I've always used inkjet printers from HP, but I was getting concerned about the creeping-upward cost of inkjet cartridges. The last time I bought a set (a black one and a tri-color one), it came to just over $100. That was painful. Last week my wife wanted me to print out some photographs, and the usual headache reared its head: the cartridges were partially dry.
So I ran the head cleaning exercise several times but to no avail. I had earlier purchased a set of cheaper third-party cartridges and so installed them. The printer refused to recognize them. The vendor of the third-party set provided instructions in how to fool HP printers into accepting non-HP cartridges; it didn't work.
At this point I was fed-up with inkjet printers: the high cost of replacement cartridges was being multiplied by how easily they went dry, while still partially full. If HP wouldn't let me use inkjet cartridges of my choice, then I wouldn't use HP anymore. I thought, "You know what doesn't ever dry out? Laser printers!"
Looking for Color Laser Printers
So I went looking for a color laser printer. Prices for these are all over the map, but I did have a set of basic specs:
- It could not be from HP
- Duplex printer (can print on both sides of a piece of paper)
- Networkable (so our nearly-dozen computers, tablets, and phones can print to it)
- Flat-bed scanner (so I can scan pages from books, as well as flat documents)
This last one was the killer. Most color laser printers have sheet-fed document scanners. Local stores carried no color laser printers in stock for me to inspect in person. So to the Web I went.
Finding a Printer
- Lexmark = only makes printers
- M = multi-function
- C = color
- d = duplex
- w = wireless
- e = etask (touch screen)
- All-in-one = prints, scans, and copies (scan, then print)
I did not want fax capability, because that costs more and nobody faxes anymore, except our medical system here in Canada.
Other specs on this model:
- 250-sheet tray
- Single-sheet feeder
- Outputs front or back
- Ethernet port; USB 2.0 port; wifi connection; no Bluetooth
- Touchscreen panel
- 512MB RAM; handles PCL and PostScript
- Works with Windows 7 through 11,and Chomebooks without drivers; on Macs, use AirPrint; on Android, use Mopria Print Service
- 600dpi resolution
- Includes four toner cartridges that last about 500 pages; replacements last 1,500 pages and cost about $100 each from Amazon.ca (Staples.ca charges 30% more). High-yield cartridges last 2x as long and cost about $190 each.
I don't do a lot of color printing, so I figure that 500-page limit will last along time. I have a separate monochrome laser printer for everyday output of documents.
Buying the Printer
Staples wanted $540, a bit more than I wanted to pay. On a hunch, I checked Bestbuy.ca, and it had the printer on sale for $380. Sold! (This week, Staples lowered the price to $410 but is sold out; still a high price as even the Lexmark.ca Web site has it "on sale" for $400.)
As I waited for the new printer to arrive (it took a week), I brought the recalcitrant HP inkjet to the local recycling center so that no one could ever use it again.
When the new printer arrived, it was much bigger than it looked in pictures. Then I realized it was just taller, about 2x taller than a typical inkjet: the footprint is the same as inkjet printers, as it is the scanbed that dictates that size. In-person, it looks more handsome than in the photographs.
My Windows 7 desktop computer immediately recognized the printer, and so I could print an image right away. I was blown away! The full-size 8x10" print came out in 12 seconds (I counted), a fraction of the time inkjet printers take to laboriously move their printhead back and forth countless times.
(Image at right: the pull-out drawer holding the toner cartridges.)
Now, the quality is not "photo quality," as you get from an inkjet printer using photo paper, but it is good enough for casual printouts of family pix. When I want photo quality, I go to the local London Drugs and pay 50 cents. Laser printers, by the nature of the technology, give a print a bit of a sheen. Do not print on glossy photo paper: the toner smears!
Once I installed the drivers from Lexmark, I was able to use the scanner function as well. It works like any other flatbed scanner mounted on a printer. Only once in a rare while do I find myself using the copy function on these kinds of printers.
In this era of inflation, I wondered what the price of replacement cartridges for my now-abandoned HP inkjet had risen to. Staples.ca listed $160 for the monochrome/color set in XL size, with taxes -- up nearly 60% in about a year or two. That made me happier than ever to have switched to laser color. That, and the laser toner won't ever dry out.