I’m asked this all the time by customers who are thinking about changing printers .
If you’re considering a new printer my advice is to take the following steps as part of your due diligence:
Step One: Take ten minutes to think about what kind of printer you need. Most people skip this step. They get focused on a specific feature—say “wireless”—and they go to take a lotand purchase the cheapest printer that has the feature. Or they just buy the cheapest printer they can find whether it has the features and functions they need or not. One thing they almost never think about is the cost and capacity of the printer cartridge and related components which brings us to Step two:
Step Two: Once you’ve identified the printer that has the features and functions you need find out about the components of the printer that will need to be replaced from time to time. The printer cartridge will certainly have to be replaced but some printers have other components that are consumed through use.
For example, some laser printers (Brother) have a separate drum that will have to be replaced. Some original replacement drums cost as much or more than the printer. Other laser printers (Xerox, Kyocera) have developer or maintenance kits that will have to be purchased. These additional components can be very expensive and you should know what they are and how much they cost before you buy the printer.
Step Three: Find out the cost and capacity of the print cartridge. It’s the item that you’ll have to replace most often. You need to find out how often you’ll have to replace it (it’s capacity) and how much the replacement cartridge costs. Make sure you understand your options for replacing the cartridge.
Can the cartridge be refilled or remanufactured? Are lower cost alternatives (to original cartridges) readily available either online or in your local market?
Step Four: Every cartridge has a page yield. The page yield is how many pages the cartridge will print at 5% coverage. You calculate cost per page by dividing page yield into the cartridge cost. Compare the cost per page for printers you’re considering and, all else being equal, chose the printer with the lowest cost per page. When making comparison make sure to consider how much a particular cartridge will cost over two, three, or five years.
You can save a lot of money with a little common sense and some basic arithmetic. The cartridge “sticker price” (the price on label) tells you nothing. You need to know the cartridge’s page yield.
One magic trick the OEMs (printer companies) have performed consistently over the years is reducing cartridge sticker prices by a little and yield by a lot. If you look only at the sticker price only you’ll think there has been a price decrease. If you look at the cost per page you’ll see that it has, in fact, increased.
Step Five: Consider all of your options—Buying a “new” (current model) printer is not the only option. The quality of printers has declined in recent years as the OEMs continue to think of them as packaging for cartridges. The printers have more bells and whistles but they’re flimsy, plastic contraptions that are built to die young. All of the new printer models have no purpose except to keep the aftermarket off balance.
Since the newer printers tend to have more expensive ink and a shorter life expectancy it might be a good idea to at least consider a refurbished or new (people sell new printers on EBay or Amazon that have been sitting in their closets for years) prior model printer.
These remarks have focused on inkjet cartridges and printers but the same principle applies to laser printers. Once you’ve found some competing products that have the functions and features you need focus on the cost and capacity of the cartridges. Calculate a cost per page and, all else being equal, buy the printer with the lowest cost per page.
I guarantee that the printer coming down the production line today will not outlive my old HP Deskjet 950C that I’ve been using for 10 years as a test printer. Rust is faster than the old 950 but you can bet that it will still be slowly cranking out pages when today’s models have gone to their reward in the landfill—although we can hope they’ll be recycled.
If you take one thing away from this article it should be this: the cheapest printer seldom produces the cheapest printing. You buy the printer once, the consumables (cartridges, drum, developer) over and over again. Do your homework. Know what you’re getting or it will get you.
Ref: Ink Stop USA