Great Printers for the Price

By M. David Stone  |  Posted 2007-11-28 Print this article Print

To keep costs down, printer manufacturers will cut a few corners. And when a printer skimps on features you can live without anyway, you may find yourself a heck of a deal.

Saving money is a good thing. If you need a new printer and youre on a tight budget, its surely one of the key issues that you care about. The trick is in knowing how to save money while still getting a reasonably capable printer.

This roundup gathers an assortment of printers—including both stand-alone and all-in one (AIO) choices as well as both ink jets and lasers. They dont all qualify as inexpensive in absolute terms. (The Canon Pixma Pro9000, for example, sells for $499.99 direct.) Nor is each one necessarily the best in its category (even though the Pro9000, at least, is good enough to have earned an Editors Choice for low-cost prosumer photo printer). But each is cheap for its category and delivers enough bang for the buck to qualify as a bargain.

Low prices almost always go hand in hand with cutting some corners. The difference between a printer thats disappointing and one thats impressive for its price lies in which corners the manufacturer chose to cut. With the Canon Pixma iP1800, for example, Canon kept prices down in part by leaving out the automatic alignment feature youll find in most ink jet printers and opting for manual alignment instead. This is a bit of a pain, since you have to realign the head every time you change a cartridge. But its a lot better choice than compromising on speed or output quality.

Similarly, the Dell Color Laser Printer 1320c offers limited paper handling, with a default 250-sheet paper tray and no options. That wont be a problem in most cases, however, because 250 sheets is enough capacity for a typical personal printer or for a small office with light-duty printing needs. Read the full story on Great Printers for the Price

M. David Stone is an award-winning freelance writer and computer industry consultant with special areas of expertise in imaging technologies (including printers, monitors, large-screen displays, projectors, scanners, and digital cameras), storage (both magnetic and optical), and word processing. His 25 years of experience in writing about science and technology includes a nearly 20-year concentration on PC hardware and software. He also has a proven track record of making technical issues easy for non-technical readers to understand, while holding the interest of more knowledgeable readers. Writing credits include eight computer-related books, major contributions to four others, and more than 2,000 articles in national and worldwide computer and general interest publications. His two most recent books are The Underground Guide to Color Printers (Addison-Wesley, 1996) and Troubleshooting Your PC, (Microsoft Press, 2000, with co-author Alfred Poor).

Much of David's current writing is for PC Magazine, where he has been a frequent contributor since 1983 and a contributing editor since 1987. His work includes feature articles, special projects, reviews, and both hardware and software solutions for PC Magazine's Solutions columns. He also contributes to other magazines, including Wired. As Computers Editor at Science Digest from 1984 until the magazine stopped publication, he wrote both a monthly column and additional articles. His newspaper column on computers appeared in the Newark Star Ledger from 1995 through 1997.

Non-computer-related work includes the Project Data Book for NASA's Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite (written for GE's Astro-Space Division), and magazine articles and AV productions on subjects ranging from cosmology to ape language experiments. David also develops and writes testing scripts for leading computer magazines, including PC Magazine's PC Labs. His scripts have covered a wide range of subjects, including computers, scanners, printers, modems, word processors, fax modems, and communications software. He lives just outside of New York City, and considers himself a New Yorker at heart.


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