There's nothings more challenging than choosing a printer today. With a variety of models, brands and technologies, you're going to need the help of our resident super sleuth to figure this one out!
This is the first time I'm mentioning this, but reading happens to be my favourite hobby. I've collected more than 600 books thus far! Nowadays, however, I'm most often reading PDFs and e-books, and this was one of the reasons I bought a Nokia N80.
However, I find reading on such devices is a pain, especially for extended periods. How about printing them out? My older HP DeskJet 640C has been in operation for the last seven years, and has now lost its ability to deliver crisp printouts. I just had to buy a new printer, and since we haven't done a good printer comparison for almost a year now, the setting seemed perfect for me to go about my business.
In the good old days, selecting a printer was a no-brainer: there were only a few models to choose from, and each had a distinct advantage over the other. But now? Too many models, extremely focused categorisation, and the significant onslaught of MFDs. Further, "should I opt for an inkjet or a laser printer" is the question one has to answer before buying.
Instead of narrating how I went about buying a printer for myself, I've decided to touch upon these issues.
Nearly everyone who buys a PC ends up buying a printer, and this very demand has ensured easy availability of printers, which earlier were quite expensive; in addition, very few dealers were selling them. When it comes to printers, India has been a very pro-HP country, pretty much like it is pro-NVIDIA in the graphics card category. But you also get good printers from Canon, Lexmark, Epson, Xerox, Samsung, and Brother.
A home user can buy an inkjet for as little as Rs 2,250; the Epson C45, to be precise. In the same league, you get HP's 2360, which costs about Rs 2,400, as well as the Canon IP 1000, for the same price. The Lexmark Z645 also falls into this category. Before you invest in one of these entry-level printers, make sure to ask about cartridge prices; most often, it would work out to be the same or a little less than what you paid for the printer. These printers are for those who print like ten pages a week.
Moving up the ladder, HP has the DeskJet D4168 that retails at Rs 3,750, and Canon has its Pixma iP3300 retailing at Rs 5,500. Epson has its Stylus C58, C79, and C87 in this range, retailing at Rs 3,250, Rs 4,150 and Rs 5,000 respectively. Printers in this range are for people who print around a hundred pages a week-typical office desktop usage.
Moving on, the price of the "average" laser printer has fallen to an affordable Rs 6,000. Almost every vendor has a laser printer for mass consumption. HP, Canon, Samsung, and Xerox are the major players in the mass-market category. HP's LaserJet 1020 and LaserJet 1022 are mono lasers available at attractive prices of Rs 6,900 and Rs 9,700 respectively. Samsung, has their ML-1610 at a low Rs 5,000. Samsung also has the ML-2010 and ML-2570 , which are higher-spec laser printers, featuring faster printing speeds. Similar to entry-level inkjet printers, these entry-level laser printers require cartridges (laser cartridges) that often cost around Rs 3,000, and can print around 2,500 pages. These lasers are good for typical office desktop usage, but not for a large team.
When colour laser printers were introduced, they cost too much; however, in recent months, they have seen a drastic price drop. The HP Colour LaserJet 1600 can be had for Rs 15,000, and the souped-up LaserJet 2600n that used to cost Rs 40,000 can be bought for Rs 19,000. Samsung recently introduced the CLP-300, an entry-level colour laser. It retails at Rs 14,500.
While talking to a HP dealer, I came across the new HP Officejet K550 Pro. This is a business-class inkjet, and is supposed to deliver better performance than a laser, or at least on par. The demo the dealer gave me proved its capability-good speeds, high-capacity cartridges, and superb print quality. The attractive pricing of just Rs 8,999 sold me, and I coughed it up immediately-but why not a laser? Well, with an inkjet I can print good quality colour prints not possible even on a colour laser. Bet you didn't know that!