Investing in new output hardware relies on the complicated process of spreading a sheaf of product brochures across your desk and attempting to analyze comparative feature sets. Along with examining sample printouts, output speed, performance options and networking, you can derive per-page costs to compare operating outlay among the devices you consider. These calculations can help you refine your list of potential printer choices.
Print quality impresses experts, and matches that of even pricier color laser printers. Expect outstandingly sharp text and professional-looking color graphics, high quality enough for brochures and other marketing materials. Photos look fine for a color laser printer — “easily good enough for any business use,” Stone says. Although hardly gallery-worthy, “from two or three feet away, you could easily mistake the output for traditional photos, especially if they’re framed behind glass.”
Both the HP and Brother printers carry one-year warranties. Both of these specific models earn similar ratings from owners. However, Brother printers in general prove more reliable than HP printers, according to PCMag.com’s annual reader survey.
Speed “is a definitive strong point,” Stone says. Text-only pages roll out at a brisk 12 to 14 pages per minute (ppm) in various expert tests. Add color into the mix, and both PCMag.com and TrustedReviews.com clock the HP at 8.3 ppm. That’s more than 20 percent faster than its Brother rival, Stone notes.
Cost per page is low for this class, experts say: Expect to pay 3.1 cents per black-and-white page and 18.5 cents per color page with standard-size toner cartridges, and HP offers high-yield cartridges that drive those per page costs down, TrustedReviews.com notes. Its Brother rival costs a little less per color page (17.9 cents), but a bit more per black-and-white page (4.4 cents). Remember, though, you won’t be printing huge volumes with either of these printers, so neither one will bankrupt you on toner costs.
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Calculating total cost of ownership means multiplying a consumable cost per page by the device’s anticipated operating output. To derive this figure, multiply the number of pages per month that you expect to print, based on your typical use, by the number of months in the device warranty. Multiply that total by the lifetime page yield and add in the purchase price to derive an estimated lifetime operating cost.
Paper capacity is the HP’s one weak spot. The M252dw has just a 150-sheet paper try (plus a single-sheet manual feed), and no option for an extra tray. “That’s fine for most personal use, but a little low for a shared printer,” Stone says. By comparison, the Brother HL-3170CDW has a 250-sheet paper drawer, plus single-sheet manual feed.
Laser printers use four toner cartridges, one each for cyan, magenta, yellow and black. Hardware manufacturers rate the output of their toner cartridges based on standardized test documents printed from common office applications. These documents may not match your typical output, but they provide a shared basis for comparison among multiple brands and models. Along with toner cartridges, some laser printers use a separate drum cartridge with its own lifespan rated in pages.
Its closest rival, the Brother HL-3170CDW (Est. $200), simply can’t keep up in PCMag.com’s tests. “The M252dw not only delivers higher-quality text, graphics, and photos than the Brother model, it’s convincingly faster, too,” PCMag.com’s M. David Stone writes. The HP is an Editors’ Choice there, a top pick at TrustedReviews.com, and is named a Best Buy by ConsumerReports.org.
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Laser printers incorporate other replaceable parts beside toner and drum cartridges. These can include the fuser and other mechanical modules that last longer than regular consumables but wear out before the end of the operating life of the device. These parts costs eventually contribute to ownership cost. When you calculate hardware lifetime output in pages, you may be tempted to substitute the duty cycle specified for each device instead of an estimate based on your company’s output. Duty cycle represents an upper limit on performance, not a yield, and most hardware shouldn’t operate beyond 10 to 25 percent of the duty cycle rating. Consistently printing as many pages as the duty cycle rating wears out a device prematurely.
Cheap color laser printers are perfect for home and small business use
Brother HL-3170CDW Digital Color Printer with Wireless Networking and Duplex, Amazon Dash Replenishment Enabled
We try to be as accurate as possible The information above is not a guarantee.
If you need a behemoth to whip out massive 200-page color reports every day, get a bigger, pricier printer, and we profile the top choices in our discussion of the best color laser printers. But for more modest color printing needs, those can be overkill, and the models profiled here can be a more practical and economical choice.
HP doesn’t skimp on features, either. The M252dw comes loaded with conveniences: touch-screen controls, Ethernet and Wi-Fi connectivity, a walk-up USB port, duplexer, cloud printing, Near Field Communication (NFC) to tap-to-connect to phones and tablets, and Wi-Fi Direct (so you can print directly from your mobile device, even in the absence of a Wi-Fi network).
List of Some Current HP, Brother, Canon Laser Printers, Copiers, Multifunctions
Machine PPM Features Reg Price Cartridge OEM $/pg QRR $/pg Brother DCP-7065DN 27 P, C, S, D, N $179.99 TN-450 DR-420 $0.0355 $0.0172 Brother HL-L2320 30 P $119.99 TN-660 DR-630 $0.0262 $0.0168 Brother HL-2240 24 P $119.
99 TN-450 DR-420 $0.0355 $0.0172 Brother HL-2270DW 27 P, D, W $149.99 TN-450 DR-420 $0.0355 $0.0172 Brother HL-2280dw 27 P, C, S, D, W $199.99 TN-450 DR-420 $0.0355 $0.0172 Brother HL-3170 TN-221/225 DR-221CL $0.
1790 Brother HL-5470DW 40 P, D, W $249.99 TN-750 DR-720 $0.0210 $0.0076 Brother Intellifax 2840 24 F, C $199.99 TN-450 DR-420 $0.0355 $0.0172 Brother MFC-7360N 24 P, C, S, F, N $199.99 TN450 DR420 $0.
0355 $0.0172 Brother MFC-7860DW 27 P, C, S, F, D, W $299.99 TN-450 DR-420 $0.0355 $0.0172 Brother MFC-8710dw 42 P, C, S, F, D, W $399.99 TN-750 DR-720 $0.0210 $0.0076 Brother MFC-8910DW 42 P, C, S, F, D, W $499.
99 TN-750 DR-720 $0.0210 $0.0076 Brother MFC-8950DW 42 P, C, S, F, D, W $599.99 TN-750 DR-720 $0.0210 $0.0076 Brother MFC-9130cw Color 19 K/C CP, C, S, F, W $399.99 TN-225 DR-221CL $0.1790 Brother MFC-9340cdw Color 23 K/C CP, C, S, F, D, W $449.
99 TN-225 DR-221CL $0.1790 Brother MFC-9970cdw Color 30 K/C CP, C, S, F, D, W $579.99 TN-315 DR-310CL $0.1360 Canon D530 26 P, C, S $199.99 Canon 128 $0.0414 $0.0167 Canon LBP6030w 26 P, W $159.99 Canon 125 $0.
044 $0.0219 Canon LBP6000 26 P Canon LBP6200d 26 P, D $169.99 Canon 126 $0.0414 $0.0167 Canon LBP7110CW Color 14 K/C CP, W $279.99 Canon 131 $0.2058 $0.1600 Canon MF4770n 24 P, C, S, F, N $199.99 Canon 128 $0.
0414 $0.0167 Canon MF4890dw 26 P, C, S, F, D, W $299.99 Canon 128 $0.0414 $0.0167 Canon MF6160dw 35 P, C, S, F, D, W $399.99 Canon 119-II $0.0278 $0.0062 Canon MF8280cw Color 14 K/C CP, C, S, F, W $449.
99 Canon 131 $0.178 $0.1600 Canon MF8580cw Color 21 K/C CP, C, S, F, W $599.99 Canon 118 $0.1729 $0.1063 HP M127fn 21 P, N $209.99 HP 283A HP 83A $0.0427 $0.0233 HP M127fw 21 P, W $259.
99 HP 283A HP 83A $0.0427 $0.0233 HP M177fw Color 17K/4C CP, C, S, F, W $349.99 HP 130A $0.222 $0.1566 HP M251nw Color 14 K/C CP, N, W $329.99 HP 131A $0.1775 $0.1600 HP M276nw Color 14 K/C CP, C, S, F, N, W $429.
99 HP 131A $0.1775 $0.1600 HP M375nw Color 19 K/C CP, C, S, F, N, W $599.99 HP 305A $0.1644 $0.0983 HP M401dne 35 P, D, N $299.99 HP 280X HP 80X $0.0255 $0.0072 HP M401n 35 P, N $299.
99 HP 280X HP 80X $0.0255 $0.0072 HP M425dn 35 P, C, S, F, D, N $499.99 HP 280X $0.0255 $0.0072 HP M451dn Color 21 K/C CP, D, N $449.99 HP 305A $0.1644 $0.0983 HP M452dn Color HP 410X $0.1358 HP M1536dnf 26 P, C, S, F, D, N $319.
99 HP 278A HP 78A $0.0476 $0.0190 HP P1102w 19 P, W $159.99 HP 285A HP 85A $0.0431 $0.0250 HP P1606dn 26 P, D, N $209.99 HP 278A HP 78A $0.0476 $0.0190
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The HP Color LaserJet Pro M252dw (Est. $220) stands out in this class. Experts struggle to find anything to criticize about this thrifty printer, and owners at Staples.com, BestBuy.com and BHPhotoVideo.com adore it (it earns 4.2 out of 5 stars or better at all three).
To derive consumable cost per page, divide the cost of each toner cartridge by the number of output pages for which the manufacturer rates it. Do the same for drum cartridges as well if the device uses them, noting that they may carry a different yield than toner cartridges do. Add together the per-page costs of all cartridges in a set of consumables to produce a total supply cost per page. You can omit the cost of paper because it forms a constant cost among all the devices you compare.
If you calculate cost per page without taking hardware cost into consideration, you leave out part of the operating outlay that defines cost of ownership. Consumable costs may form the most obvious point of comparison, given that they represent ongoing costs, but because each page you print uses up a small measure of the device’s operating capability, you amortize your hardware investment across device lifespan to make your calculations realistic.
If you print 80 pages or less per day, we found outstanding color laser printers for $200 or less that will fill the bill perfectly, without sacrificing professional-quality prints or businesslike convenience. The catch? There really isn’t one. These budget standouts are simply made for lighter duty. They hold less paper, print a little more slowly and have a lower monthly duty cycle. Also, these printers usually use LEDs instead of lasers to fuse the toner to the page, but the results are basically the same.
Machine, Rated Speed, Functions, Regular Price, Rated OEM Cost Per Page, Cost Per Page @ QRR