The last time you bought a new printer
how much thought did you give to the overall cost of that printer?
Did you check the cost of the cartridges, or how many pages each
would yield? Probably not! Most people buy printers on impulse. Some
even buy the least expensive printer they can find and then when the
cartridges run out of ink they buy a new printer for $50.00 instead
of paying $60-$70 for new cartridges. This may me a little
exaggerated but you get the idea. The first thing to consider when
you are buying a new printer is what you will be printing. Is your
priority documents? Then you may want to consider a laser printer. Laser
printers in days gone by would cost upwards of $1000. My first
printer was a HP IIP that listed for around $900 and was as slow as
the proverbial molasses. Today an HP P2035n can be had for under
$300 and is network ready. This means you can plug it into your
router and access it from any computer in your home or office. The
cartridge for this printer is about $90.00 each, which sounds
expensive but will yield about 2300 pages. That works out to
less than 4 cents per page. The P1005 runs about $130 but the
cartridges run around $70.00 and yield only 1500 pages for a per
page cost of 4.7 cents. A comparable inkjet will run as little as
$70.00 (HP D4360) but when you consider the advertised standard
cartridge (black only) at $15.00, wow what a bargain! Look again,
the cartridge yields only 200 pages, that is 7.5 cents per page. Add
the color cartridge and it averages 8 cents per page. Now on the
P2035n if you want to buck-up and pay $165 for the high yield
cartridge the cost per page drops to 2.5 cents.
Now what if you like to print photos. Now you are talking some real money. Again you must be honest with yourself. Are you going to be satisfied with just basic color photos or do you want process quality? In my experience nothing beats a true photo process centers results but their printers cost thousands, however you can get close. Epson makes a 13" wide line photo printer that prints borderless for about $300. The full set of cartridges (6 of them) will run about $120 and according to Epson the black yields 470 pages and each color 810. Well that is about 2.7 cents per page. Uhhh, not really, it averages and when you have a color printer you tend to use more ink printing pages with higher coverage so the cost will usually go up considerably. If you keep close tabs you will find your cost per page at around 15-20 cents.
Color Lasers have come a long way also. HP has an entry level printer for under $300 ( under $200 with "instant savings" at the moment) and the cartridges run about $75 a piece times four that is .... Yes! $300 smackaroos! and the yield averages 1600 pages so it works out to about 19 cents per page. Xerox has a unique alternative in the Phaser 8000 series. The 8650N is about Under $800 (Under $700 on sale) and uses solid ink instead of Toner or ink cartridges. The solid ink is in the form of wax like blocks that are shape keyed to the slot they drop into so you would have a hard time mixing them up. Cost for all for sets of ink blocks is about $450 but it yields 3400 pages averaging a little over 13 cent per page. And the quality is excellent. The results of the solid ink on standard laser paper is like a magazine photo, it has a semi gloss sheen to it. I have had some experience with this printer and continue to be impressed.
Just remember to take into consideration additional maintenance and service life on the printers. Ink Jets are basically throw a ways, Lasers printers need to be rebuild from time to time. Check the manufactures website for the cost and life of maintenance kits and add this into the life cost. Also remember if you do not print alot the ink in inkjets will dry out and result in a lower yield and higher per page cost. Also you can experiment with the print resolution settings on most printers and bring your yield up considerably for everyday printing. Go to your printers applet ("Printers and Faxes" in Windows XP) right click on the printer and choose "properties" Click on the "Printing Preferences" button at the bottom of the window or the Paper/Quality tab at the top of the window. Now you will see setting for resolution or print quality or an "Advanced" button that will open a new window with the settings. Choose the lowest resolution available and if there is a "Economy Mode" check the box or choose "On". All printers are a little different... "No Standardization" . If this is a color printer you should see an option to "Print Black Only" or "Print Grey scale" this will use the black cartridge only to print items like documents and drafts. Close all the windows by clicking "OK". Almost finished, just rename the printer by right clicking on the printer name and choose "Rename" and add "low res" or "B&W" (for color printers) to the name. Now click "add new printer" and follow through the applet to install the printer again. You will probably need the disk again but when you are asked if you want to keep the existing driver say yes. At the conclusion of the install you will have another instance of your printer and can rename in by adding "High Res" or "Color" to the name. Now right click the original copy you first renamed with "Low Res" or "B&W" and click the "Set as Default option. Now your standard print mode will be saving you money and if you need to print a resume or photo you just use "ctrl" + "P" and choose your "High Res" or "Color" printer.
Finally, If you have room in your home office you can consider a monochrome (black & white) laser printer and a good color inkjet for your photos and other color projects. Add in a good scanner and things can get busy around your desk, but consider that the separate components will usually work better than the all-in-one. These composite machines will do everything but no one function well. Plus they will require additional software that will many time bog your PC down with applets and monitors running in the background.