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The printers which will give you the best features, best warranty, best price and ink cartridges for 50 cents! If you come across a deal you think is better, please email and let us know.
Printers to avoid
-lower costs up front, particularly for multi-function devices
-lower cartridge cost
-smaller footprint (usually)
-lower electrical costs and less heat output
-better quality for high-resolution photographs
When choosing a printer, don't forget to take the warranty as well as cost of ink into account. The winner in both categories is Epson. For a year, Epson will fedex a replacement printer and pick up the old one at their expense. You can also get an extended warranty on any printer through SquareTrade.
Epson's warranty only applies to printers bought from authorized dealers. Never buy a printer new or used from a second-tier shop such as ebay. A customer bought a brand new Epson sealed in the box off ebay. It died in under a week. Epson is refusing to honor the warranty since they say the seller was not authorized to resell it. The customer is now pursuing the ebay guarantee. If that fails, she will attempt to charge it back on her credit card. Had she bought it from an authorized Epson dealer (Staples, Officemax, Circuit City, etc), she would have gotten her replacement the next day.
When you buy a refurbished printer direct from epson.com, you get the full warranty as if it were new.
If you are looking for a heavy-duty printer which also does a nice job on photos, look at the Epson Workforce 7610 or 3640 or 3620. The current lowest price for the 7610 is $149.99 with free shipping (link below and in review). The 3620 is usually around $90 and the 3640 $100 in places like Staples, Bestbuy, Costco.
If you are looking specifically for a highly-rated photo-quality printer which can also be used as a regular printer (though it doesnt appear as heavy-duty as the Epson) look at the Canon Pixma MX922.
I bought the MX922 for my son as a photo printer (he already has a Brother laser). I bought it at Staples. Though they have it for $129, they price match and add 10% of the difference. Since several places have it for $100, I paid $97. They also sold me a 3 year Squaretrade warranty for $15 (normally $30). So I know he will have this printer for at least 3 years. I was so impressed, I bought a second one for myself. It is currently running about $80 on sale.
Canon and Brother have some good printers with cartridges in the $2 range. However, all companies (including Epson) have some lemons, so make sure you check out ratings and cost of ink before you buy. I have heard that the print output of Brother inkjets is not quite as sharp as Epson and Canon.
The best Epson printer had been the Workforce 845 and its little brothers the 645 and 545. They were discontinued and replaced by the Workforce 3520, 3530 and 3540 which were the printers with the highest ratings I have ever seen. I bought the 3530 for my father years ago and it's the best printer he ever owned and still going strong. These were discontinued and replaced with the excellent 3600 series. My son has the 3640.
The newest printers are the the workforce 2600 and 3600 series. These replaced the 2500 and 3500 series and appear to be just as good. However, the 2600 series use the new T220 cartridges with a twist (see below). Though we have the cartridges in stock, our advice is to stick with the older models or the new 3600 series since compatible cartridges are easily available. The 3600 series and the 7610/7620 are the first printers which allow you to use compatibles. A message will come up saying "these are not epson cartridges. Continue?" and you can keep going. The black XL cartridge contains 3x the ink of standard cartridges and is rated at 1200 pages (though 800 is probably more accurate.) Pretty good for a $4 cartridge.
In my opinion, the ultimate printer is the Workforce 7610 available for about $149.99 with free shipping (the price moves up and down almost daily). But you need to have the space for it. The review was written at the end of April 2015. On May 19th, after several people emailed to say they bought it at my recommendation, I decided to sign up for an Amazon Affiliate account so I get a few bucks if someone orders it using the link below.
The Workforce 3620/3640 is on sale at Staples. Costco, Best Buy, Walmart for under $100.
Beware the new Epson cartridges
Even though we now have the T220 and T786 in stock, you should be aware that Epson has tried a new tactic to prevent refilling and compatibles. They are putting serial numbers on the chips. If you put in a cartridge with a serial number you have used before, it will be rejected. This means you can't refill a cartridge. It also makes it more difficult for compatible manufacturers because they now have to program a unique serial number in every cartridge and that number must match Epson's format. This is the reason for the higher price. It also means you can't shop around. Once you have chosen a supplier, you may have to stick with them because in switching you run the risk of getting duplicate numbers. We stopped selling the T410 after several complaints and have no immediate plans to sell them or the T288.
For most other printers, reusable cartridges are available for 50 cents after $2 rebate for the empty ones from Staples or OfficeDepot. Or you can get refillable cartridges and refill them yourself for pennies. Regular cartridges are available in the $2-$5 range.
Epson Ecotank printers
What about Epson's Ecotank printers which work with ink bottles rather than cartridges? As expected, these are a great deal for Epson and a terrible deal for you. Read Ecotank printers - the real story for details.
Check the Epson clearance center because you can sometimes find a bargain on a refurbished printer with full warranty. Deals change daily.
-they print faster and sharper on text than inkjets
-because they don't have heads which clog or burn out, they tend to last much longer than inkjets
-because they use dry toner and not ink, they don't clog or dry up. You can put a laser printer away for months and it will still work perfectly when you turn it back on.
-though toner cartridges are more expensive than ink cartridges, they yield more pages, so the cost per page is the same or less
When choosing a laser printer, you have to look beyond the cost of the printer to:
-the speed in pages per minute
-the cost of the cartridges AND the number of pages they yield to get the accurate cost per page. A $30 cartridge which yields 1,000 pages is not as cost-efficient as a $50 cartridge which yields 6,000 pages.
Some printers, HP in particular, often combine the drum and toner in one unit. You are forced to buy a drum with each toner, which raises the cost considerably. Some companies create a different cartridge for every model printer. Why? Because they know that compatible manufacturers will not make the effort to produce cartridges for a very small market segment. If every printer uses a different cartridge, no one will make compatible cartridges for it. This gives them a monopoly on that cartridge which allows them to charge whatever they want. So when looking for a printer, find one which uses a cartridge which also fits many other models.
This is why I recommend Brother laser printers. They are almost always cheaper than the competition. Unlike other brands where every model printer has a specific cartridge, Brother laser cartridges fit many models of printers. They cost as low as $20 and yield about 2,500 pages. Under a penny a page is as low as it gets.
Many years ago there was a sale on the Brother HL-2040 for $50. I bought two and a number of friends bought them as well. Most are still going strong and all they ever needed was $20 toner cartridges. I never even replaced the drums. Years later, a client bought a multi-function Brother laser. It uses the same $20 cartridges.
list of Brother laser printers and cartridges
Color lasers tend to be more expensive, larger, and need 4 toner cartridges. There are some models with $20 cartridges and some with $80 cartridges (per cartridge). Since you need 4, this price difference can be substantial, so check out cartridge prices before buying. Again, Brother tends to be the cheapest.
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