Posted on Mon 19 September 2016

printer advice

Fall must be the season of printer buying, as people start up printers that they haven’t used all summer and discover that the $70 printer now needs $80 of ink. This is my advice for ordinary people, as of Fall 2016:

For black-and-white printing: Buy a Brother laser printer with the following features:

  • BRScript3 (aka PostScript)
  • a physical Ethernet port
  • duplexing (the ability to print on both sides automatically)

Having an ethernet port used to be signified by tacking an N at the end of the model name. They seem to have stopped that, so you need to actually look for it. W, for wireless, isn’t good enough, although it will probably work.

Duplexing is signified with a D at the end of the model name.

You can get one in the $100-150 range. Toner is $30-70 and lasts for years, not months, and handles many thousands of pages.


For color printing: Try not to buy a color printer. Color inkjets are cheap and ubiquitous and awful. The cost per page is awful. If you occasionally like to print out some photos, you will have a much better experience sending them to CostCo or Shutterfly or pretty much any other service. They have much better printers than you can afford, and if you aren’t printing at least once a week — and you probably aren’t — they will be cheaper, too.


For college students: don’t buy a printer. Most professors will take assignments via email; if they insist on printed copies, learn to leave enough time between finishing and due date to get everything printed via the campus printing service.


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