What printer should you get?

I had a good printer experience, and I thought I should pass it on to you.

Printers are, of course, the spawn of Satan. Especially the ink jet kind.

For a long time, I had a cheap black and white laser, which worked OK for non color stuff, and an inkjet all in one, which was handy but cost a lot to keep in ink.

When Huxley, at about age 5, figure out how to use the all in one as a photo copy machine or to print photos off an SD card (both functions I had not explored, but he figured out on his own), he incorporated the all-in-one into his artistic work flow, which involved making computer graphics, sometimes displaying the graphics and photographing them, photocopying them, drawing on the printouts, scanning those into a computer, manipulating them in software printing them out, cutting and pasting (with real scissors and paste!), and so on.

But then, I had to spend all my time changing ink, and again, the ink was eating us alive. And, buy chance, the old black and white laser died. So, it was time to seriously think about getting a laser.

My only requirements were that the printer be reasonably sturdy, to last a long time, and compatible with any operating system.

I quickly discovered the various PHP Color LaserJet Pro printers.

Now, Imma stop you right now. You are about to say, "HP!?!? No way, I had one of those once, and it ate my dog, never again!!"

OK, fine, but for everyone who ever had an HP printer eat their pet, there is another person who's Epson crashed their car, or who's Brother ran off with their girlfriend. Or whatever. The point is, if you can't consider an HP printer because an HP printer scared you in the crib as a baby, I can totally understand that, and you should not buy what I'm recommending here. But, if the Satanic Printers (and they are all spawn of the devil) have not attacked you from that specific manufacturer yet, then read on.

I settled specifically on the HP Laserjet Pro M452dw Wireless Color Printer, (CF394A).

This is in the middle of the pack. It is the lowest level in the series with WiFi. The higher end ones have slightly larger touch screens and a document feeder. I did not need those two features, but you might. And, you might not care about WiFi (except that you want the WiFi).

Here is a summary of the variation available in this category of printers.

Two of these printers are basically the same as far as I can tell, neither has wireless. If you want to consider either one, check them out more closely because one of them is 50 bucks cheaper:

The HP Laserjet Pro M452nw Wireless Color Printer, (CF388A) costs about $150, has only an Ethernet connection and a 2-line LCD.

The HP Laserjet Pro M452dn Color Printer, (CF389A) costs about $200. It also has only ethernet and a 2 line LCD.

I bought the HP Laserjet Pro M452dw Wireless Color Printer, (CF394A), which currently costs about $260. It has wireless, nice touch screen, other features (I’ll describe below) and for me was the sweet spot.

There are also more expensive and higher end versions, such as the HP Laserjet Pro M477fdw Wireless All-in-One Color Printer, (CF379A), which has the document scanner. This one is about $450.

If you go to this page on Amazon, and scroll to the bottom, you can see the range I’m talking about in a handy table. If a document feeder is important to you, click on one of those printers, and then scroll down again, and you’ll see another table of similar printers, but most/all with document feeders.

I've been using this printer for a while now. It was easy to set up (had a smell for a few days, that went away). It is quite compared to older HP laser printers I've had. It prints nice, prints fast, etc.

Meanwhile, Huxley has been messing around with it and he discovered some cool features. First, you can hook it up to the cloud and use Google Print. I have no idea if that is a good thing, but we're doing it.

I already knew that the printer would store previously printed documents, which could be quite handy. But I had no idea that it also contained pre-made documents that you can print out at will. This feature does not appear to be listed in the usual documentation of the printer, so it was a surprise to me. It is hidden down under settings.

You know that paper with the non-dotted and dotted lines that kids use to learn how to write? You can print out those sheets, or regular ruled (narrow or wide) notebook sheets.

You can print out a couple of different sizes of graph paper, music score paper, and more. This is probably one of those things everyone else knew about but that I didn't now about.

You can also use a USB stick with this printer, it will handle standard office style documents.

Apparently, this printer has some ink saving ability and is relatively efficient in energy use.

Here are some specs:

Print speed black: Up to 28 ppm.

Print speed color: Up to 28 ppm.

First page out (ready): As fast as 8.9 seconds.

Recommended monthly page volume: 750 to 4,000 pages.

Paper handling input, standard: 50-sheet multipurpose tray, 250-sheet input tray.

Paper handling output, standard: 150-sheet output bin.

Media sizes supported: Letter, legal, executive, 8.5 x 13 in, 3 x 5 in, 4 x 6 in, 5 x 8 in, envelopes.

Two-sided printing that's fast

Manage print jobs directly at the printer-just tap and swipe the 3-inch (7.6 cm) touchscreen.

Print Microsoft® Word and PowerPoint® documents-now directly from your USB drive.

Print from a variety of smartphones and tablets-generally no setup or apps required.

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Looks nice, thanks for the heads up. Not currently in the market for a new printer but I'm especially intrigued by the built-in graph paper printing (I still like to use paper & pencil for some engineering).

The main reason I've not yet made the switch to a laser for photo printing is the generally lower color quality and very high price of color toner. When I need a new photo printer I'll likely go with the Epson Eco-tank line. However, when I need to replace my B&W laser I'll definitely give the HP's a look to get that graph paper printing feature.

By Paul Hutchinson (not verified) on 25 Oct 2016 #permalink

I should mention that for printing photographs and similar things, you need the inkjet.

In reality, the answer to the question, "should I buy a laser printer or an inkjet printer" is: Yes.

I have a Samsung ML-2251N network laser printer that just recently got it's second toner cartridge. It's 11 years old. We only print a couple of documents a week, maybe. It doesn't owe us anything. I'll never buy an Inkjet printer. Not unless the ink comes in gallon jugs and runs at about the price of gas. If I need my photos printed I'll take them down to the local drug store.

That HP sounds like a good deal. Thanks for the heads up. If my Samsung quits I'll certainly give it a good looking over. My next printer will be a color laser printer. Do they still make plain old black-toner-only printers anymore?

By Richard Chapman (not verified) on 25 Oct 2016 #permalink

As it happens, I bought an HP M452DN about four months ago. (I paid somewhat more than you did. It's all in knowing where to shop, I guess.) I needed something modern. I'll explain why below.

I'm well satisfied with the printer's output. It warms up fast when turned on and prints documents quickly. The type is sharp and the colors vivid. It appears to use toner sparingly; I'm still on the starter cartridges. Of course, I've only printed 150-200 pages so far. The one thing I don't like about it is the stored-document feature that uses a USB drive. That never worked properly; I turned it off.

OK, the back story: My first laser printer was a Samsung ML-2510 monochrome that I bought circa 2006. It still works fine, though it's getting worn. I'll probably retire it when this cartridge goes empty.

Then, I snapped up a Konica-Minolta Magicolor 3300 when I found it priced at $400 at a consumer electronics store where I worked. This is a workgroup printer that listed for about $2,000 back then (2007-2008.) I'm still using it too, and it produces beautiful documents. However, about 1 time out of 4, it will emit a high whine and jam with a page halfway through the fusor. I could live with that, but it also refuses to handle some newer-format PDFs. I guess it would need a driver update. Alas, there is none. So I had to get something up-to-date. After doing my homework, I settled on the HP.

By Christopher Winter (not verified) on 25 Oct 2016 #permalink

Well, that's interesting! But it us utterly unsurprising that I didn't' mention it in a post about laser printers.

Been using B&W laser printer for years now - I have not missed having color at all - and wonder why one might insist upon paying for it?

And why make color photo prints at home when CostCo will snail-mail perfectly fine prints to you from their on-line print shop? They even publish color printer profiles if one is persnickety.

Once or twice a year Staples will sell you a brand new wireless Brother B&W laser for ~ $50.00 - roughly the price of an ink jet ink cartridge. Refill toner cartridges can be had for ~ $12 on Amazon, good for several thousand copies.

By Gingerbaker (not verified) on 27 Oct 2016 #permalink

Actually, the answer to the question, “should I buy a laser printer or an inkjet printer” is: No. Possibly even "Hell no!".

Throwing my last printer in a skip was by far the happiest moment of my relationship with the accursed thing, and I've never regretted not buying another one for an instant. If I really need to print something (which is actually a very rare occurrence) I do it at work where it's somebody else's problem.

To quote James Mickens (who was referring to mobile computing devices as "the new printers" at the time), they do not work, they are not expected to work, and their primary function is to inspire Gothic conversations on the futility of human existence.

I hate printers.

Printers don't work?

Tell that to my little Brother B&W laser printer. It's about 10 years old, cost $40.00 new, and has worked flawlessly, save two paper jams which took about 2 minutes to solve.

I do remember when printers were a huge PITA. That was a l-o-n-g time ago, yet I still grin every time I hit "Print" and the darned thing happily spits out a perfect page. Literally, for about the 10,000th time.

By Gingerbaker (not verified) on 27 Oct 2016 #permalink

I'd like to know what printer manufacturer if any doesn't rape you with toner prices. I regret if that triggered anyone, but I just had to buy toner and that triggered me...

...to write the question and comment.

By Tom D Perkins (not verified) on 14 Mar 2017 #permalink

useful and helpful for my work.
Thanks