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Request for Printer Recommendations

I'm looking for a color printer with the following features.

Must haves:
+ Less than $200
+ Networkable (preferably out of the box)
+ Windows-compatible (duh)
+ Excellent text quality
+ Decent photo and graphics quality
+ Able to accept legal, letter, envelope, and 4x6 paper
+ Decent print speed
+ Decent resolution

Nice to haves:
+ Slots for CompactFlash and SecureDigital cards
+ USB2 connectivity

Any recommendations? Thanks!

Wednesday, August 20, 2003

Essentially any inkjet printer from a major brand (HP, Epson, Lexmark, etc) will fit the criteria you've outlined.

They are all very cheap.

But the printer manufacturers will rob you blind on printer ink costs.  Lexmark is the worst offender but all those bastards do it.

My advice, and I apologize for the fact that this isn't a direct recommendation for a specific product, is to make sure whatever printer you buy has third party ink support, either through 3rd party cartridges or refill packs.

If you buy from the printer manufacturers themselves (and they use all kinds of technical and legal dirty tricks to try to make sure you do) you will literally pay about 7 times more (per ounce) for printer ink than you would pay for (1985) Dom Perignon.

Mister Fancypants
Wednesday, August 20, 2003

Mind you, if Dom was bottled in 2-oz bottles, each bottle had four flavors of champagne, and each bottle had a print head, the prices would most likely be more comparable.

Stupid analogy. Just compare price per page for consumables for each printer you're interested in; buy something you're comfortable with.

I print a LOT and I've always bought the manufacturer ink; I've never felt oppressed. But mind you, I've always done my research on price/page first, too.


Wednesday, August 20, 2003

The high cost has very little to do with the packaging. 

If that were the case, Lexmark, Epson, et al wouldn't use dirty tricks like "kill chips" and such to lock out competition in the printer ink market.

If the prices were just naturally high for ink, I wouldn't have an issue with this.  But that isn't the case.  Competitors can offer the same exact quality ink and ink printhead assemblies for less than 1/5th the price, but the printer manufacturers keep adding more and more technical barriers against this (the technical barriers improve nothing, they just do things like shut the printer down if you try to use someone else's cartridge, or stop printing when the ink is low so you can't get a few last pages from shaking the cartridge (Epson does this on many of their new printers).

If you don't mind getting ripped off by truly unfair anti-competitive practices (far worse than anything Microsoft has ever done, IMO) I guess that's your right. As for me, I'm hoping the printer manufacturers get slammed on all the lawsuits being filed against them.

Mister Fancypants
Wednesday, August 20, 2003

Gosh, not to be neurotic or anything, but does anyone have any printer recommendations?


Wednesday, August 20, 2003

I use a printer that fits everything except for "networkable". It requires a PC. HP DeskJet 3820. I absolutely love the speed and print quality, and the ink cartridges are refillable (I've done it).

Linux even comes with printing support.

Now, we also have a relatively slow laser printer, and we use this a lot more, because the cost per page is astronomically lower. In my opinion, you should buy a laser and a color, and use the color only when you want color. Yes, it'll cost more up front, but if you're printing a lot, you'll save it back -- and fast.

Brad Wilson (
Wednesday, August 20, 2003

"The high cost has very little to do with the packaging."

And you think Dom is all about the cost of grapes?

I'm well aware of the printer profit model. My point is that the comparison to Dom is silly.

One *really* nice thing about the printer profit model is that it makes it easy for me to get new printers every few years. ;-)

As for printer recommendations - check out in the printers section - lots of info as well as user reviews. I'm leaning towards getting a Canon S series for my next printer - seems to be the best combination of price, print speed, and cost/page.


Wednesday, August 20, 2003

I have a Canon S520 which is not networkable, but relatively zippy, good print quality, and low price/page.  Saw one at Fry's last year for USD$79, and Amazon currently lists them (3rd-party) starting at ~$60.  I've been quite happy with it.  (And yes, Philo, I found it via cnet!)

One thing I like about it in particular is that it uses 4 *separate* ink cartridges (retail ~$12), so if you print a huge stack of cyan business cards, you can just replace that cartridge.

Sam Livingston-Gray
Wednesday, August 20, 2003

Don't use USB for printing, well from a singular experience I've had with a Lexmark and its USB interface don't use a USB connection.

Its up its down, you have to turn three time widdershins under the light of a full moon when you power it on and it has a nasty FBI voice telling you there's no communication with the printer.

Simon Lucy
Thursday, August 21, 2003

I have an Epson C82 4-color inkjet printer (<$100) that I like. It's relatively fast, high-resolution, reasonable photo quality (but not intended to match the photo printing from a 6-color "photo" printer), takes a variety of paper types and sizes, and uses newer inks that are more resistant to smudging and water. (It's USB connected and I haven't had any USB problems, or any other problems with the printer. I bought it earlier this year to replace a 6-year old Epson printer when I replaced my PC with a new one that does not have a parallel port.)

As Philo mentions, you can check c|net's printer reviews at:
You can also see PC Magazine's printer articles and reviews at:,4148,10,00.asp

Philip Dickerson
Thursday, August 21, 2003

The best quality are Hewlett Packard's, but the problem is you can't get comatible cartridges because the cartridges include the print head. You can refill them very cheaply, but I've never managed to succeed in doing that.

So my advice is to check out what manufacturers have a lot of cheap 3rd party replacements.

Mind you, as has been said, they are using all kinds of dirty tricks to stop you using them, so you might do best to learn how to refill HP's.

Or consider getting two printers; a laserjet to print all the black and white stuff cheap, and a $100 inkjet to do the color stuff

Stephen Jonesa
Thursday, August 21, 2003

I have a HP Photosmart 7350  US$149 at most retailers.  It has memory card readers.  2 ink wells (1 for photo, 1 for color/black).  I have it connected to a wireless USB print server.

It has slots for 8.5 x 11 paper, separate envelope slot for printing single envelopes, and a set slot for 4x6 photos...slow on the photo printing side.  All in all im happy with it....

Thursday, August 21, 2003

Sounds like something is wrong with the USB controller in your system or something, Simon.

I've used 3 different USB printers on 3 different machines for the past few years and never had any problems.

Mister Fancypants
Thursday, August 21, 2003

I've never been disappointed by an HP printer.  Sadly, I cannot say the same about Canon.


Russell Thackston
Thursday, August 21, 2003

We use inkjet printers heavily where I work. They are pretty much disposable items for us. We used Epson 900s for years and now we've switched to the C82s. They print nicely, have a straight-through paper path, and you can get 3rd-party cartridges.

They are not networkable out of the box, but they can be shared using a typical parallel-port print server. If you plan to share it from Windows 2003 Server (i.e. clients queue to the server which prints via TCP/IP to a printserver attached to the printer's parallel port): you will have to install the driver, including its annoying "print monitor", to make it work. Fortunately, you can then uninstall the print monitor, leaving just the driver installed. The end result is a nice, cheap, networked inkjet.

Nate Silva
Thursday, August 21, 2003

I have had bad experiences with lexmark inkjets. Stay away from them. I would recommend the latest HPs or Canons.

R. Sidhu
Friday, February 6, 2004

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