too much so it's fine. But even though it's a pretty recent printer, it still comes in a package that's a solid 18"x12"x6" block. Lift it, and you can tell that most of that block is air. It's even bigger than the printer I had 10 years ago.

      Now I understand that

      • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Thursday October 01, 2009 @11:03AM (#29606021) Homepage Journal

        Making the printer physically larger means that the polar moment of inertia is increased, and that the forces of the reciprocating print head reversing direction are dissipated through a longer lever arm. Or in even simpler terms, making it bigger makes it shake less. This translates into a longer lifespan and overall cheaper design phase. MemJet [memjet.com] has promised to deliver print technology which will permit portable printers with good quality and absurd print speeds [ohgizmo.com] but, uh... where are they? I'm still waiting. You can buy a report about the technology, but you can't buy a printer. M'aidez!

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by the_B0fh (208483)

      you haven't seen the brother series have you? The HL series is pretty damn good.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by story645 (1278106)

      and ALL of them are proprietary drivers.

      HP's recommended generic linux printer driver (it's open source) works for practically their whole line (I switch between personal and workgroup printers and haven't had to install more than one package) and I find the linux tools to be less fussy than the windows set.

  • HP (Score:5, Informative)

    by benwiggy (1262536) on Thursday October 01, 2009 @10:24AM (#29605383)

    You can't go much wrong with a decent HP Laser printer. As long as you don't get the completely bargain bucket, bottom of the range ones.

    30,000 pages is nothing. I've got an 8-year-old HP5000 series that does 10,000 pages a year.

    Anything with an Ethernet socket and support for PostScript (or even PDF natively, these days) is not going to need much in the way of drivers, particularly on OS X.

    • Re:HP (Score:5, Informative)

      by i.r.id10t (595143) on Thursday October 01, 2009 @10:28AM (#29605441)

      My mom is still using a laserjet II that she got for $25 on a surplus sale from the county. When she had it serviced, the built in utility reported that it had printed over 2 million pages.... still going strong, she's had it for 10 years.

      So, I'd say haunt surplus sales, etc. and pick up an older HP laserjet .. built like a tank.

      • I agree. I highly recommend the LaserJet 4M series. In 2001 for $190 bucks ($50 for the printer, $40 for shipping and $100 for a new extra-capacity toner Cartridge) I got a network-enabled printer that has worked for 8 years with no service except the occasional reloading of paper. I don't print a ton, but when I do, it just works.

        On the other hand, if you liked your old printer so much, why don't you just look for another NEC on eBay or other second source?
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by sconeu (64226)

        LJII's rock.

        My father-in-law had one. During the Northridge quake, it fell off the table it was on, and onto the floor. We picked it up, plugged everything back in, and it Just Worked.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Technician (215283)

        I'm using a Laserjet III. I picked up the memory module cheap online so it will now print a full graphic page. It's hardly portable like the Laserjet II. Aftermarket cartridges are 4 for $100. The consumables for this are about the same price as 1 set of carts for the color HP950c color ink jet, but last 5X as long. This makes it's operating cost about 1/20th the ink jet. The inkjet is seldom used for this reason.

        I recently picked up a laserjet 1100 for free. I use it when traveling. I'm still runni

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by ndege (12658)

        Agreed. I am responsible for approx 950 employees's IT equipment; this includes printers. For 98% of our users, we purchase refurbished HP LaserJet 5n [wikipedia.org]. I am sure nearly everyone has seen them; here is a photo to remind you [gstatic.com]. These are the old B/W workhorse laser printers that go and go. We can get about 10,000 pages per toner cartridge, and replacement cartridges are approx $38. Works beautifully when connected via ethernet. There is great driver support (uses PCL5). We use stock drivers which are inc

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        I still use an HP LaserJet 4 Plus and although mine lacks the PostScript module, it does have JetDirect and every machine on the planet supports it. I used it to print forms for a political campaign I was a part of a couple years ago to the tune of about 25,000 pages in a matter of 2 weeks. It's old. The plastic is all yellowed. It still works just fine.

        I tell most people I know to check eBay or Craig's List for old HP LaserJets. They last forever and can be had for almost nothing. The toner isn't even that

    • Same here.

      I picked up an HP LaserJet 4100 (with duplexer and jetDirect card) for $25 at a used pc sale run by the local county government. I also got an HP 8150DN (duplexer, network and 2000 sheet feeder tray) at the same sale for another $25.

      The things are built well and everybody supports them. Because they were so common, toner is easy to find. Not that I'll need it, the 8150 came with two full cartridges rated at 20,000 sheets each.

    • You can't go much wrong with a decent HP Laser printer. As long as you don't get the completely bargain bucket, bottom of the range ones.

      30,000 pages is nothing. I've got an 8-year-old HP5000 series that does 10,000 pages a year.

      Anything with an Ethernet socket and support for PostScript (or even PDF natively, these days) is not going to need much in the way of drivers, particularly on OS X.

      x2. They are readily available on the used market for a great price, parts are cheap and easy to source and service info is easy to find. Go for the "mid level" market lasers (anything 3000 series and up), they are usually built for heavier duty cycles then personal lasers so they last a LONG time for home use, and price per page is very low. At the same time, they usually have a smaller footprint then a typical workgroup printer.

      They also usually come with JetDirect and memory slots for expansion. JetDirec

    • by name_already_taken (540581) on Thursday October 01, 2009 @11:16AM (#29606231)

      I won't even look at an HP printer any more. They used to be fabulously reliable, but no longer.

      Now granted, most of my experience is with their larger machines, but my experience with their SOHO inkjet machines has sucked too. The last of those went in the dumpster last year, when it told me the cartridge we'd had on the shelf for a year had expired and it refused to print with it.

      Last year I took a Torx screwdriver and a hammer and dismantled and threw out my office's HP 9500hdn and the old HP 8550DN.

      Both of these printers were used lightly during most of the year, to print the occasional office print job (5 person office), and then for two months of each year they'd be run about 6 hours a day continuously, to produce duplexed and stapled documents for a conference.

      The 8550 you could charitably say had worn out - over firve years we'd gotten over 150,000 prints out of it, but the monthly duty cycle rating was supposed to be up around 100,000 pages anyway, so that's not much. At the end it jammed more often than it printed, but long before the mechanical parts started to fail, the formatter board had decided that it wouldn't boot with the internal IDE hard drive attached (or any other IDE drive attached), and this was the second formatter board - the first one died years ago. This meant that it could no longer produce more than one copy of any multi-page document. This, coupled with the constant jams and the 4 page per minute print speed spelled the end of this machine.

      The 9500... well, that was a huge disappointment. We got about two years out of it. It was a lot faster than the 8550, but after about 18 months it started to jam. A lot. We spent close to $2000 on having HP's on-site support people take guesses at the problem, and they honestly had no idea why it was jamming. We'd tried everything including putting it in a special room with controlled temperature and humidity, and even using a power conditioner and a variac to play with the line voltage - at this point I would have brought in a Voodoo priest if I could have found one. I don't think we even broke the 150,000 page mark on this piece of junk.

      Both printers were replaced with a Ricoh Aficio SP C811DN-DL. Talk about a night and day difference. We're on our second year with the Ricoh and it has jammed once, when someone put a folded piece of paper in the supply drawer. It is a thing of beauty. We also have one inkjet machine, a Ricoh GX5050N - totally trouble free, prints two-sided and has huge ink cartridges.

      We also had an HP 3500N. It actually costs more to buy a full set of all four toner cartridges than it does to buy a Brother all-in-one color laser fax/scanner. So that's what we did. We have two of the Brother machines, and they only complain when they need toner or a drum.

      In short, my advice is buy a Brother or a Ricoh, but whatever you buy, research it - find reviews from people who own the printer model you're looking at.

    • by King_TJ (85913) on Thursday October 01, 2009 @11:29AM (#29606403) Journal

      I'll give you a prime example. About 2-3 years ago, I decided it was time to buy a good, solid color laser printer for use with my side business. (I wanted to print my own business cards and advertising 3-fold fliers, among other things.) I finally chose an HP Color LaserJet 2550N since it got good reviews for print quality, offered OS X as well as Windows support, had built-in ethernet, and so on.

      Well, it turns out it has several big problems most of the early reviewers neglected to mention. For starters, it has a really annoying habit of rotating the carousel the toner cartridges drop into, every 4 hours or so. There's *nothing* about this in the owner's manual, but people complaining to HP tech. support were supposedly told it's "normal behavior" and done "to ensure the toner doesn't clump up/settle in the cartridges over time". All fine and good, except the loud racket it makes, with a big "Cha-chunka, ka-chunka, ka-chunka, ka-CHUNK" drives you crazy when it wakes you up in the middle of the night, and you have to wonder how much extra wear and tear it makes on the internals.

        But wait, there's more! The second "surprise" HP had in store for owners of this printer is that each time it cycles the toners around like that, it counts it as 1 print cycle. The toner cartridges and the developer drum all have computer chips in them that track page count, and when it reaches HP's predefined "limit", the toner or developer reports it's "empty" to the printer, and stops working - no matter how much longer it could *really* go! So theoretically, if you leave this printer powered on, so it's available to print to on your LAN, but never even print anything - it will eventually tell you all the supplies are used up and need replacements!

      After I owned this printer for the first year or so, I noticed it was quickly replaced with a newer model that uses totally different supplies, too. This is typical for HP's products these days - and becomes a real problem when you run out of a toner and want to grab a replacement locally, so you don't suffer a lot of downtime. At least with cheap inkjet printers, you can usually find what you need, even for popular older models, if you check several office supply places. But they don't like stocking > $120 each color toners for a printer that few people purchased before it was discontinued. So basically, I can't get anything locally for my 2550N!

      It's a huge waste - but honestly, when my toners run out, my smartest move (money-wise) is to sell the printer for "parts" on eBay for $25 or whatever, and buy a new color laser that comes with the supplies. The supplies are often as costly to swap as it is to buy the whole printer with them!

  • by gngulrajani (52431) on Thursday October 01, 2009 @10:27AM (#29605423) Journal

    Was 80GBP has cheap consumables and works fine with CUPS.
    A lot of the Brother lasers get good reviews.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by jizziknight (976750)

      I'll second this. They generally don't require any software to work properly either. Just plug it in, and it's good to go.

  • by davidwr (791652) on Thursday October 01, 2009 @10:30AM (#29605449) Homepage Journal

    Find several models that have been around at least a year, preferably two, then search for their reputations.

    You might try consumer-product-rating magazines and web sites that have a reputation for independence.

  • I've got an old HP ColorLaserJet 5M. It's still grinding along just fine, but I know it must be getting tired after all these years. I'm very interested in the recommendations of the Slashdot community. The HP is built like the proverbial brick outhouse and probably weighs a bit more. Its only downside is limited memory (slow on graphics/photo-heavy pages), and its photo reproduction is adequate at best.

    I'd love to replace it with another heavy-duty workhorse, but one that can do a better job with ph

  • OSX 11? (Score:4, Informative)

    by Rhaban (987410) on Thursday October 01, 2009 @10:30AM (#29605457)

    Doesn't the X stands for 10?

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Marcx77 (1193559)
      Yes. He's hoping to buy a printer that will last him 1001 generations of Apple's OS.
  • by jeffmeden (135043) on Thursday October 01, 2009 @10:30AM (#29605459) Homepage Journal
    Find a nice used laserjet or color laserjet, these printers last for decades, they will have replacement parts available for that long, and they are platform independent supporting either poststript or PCL.

    Why used? If you are looking to save money (I assume this is what " I'd rather get a smaller, personal-size printer than a heavy workgroup printer" means) this is the way to go. If you are looking for an all around smaller printer, get a cheap disposable color inkjet and save yourself the trouble of maintaining a cheap color laser printer. Unless you get a workhorse, it probably won't last no matter what kind you buy.
  • Skip the printer. There is VERY little need for a personal printer unless you are into scrap booking or something like that.
  • by squallbsr (826163) on Thursday October 01, 2009 @10:31AM (#29605469) Homepage

    Get yourself another laser printer, after I bought mine (HP P2015-dn for $300 2 years ago) I haven't looked back. 99.99% of my printing is black and white anyway, I use the crap out of the double sided feature and I love the networked aspect.

    My only complaint is that it needs to be restarted every month or so - otherwise it takes 20 minutes to print 1 page.

    • by pz (113803) on Thursday October 01, 2009 @10:55AM (#29605879) Journal

      Get yourself another laser printer, after I bought mine (HP P2015-dn for $300 2 years ago) I haven't looked back. 99.99% of my printing is black and white anyway, I use the crap out of the double sided feature and I love the networked aspect.

      My only complaint is that it needs to be restarted every month or so - otherwise it takes 20 minutes to print 1 page.

      I have a p2015dn with that same problem, only it was after every big document. It was 100% solved by putting more memory in the printer.

  • First, it's sturdily built and hails from an era when every fraction of penny didn't have to be cost-cut out of manufacturing

    That's BS. Are you suggesting that there was a time the manufacturers weren't trying to squeeze out cost? What planet are you from?

    • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Thursday October 01, 2009 @10:44AM (#29605731) Journal
      This was back in a time when people expected printers to last for many years of high-volume use and didn't buy anything from the company ever again if they didn't. Companies like HP made a name in this market by charging a premium but providing good value for money. They didn't need to try to cut costs, because they could pass their costs on to the customer, and the customer would be happy because it meant less downtime.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        They didn't need to try to cut costs, because they could pass their costs on to the customer, and the customer would be happy because it meant less downtime.

        What a radical concept... Think I could patent it? :)

      • by TechForensics (944258) on Thursday October 01, 2009 @11:58AM (#29606825) Homepage Journal

        Companies like HP made a name in this market by charging a premium but providing good value for money. They didn't need to try to cut costs, because they could pass their costs on to the customer, and the customer would be happy because it meant less downtime.

        This is so true re HP. I bought my LaserJet 5MP about 1994 for $700.00 (a lot in those days) and it has been completely trouble-free for 15 years. Replacement toner carts are as easy to get as the day it was made.

  • 30,000? Junk! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sirwired (27582) on Thursday October 01, 2009 @10:31AM (#29605481)

    30,000 is a measly 60 reams of paper. All but the cheapest, lowest-end piece of crap should be able to handle more than six cases of paper before kicking the bucket. If standards are that low, just about any SOHO printer should do the trick.

    SirWired

  • by petes_PoV (912422) on Thursday October 01, 2009 @10:31AM (#29605485)
    Don't just look at the ticket price of the printer itself. if you're planning on printing another 30,000 pages with the new printer over 16 years (hint: you won't - modern stuff just won't last) the paper, toner, drums and even electricity consumed. will far exceed the cost of the hardware.
  • One suggestion (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 01, 2009 @10:32AM (#29605501)

    Brother has some of the best Linux support I've seen. And their products are well built.

    http://www.brother-usa.com/Printer/Color_Laser_Printers/

    The HL-3040CN is personal-sized, but packs a punch.

    Network-ready
    17 ppm
    LED instead of laser (higher dpi, fewer moving parts)
    under $300

  • My solution (Score:5, Interesting)

    by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Thursday October 01, 2009 @10:34AM (#29605531) Homepage Journal

    I bought a LaserJet 2100 and a 10/100 JetDirect card for it. It lives on my network so that provides wifi printing, it has an appletalk port and a parallel port, I got a belkin USB to parallel adapter for $1 at a yard sale, and it's even got front-panel IR. Then I added a Postscript+4MB RAM DIMM to it. This gets you 300,600,1200 DPI modes plus a 600-dpi-with-variable toner blob size high speed mode. Then I had to rebuild it, which is surprisingly easy actually.

    This printer was meant to print 20,000 pages a month and to be rebuildable, which is nontrivial but honestly not all that bad. The only downside is lack of duplex, and the lack of a screen. I guess that's two down sides. You manage the printer via web browser+java plugin, which is fairly cross-platform anyway. It prints PCL5, PCL6, and Postscript.

    It's not particularly fast in anything but 300 dpi mode, but it has really beautiful output and refilled toner carts are trivially available. You can pick all this up under $200 these days; I didn't, but you can. And pretty much anything can print to it, which to me is a huge feature. Finally, it doesn't require an external print server, which is also critically important to me, I have far too much clutter as it is.

    If you get something newer, it's probably shabbier and faster. The 2100 is cool and competent. It's also useless without a memory expansion of some kind. You could skip the postscript, PCL is perfectly usable from Unix these days, but you must upgrade the RAM. IIRC it just takes parity EDO DIMMs or something, but you'd have to look it up.

  • by Kamokazi (1080091)

    HP has great support for Operating systems across the board for their monochrome laser printers. Most of them have drivers from DOS-Windows 7, Mac OS7-X, and Linux/Unix support.

    However, I have had bad luck with one of their more recent personal printer models, the P3005. About half have had issues of some type. But their older and higher-end models are quite reliable and work well. We print on to vellum for developing film masking for etching, and we need absolute perfect print quality, and we had an 81

  • Older generation HPs (Score:5, Informative)

    by citking (551907) <jay&citking,net> on Thursday October 01, 2009 @10:36AM (#29605559) Homepage

    The older generation of HP printers are about the best one can get. The LaserJet 4/5 series were built like tanks, using steel for the frame and being very, very simple to repair.

    Since HP 4s and 5s use standard PCL and PS languages they are very easily able to work across platforms. (One note however - if using PostScript with a LaserJet 4 or 5 be sure to have enough printer memory or you'll have a few issues with the printer becoming overwhelmed).

    Before Carly Fiorina destroyed HP they used to be the leader in printers (or at least in the very top tier). Now they crank out plastic pieces of shit that break after a year, are difficult to repair using off-the-bench tools, and try to market a new toner cart to you when the old one is still at 20% capacity. Seriously, our LaserJet 4200 will not go into powersave mode when it is telling me to order a new cartridge with 1/5th the life remaining. It is very annoying.

    While the LaserJet 4/5 series of printers are not small, personal-type lasers they are workhorses. As I stated before parts are cheap and are easy to replace should that be necessary. Toner carts are prevalent and are reasonable. I'd go with these tried-and-true printers if you are looking for another decade-plus of worry-free operation. Personally I'd go specifically with the LaserJet 5m, but if you don't like the size/heft of that perhaps a LaserJet 4p would be more to your liking, though they can be a bit more difficult to work on because of their small stature.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by rkww (675767)

      Personally I'd go specifically with the LaserJet 5m [hp.com]

      I concur. Note that the 'm' suffix means 'Macintosh' and indicates that it comes with ethernet and PostScript 2 as standard.

  • XEROX Phaser 6280N (Score:3, Informative)

    by characterZer0 (138196) on Thursday October 01, 2009 @10:36AM (#29605565)

    PCL 6
    PostScript level 3
    IPv6

    That should be okay for a while.

    • by Thelasko (1196535)
      Yeah, I've heard a lot of recommendations for this printer. It's really intended for a small business, but I think it's worth the cost for the long haul.
    • by cabjf (710106)
      I have a Xerox Phaser 6120. It's pretty nice. Just hook it up to my network and any OS I've thrown at it can print. It's been almost 4 years and I still haven't had to buy anything other than paper for it.
  • I used to work for Canon and saw a low of low-end printers come through our shop for repair, and software support was a nightmare.

    As most people already know HP = Canon, but the main difference was that the HP software was so superior to what Canon offered us it made a significant difference in usability. I.E. typical office with typical $20k multi-function scanner/copier/printer/fax. Customer has trouble with our drivers on one form, if we substituted the HP Laserjet2 driver for ours the form came out pe

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 01, 2009 @10:38AM (#29605617)

    the one that uses the same toner cartridges as the one at work.

  • Brother Printers (Score:3, Informative)

    by mgbastard (612419) on Thursday October 01, 2009 @10:40AM (#29605655)
    I've had great results with Brother's printers. Postscript, good driver support, etc. etc. Also, the ones with wireless are pretty handy too. Ethernet for cheap, and decent consumables, both offbrand and onbrand. e.g. HL-5370DW PCL, Postscript clone, duplex, straight paper path (cardstock!), wireless 11g, ethernet & usb. Paper trays available. $249 USD Also, total MFC with Fax, flatbed: MFC-8890DW $499 and down.
  • get another one (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MooseTick (895855) on Thursday October 01, 2009 @10:43AM (#29605707) Homepage

    In the day of eBay and world reaching online marketplaces, the easy answer is to get another one just like what you had. It met all your requirements and the only thing that you state has changed is it has worn out. I'm sure there is a brand new or nearly new one out there waiting to be found. Also, it should be cheap since it is so old. Yuo may find though, that you don't get as lucky as you did the first one. Some people have cars for 15+ years also, then get a replacement that only lasts 5.

  • by localman57 (1340533) on Thursday October 01, 2009 @10:44AM (#29605727)
    One question I ask people when they're looking for a printer is if they really need color. They typically say, "Of course! I print photos!" but the fact is you can run a few hundred digital prints from Wal Mart for what a single color Inkjet cartridge costs. The quality is better, the fade resistance is better, and most people don't get a few hundred prints from a cartridge. And, assuming you're going there anyway and you have a typical cheap inkjet, it's easier to send them to the photodepartment via their web site and pick them up when you go shopping than to print them at home.
  • by EEPROMS (889169) on Thursday October 01, 2009 @07:44PM (#29612489)
    Were I work we have a "no print" policy and just archive everything on a file server. About a year ago I had to look at purchasing a small enterprise printer that was both green in the power consumption and also in the consumables sense with cost in mind of course. The issue I had with most printers is that the drum and toner had to be replaced on a regular basis and toner print capacity was not that good. So after doing all the math we went with a Kyocera FS series laser printer with a long life ceramic drum and rather large toner carts. The up side is this printer works with OSX, Linux, BSD, Windows, you name it and the print quality is very good and isnt slow when going from a sleep mode to printing a page like many printers I reviewed. So its about 2 years on and we have used two carts and no drums versus our old HP that would be on its second drum and fourth cart. Also I have noticed our office staff as of yet have not been able to make the printer jam, a miracle considering the HP printer kept jamming every few days thanks to our ham fisted sales team.

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