Should I Buy That Cheap Inkjet Printer?
While shopping for a new inkjet printer, I saw an HP Deskjet and a Canon Pixma on sale for $29 each at a local office store. It sounds too good to be true, but they're both well-known brands. Is there some catch I should be aware of? Other similar looking models cost over $100. Is a cheap inkjet a good idea?
How Much Does an Inexpensive Printer Cost?
Before you jump on that inkjet printer bargain, you should take a hard look at what it may cost you to use it for a year, or three years. As a general rule, the cheaper the printer, the more its ink cartridges and other consumable supplies will cost. The true cost of owning a cheap inkjet printer may surprise you.
Let’s take the example of a $40 inkjet printer whose OEM black ink cartridge costs $19. It’s not uncommon to get 170 pages out of such an ink cartridge. If you print an average of 7 pages per day, that’s 2,555 pages per year. Divide that by 170 pages per cartridge and you need about 15 cartridges per year; that’s $285 worth of black ink per year, not to mention color cartridges and paper.
Sure, you can cut ink costs dramatically by buying remanufactured or refilled cartridges. But the cost of ink still adds up to a lot more than the cost of the printer. See my related article Should You Buy Discount Ink Cartridges? for more on that.
More expensive inkjet printers, like the HP Officejet Pro Wireless All-in-One printer, may run $300. But HP claims that the black ink cartridge for this printer produces 2,200 pages, while color cartridges are rated at 1,400 each. Incidentally, you may save money by buying colors separately instead of all-in-one color cartridges. It’s frustrating to throw out one of the latter when only one color runs out.
Does It Fold, Bend, Spindle or Mutilate?
Replacing the print head in an inkjet printer is another consumable cost. It’s often cheaper to buy a whole new printer than to buy and install just a print head.
In business, time is money. Cheap inkjet printers that chug along at 8-10 pages per minute, or ones that constantly jam, are a bad investment. And of course, it’s more likely that a cheap printer with cheap parts will break down, especially if it’s used for more than occasional printing. I’ve heard stories from both readers and online reviewers that their inexpensive printer only lasted a few months. And it’s just not worth it to repair these units, which makes them a throw-away commodity.
Other factors to consider include whether or not the bargain printer can print photos, or connect wirelessly. If not, does it come with a cable? Can the paper tray hold more than 25 sheets at a time, or will you have to reload it constantly? And don’t forget that you might want to occasionally make a copy, scan a photo, or send a fax. Good quality wireless inkjet all-in-one printers that print, copy, scan and fax can be found for under $150 in most office stores such as Staples or Office Depot.
Most small businesses find that a monochrome laser printer provides a lower cost per page and lasts up to twice as long as an inkjet of comparable price.
But for the home user who only prints occasionally, a cheap inkjet may be all you need. Sure, it will cost more than a laser over the long run, but it can also cost hundreds less up front. Just do your homework, and check the online reviews before heading off to grab that sub-$50 bargain inkjet.
Your thoughts, recommendation and horror stories about inkjet printers are welcome! Post your comment or question below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 26 Jun 2012
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Should I Buy That Cheap Inkjet Printer? (Posted: 26 Jun 2012)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved