The last letter in "Printers" should be a dollar sign.
Al Fasoldt's reviews and commentaries, continuously available online since 1983


Cheapskate's guide for 2012: Printers

December 9, 2012

By Al Fasoldt
Copyright © 2012, Al Fasoldt
Copyright © 2012, The Post-Standard

Many of you already know that the word "Printers" is misspelled. The last letter should be a dollar sign.

We should all be ashamed. Ink jet printer manufacturers should be hauled before Congress and the rest of us should start writing everything in longhand again.

I know. That's never going to happen. But before you buy another printer, think long and hard about the cost of ink. My own calculations show a horrifying price -- almost $4,000 a gallon. (And you thought gasoline was expensive!)

You can deal with this in two ways. First, you can cry. A lot. That's not a bad idea. It gets the shock out of your system. Then you can stop buying ink jets if all you need is a good black-and-white printer. Meaning, of course, that you should get a laser printer.

You probably don't really need a color printer unless you have kids who print fancy stuff for school. A black-and-white laser printer will do fine in most cases. (The exception, of course, is the amateur photographer who prints photos at home. More in that in a minute.)

Laser printers used to be expensive. But they're now easily affordable for most families. What's more, the cost of "consumables" -- the supplies you have to buy to keep a printer working -- are far less with laser printers than ink jets.

My choice for a standard B&W laser printer is the Brother 2220. Amazon has it for $83. I've used Brother laser printers for years, with excellent results.

If you need a color printer for photos and occasional fancy documents, stay away from color laser models. They just can't compete with good ink jets for photo printing. Many ink jet printers are now all-in-one models (printer, scanner, copier) for only a few dollars more than a single-use printer, so I recommend getting the scanner and copier in the bargain.

My recommendation is one of the Epson Stylus NX series. The NX230 is only $60 at Amazon.

You might find, as I did, that the best combination for your household is a B&W laser printer for all your standard printing and a good color all-in-one ink jet for photos, projects, scanning and copying. Avoid the temptation of using the ink jet for black and white printing to save money. And be sure to buy good quality photo paper for your pictures. Kodak's photo paper is excellent.

Next: Computer accessories.