Strategically, Economically Using Your Printers

November 13, 2014       Ted Needleman      

In the beginning, there were impact printers. Then in 1984 Hewlett Packard introduced the first desktop ThinkJet monochrome printer. HP eclipsed its inkjet with another introduction — the first LaserJet printer. HP didn’t invent the laser printer. Xerox hatched it in 1969. Those first laser printers were behemoths and enormously expensive.

Since its introduction, the desktop laser printer has been the go-to when the best quality and fastest output were needed.

Laser printers are still the most popular type of printer in many offices. But if you’re in the market for a new office printer, you might want to consider an inkjet printer or MFP (Multifunction printers which also scan, copy, and sometimes fax).

Today’s office-oriented inkjets are fast and produce great quality output. And many are much less costly to operate than a laser printer. If you have a laser printer, it’s almost a certainty that you’ve experienced toner cartridge replacement cost sticker shock. But when it comes to inkjet printers and MFPs, both Hewlett Packard and Epson claim that their devices provide up to 50 percent lower ink costs than a laser printer.

In testing a number of Epson’s Workforce series MFPs and HP’s new Officejet Pro X MFP inkjets, all of which are targeted towards the small to medium-sized business or departmental user, just how far inkjet printers have come is very impressive.

The Officejet Pro X uses what HP calls PageWide technology, a set of staggered printheads that stretch a full 8.5 inches. Unlike other inkjets, the printheads don’t move, only the paper does. HP claims blazingly fast 70 pages per minute (ppm) in draft mode. In my less formal testing, the Officejet Pro shot out an amazing 74 ppm in draft mode. The MFP slows down somewhat in standard mode, but draft mode is adequate for in-house use. That’s impressive for an MFP that costs $800. Even more impressive are the $120 high capacity cartridges rated at 9,600 pages for the black ink and 6,900 pages for each color.

The two Epson MFPs tested aren’t as fast but are impressive. One is a wide format MFP that can scan documents as large as 11x 17 inches, and print on paper as large as 13 x 19 inches. The other is a Workforce Pro model, the WF-4630. With a street price of about $200, it can print as fast as 20 ppm, has auto duplexing on printing, scanning and faxing, and a maximum duty cycle of 30,000 pages per month. IAs for the low operating costs — the black cartridge is rated for a page yield of 2,600 pages, while the color cartridges should yield around 2,000 pages and cartridge costs are around $40 each.

There’s no one type of printer that’s right for every use or user. But laser printing remains expensive, and given the costs you might want to consider replacing at least some of your laser printers with a new inkjet.