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[Discuss] color laser printer

Thanks to everyone for the feedback on your experiences with color laser
printers. Some follow-up comments below.

Dan Ritter wrote:
> My take on printing:
> - general document printing? Get a mono laser.
> - occasional photo printing? Get CostCo or any of the reputable
>   online print bureaus to do it.
> - special project color printing? Local print shop.
> - frequent photo or spot color printing? See if you can justify
>   a thermal wax printer...[or] buy a cheap color inkjet
> So, for low volume color printing and somewhat higher mono, I
> would suggest you get a mono laser -- Brothers are decent -- and
> send photos to an online service.

Funny how this advice has held the same for 15 years or more. What does
that say about the advancements in printer technology?

Daniel Barrett wrote:
> ...has noticeably superior output quality. A lot has
> changed in the past N years, I guess!

We've seen lots of incremental improvements. Higher resolution. Faster
print speeds. Bigger buffers. Fancier UIs. And lots of formerly high-end
features, like networking and duplexing, moving to mid- to low-end
models. And lots of cost reduction.

But the print technology itself seems largely unchanged.

I guess with less need for printing and competitive pressure pushing
margins down, there isn't much incentive to do R&D.

> Reading printer reviews online is uninformative. Nearly every printer
> has detractors screaming that it's the worst thing ever.

True. It would be useful to have user reviews supplemented by
statistics, like return rate (something Amazon could choose to publish,
but they don't), and warranty repair rate (something the manufacturer
could choose to publish, but they don't).

> Toner is expensive ($300-400 per set of genuine HP toner) but I don't
> care.

Wow. And thus someone else commented that they picked up a color laser
on sale for less than (or close to) the cost of the toner cartridges.
That seems to be taking the razor blade model to the extreme.

Edward Ned Harvey wrote:
>> ...another reason why I favor laser printers over inkjets is that you
>> can leave them unused for several months and not have the ink 
>> cartridges dry out.
> At least in the Canon PIXMA line, this has not been a problem in the 
> last several years.

True. I've had a PIXMA for 5+ years, and although I've experienced cases
where the 3rd party ink tanks seem to stop working before they appear to
be completely empty, I've never had to clean or unclog the print head.

Jack Coats wrote:
> Duplexing is 'manual' rather than automatic and I do it on occasion. 
> It is pretty easy.

Sure, but it is enough of an inconvenience that if I was printing an 8
page document, I wouldn't bother with it. Where as if it was just a
matter of checking a box in the printer settings, I'd likely duplex
almost everything.

Dan Ritter wrote:
> Color lasers are more mechanically complex than mono; they break
> more often and in stranger ways. The color toners last for a
> year or so, but the mono toners are lower-volume and more
> expensive.

That's what I figured.

That's enough of a reason not to bother with color, if I don't have a
compelling use for it.

> Finally, the only suitable interface for a printer these days is
> wired ethernet. Wireless will work in some circumstances, but
> likely be unreliable when you haven't printed anything in a few
> weeks.

I did notice a number of reviews for the Brother printers that
complained about wireless connectivity dropping. Also some discussion
about how the printer's various low power modes impact wireless
connectivity. (Apparently with some models, the most power saving modes
will result in the printer losing connectivity.)

I had assumed that any printer supporting wireless Ethernet would also
support wired Ethernet, but apparently thats not the case.

Bill Ricker wrote:
> has a physical Ethernet interface, not just WiFi. I don't want my 
> printer serving as a WiFi intrusion point.

Intrusion point?


Tom Metro
The Perl Shop, Newton, MA, USA
"Predictable On-demand Perl Consulting."

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