Dear Lazyweb,

I've had a decent low end NEC SuperScript 1400 laser printer for the last 5 years or so ($300 on in 2000). But I find myself wanting something with more than 300dpi print resolution and the ability to spit out color.

I'm not looking for a photo printer. Most of the color stuff I'm likely to produce will be maps, charts, or tables rather than photos.

Any recommendations for a good color printer that doesn't cost way too much when it's time to refill the ink? Maybe something that has separate cartridges for each color would be best? Speed isn't an issue, since I do not intend to do high-volume printing.

I don't know. I haven't owned a color inkjet printer for about 8 years, so I'm pretty far behind on what's reasonable today.

Suggestions? Printers or brands to avoid?


Posted by jzawodn at June 10, 2005 10:43 AM

Reader Comments
# pjm said:

If you're using it for charts and maps, I'd make sure there's no laser-printer option before going to inkjet. I use an inkjet printer for Geocaching stuff, and the pages are invariably rained on, or sweated on, etc., and then they run. Better to get something that doesn't smear when wet. (Or get some clear envelopes to protect them until you get the glider cockpit closed up!)

on June 10, 2005 11:20 AM
# Jeff Boulter said:

I've grown to hate my inkjet printer (clogged heads, soggy paper), so I'm thinking about buying a laser printer myself. Color ones aren't that expensive. I'll trade you my Epson Stylus 777 for your laser printer!

on June 10, 2005 11:52 AM
# Mike said:

I'm thinking about getting a color printer, and if/when I do I think it'll definitely be a Canon Pixma (the 6000). The higher numbered models are specifically intended to be photo printers.

on June 10, 2005 12:00 PM
# Anjan said:

I agree with pjm. Go with the HP Color LaserJet 2550L Printer. At $474 at its a great value...

on June 10, 2005 12:05 PM
# Mike said:

> Printers or brands to avoid?

Lexmark. Seems everybody I've ever known that owned one had plenty of bad things to say.

on June 10, 2005 12:09 PM
# Rich said:

I second the Canon PIXMA recommendation - I have a no-longer-available i860 which is fabulous and bought a PIXMA 3000 for my parents. You can get the individual black/color ink cartridges for < $10 each!

on June 10, 2005 12:54 PM
# d.w. said:

After watching my third shitty cheapo inkjet in as many years die, I bought an old used HP Color Laserjet 5m at a swap meet a few weeks ago. It weighs 100 pounds, takes raw toner (like a copier) and is built like a tank. It cost $125, and I am very happy with it.

on June 10, 2005 01:17 PM
# Nate said:

This is probably more than you want to spend, as it tends to be more of a workgroup printer, the but the Xerox Phaser 8400 (wax printer) is excellent. Hands down better than a color laser, and while the resolution doesn't quite compare to an inkjet, the final product looks and feels very professional. (Resolution is only 600 dpi per color for 2400 dpi)

I've used the old Tektronix 850 as my primary printer in the past, and have been seriously eying the 8400 for my small business.

on June 10, 2005 02:27 PM
# Sumit Chachra said:

I recommend a "photo printer" Canon ip3000. But wait... its more than a photo printer usually offers.

- Its cheap (i got it for $30 with my canon camera on Amazon)
- It allows duplex printing (save paper!).
- It has separate cartridges (black and 3 color)
- The cartridges are cheap (i got 2 complete sets of 4, for $25)

The speed is good too... worth a try i say!

on June 10, 2005 03:36 PM
# Rick said:

I've got a Canon printer that I love (the i9900) and it's way overkill for what you want, but it has the individual tanks for the inks (8 in this case) and is very frugal in the ink usage. The cartridges are cheap compared to Epson and HP.. I'll not be buying an Epson for quite some time as they suck ink up like there's no tomorrow and take forever to powerup if they've been shutoff for more than 48 hours.. (IMHO).

I'd not bother with the Xerox Phaser series of printers (the one outside my office is a Phaser 560 -- a few years old) - we've got them here at work and they really bite (mostly in the repair/consumables department). Our mgmt even told us not to use them unless we need to as they cost too much to use..

on June 10, 2005 03:47 PM
# Susan Getgood said:

The HP 2550 is a great printer for the money -- we have the next one up on the line (networking built in)

Well worth the money.

on June 10, 2005 05:10 PM
# Martin Kenny said:

We have the HP 1500L, which isn't available any more (I think the 2550L is the modern equivalent). We've been more than happy with it -- highly recommended.

If I had my time again, I'd get the version that doesn't need to hang off a Windows machine, though.

on June 10, 2005 06:16 PM
# Nate said:

Rick, I won't disagree since I don't have any experience with the 560. I do know that the laser Phasers are a completely different machine than the wax Phasers. The wax Phasers coming from Tektronix before Xerox bought them out. Nothing further. :)

on June 10, 2005 07:22 PM
# Dan Smart said:

Personally I would highly recommend the Samsung CLP 5x0 family of color laser printers, they go from pretty fast to very fast, they are fairly quiet, they all have automatic duplexing, and there are versions with a buit in network print server. They are supported on Linux, Windows and OS/X, and they seem to be pretty on the ball with driver support. You can even sort of print photos on it, I mean they won't be photo-quality, but you can do way better than newspaper quality.
I am very happy with my CLP500 (the precursor to the 510).

I would wanr you that while it is pretty competitive in terms of price per page, a complete new set of toner cartridges costs about the same as the printer.

Dan Smart

on June 10, 2005 09:25 PM
# dave said:

Read this:

and this:

They suggest getting a Canon i960 and shopping at for $2-3 ink cartridges.

on June 11, 2005 03:30 AM
# Arun said:

The destination is always a known entity (winning * losing, happy * sad etc) so it's always the journey. It's not what you ended up with, its how.


on June 11, 2005 05:20 AM
# Eric said:

Wait for the HP 2600. It's got 8ppm (color), 600dpi and is network ready (wired). It only lacks wifi and duplex. It's $399. Which means it's twice as fast as any of the HP2550's, and half the price of the network ready one.

on June 11, 2005 07:43 AM
# the head lemur said:

canon ip3000

been their done that
canon has seperate cartiges
doesn't cry when you use Staples Brand
bout 20% cheaper
and if you do need to do photos
has a bunch of toys esp. if you are color blind like me

on June 11, 2005 04:36 PM
# wbwither said:

I second the recommendation for the Phaser 8400, if you don't mind spending $1000+. We had one in our office, and it was fast, quiet, and printed quite well (and very quickly -- 20+ ppm in color or black and white). Plus, Xerox has a driver suite for Unix -- worked quite well hooked up to our Linux network :)

If you don't know about it alread, the Phaser runs on solid ink blocks. Imagine if you bought a 4-pack of Crayolas and just stuck them into a printer, where they were melted down and used to print pages. That's basically what this printer does. There's just something so cool about putting a solid block of wax into the printer. No cartridges, no nothing. Just a solid block of ink. And (in our calculations at least) it makes economic sense -- costs per page were lower than color laser and far lower than inkjet.

on June 11, 2005 09:26 PM
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