Go to any office supply or technology store, and you’ll find printers available at amazingly low prices. In fact, name brand printers start at about $25 online. Why are printers so cheap? It’s simple – the real money is in the cost of the printer ink.
Manufacturers offer the printer at a low price, knowing they’ll be able to sell you many refill ink cartridges in the future. In many cases, the refill ink may even cost more than the printer cost!
Plan ahead to save money on printer ink
When buying your next printer, don’t just look at the sticker price – look at what the long term cost (including ink refills will be). Here are a couple tips to plan ahead and compare the real cost of a printer:
- Compare refill size and price. Look on the manufacturer or retailer website to find out how much refill ink cartridges will cost. Be aware that ink cartridges may be different sizes for different printers.
- Look into 3rd party refill cartridges. Online ink stores sell refill ink cartridges that are often far cheaper than refills from the manufacturer. Be aware that some printers won’t “play nice” with non-official refills – try reading reviews on the 3rd party refills to see what other users report.
5 More Tips To Help You Choose Your Next Printer
Laser or Inkjet?
If you’re looking for out of this world, long-lasting color printing, it’s pretty tough to beat inkjet. Though business models are available, their low-volume tends to make them better for the home and for small businesses. Laser printers, on the other hand, still lag when it comes to color accuracy, but their black and white printing is superb. They are a much better option for document printing, and their speed and capacity can’t be beat.
Since few people choose wired printing these days, I’ll just assume you’ll be headed WiFi’s way (if you’re not, I highly recommend connecting any wired printer to a wireless network through a print server). Wireless printers are great, of course, for easy printing throughout your house or office. But, even better, now many printers also offer mobile printing, enabling printing from all of your devices including smartphones, tablets, and yes, even that old desktop.
All-in-one or single function?
If you’re just looking for a cheap way to print a document here and there, a single function printer is a simple, cost-effective solution. But if you’re running a home business for which you’ll need high quality printing, scanning, copying, and even faxing, all-in-one or multi-function printers are well worth the added expense.
What’s the specialty?
Within the broader categories of inkjet, laser, all-in-one and single function, there are printers calibrated for a wide range of uses. A business printer, for instance, will generally be able to print more pages per minute at a lower cost than its home counterpart, and many offer secure network printing. Both wide format printers and photo printers are best suited for high quality photo prints, allowing users to print directly from digital cameras in a range of sizes and at high volumes. Classic dot matrix printers are still a must for printing multi-part forms in a single pass, as well as for printing both invoices and shipping forms. And label printers are the best way to cheaply and efficiently create the labels you need for everything from mailings to files.
What are other people saying?
Last but not least, take a good look at product reviews before making any purchasing decision on printers. The printers section of Staples.com includes user reviews for multiple brands. These reviews are generally less biased than reviews that may be available on manufacturer websites. No one will be a better guide than the people who have gotten to know all that any printer can do through direct experience.
So there you have it. Your one-stop guide to printer glory. Happy shopping!
Image provided by Shutterstock.