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Choosing a Personal Printer For the Long Haul

CmdrTaco posted about 5 years ago | from the i-thought-they-were-disposable-now dept.

Printer 557

The Optimizer writes "After 16 years of service, my laser printer, a NEC Silentwriter 95, is finally wearing its internals out, and I need to find a replacement. It's printed over 30,000 pages and survived a half-dozen long-distance moves without giving me any trouble. I believe it's done so well for two reasons. First, it's sturdily built and hails from an era when every fraction of a penny didn't have to be cost-cut out of manufacturing. The other reason was its software. Since it supported postscript Level II, it wasn't bound to a specific operating system or hardware platform, so long as a basic postscript level 2 driver was available. A new color laser printer with postscript 3 seems like a logical replacement, and numerous inexpensive printers are available. I'd rather get a smaller, personal-size printer than a heavy workgroup printer. Most of all, I would like it to still be usable and running well with Windows 9, OS X 11, and whatever else we will be using in 2020. Can anyone recommend a brand or series of printers that is built to last and isn't going to be completely dependent on OS specific proprietary drivers?"

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hmmmm (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29605291)

Pencil and Paper? You want a well built device that is not going to rely on OS specific closed source drivers? I'd say that leaves a pencil.

Re:hmmmm (0)

sopssa (1498795) | about 5 years ago | (#29605393)

Nice pencil you have if it lasts 16 years.

Re:hmmmm (4, Interesting)

Jeff Carr (684298) | about 5 years ago | (#29605429)

It can if you aren't writing with graphite.... []

CAPTAIN *~%GOATSE%~* TO THE RESCUE (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29605513)

You can fit a ream of paper through this hole [] in a matter of SECONDS. Problem is that the ink is brown, green, or red, depending on what was supplied to the printer the previous day.

Re:hmmmm (2, Informative)

Tubal-Cain (1289912) | about 5 years ago | (#29605433)

Thanks [] .

HP (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29605301)

I realize things have changed, but I still stick by HP laser printers. Try to get a midrange one with a network connection and PostScript Level3, and you should hopefully be set.

Re:HP (1)

Odin_Tiger (585113) | about 5 years ago | (#29605521)

Ditto. Probably for what submitter wants, a 2XXX would be fine, although I've even got a little 1320n I bought for a couple dispatch terminals at the police dept that's seen moderate use pretty much 24/7 for a couple years now and just keeps happily running along.

Re:HP (4, Informative)

afidel (530433) | about 5 years ago | (#29605703)

I don't think a 1xxx will fulfill his needs, the 1xxx series are almost all win-printers (host based). For duty cycle it would absolutely be enough as 30,000 pages is the monthly duty cycle for a 2xxx series printer. If you need a more substantial printer I think the 4xxx series are the best built printers HP still makes. They are nothing like the LJ3/4 printers though, I once repaired a decade old LJ3 that had over a million pages on it, the only reason it needed repair is that a tooth on the single plastic gear had broken (everything else in the unit was metal). Personally I have an old Lexmark laser with a 500 page feeder and the backup is a LJ4. My primary color need is photos and those are best done by a mini-lab on real photo paper.

Re:HP (2, Informative)

bleh-of-the-huns (17740) | about 5 years ago | (#29605777)

I disagree about the 1xxx series, I have a 1020 laserjet, and it works just fine on my freebsd cups print server I use to provide print services to all the machines in my house (2 OSX, 3 or 4 windows boxes, and a bunch of openbsd and freebsd boxes).

Re:HP (1)

MinistryOfTruthiness (1396923) | about 5 years ago | (#29605525)

I agree. HP's got great cross-platform support. I have their Laserjet m2727nf, which is a multi-function network scanner/printer/fax. Linux support is great -- network scanning with anything that uses sane, network faxing and printing through cups.

As for the long-haul, well, let's just say that mine's waiting on warranty replacement. After 11 months, it seemed like the electronics just quit. No trauma or anything - it just went stupid one day. Started hanging, intermittent error 79, whatever that means, and functionality just started dropping away piecemeal over the course of about 2 weeks.

I'm hoping this was a fluke, because HPs stuff is traditionally very solid. I'll have to see how long the replacement lasts, but if it quits in 11 months, HP will be knocked down a peg in my book. In the meantime, my policy is now: 1) Buy the extended replacement warranty, and 2) don't bother with an extra toner cartridge. I didn't even make it through the first one.

Re:HP (4, Informative)

pz (113803) | about 5 years ago | (#29605589)

I realize things have changed, but I still stick by HP laser printers. Try to get a midrange one with a network connection and PostScript Level3, and you should hopefully be set.

I'd go one farther. I've bought a handful of printers (4 total) to do some medium-duty printing (25k pages per year). HP's consumer-level stuff is reasonably well-made, but ends up being very expensive in toner. Many people use aftermarket toner for that reason. HP's entry business-level stuff is GREAT. Printers made with an anticipated lifetime of over 100k pages. The newest ones (like the 2055d and related B&W laser printers) are pretty small, too. They speak PS and PCL. You can get off-lease units on eBay for not too much, or wait for one of the sales at tech stores. If you get a used one, the most important thing to watch for is the number of pages on the print path, and try to find one with less than 10k. From time to time HP has trade-in bonus programs where you send them an old printer and get money back, when you buy one of their new ones.

But, if you elect to go the color route, be prepared for sticker shock on the toner. You should expect to start paying 3-4x the money because you'll be buying 4 times as many cartridges. Even if, like most, your printing is primarily black-and-white, you'll be replacing the K (black) cartridge quite often, because for a given size printer, the four carts for color reproduction (CMYK, cyan, magenta, yellow, black) hold less than 1/4 the amount of toner each as the single K cartridge in a B&W printer.

My wife and I have a Dell 1710 printer at home, that's a B&W non-duplex model made by Lexmark, and I'm waiting for it to die to replace it with an HP equivalent. The Dell prints great at first, but altogether too quickly , the output becomes shoddy. I've not had such problems with the HP printers in my lab (again, with 25k pages per year at work).

Re:HP (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29605611)

Find a used hp 4200 series. We have a dozen of these at my office. One of them prints twenty thousand pages per month. It never breaks, i can print to it from linux or windows, it prints fast, etc. They just go and go and go. And theyre cheap as hell too.

Re:HP (1)

jizziknight (976750) | about 5 years ago | (#29605667)

I've had terrible luck with HP printers. It seems like they're only recognized properly about 1/3 of the time, and if I do get a computer to recognize it, it will randomly stop recognizing it at some point in the future. Not to mention the terrible software that it seems is pretty much required in order for the damn things to work. I don't think I should have to install software at this day and age to be able to use a damn printer.

Re:HP (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29605901)

If you needed software, that probably means you are talking about one of the consumer-class HP "Windows" printers.
The people here probably don't even consider those.
At least at the business level HP contrary to some others still produce proper printers, i.e. with network and PostScript support.
I admit they are expensive, but IMO they are the only reasonably good ones.
If you want really, really cheap I'd suggest Samsung, their proprietary consumer crap is often better supported than HP's consumer crap (talking about Linux etc.).
Though "consumer" means you will pay excessive amounts for toner, so it is only an option if you don't print regularly.

Agreed (1)

zoomshorts (137587) | about 5 years ago | (#29605833)

I have a 7 year old HP 2300 Laserjet and I got plenty of toner
cartridges up front. I bought in bulk, saving money. I have given
that printer a lot of work over the years and with gentle treatment,
it is still going strong. It is solid. When not using it, I cover
it. Simple maintaining keeps it running smooth. With over 86 thousand
pages , almost all totally full of text.

I wish these printers were still being manufactured. SIGH

Nope (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29605307)

but good luck!

Laser printers (4, Informative)

DurendalMac (736637) | about 5 years ago | (#29605313)

Get another laser printer. Take care of it and it'll last forever. Postscript means no serious OS dependence. Hell, I just set up a new Ricoh printer at an office that needed to be used with a Mac OS 9 application. It only needed very basic printing, so no biggie. It worked fine, so thank God for Postscript. Ricoh and Brother are good in my eyes, but I'm sure someone with more experience will chime in.

Re:Laser printers (5, Interesting)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about 5 years ago | (#29605631)

Try to make sure it supports PCL too. I had a Brother laser printer (I don't anymore; I have it to my mother, who still uses it), but it only had a 50MHz MIPS CPU. Complex PostScript documents took a very long time for it to print. Some LaTeX-produced pages containing just text took 20-30 seconds before it would start printing. PCL, in contrast, is a much simpler language and converting form PS to PCL on my computer and sending the result let it print with only a couple of seconds between pages. I'd also recommend getting one that supports network connectivity. This pretty much guarantees that it isn't doing anything magic in the drivers, as some USB printers do, and will work with any OS you care to try.

Re:Laser printers (1)

Jeff Carr (684298) | about 5 years ago | (#29605699)

Exactly, and make sure it's single function and black and white if you don't print in color often, less things to break that way. I picked up the Brother 2070N [] myself a few years ago. Works with or without drivers, works great in Linux, perfectly reliable for me (and others based on reviews), and cheap enough to not worry too much about it if it doesn't last more than a few years. Plus it has a toner drum available if you do a lot of printing. I'm still perfectly happy with this one, but there might be a better one available now, I'd still be looking for the same features and it would be what I compared everything else against.

Samsung (4, Interesting)

Tet (2721) | about 5 years ago | (#29605319)

I went for Samsung printers for precisely that reason. I have an ML-3051ND at home (and its replacement, an ML-3471ND at work) because they're well built and they use PostScript, and hence aren't tied to any obscure software drivers. They're not colour, but then I remain unconvinced that colour laser printers are worth while yet. Cheap inkjets give significantly better print quality, at the cost of having to keep two printers around, one for colour and one for black and white. But it's a solution that works for me, at least.

Re:Samsung (2, Informative)

outcast36 (696132) | about 5 years ago | (#29605509)

I bought a Samsung ML 1710 about 5 years ago, and it's worked from Ubuntu, Xandros, OSX10, Windows 2000-2008. Cheap workhorse, not a lot of extra features that you don't need breaking down and slowing things down. When it goes, I'll replace it with another one.

Re:Samsung (1)

u38cg (607297) | about 5 years ago | (#29605535)

Yeah. I'm not convinced anything like what the OP seeks is available any more, but at the price a new ML1610 costs, I don't see why you *would*. And so far, mine has been a great wee workhorse: three full toners through it and it chugs away like a trooper.

Re:Samsung (4, Informative)

datapharmer (1099455) | about 5 years ago | (#29605601)

I second the samsung printers. We purchased a ML-2851ND for work and have been very happy with it. For a laser printer it is relatively small (not as small as an hp-p1005, but the hp already requires you to track down a driver for osx - at least for 10.5, which worries me); the ML-2851ND printed on windows, osx, and over the linux network just fine without any special drivers. There are easy configuration drivers on cd for several operating systems, but for osx and xp I just listed it as generic postscript and it prints great. It offers duplex which is nice and the dual usb/ethernet interface means it will be more likely to survive changes in technology over time... there is bound to be something that can convert to either usb or ethernet 20 years from now. The memory can be upgraded or replaced if needed and it is fast out of the box.

Re:Samsung (1)

farrellj (563) | about 5 years ago | (#29605893)

I also bought Samsung ML-2851ND earlier this year. The duplex and postcript were important to me, and the ethernet was a nice addition. All that for under $200. Samsung has been on a role with me too, as my main LCD monitor is also a Samsung. ...full disclosure, I don't work for, or own shares of Samsung!

Re:Samsung (2, Interesting)

damnbunni (1215350) | about 5 years ago | (#29605657)

My Brother HL4040CDN color duplexing laser was only $224 shipped - not a lot more than a color inkjet and a couple of ink refills. Factor in how much cheaper toner is per page, and that toner doesn't dry out sitting there if you don't print, and in a few years I come out ahead. Plus the Brother prints both sides without fiddling with flipping paper around, which is a plus. Inkjet prints can be more vibrant than color laser, but frankly the laser's 'good enough'.

Unfortunatly the HL4040 series aren't PostScript compatible.

Re:Samsung (1)

MinistryOfTruthiness (1396923) | about 5 years ago | (#29605695)

Samsung printers are awesome, and incredible quality for the price ($120 a little over five years ago). I just wrote another post above about my HP m2727nf, which I really liked, but which crapped out in 11 months. It was bought as a replacement for my Samsung ML-1740. Turns out that the Samsung is still going strong at over five years old, and actually wound up saving my butt when the HP died. I have nothing but praise for that printer.

Linux is supported out of the box. It's USB only, but I hooked it up to my Netgear NAS unit, which is Debian-based and has a cups server built into it. Instant shareable network printer. :-)

Re:Samsung (1)

Thelasko (1196535) | about 5 years ago | (#29605829)

I think I remember hearing that some Samsung laser printers are re-branded Xerox Phasers.

Are you kidding (0, Offtopic)

Jinjuku (762364) | about 5 years ago | (#29605323)

This makes it to the front page of Slashdot?

Re:Are you kidding (-1, Troll)

HMage (605536) | about 5 years ago | (#29605373)

No, you're delusional. Really.

Re:Are you kidding (4, Funny)

sopssa (1498795) | about 5 years ago | (#29605499)

This makes it to the front page of Slashdot?

You're not seeing the big picture. *Of course* this isn't about finding a personal laser printer. The submitter is *obviously* building something big... like sharks with lasers!

No, we can't recommend anything (5, Insightful)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | about 5 years ago | (#29605363)

The problem is that you are assuming that printers made today have any sort of longterm lifespan. They do not. They are cheaply-made and will not last you more than a couple years at the longest.

Add to this that you would lose the ability to buy toner after a few years due to planned obsolescence, and your dream of buying a cheap personal printer that will last you two generations of Windows is simply impossible.

Re:No, we can't recommend anything (1)

DurendalMac (736637) | about 5 years ago | (#29605413)

So buy a bigass office printer. Problem solved.

Re:No, we can't recommend anything (1)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | about 5 years ago | (#29605497)


Re:No, we can't recommend anything (1)

16384 (21672) | about 5 years ago | (#29605505)

So buy a bigass office printer. Problem solved.

I did that. It's big. And loud. Uses about the same amount of power as a small space heater. I still like it though :)

Re:No, we can't recommend anything (1)

Yvan256 (722131) | about 5 years ago | (#29605431)

Your dream of buying a cheap personal printer that will last you two generations of Windows is simply impossible.

You mean today's printers can't last more than three years?

Re:No, we can't recommend anything (4, Funny)

Dancindan84 (1056246) | about 5 years ago | (#29605475)

Your dream of buying a cheap personal printer that will last you two generations of Windows is simply impossible.

You mean today's printers can't last more than three years?

I think he, like most of us, denies the existence of ME and Vista.

Re:No, we can't recommend anything (1)

mkettler (6309) | about 5 years ago | (#29605627)

3 years? Heck, I'm impressed if they last for more than 3 months these days.

So much of the printer market has collapsed into the black-hole of making extraordinarily low cost devices. Even a lot of the higher-end business market seems to be affected. We have a leased "high end", major brand (I'm not naming names), 60ppm multifunction laser, 14+ ream capacity, etc.It was new when installed 1 year ago and we've had to have factory techs out here repairing mechanical failures twice this year. Fortunately, it's leased so the service is covered, but still...

It's really sad when printers are having a hard time lasting longer than their consumables, but it seems to be the case now days. Sad, Sad, Sad.

Re:No, we can't recommend anything (1)

Thelasko (1196535) | about 5 years ago | (#29605733)

your dream of buying a cheap personal printer that will last you two generations of Windows is simply impossible.

No, it's only impossible if you are looking for one made by Lexmark.

Re:No, we can't recommend anything (1)

Jinjuku (762364) | about 5 years ago | (#29605817)

I went on flea-bay years ago and found a Xerox Documate N4525 with duplexer for $350. I didn't need to run to slash dot and have them post a front page article.

Re:No, we can't recommend anything (1)

boarder8925 (714555) | about 5 years ago | (#29605871)

Add to this that you would lose the ability to buy toner after a few years due to planned obsolescence . . . .

"Planned obsolescence" for laser printers? I have an HP LaserJet 2100TN that my family got in September 2000. Not only is it still running like a champ but there is still toner being made for it--and not generic or remanufactured toner cartridges but ones made by HP. In fact, I know people who have six- or seven-year-old HP inkjets, etc. that they're still buying cartridges for. It seems that HP supports their printers for quite a long time. After all, how else would they make money off of people's buying so many ink cartridges?

Not a printer expert but.. (4, Insightful)

Chas (5144) | about 5 years ago | (#29605375)

Most of the stuff out there now is cheap plastic crap for "personal size" printers.
You get 18-24 months of moderate use out of them before they die, and ALL of them are proprietary drivers.
If you want more flexibility and longer lifespan, you pretty much HAVE to go up to workgroup printers.

As to a specific model, again, I'm not someone who goes through printers that often. I'm fairly happy with my LaserJet 3005x though.

Re:Not a printer expert but.. (2, Informative)

jimicus (737525) | about 5 years ago | (#29605543)

Most of the stuff out there now is cheap plastic crap for "personal size" printers.
You get 18-24 months of moderate use out of them before they die, and ALL of them are proprietary drivers.

Not strictly true. Kyocera's printers are Postscript throughout the range, and they have got a cheapie model, the FS-1100.

I don't think it's as sturdy as the HP Laserjet 4L I bought it to replace, but it's not as bad as some.

Re:Not a printer expert but.. (1)

nine-times (778537) | about 5 years ago | (#29605769)

One thing that I don't understand about those cheap-o printers is, why the hell are they still so big? I have a cheap Canon inkjet printer and I'm reasonably happy with it. I mean, it works and it looks ok most of the time, and I don't use it too much so it's fine. But even though it's a pretty recent printer, it still comes in a package that's a solid 18"x12"x6" block. Lift it, and you can tell that most of that block is air. It's even bigger than the printer I had 10 years ago.

Now I understand that there are certain limits to how compact you can make these things. The ink doesn't compress very much, and it needs to be wide enough to feed the paper through. But why are consumer printers still so bulky? Look at the electronics in the modern cell phone. Hell, they even have little portable photo printers that do a passable job. So why aren't there compact consumer printers? Surely I'm not the only one who's annoyed by a printer I rarely use taking up half my deskspace.

HP (4, Informative)

benwiggy (1262536) | about 5 years ago | (#29605383)

You can't go much wrong with a decent HP Laser printer. As long as you don't get the completely bargain bucket, bottom of the range ones.

30,000 pages is nothing. I've got an 8-year-old HP5000 series that does 10,000 pages a year.

Anything with an Ethernet socket and support for PostScript (or even PDF natively, these days) is not going to need much in the way of drivers, particularly on OS X.

Re:HP (5, Informative)

i.r.id10t (595143) | about 5 years ago | (#29605441)

My mom is still using a laserjet II that she got for $25 on a surplus sale from the county. When she had it serviced, the built in utility reported that it had printed over 2 million pages.... still going strong, she's had it for 10 years.

So, I'd say haunt surplus sales, etc. and pick up an older HP laserjet .. built like a tank.

Re:HP (1)

localman57 (1340533) | about 5 years ago | (#29605581)

I agree. I highly recommend the LaserJet 4M series. In 2001 for $190 bucks ($50 for the printer, $40 for shipping and $100 for a new extra-capacity toner Cartridge) I got a network-enabled printer that has worked for 8 years with no service except the occasional reloading of paper. I don't print a ton, but when I do, it just works.

On the other hand, if you liked your old printer so much, why don't you just look for another NEC on eBay or other second source?

Re:HP (1)

segfaultcoredump (226031) | about 5 years ago | (#29605561)

Same here.

I picked up an HP LaserJet 4100 (with duplexer and jetDirect card) for $25 at a used pc sale run by the local county government. I also got an HP 8150DN (duplexer, network and 2000 sheet feeder tray) at the same sale for another $25.

The things are built well and everybody supports them. Because they were so common, toner is easy to find. Not that I'll need it, the 8150 came with two full cartridges rated at 20,000 sheets each.

Re:HP (1)

NJRoadfan (1254248) | about 5 years ago | (#29605649)

You can't go much wrong with a decent HP Laser printer. As long as you don't get the completely bargain bucket, bottom of the range ones.

30,000 pages is nothing. I've got an 8-year-old HP5000 series that does 10,000 pages a year.

Anything with an Ethernet socket and support for PostScript (or even PDF natively, these days) is not going to need much in the way of drivers, particularly on OS X.

x2. They are readily available on the used market for a great price, parts are cheap and easy to source and service info is easy to find. Go for the "mid level" market lasers (anything 3000 series and up), they are usually built for heavier duty cycles then personal lasers so they last a LONG time for home use, and price per page is very low. At the same time, they usually have a smaller footprint then a typical workgroup printer.

They also usually come with JetDirect and memory slots for expansion. JetDirect cards support all the old and new network protocols (AppleTalk in particular) and can even be had with wireless. As for languages, every mid-level HP supports PCL6 and Postscript 3. Keep in mind that I regularly print from my Apple IIgs to a cheap Color Laserjet 3700dn using the GS/OS Laserwriter driver. No color support, but shows these modern printers have superb backward compatibility.

If you really need DOS/parallel support, HP droppped IEEE-1284 from their printers about 2 years ago. If the printer has an open JetDirect slot, HP sells a parallel port JetDirect card that you can usually find on ebay for cheap.

Re:HP (1)

Isochrome (16108) | about 5 years ago | (#29605661)

I got fed up with HOP after having a few inkjets last less than a year. They also seem to be one of the worst companies for predatory ink pricing. I just bought a new printer, and decided on a color laser. I went Lexmark. They are a good, engineering focussed company. The cost per print is a lot lower than HP. And they work for both Macs and Windows. Reviews say the print quality is high and I haven't been disappointed.

Re:HP (1)

HogGeek (456673) | about 5 years ago | (#29605897)

Here Here on the HP.

I have a HP 4M Plus that I bought new sometime in the early 90s that does PCL and PS II and has a "netconnect" card. Other than toner, I've only had to replace the rollers ($35 kit).

Didn't realize (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29605385)

I was unaware Slashdot had become a sub-site of Tom's Hardware. When, exactly, did this happen? This isn't news, it's not even a review. It's a lazy fuck that can't be bothered to do a Google search or two.

Re:Didn't realize (1)

localman57 (1340533) | about 5 years ago | (#29605783)

You aren't going to get many folks on Tom's with a lot of insight into non-proprietary drivers...

Brother HL-2150N (5, Informative)

gngulrajani (52431) | about 5 years ago | (#29605423)

Was 80GBP has cheap consumables and works fine with CUPS.
A lot of the Brother lasers get good reviews.

Re: Brother HL-2150N (2, Informative)

jizziknight (976750) | about 5 years ago | (#29605555)

I'll second this. They generally don't require any software to work properly either. Just plug it in, and it's good to go.

Re: Brother HL-2150N (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29605723)

I have no experience with that model, but I concur with the recommendation of Brother. Their printers are usually either cheaper for the same features or more features for the same price versus, say, HP's offerings. They have decent OS X and Linux [] support [] . The nice things about many of the models: separate toner and imaging drums. You replace the toner relatively cheaply, and keep using the drum.

As others have noted, I'm not sure there is a printer made today that compares with the durability of ones from 10 years ago unless you are willing to pay a high price for a "workgroup" model.

Re: Brother HL-2150N (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29605903)

For personal printing I'd recommend a small Brother Laserjet too. We've been using 2040 and 2140s for ages in here (2nd level school so they get a fair amount of physical abuse), they're very solid little printers and the toner is reasonably inexpensive for what you get out of it. Unlike your average home inkjet, they're also quite capable of being left idle for several months and still print the next sheet fine (we get regular problems with clogged inkjet heads after the summer break).

Very rare that anything will go wrong with them too. About the only recurring thing I've seen with them over the years is that occasionally the drum light starts flashing for no good reason after X thousand pages printed (due to a built-in automatic "it's about time you went and spent money on a new drum" nag - but there's a very easy manual reset tweak to reset the counter). The drums are fairly expensive to replace, a little under the cost of a new printer... however resetting the counter will let you run it into the ground. Our longest running one has been here for over 5 years, still on its original drum.

AS the parent mentions, Brother have quite good CUPS support too. Our 2040s are plugged locally via USB into Windows XP machines, with all print jobs (even "local" ones) being rerouted via a SAMBA/CUPS-based Print Credit System running on an Ubuntu box. Works flawlessly and doesn't need any Postscript tweaks.

Get a model that's been around a couple of years (3, Insightful)

davidwr (791652) | about 5 years ago | (#29605449)

Find several models that have been around at least a year, preferably two, then search for their reputations.

You might try consumer-product-rating magazines and web sites that have a reputation for independence.

Current + Quality is hard to find (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29605451)

They honestly just don't make them like they used to. I have an HP 4 that I bought from a local university for $10 and it's built like a tank. It cranks em out even after 60k+ pages so far and works seamlessly with any Windows or Unix/Linux operating system I've used it with.

For something newer/smaller, I would guess a monochrome printer by a larger brand like HP or Cannon would be your best bet for something that will be compatible for another 20 years. As far as finding something that can take a decent amount of abuse, I'd like to know myself if/when my laserjet 4 dies.

I'll be watching this thread (1)

hyades1 (1149581) | about 5 years ago | (#29605453)

I've got an old HP ColorLaserJet 5M. It's still grinding along just fine, but I know it must be getting tired after all these years. I'm very interested in the recommendations of the Slashdot community. The HP is built like the proverbial brick outhouse and probably weighs a bit more. Its only downside is limited memory (slow on graphics/photo-heavy pages), and its photo reproduction is adequate at best.

I'd love to replace it with another heavy-duty workhorse, but one that can do a better job with photographs.

OSX 11? (4, Informative)

Rhaban (987410) | about 5 years ago | (#29605457)

Doesn't the X stands for 10?

Re:OSX 11? (2, Funny)

Marcx77 (1193559) | about 5 years ago | (#29605637)

Yes. He's hoping to buy a printer that will last him 1001 generations of Apple's OS.

Get a used HP workhorse (2, Insightful)

jeffmeden (135043) | about 5 years ago | (#29605459)

Find a nice used laserjet or color laserjet, these printers last for decades, they will have replacement parts available for that long, and they are platform independent supporting either poststript or PCL.

Why used? If you are looking to save money (I assume this is what " I'd rather get a smaller, personal-size printer than a heavy workgroup printer" means) this is the way to go. If you are looking for an all around smaller printer, get a cheap disposable color inkjet and save yourself the trouble of maintaining a cheap color laser printer. Unless you get a workhorse, it probably won't last no matter what kind you buy.

Buy pda instead (2, Funny)

WindBourne (631190) | about 5 years ago | (#29605461)

Skip the printer. There is VERY little need for a personal printer unless you are into scrap booking or something like that.

Re:Buy pda instead (5, Insightful)

pyster (670298) | about 5 years ago | (#29605553)

You obviously dont actually understand how a real office works, do you?

Re:Buy pda instead (0)

schnikies79 (788746) | about 5 years ago | (#29605763)

Very little?

We print around 300 legal sized pages a day, all year long, and go through printers about every six months. Try working in the medicine where hard-copies are required by law.

HP P2015dn - I love it (4, Informative)

squallbsr (826163) | about 5 years ago | (#29605469)

Get yourself another laser printer, after I bought mine (HP P2015-dn for $300 2 years ago) I haven't looked back. 99.99% of my printing is black and white anyway, I use the crap out of the double sided feature and I love the networked aspect.

My only complaint is that it needs to be restarted every month or so - otherwise it takes 20 minutes to print 1 page.

Re:HP P2015dn - I love it (3, Informative)

pz (113803) | about 5 years ago | (#29605879)

Get yourself another laser printer, after I bought mine (HP P2015-dn for $300 2 years ago) I haven't looked back. 99.99% of my printing is black and white anyway, I use the crap out of the double sided feature and I love the networked aspect.

My only complaint is that it needs to be restarted every month or so - otherwise it takes 20 minutes to print 1 page.

I have a p2015dn with that same problem, only it was after every big document. It was 100% solved by putting more memory in the printer.

No cost cutting in manufacturing? (1)

amstrad (60839) | about 5 years ago | (#29605473)

First, it's sturdily built and hails from an era when every fraction of penny didn't have to be cost-cut out of manufacturing

That's BS. Are you suggesting that there was a time the manufacturers weren't trying to squeeze out cost? What planet are you from?

Re:No cost cutting in manufacturing? (5, Insightful)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about 5 years ago | (#29605731)

This was back in a time when people expected printers to last for many years of high-volume use and didn't buy anything from the company ever again if they didn't. Companies like HP made a name in this market by charging a premium but providing good value for money. They didn't need to try to cut costs, because they could pass their costs on to the customer, and the customer would be happy because it meant less downtime.

30,000? Junk! (5, Insightful)

sirwired (27582) | about 5 years ago | (#29605481)

30,000 is a measly 60 reams of paper. All but the cheapest, lowest-end piece of crap should be able to handle more than six cases of paper before kicking the bucket. If standards are that low, just about any SOHO printer should do the trick.


Good question (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29605483)

Most of all, I would like it to still be usable and running well with Windows 9, OS X 11, and whatever else we will be using in 2020. Can anyone recommend a brand or series of printers that is built to last and isn't going to be completely dependent on OS specific proprietary drivers?

That is a critical question for anyone to ask, regardless of whether they're low or high volume, color vs black'n'white, laser vs inkjet. Good on you for asking. If it needs drivers instead of working out-of-the-box, pass it by.

That said, when I was looking at printers a few years ago, I ended up heading toward the HP LJ 1320. Not on the market anymore (and it's black'n'white whereas I think you want color), but that general area of their product line is where it's at. These printers actually know PCL and PS themselves, none of that the-smarts-are-in-the-driver bullshit.

cost of consumables (5, Insightful)

petes_PoV (912422) | about 5 years ago | (#29605485)

Don't just look at the ticket price of the printer itself. if you're planning on printing another 30,000 pages with the new printer over 16 years (hint: you won't - modern stuff just won't last) the paper, toner, drums and even electricity consumed. will far exceed the cost of the hardware.

One suggestion (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29605501)

Brother has some of the best Linux support I've seen. And their products are well built.

The HL-3040CN is personal-sized, but packs a punch.

17 ppm
LED instead of laser (higher dpi, fewer moving parts)
under $300

My solution (4, Interesting)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 5 years ago | (#29605531)

I bought a LaserJet 2100 and a 10/100 JetDirect card for it. It lives on my network so that provides wifi printing, it has an appletalk port and a parallel port, I got a belkin USB to parallel adapter for $1 at a yard sale, and it's even got front-panel IR. Then I added a Postscript+4MB RAM DIMM to it. This gets you 300,600,1200 DPI modes plus a 600-dpi-with-variable toner blob size high speed mode. Then I had to rebuild it, which is surprisingly easy actually.

This printer was meant to print 20,000 pages a month and to be rebuildable, which is nontrivial but honestly not all that bad. The only downside is lack of duplex, and the lack of a screen. I guess that's two down sides. You manage the printer via web browser+java plugin, which is fairly cross-platform anyway. It prints PCL5, PCL6, and Postscript.

It's not particularly fast in anything but 300 dpi mode, but it has really beautiful output and refilled toner carts are trivially available. You can pick all this up under $200 these days; I didn't, but you can. And pretty much anything can print to it, which to me is a huge feature. Finally, it doesn't require an external print server, which is also critically important to me, I have far too much clutter as it is.

If you get something newer, it's probably shabbier and faster. The 2100 is cool and competent. It's also useless without a memory expansion of some kind. You could skip the postscript, PCL is perfectly usable from Unix these days, but you must upgrade the RAM. IIRC it just takes parity EDO DIMMs or something, but you'd have to look it up.

HP (1)

Kamokazi (1080091) | about 5 years ago | (#29605541)

HP has great support for Operating systems across the board for their monochrome laser printers. Most of them have drivers from DOS-Windows 7, Mac OS7-X, and Linux/Unix support.

However, I have had bad luck with one of their more recent personal printer models, the P3005. About half have had issues of some type. But their older and higher-end models are quite reliable and work well. We print on to vellum for developing film masking for etching, and we need absolute perfect print quality, and we had an 8150 doing this for 6 years with no issues, and we currently have a 9040 that is 3 years old, still running great with no signs of slowing. So if you go with higher-end models I think you would be in great shape. You'll probably see the same among most manufacturers nowadays. That is where they don't pinch their pennies.

But really, for personal use, only printing 2,000 pages a year, you will be better off buying a more 'disposable' printer for $200 or less (I just got a very nice Samsung networked printer at home for $150) and replacing it in 3-5 years, versus spending $800+ on something that will last for 15 years. I know the disposable mentality may be hard to accept for someone who kept a 16-year old printer, but please give it serious thought, I really think you will be better off in the long run. Old equipment, no matter how nice it was at the time, is still old, and will almost always be outperformed by newer, cheaper equipment.

Re:HP (1)

bwalling (195998) | about 5 years ago | (#29605621)

I was given an HP Photosmart a few years back and I hate it with a passion. It doesn't have a real driver, it has some kind of app that you print to. This means no network printing (only direct attached USB). The app never quits, so it's running all the time and it pops up useless messages for you to clear out. I'm sure that spec isn't written in the marketing materials ("Subverts Windows and Mac print systems with proprietary app").

Re:HP (1)

Kamokazi (1080091) | about 5 years ago | (#29605743)

We're talking about business/SOHO laser printers, not consumer inkjet garbage. Completely different stuff. Get a clue.

Re:HP (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29605813)

With that comment it is easy to understand why you have no friends and don't get laid.

Older generation HPs (5, Informative)

citking (551907) | about 5 years ago | (#29605559)

The older generation of HP printers are about the best one can get. The LaserJet 4/5 series were built like tanks, using steel for the frame and being very, very simple to repair.

Since HP 4s and 5s use standard PCL and PS languages they are very easily able to work across platforms. (One note however - if using PostScript with a LaserJet 4 or 5 be sure to have enough printer memory or you'll have a few issues with the printer becoming overwhelmed).

Before Carly Fiorina destroyed HP they used to be the leader in printers (or at least in the very top tier). Now they crank out plastic pieces of shit that break after a year, are difficult to repair using off-the-bench tools, and try to market a new toner cart to you when the old one is still at 20% capacity. Seriously, our LaserJet 4200 will not go into powersave mode when it is telling me to order a new cartridge with 1/5th the life remaining. It is very annoying.

While the LaserJet 4/5 series of printers are not small, personal-type lasers they are workhorses. As I stated before parts are cheap and are easy to replace should that be necessary. Toner carts are prevalent and are reasonable. I'd go with these tried-and-true printers if you are looking for another decade-plus of worry-free operation. Personally I'd go specifically with the LaserJet 5m, but if you don't like the size/heft of that perhaps a LaserJet 4p would be more to your liking, though they can be a bit more difficult to work on because of their small stature.

XEROX Phaser 6280N (2, Informative)

characterZer0 (138196) | about 5 years ago | (#29605565)

PostScript level 3

That should be okay for a while.

Re:XEROX Phaser 6280N (1)

Thelasko (1196535) | about 5 years ago | (#29605673)

Yeah, I've heard a lot of recommendations for this printer. It's really intended for a small business, but I think it's worth the cost for the long haul.

Re:XEROX Phaser 6280N (1)

cabjf (710106) | about 5 years ago | (#29605737)

I have a Xerox Phaser 6120. It's pretty nice. Just hook it up to my network and any OS I've thrown at it can print. It's been almost 4 years and I still haven't had to buy anything other than paper for it.

I used to work for Canon..... (1)

B5_geek (638928) | about 5 years ago | (#29605595)

I used to work for Canon and saw a low of low-end printers come through our shop for repair, and software support was a nightmare.

As most people already know HP = Canon, but the main difference was that the HP software was so superior to what Canon offered us it made a significant difference in usability. I.E. typical office with typical $20k multi-function scanner/copier/printer/fax. Customer has trouble with our drivers on one form, if we substituted the HP Laserjet2 driver for ours the form came out perfectly.

If you want durability in a 'home' printer, make sure the drum/toner are all the same unit. This makes them more pricey (the drum life should be good enough to last 20,000 pages, but toner will only last you 2,000 pages) almost all the moving parts are replaced everytime you drop in a new drum. Also avoid the '3rd party' toner & drum makers. They are crap.

Re:I used to work for Canon..... (1)

B5_geek (638928) | about 5 years ago | (#29605881)

Sorry to reply to my own thread but I see a few people making the same misconceptions about printing languages.
First and foremost, PCL6 is not 'better' then PCL5.

PCL5e: multi-corporation 'agreement' on a common printer language. Best for text.
PCL6: next standard designed with photo-reproduction in mind. Quite shitty.
PS: photo & font 'accurate' reproduction. Actual PS3 'chips' are rare in anything less then $40,000 EFI/Fiery controllers. Most boxes that claim to be PS are just "PostScript compatible".

The best laser printer is (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29605617)

the one that uses the same toner cartridges as the one at work.

Brother Printers (2, Informative)

mgbastard (612419) | about 5 years ago | (#29605655)

I've had great results with Brother's printers. Postscript, good driver support, etc. etc. Also, the ones with wireless are pretty handy too. Ethernet for cheap, and decent consumables, both offbrand and onbrand. e.g. HL-5370DW PCL, Postscript clone, duplex, straight paper path (cardstock!), wireless 11g, ethernet & usb. Paper trays available. $249 USD Also, total MFC with Fax, flatbed: MFC-8890DW $499 and down.

get another one (3, Insightful)

MooseTick (895855) | about 5 years ago | (#29605707)

In the day of eBay and world reaching online marketplaces, the easy answer is to get another one just like what you had. It met all your requirements and the only thing that you state has changed is it has worn out. I'm sure there is a brand new or nearly new one out there waiting to be found. Also, it should be cheap since it is so old. Yuo may find though, that you don't get as lucky as you did the first one. Some people have cars for 15+ years also, then get a replacement that only lasts 5.

Do you really need color? (4, Informative)

localman57 (1340533) | about 5 years ago | (#29605727)

One question I ask people when they're looking for a printer is if they really need color. They typically say, "Of course! I print photos!" but the fact is you can run a few hundred digital prints from Wal Mart for what a single color Inkjet cartridge costs. The quality is better, the fade resistance is better, and most people don't get a few hundred prints from a cartridge. And, assuming you're going there anyway and you have a typical cheap inkjet, it's easier to send them to the photodepartment via their web site and pick them up when you go shopping than to print them at home.


Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29605755)

What you want is a LEXMARK OPTRA S, or its color equivalent. The US government buys these by the dozen. They are INDESTRUCTIBLE. I have been sent on service calls to find units in absolutely deplorable conditions just plugging away. They last decades and at the rate the government has deployed them consumables should be available for quite some time. They have an available network interface and speak Postscript. I can tell you from firsthand experience these machines can be maintained more or less indefinitely. I have met several Optra Ses that are well over 10 years old. When they wear out you install a refurb kit and carry on. They're tanks.

Your current printer. (1)

TheGreatOrangePeel (618581) | about 5 years ago | (#29605765)

I can't speak about your printer specifically, but I know that there's a whole online community of folks who are still pluggin' away with their Apple Personal LaserWriter NT/NTR and similar workhorse Apple printers from back-in-the-day. Heck, I even once found a site that sold nothing but replacement parts for LaserWriters. It could be worth your time too see if such a community exists surrounding Silentwriter printers.

Where the Fuck is MEMJET! (1)

richrumble (988398) | about 5 years ago | (#29605771)

Why can't these guys [] come out to play!! This is the one piece of Vaporware I am still holding out hope for. I've written them, they've replied eventually, they keep pushing the release dates back... [] >Although we initially believed we would be introducing A4/Letter devices through OEM brands in 2009, the timing now has shifted to 2010 Fuck! -rich

That's easy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29605785)

HP Laserjet 4 and a box of crayons.

Glad to help.

This is Slashdot (1)

Yvan256 (722131) | about 5 years ago | (#29605791)

Why hasn't anyone asked about replacing those worn-out components and keep using the old printer? With 3D printers you could probably have the parts you need printed out.

Or, the less expensive way, find one or more of the same printer model and just rebuild one from all the better components of all the printers?

Used workhorse (1)

debrain (29228) | about 5 years ago | (#29605809)

I bought a HP Laserjet 8150. It works with postscript, and I print about 3,000 pages a month. I also bought the high-capacity tray that stores 2,000 pages, which is convenient. I may have to replace the rollers at some point. It will print close to 40,000 pages on one toner cartridge.

The printer cost me $100 from a recycling depot, who gave me the high-capacity tray for an extra $50. New rollers will cost about $150 (every 200,000 sheets or so). Toner costs just under $100 to refill.

The capital cost was about $150, and the ongoing cost to print is just over $0.003 per page (not including cost of paper).

It's a big beast, so probably not the best thing for at home, but it's saved me thousands of dollars every few months compared to going to a print shop for my large print jobs or the smaller, newer printers that require new cartridges every 10-20,000 pages.

Loyal Canon Customer (2, Informative)

rcolbert (1631881) | about 5 years ago | (#29605825)

I have to give credit to Canon. I've had a few of their printers now. One experience though galvanized my loyalty. I bought a fairly nice MFP from them a few years back. After a few months, the unit failed to power on (likely due to problematic power surges that I've since mitigated with strong ups/power conditioners, btw.) Anyhow, I called their support, and here's what happened:

The first person I spoke with was able to handle my call from start to finish.

The call took less than ten minutes total.

They determined quickly that the printer should be replaced.

I was never asked to 'prove' anything, everything was on trust - no receipt, warranty registration, etc.

Canon shipped me a brand new printer that arrived in two days. I used that box plus their own pre-paid, pre-printed shipping label to return the old printer.

Long story short, I've never had such a positive customer service experience with a consumer level product. It was the most hassle-free RMA I've ever experienced, consumer or otherwise. I'll continue to buy as long as the support is there. And by the way, their photo printing is quite impressive at the mid and high end.

Brother HL-4070CDW (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29605859)

Very happy with it.

Network (wired) and USB (1)

jhfry (829244) | about 5 years ago | (#29605863)

Ignore wireless printers (the technology changes too rapidly), but definitely get an IP printer... I suspect it will still be compatible for at least 10 years. USB will probably still be usable as well, though I can't guarantee that you will still be able to find drivers for your OS to print to it via USB.

I have come to really like the reliability of Xerox printers. I support many workgroup class printers and find that the couple of Xerox 4500's require very little attention and I have yet to need to toss a half used toner cartridge due to print quality issues. Which is important in a personal laser that isn't used constantly.

Xerox (1)

h.ross.perot (1050420) | about 5 years ago | (#29605867)

They invented the Laser printer. I have a 4505 that is dependable. Just watch ebay for drums and toner and stock up.

hmmmm I have a question too (1)

nomadic (141991) | about 5 years ago | (#29605891)

Anyone know any sturdy inkjets that have really cheap cartridges? I remember shopping for one once and the only cheap cartridges out were for printers they didn't make anymore.

HP (1)

Malc (1751) | about 5 years ago | (#29605907)

My LaserJet 1100 lasted me nearly 10 years. I sold it because I moved from Canada to the UK, and just knew that I wouldn't have room in the shoebox-sized apartments here. The first toner cartridge lasted seven years, and printed more than 3,000 sheets (I think it's spec'ed for 2,000). There was a class action lawsuit against HP for this printer at one point to do with a paper feeding problem, but that was resolved with little effort my behalf. Drivers never an issue.

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