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Color Printing Without the Inkjet Mess? 439

Above writes "Many recent /. stories have been about the problems of inkjet Printers. Seems they all want to sell the printer for cheap, and then use the ink to make up the difference. There are also problems where a lack of printing, or printing too much, could make it much more expensive to use your inkjet. So, since mine just died, what are the best options? I'm intersted in two catagories, a 'personal' color printer, probably USB to a machine, and a 'workgroup' color printer, with ethernet, postscript prefered. While Windows is good for my application, something that plays well with FreeBSD and Linux would be a major win as well. I'd consider laser if it's cheap enough (read $500/printer), and I don't think that it is. I'm willing to pay a bit more for the printer if that means bigger ink tanks, better cleaning, and easier to buy replacement supplies, the question is, are there really good options out there or have the low-end 'throwaway' printers taken over the market?" One option is a modded inkjet like the ones here, liberated from tiny ink cartridges. Any recommendations out there for decent color lasers?
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Color Printing Without the Inkjet Mess?

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  • by Scalli0n ( 631648 ) on Monday July 21, 2003 @10:52PM (#6496195) Homepage
    You're looking for a hardcore printer it sounds like. Pay the extra buck and get a color laser printer - it'll do everything you want (sounds like it) and it'll last a while - postscript won't go out of date for a long time! Besides, toner costs are pretty low given how long they last.
    • by shrinkwrap ( 160744 ) on Monday July 21, 2003 @10:54PM (#6496212)
      I have never regretted the $2K I spend for an HP Color Laserjet 4600... even at toner refill time! It is a very fast, very reliable machine. My old B&W laser seems soooooo slow now!
      • by Anonymous Coward
        Since speed was mentionned, let the record show that the "Pages Per Minute" metric is usually measured for 10-15% "coverage", which is something like a page of plain text. So yes, so and so printer can do 20 PPM, but not of full-page pictures.

        Hmmmm.. A quick search for "printer ppm coverage" on Google seems to show a lot of "5% coverage"... If speed is an issue, bring a floppy with a PDF or whatnot to the store and ask that it be printed in front of you.
        • by AvitarX ( 172628 ) <> on Monday July 21, 2003 @11:17PM (#6496352) Journal
          Most laser printers are immune to the slowdown for high coverage.

          For one offs they slowdown for photos, but for multiple prints they will put out high speed continually for even high coverage.

          Also your print quality should be a non issue for multiple prints too.

          Once the data is to the printer and prossessed everything will run about the same.

          • Yes- lasers run the whole page over the drum at the same speed no matter what's being printed, so they don't take any longer for more coverage.
            The only difference will be, as you said, in the initial data transfer... Which isn't bad at all over USB.
      • by looseBits ( 556537 ) on Monday July 21, 2003 @11:33PM (#6496435)
        I use a box of Crayola water-based markers and a 6 year old for all of my color printing needs but I still have the same problem that many of my ink-jet friends have: when a popular color runs out (usually red or blue), I'm forced to run to the drug store and but a whole 'nother set.

        I've heard about some marker refills but they'll probably be shut down as soon as Crayola starts putting chips in the markers.
      • You must be loaded. 8 out of 10 companies are now outsourcing programmers so the majority of us are now poor.

        Whats the return on the laser? Do you run a business? If not then a black/white one may be more ideal and a trip to kinko's for the once in a year thing where you need color.

        Its just not worth it unless your printer makes you money.

      • Funny, as I read the slashdot article, my first thought was "must jump in and warn off buying the laserjet 4600"!

        My predecssor got suckered by the very cheap up-front purchase price on this machine. It was, IIRC, something in the order of AUD$3900.00.

        'course, it is during my reign and my budget that the beast needs new toner cartridges, isn't it! AUD$400.00 a pop (times four, C, M, Y, and K)

        This machine proved to be so expensive to run that we made a commercial decision to shut it off for a few months, and now we run it with a FreeBSD box bridging it from the rest of the network, with MAC layer filtering restricting access to just a couple of people.

        It isn't even that nice a printer on quality terms. Any cheap inkjet gives far better quality (resolution, clarity, colour match, etc) results than this huge beast!

        Your Mileage May Vary - mine obviously does!

    • Pay the extra buck and get a color laser printer - it'll do everything you want (sounds like it) and it'll last a while

      Don't you mean an extra couple thousand bucks?
    • by vladkrupin ( 44145 ) on Monday July 21, 2003 @11:10PM (#6496304) Homepage
      Well, if he were really looking for a "hardcore printer", as you put it, he would've checked out Tektronix []. We have one at the office (model 850) and it's been printing volumes for a while. Very reliable, nice quality, works without a hinch with Linux, PostScript and all. Even supplies seem to be reasonably priced (considering how long they last).

      And the coolest thing about it is that it uses ink sticks! You just feed them into the printer, so there is no catrige to replace, no scam with expiring catriges, no ink wasted. As it uses up a certain color, you add more sticks of that color. That's all.

      If they ever become available in my price range, I want one at home!
      • by dkh ( 125857 ) on Monday July 21, 2003 @11:23PM (#6496394)
        We got a great deal on Xerox NC60.... or so we thought. It was probably the single worst computer equipment purchase we've ever made.

        Wonderful features, price was around $1k, great prints.

        When you could get them...

        I think we probably printed about 150 sheets with the thing. And we had to have the fuser replaced even to get that.

        It was impossible to keep it running. It is impossible to get it repaired (without an expensive service contract it costs about $500 plus milage to get someone to look at it.)

        Right now it just sits there. It jams every time a sheet goes through.

        Any time I see a Xerox product now I run.
      • by trmj ( 579410 ) *
        Ask and you shall recieve. []

        It's a Xerox Phaser, which is basically the new version of the tektronix printers (Xerox bought them out a while back). It's uber-compatible, too. PostScript, PCL, Windows 95/98/Me, Windows NT 4.x, Windows 2000/XP, MacOS 8/9/X, version 10.1, Novell NetWare 3.x/4.x/5.x/6.x, UNIX (Linux 5.2+, Sun OS 4.x Sun Solaris 2.4+, DEC, HP/UX 11.x, IBM AIX 4.2+, SGI, SCO).

        I would post all the features, but you can view them yourself here [].

        The best part is it's free if you do enough prin
        • Linux 5.2+, eh? What super-ultra-double-alpha version of Linux are you running?
        • Yeah they rock unless you want to print on legal paper. Appearantly the drum circumfrence isn't long enough to print a full legal sheet of paper, so you wind up getting this 1 inch margin on the top and the bottom. This would be fine and woudln't bother me, if only I had known this when I bought the dedicated legal tray. Whats the point of a legal tray if you can't print the full sheet of legal paper (i.e. LEGAL documents) ?
        • by scottj ( 7200 ) *
          Actually, the current terms [] are that the printer is yours after 3 years, not two.

          Thanks for the link, though. I think I'm going to pick up one of these.
      • Also black ink is free. If you buy a color set, you get a free pack of black. Picture of ink []. One thing and I can't stress this enough. Ink is not cross compatable across many models, so the bow tie ink should not go into the oval slot even if the color is right. The different printers they make use different temp inks. If you load 800 series ink into an 300 series system you'll damage the print head because the ink will solidify in the tubes. If you do the opposite, you could burn the ink. Common prevent
        • Tektronix/Zerox gave us 3 of the 840's (educational institution). They print very nicely, with vivid colors and good saturation.

          But, it continually shit its ink into its drip tray that I had to dump out every few days. Tek said there was nothing wrong with the printer and to just order more ink (not cheap!).

          We finally turned it off. We had gone through 3 sets of ink and only a couple hundred pages. Now, if someone needs a print, we turn it on for them , they can print to it, and we turn it off again.
      • by raju1kabir ( 251972 ) on Tuesday July 22, 2003 @12:45AM (#6496710) Homepage
        Well, if he were really looking for a "hardcore printer", as you put it, he would've checked out Tektronix. We have one at the office (model 850) and it's been printing volumes for a while. Very reliable, nice quality, works without a hinch with Linux, PostScript and all. Even supplies seem to be reasonably priced (considering how long they last). And the coolest thing about it is that it uses ink sticks! You just feed them into the printer, so there is no catrige to replace, no scam with expiring catriges, no ink wasted. As it uses up a certain color, you add more sticks of that color. That's all.

        There are some serious drawbacks with this printer.

        (1) It can't print gray except at the lowest quality setting. At any reasonable (i.e., non-fax-looking) setting the gray comes out seriously brown.

        (2) The ink ain't cheap.

        (3) The ink rubs off under moderate pressure. Worse yet, it you print out a bunch of pages and leave them stacked up for a few weeks, they stick together and when you separate them, ink sticks to the backs of the other pages.

        (4) Its RGB->CMYK conversion is atrocious, resulting in washed-out colors.

        (5) The dither is far coarser than you'd get with a comparably-priced color laser. This means you can't do good gradients unless they're quite dark from start to finish. And photos with light areas look dotty.

        (6) Its PMS matching is totally useless. The colors aren't even vaguely similar.

        If they ever become available in my price range, I want one at home!

        If you come pick it up, I'd just about give you ours. We spend a lot of money on color laser prints at Kinkos because of all the 850's output-quality problems. It's useless for serious proofs.

    • The problem I seem to always have with Color laser printers is the lack of true photo quality printing. I have a Tektronix Phaser 5400 at work, and an HP OfficeJet G ink-jet at home. The OfficeJet actually doubles as a photocopier. I once photocopied an actual photo with it on its next-to-highest setting, then cut it out to the same size as the photo I copied. I was happily suprised when I showed the photos side-by-side to people, and more people thought the copy was the true photo!

      The color laser, ho

    • by m_chan ( 95943 ) on Monday July 21, 2003 @11:39PM (#6496474) Homepage
      ...a more robust setup. I would recommend a monochrome laser printer for text operations, paired with a dye sublimation printer for color.

      I use two Kodak 8650 [] printers (pick one up for a couple grand on ebay) for a commercial application that is probably beyond the scope of the submitter, but the quality (indistinguishable from a lab print), reliability (over 800 9x14" prints/week at times), and durability (light-fast for more than 20 years)

      Olympus [], Kodak [], Sony [], and others have items at more reasonable price points.

      No doubt; for color, go dye-sub. Then again, I own an Epson 1280 photo [] that does really nice work as well. I have installed an Epson 2200 for a couple of clients and they are even better.
    • I just use an old HP 4L and a box of crayons.
  • Canon (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 21, 2003 @10:54PM (#6496213)
    I recommend Canon printers with the seperate color cartridges. I laugh at my friend who saved 50$ on his printer, but has already thrown out 2 good tanks of red/blue because his yellow ran out.
    • Re:Canon (Score:2, Insightful)

      by LittleVito ( 625033 )
      I used to have a cannon with separate cartridges, a BJC-600, and while it was convenient to replace them one at a time, i noticed that they all usually ran out at about the same time. Also, the printer was plagued with slow, lousy printing and caused frustrations more often than it worked. Slashdot seems to consider the cost of ink as the primary cause of concern with printers, but the quality of printer is also a major concern, I don't want to buy a lousy printer just becuase it has cheap ink.
    • Absolutely love my s800. Awesome printer - fast, reliable. Much more robust than any HP I've ever had. Ink is cheaper, and prints beautiful photos. Canon is the way to go. No stupid chips like HP or Epson. No outrageously priced ink like Lexmark.
      • My father has a BJC-6000. And and I must say, it sucks. It takes for ever for the printer to boot-up (recalibration and what-not), and the ink is always washed out as though it's printing from a cheap water color kit. And this is when using verious brands of paper. I'm not saying that all Canon printers suck, but this particular model takes the official "suckage award".
    • Re:Canon (Score:3, Informative)

      I use a cannon BJC-3000 and love it. No problems with it, and individual tanks. Seperate print head/tank holder too, and the cost of a print head and all 4 ink tanks is about the same as the cost of the 4 ink tanks without getting an extra free print head/tank holder! On top of that, unlike all the problems with Lexmark or Epson carts with chips to keep you from refilling, or HP carts continually redesigned to make refilling harder and harder, refilling these little plastic tanks is clean and easy, and does
  • HP LaserJet 4600 (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 21, 2003 @10:55PM (#6496216)
    Best color printer I have ever used. Fast and reliable. Tonner should last quite a while, however at $200 a pop (x4), it's probably going to be out of your price range. Most lasers today, and even some high end inkjets support PostScript, so they should be compatible with Linux.
  • Low Cost Laser (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ThurstonMoore ( 605470 ) on Monday July 21, 2003 @10:56PM (#6496219)
    Samsung's ML-1650 offers Linux compatability and Postscript level III as an option. All for around $300.
    • > Samsung's ML-1650 offers Linux compatability
      > and Postscript level III as an option. All for
      > around $300.

      I'm sure it's a very nice printer, but the original poster was looking for a *color* printer - and that's something that this one most definitely does not do.

  • Inkjets (Score:3, Informative)

    by grumm3t ( 620808 ) on Monday July 21, 2003 @10:57PM (#6496225)
    For a cheap InkJet solution THG [] recommends the Canon i850.
  • by veddermatic ( 143964 ) on Monday July 21, 2003 @10:58PM (#6496231) Homepage
    If you live somewhere that accepts 3rd party cartages / refils, then inkjet is probably the way to go... cheap printer, cheap source of toner.

    If you live in a backwards nation like the US (not-so-proudly a resident as of late) where the DMCA makes you pay out the ass for toner, then you are in a bind... pony up for a color laser, which, if you can expense out over time, or know you will be printing a lot for the next 4 years, will more than pay for itself, or.... Hmm, I dunno if there is a low up-front cost solution for long term color printing in a country that doesn't allow 3rd party ink carts / refills.


    I hopr somebody gives a better answer than this.
  • Color laser... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Garion911 ( 10618 ) on Monday July 21, 2003 @10:58PM (#6496232) Homepage
    Check out ebay... I snagged a Phaser 740 for $100 or so, plus $100 shipping.. Though I had to replace a few of the consumables (which can be expensive), its been a great printer.. Networkable, Postscript level 3... Slow to warmup (3-5 minutes..), but hey, it works, and prints great..

    I got that for the reason that I don't print enough, and my ink was constantly drying out...

  • Not for $500 (Score:2, Informative)

    by Joystickit ( 529613 )
    You're not going to find a color laser printer for $500. Not even close. You'd be pressed to find a decent black and white laser printer that does postscript for that price. You might want to look into a printer like the Epson 2200. We have several of them where I work, and while not postscript or laster based, there is a continuous flow kit that works pretty well, and they're firewire based so not too bad in terms of speed. As a note on the price range, we spent ~$5k on our last crummy color laser prin
    • Try the Lexmark Optra E312 PS. I bought one for $299 about 2 years ago. I think they run about $199 now. PS level 2 and pretty good toner life (there are two toner cartriges -- standard and long duty). I've been incredibly happy with it.
    • Re:Not for $500 (Score:5, Informative)

      by Mundocani ( 99058 ) on Monday July 21, 2003 @11:18PM (#6496367)

      I, too, recommend the Epson 2200. I got one about eight months ago and it's pretty excellent.

      It uses seven inks, which makes the printed images very smooth (cyan and magenta both have light-colored versions which improve dithering on all the shades of those colors). I've only changed cartridges once so far, so it's been ok on ink usage (though it doesn't seem exceptional).

      There's also a hot-swappable black ink cartridge, so you can switch between Photo Black (for glossy papers) and Matte Black (for matte papers). The Matte Black is really impressive -- I printed an underwater photo of a Jellyfish and the blackness of the water is excellent.

      Another nice thing is that it prints large formats -- up to 13" x 19".

      I think they cost around $600 - $700 (mine was a gift :-)

  • by petabyte ( 238821 ) on Monday July 21, 2003 @11:00PM (#6496240)
    Well, consider the technology for a moment. If you're not willing to shell out the ton of money a color laser costs why not get a deskjet and a B&W Laser?

    I have an older laser printer that prints reems of black and white (text documents mainly) and I've never replaced the toner. For photos I have a 100 dollar epson that prints out 7200x7200 or something ridiculous. The laser was 70 from ebay and the color printer was 60 dollars on special from best buy. Figure you'll print 2-3 cartridges worth of color and then buy a new printer (specs will have improved and at the cost of color printers a new one isn't much more than new cartridges).

    The HP 4L I have is old but its a workhorse. 300dpi but it never complains about the documents I send it. Its outlasted 3 colorprinters now.
  • Free Color Printers (Score:5, Informative)

    by lseltzer ( 311306 ) on Monday July 21, 2003 @11:00PM (#6496248)
    Go to []

    A friend of mine has two of these solid ink lasers. She has to buy ink from them at normal prices, but she gets all the black ink she wants for free. Service included. You have to qualify in terms of how much of various types of docs you print.
  • About 10 years ago a few companies experimented with wax based color 'laser' printers. I haven't seen any advertized in quite some time though. There might be one or two companies out there still doing them. As I recall, thier advantages were very low 'ink' (read: wax cartrage) costs, color, price (As compared to color laser at the time... was still 8-10k then). Thier disadvantages were: long warm up times, very slow printing, requiring special paper, poor image detail, inability to laminate, and probably a
    • by dfung ( 68701 ) on Monday July 21, 2003 @11:17PM (#6496354)
      The Phaser "wax" printers were originally popularized (and I believe developed at) Tektronix. They got out of the printer biz some years back and the Phaser is now sold by Xerox.

      They still have a number of models, mostly still in the high-end departmental area.

      There are certain tasks where the Phaser output is pretty nice. Because the wax-based pigments are opaque the colors are really saturated. Cost and mess factors are very low relative to inkjet printing. All these things make these printers continue to be a pretty strong choice for printing business graphics (charts, graphs, etc.). And as the RIP hardware has gotten much faster, it's not quite as long a lifetime to wait for output as in the old days.

      But in terms of capability, I don't think they can touch the flexibility of inkjets. These days there are choices for pigment-based or dye-based inks so you can print opaque or transparently. And inkjets have much higher resolution, more flexibility on printing media, and are cheaper too.

  • plus shiping. Just do a google search for "ink" and click on the ads. Brand name ink for this printer is about $50, but knockoffs are cheap, and work. I guess if you stay away from lexmark you should be OK.
  • List (Score:5, Informative)

    by heli0 ( 659560 ) on Monday July 21, 2003 @11:02PM (#6496254)
    Check out PCWorld's running Top 10 Color Laser Printers [] list.

  • Crayons! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Dark Lord Seth ( 584963 ) on Monday July 21, 2003 @11:03PM (#6496262) Journal

    Printing is for wusses; crayons add so much "feel" and atmosphere to a picture!

  • While that is a very cool idea, and one I've never heard of, one look at the price says why. It seems logical to me that any 4 color, CYMK printer would cost pretty much the same to convert, but obviously this is not the case. Epson C60 sells regulary for about $65, and the converted one sells for $499 Wheras the C80 sells for about $85 and the converted unit runs $749. Why the extra cost I have no idea. And that website is very porrly designed and aparenty unfinished. While a cool idea, and a 6 color
    • The kits on the site you linked to all come from MIS [] which sells them directly.

      The additional inks they have available also seem interesting.

      I don't know if the ink comes out less expensive in the end (probably does) with the CFS and it seems a bit of a hassle, but it seems very useful for high volume printing.
  • by SuperHick ( 691302 ) on Monday July 21, 2003 @11:04PM (#6496269)
    That's what you want my friend if you want the lowest cost per page. Quite a few people are running these in Cannon S series and some of the middle tier Epsons for commercial use. More Info here although I'm sure there are other manufacturers as well. The inks in the kits are rated for 20 years under glass. I've been using them myself (not the CRS, but the same inks) for about 7 months now and I'm happy as a pig in slop.
  • color lasers.. (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 21, 2003 @11:05PM (#6496272)
    there have been a lot of specials on color lasers lately.. the cheap minolta has what you need but is a bit more spendy in the long run in terms of toner life.. we just purchased an HP 1500 color laser and just love it. plus.. even the coated and photo-style paper is far far cheaper than their inkjet equivalents (like.. 3 to 12 cents a page when compared with 50 cents with some premium inkjet papers...) in a workgroup situation, i see a color laser far out-producing the inkjet and paying for itself in savings even before the toner runs out.. (the 1500 is good for about 4,000 sheets per drum. plus, it also actually keeps track of how much toner it's used from each color and recalculates the life expectancy of the cartridge.. neat huh?) We're still using up our inkjets.. (two canons, an 8200 and a 800) and love them.. got a big stack of the spendy ink too gott sell or use. oh yeah.. the color last much longer too and is definitely waterproof.. I hate to hock HP a lot, but they have some archival quality paper they call tough paper, waterproof, tear resistant, coated both sides, and are supposed to last 30 years or more.. priced it just under the paper we had been using (premium kodak photo paper) and couldnt believe it.
  • Inkjet vs. laser (Score:5, Interesting)

    by King_TJ ( 85913 ) on Monday July 21, 2003 @11:06PM (#6496280) Journal
    I've been dealing with LOTS of printing issues and printer headaches for years and years. (I did PC support for 6 years for a company with lots of networked printers, not to mention doing sales for a few years that often involved printer recommendations.)

    I really do like a good color laser printer, BUT, I'm not convinced these are practical yet for most home users. I know prices have come down quite a bit - but a color laser is still a very complex piece of machinery. You generally have 4 toner cartridges, plus all the additional hardware that allows the printer to mix those toner colors on the page, fuser rolls, charger grids, and other assorted "disposable" items that aren't a factor with a plain black and white laser.

    Everyone I know who bought a Xerox (formerly Tektronics) color laser is sitting there now with a broken laser in need of expensive repairs.

    Inkjet printers have virtually no repair costs, because if one stops feeding paper properly or a print nozzle just quits squirting ink - you throw the thing away and buy a whole new (likely faster and better) printer for less than the cost of a service call, and you're back up and running.

    Last time I saw a real cost analysis done, a color laser cost you about 2 or 3 cents per page to print in full color. If you buy the right inkjet printer, the cost is probably about 4 to 5 cents per page.

    These cost calculations don't factor in the issue of repairing or replacing broken printers. They make the assumption that both units are fully functional for the duration of time you print those pages. Figuring in repair costs, I'd say an inkjet becomes cheaper and more convenient in the long-haul. (They use less electricity too.)
    • 2 or 3 cents for color ??

      Try 2 or 3 cents for many $1000k printers at 5 percent coverage. Page coverage of toner is the big issue. Printing photos ? Try 50c to 1 dollar a page.

      By the way if you want truly low cost (per page) black and white printing try kyocera. But these printers cost thousands. .c fm c/ bpl02416.html
    • Dull prints (Score:3, Interesting)

      by xixax ( 44677 )
      Plus many of the cheap colour lasers I have been looking at are quite dark/dull when compared with expensive colour lasers or even cheap inkjet printers. They also seem to be quite poor at continuous tones.

      You can afford to buy several "disposable" inkjet printers for the price of even a cheap colour laser.

      Colour lasers also seem a bit hit-and-miss quality wise, even within a manfacturer. We have some that are fine, then others that are pretty much lemons. I just looked at someone's Xerox that's been in f
  • by Logger ( 9214 ) on Monday July 21, 2003 @11:07PM (#6496285) Homepage
    I'd venture that a lot of those inkjets people want to get rid of are from the cheaper end of the spectrum. No matter the era, you get what you pay for. In this case, regardless of the price of the cartridge. When looking at inkjets set your minimum price to about $280 for light use consumer printers, or maybe something like $380 for a heavier duty/business higher use unit.

    I've had an HP Photosmart 1000 for over 2 years now with no problems. This printer goes through a couple of idle months, followed by couple days of heavy photo printing. Runs like a champ. Of course cartridge prices are a little high, but printers with dedicated black cartidges are a lot more economical to run that ones without. Given the amount of printing I do, it's still more affordable than laser.

    I think you'll have a hard time buying a color laser in the price range your looking for. If your willing to pony up the cash, today's color lasers are really nice and the way to go. If you are going to do a lot of printing, the laser will be cheaper in the long run.

  • While I can't comment on particular models, as my laser is a b&w, lasers kick the ass of ANY inkjet quite handily. As long as the printer can handle postscript, getting it to work in unix is a snap.
  • Ah well.. (Score:2, Funny)

    by MrP- ( 45616 ) *
    I'd like a girlfriend..cant have it all now can we?


    Good question, i need to buy some more ink for my injet real soon, everything prints in light grey/pink, I keep putting it off because itll cost me like $60 (color and black) argh!

    (*actually i'm not kidding, i want a gf, any takers?)
  • The color is usually superior (at a given price point, it's almost always superior), and the price per print of a dye-sub is much better than an inkjet. The resolution is higher as well.

    you're going to want to keep your inkjet printer for b&w document printing, because it'll be slightly faster, and much cheaper than than dye-sub for this purpose.

    Wrote a story [] about it....
  • Solid wax printers (Score:5, Informative)

    by dstone ( 191334 ) on Monday July 21, 2003 @11:18PM (#6496368) Homepage
    We bought a used Tektronix Phaser printer several years ago for the office. We've never looked back. Maintenance is virtually zero. Adding more wax is trivial, possibly easier/cleaner than toner. Black wax is free with our model (ie, ultra cheap per-page costs for B&W documents), and you pay for color wax. Output quality is fantasic whether it's B&W text, solid color regions, or near-photo quality. You could certainly burn a lot of wax if you printed color photos or solid pages all the time, but your B&W docs will be cheap.

    As far as connectivity and compatibility...

    Windows: Great. Drivers are easy found and work great.

    Linux: The printer sits on our LAN with its own IP address, etc. so when I print from my Linux desktop I simply have a script that fires the [text/PDF]->Postscript straight into the printer's listening port. And I'm sure there's a better way to print to this printer from Linux (with Samba) that allows for proper queuing, etc.

    First cavaet: The printer has a warmup sequence that keeps itself clean and ensures liquid wax is ready when needed. The good news is you never really have to think about turning it on or off or whatever; it just wakes up and warms itself up. (In fact, don't turn it off or it goes through an extended power-up cycle that burns additional wax.) The downside here is that it does burn a small amount of color wax each warmup and eventually I guess you'd run out of the color wax even if you weren't doing color printing. In real usage, this hasn't been an issue for our office, but I thought I'd mention it.

    Second cavaet: This is a fairly big, heavy, expensive printer. It performs like a professional printer, not a light-duty home inkjet. So you do get what you pay for here, in my opinion.

    Ours is an 800-series Phaser, but here [] are some current models from Xerox. And check into the free black wax issue -- I'm not sure if it's still the standard policy.
    • Tektronix 8200 (Score:3, Informative)

      by artemis67 ( 93453 )
      We just bought a Tektronix 8200, and it rocks. People who are so used to inkjets and lasers are really amazed when I show them a) how easy it is to check the amount of color left (pop the lid and count the wax blocks) and b) how easy it is to replenish the color (each wax block is uniquely shaped so that it only fits in one hole -- virtually idiotproof).

      The output is gorgeous. It is big and heavy, like you say, but it's a workgroup color printer with postscript. It's not expensive; in fact, it's quite chea
  • You might want to consider why you want the printer. It's probably cheaper these days to buy a whole computer for everyone you'd want to share them with and send them burnt cd's full of images...

    If you are making pamphlets and the such, then shell out the cash for a swanky laser printer. In my experience HP networked printers are good while not being outrageously expensive.
  • ALPS! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by fuzzeli ( 676881 )
    I still have an ALPS MD-1300 "micro-dry" thermal printer, with tape-based cartridges like a typewriter. It's a workhorse, never has any inky mess, and puts out great output, especially in dye-sub mode. Alps doesn't make printers anymore, and although the cartridges sets are on par with inkjets as far as package cost, they're separate for each color and last quite long.

    I'm not sure I'd buy a discontinued printer, but I wish someone would continue developing this superior technology.
  • Workgroup Inkjets (Score:5, Interesting)

    by LoadStar ( 532607 ) on Monday July 21, 2003 @11:25PM (#6496406)

    Networked inkjets, as late as a year ago, were fairly prevalent, with models available from just about all of the major vendors. I don't know what happened - whether it's a sign that color laser is entering the sub-$1000 marketspace or what - but when we looked for a networked color inkjet, HP was really the best option out there.

    Epson seems to have dropped their mid-range workgroup inkjets. The only model they have networked out of the box is the C82, which is a rather low-end printer - nothing I'd consider a workgroup printer. Canon likewise has absolutely no networked inkjets at all.

    Lexmark has a few networked inkjets, but what with the recent stuff with their using the DMCA to corner the inkjet cartridge market, and given we've used Lexmark printers and had mediocre quality out of them, I decided to pass. The only model they are still marketing/selling is the Lexmark Optra Color 45n, if you're interested.

    HP has a couple of decent models - the 2280 and the 3000. We ended up going with the 2280 here, but both are very good models. The one caveat that I'd have to say - make sure you get the latest JetDirect EIO card. The older ones had a PITA for a web interface, while the new ones are a dream to work with (and support ZeroConf/Rendezvous!)

  • site mirror here [].
  • by Fubar411 ( 562908 ) on Monday July 21, 2003 @11:26PM (#6496410)
    For day to day printing, I use a cheap HP 3100 monochrome printer. Toner can be stored a long time, costs little, and gives excellent results. However, businesses learned long ago that owning and maintaining and owning something like a color laser printer can be expensive. When I want to print something special, I use the Kinkos KFP tool and just pick up my prints anytime (open 24 hours). If I want a photo, I upload it to when they're having a promotion or I'll use the Fuji machine at the local super wal-mart. I generally avoid using the Kodak kiosks as they use thermal dye sublimation, like a color laser printer. The Fuji's use real photo paper and expose the image. Pretty decent results. But my best prints have been from clubphoto and yahoo photo prints. So I've completely eliminated little ink cartridges from my life, that is except for relatives needing them. I usually direct them to
    • As someone else pointed out, color laser prints and dyesub prints are two totally different animals.

      Dyesub printers, while sometimes finicky, produce excellent quality prints. A company I used to work for uses them in all of their portrait studios for "on demand"/instant prints.

      It is definately "different" than the print you get with a silver halide printer .. but, that's generally the difference between a $5000 printer and a $25000 printer. :) The silver halide printers are harder to tweak to output th
  • As their carts are smaller, and much cheaper.. plus normally their colors are sold in individual colors..

    Qualit is good too..

    For work group, go Laser.. if you can afford it..
  • by RESPAWN ( 153636 ) <> on Monday July 21, 2003 @11:30PM (#6496424) Homepage Journal

    Generally, my experience with color inkjet printers has been that you get what you pay for. My first color inkjet was a Lexmark 5700 that my folks bought for me. I think it was moderately priced back in the day. And that printer performed admirably. It was fairly quick, produced good quality output, and was pretty reliable until it up and quit on me for no real reason one day.

    I replaced that one with a Lexmark Z23 because on paper it had similar specs to my old 5700. Yeah, it was cheaper, but I just kind of assumed that the Z23 was a cheaper, updated version of my old 5700. Wrong. I had more problems with that printer than I've ever had with any other printer. It seems like every time I printed out a document to turn in for school, I had to clean the nozzles 2 or 3 times and realign the cartridges. Even then, I would still have some gaps in the print where the printer just didn't seem to cover.

    Since then I have bought a used HP Deskjet 895ci. The thing was in practically brand new condition and I have yet to experience any problems with it.

    I don't necessarily think that the market has been taken over by the cheap printers. Yes, they are quite common and they sell very well. But, I think that as long as you are willing to spend a little more than the average consumer (I'm guessing above the $150 range) then you will probably get a halfway decent color inkjet printer.

  • Go to EBay and look for a 740 or 750 model. We have one of each, and they are great. Very good color, good reliability, and you can pick one up cheap. Grab all the cartriges you can find, because they dont make these models anymore.
  • by egg troll ( 515396 ) on Monday July 21, 2003 @11:36PM (#6496457) Homepage Journal
    While Windows is good for my application, something that plays well with FreeBSD and Linux would be a major win as well.

    What the author really means is "I intend to use this exclusively on Windows. But since this is Slashdot, I have to mention *nix somewhere to get it posted." :)

  • I've seen the guy who modifies the Epson printers at ComputerPro shows in Charlotte. They look nice but we very careful. He's never answered any of my emails asking about the ink. He'll claim he's tested all kinds of inks and is using a custom formula. Riiiight. I sell printing machiens for packaging. This guy's printer business is a hobby. He's got custom small batches of precise ink being made just for him? Uh-huh. Maybe it's a standard ink with a ph modification or something like that. Custom ink is expensive. The point is, if you buy one of these, all indications are you'd be locked into him as your sole source for ink.
  • My favourite printer is the one at work. ;)
  • Minolta (Score:3, Informative)

    by Jah-Wren Ryel ( 80510 ) on Monday July 21, 2003 @11:48PM (#6496511)
    I picked up a Minolta Magic Color 2200DL (I think that's the model number, there are a couple that are pretty close) for just over $500 from a Dell Deal(tm) a few months back. I'm not a heavy duty user, my HP 5mp is still on its original toner cartridge. The Minolta lacks postscript, so it is 'windows only' but last I checked it looked like one of the ghostscript drivers and/or something from CUPS could be adapted to do the right thing.

    Plus side: Takes standard PC100 or PC133 ram, so stuck some old dimms in it to take it up to 192MB or so.
    Down side: It doesn't come with much RAM to begin with.

    Plus side: It comes with a 100baseT port built in.
    Down side: Speaks an officially undocumented, but apparently well-known queueing protocol.

    Plus side: It was under $600 shipped.
    Down side: Comes with partially filled toner cartridges, good for like 2000 pages instead of 5000 or something equally unfull.

    Plus side: You can buy individual toner carts, instead of all 4 CYMK carts at once.
    Down side: Toner costs a lot, like $125 per cartridge.

    Plus side: Prints really fast, like a real 4 ppm color and a real 16 ppm b&w
    Down side: Takes like two minutes to warm up out of stand-by.

    YMMV, I was too lazy to double-check my facts and just went from tequila-addled memory.
    • Re:Minolta (Score:3, Informative)

      by 71thumper ( 107491 )
      My wife works from home and we had a Minolta 2200 last year (before she changed employers).

      We put 1600 pages through it, never did run out of toner (although, as others have mentioned, toner is EXPENSIVE, almost as much as the printer!).

      But it worked well, didn't jam, and provided decent color -- not photo-printer quality, but good for just about anything else. My wife produced SKU charts with product images on it and got numerous prases on the quality.

      I'd recommend it in a flash.

  • Canon (Score:3, Informative)

    by njchick ( 611256 ) on Monday July 21, 2003 @11:55PM (#6496537) Journal
    Canon inkject printers are cheap too, but you don't have to buy cartridges from Canon. You can buy cheap cartridges by Amazon (no, not the one we boycott) for less than $5 [].

    And of course Canon printers are supported by foomatic. My BJC-2110 works with Red Hat 9 out of box.

  • Printing in Windows (Score:3, Informative)

    by Coneasfast ( 690509 ) on Tuesday July 22, 2003 @12:19AM (#6496616)
    While Windows is good for my application, something that plays well with FreeBSD and Linux would be a major win as well.

    Actually I have tried 2 printers with the gimp-print drivers for linux, both perform better than windows (note i only use b&w).

    I had a Desktop 340 (smallest printer i've ever seen, smaller than the size of 2 shoeboxes or so.. and quite old) ... the quality was a tad higher in linux, but the quality is so poor already its hard to notice a difference

    Epson Stylus Colour 600 ... now this surprised me.... the quality is poor in windows... even at highest quality at 1440 res... lots of bleeding... in linux it is like a high quality laser printer (even though it takes 10 minutes or longer to print a page), and even with hardware microweaving off (which can damage the heads) it is excellent quality... and the thing is somebody gave me this printer because they were dissapointed with the quality...

    my guess is the manufacturers make the drivers use more ink then is really needed so you gotta pay for another cartridge ... or they for some reason cant make quality drivers...

  • by Delta-9 ( 19355 ) * <delta9 AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday July 22, 2003 @12:43AM (#6496700)
    I picked it up at OfficeMax/Depot for something like $50 and got a $30 rebate (it was listed on I then go over to eBay and buy cheapo ink from someone and buy enough of it to make it last for about a year. Total $$ spent, less than $70. Works good enough for me and the little bit of printing that I do. Even looked pretty good when I used the free borderless glossy paper that came with the printer.

    Its a USB printer, so I can use it with my iBook and my PC, will someday setup the wireless printer through XP, but that is another post.

  • I recommend... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Polo ( 30659 ) * on Tuesday July 22, 2003 @12:51AM (#6496736) Homepage
    I recommend the Canon i850 Color printer. It does excellent photos, is relatively inexpensive and canon doesn't seem to encumber their ink cartridges.

    I also got a hawking USB print server (~ $60) [] and it's now a network printer.

    Take a look at how easy [] it is to assign this thing an ip address and have a network printer.

  • by Rick Richardson ( 87058 ) on Tuesday July 22, 2003 @01:32AM (#6496844) Homepage

    I gave up on inkjets last February. I had already switched to doing my photo printing using for about .15-.19 per photo.

    I bought a Minolta 2300 DL network color laser on sale from OfficeMax for $600. The network interface is included in the base price, which makes this printer the best bargain I've seen in a color laser printer. An optional duplexer adds about $330 to the price. The protocol used by this printer is Zenographics ZjStream (JBIG based). I wrote an open source driver for it, called foo2zjs [].

    The printer with my driver is good enough for business graphics and casual photo printing. The resolution of this printer is 2400x600 with one bit (1 dot size) per CMYK color plane. The printer is not good enough for photo printing, but I prefer for that anyway. For the price, I would buy htis printer again.

    I've also got an unreleased driver for the HP LaserJet 1500 color laser printer. This printer uses Oak Technologies OAKT protocol, also JBIG based. This printer has two bits (3 dot sizes) per CMYK plane. The driver currently produces output that can be parsed and turned back into the original page images, but has never been tested on a real LJ 1500. I shelved further work on the OAKT driver due to HP's lack of interest in loaning me a LaserJet 1500 for final testing.

  • by hackus ( 159037 ) on Tuesday July 22, 2003 @01:42AM (#6496896) Homepage
    MagiColor 2350 by QMS.

    Cost my about $900 at Office Max on sale.

    More than you want to spend tis true, but it is a damn good color printer.

  • Buy a printer... (Score:5, Informative)

    by cr0sh ( 43134 ) on Tuesday July 22, 2003 @03:13AM (#6497247) Homepage
    ...based on how you use it.

    It seems like a lot of people forget that, I know I did until recently. Ink jet printers seem to be a cheap solution - until you realize just how much you are spending on ink.

    I own (but no longer use) an Epson Photo Stylus 700, which I bought because I loved the quality of the output when used with the "special" photo paper. I never printer one picture on the paper. I think the greatest thing I *ever* did with the printer was make some nice Thanksgiving party invitations.

    It seemed like I was always buying ink - because we rarely used it, but left it turned on. This tended to leave the print heads uncapped (I think they do this on purpose, rather than auto-capping, to sell more ink), and caused the ink to dry out prematurely. But you wanted to leave it on, because it seemed to take forever to "boot" (turn it on, and after minutes of "self-checking" and "cleaning" it would finally be ready. I took a look at how we were printing (rarely, but we wanted good output *now* when we did), what we were printing (most of the time, simple text only stuff, black and white) - and I bought a printer based on that.

    I ended up buying a used HP Laserjet 6 (there is a P or something there at the end, too), and a refilled toner cartridge. Total cost: $170.00 - and I have postscript, too. I installed some old 72 pin SIMMs I had lying around to bump the cache up some, and I haven't looked back.

    The printer is great - what was really nice was the low page count (25000 pages). I also like the fact that I can use el-cheapo paper in it, and it still looks great (the Epson, on anything under 24lb weight, would "fuzz" - lighter weight paper had more "fur", and the print wouldn't have crisp edges). I also like it that I can leave it on - and then when I want to print out to it, I instantly can - and it just works!

    Now, maybe if your job or hobby requires color, an ink jet is what you need to get. But I learned my lesson quick - I don't have *any* need for color. If I want to look at pictures, I look at them on a screen. Just about anyone else can do the same (most people I know have a computer). If I need a print of an image, I will print it in b/w for "checking", then the final can be done at a copy shop or something. I have yet to need to do this, though - but it is the most sensible option, for me.

    I will never regret buying that laser printer.

  • by loraksus ( 171574 ) on Tuesday July 22, 2003 @08:25AM (#6498135) Homepage
    I'm surprised that nobody has mentioned it, but the HP color laser 8500/8550 prints 11x17 (sadly not full bleed, but 1/4" margin or something close to that). The toner cartridges last forever and a day and the output is quite nice. It was also designed before Carly / the compaq merger, so it's not a piece of shite that will break in 13 months. It's not that I don't trust the 4600, but I trust it less in the long run.
    I've seen them for sale in stores for $1500ish - they are getting kind of old, and I think HP wants to discontinue the product, but get that and the onsite warranty (you aren't moving this in your car) in case something should happen and you'll have a workhorse machine for $2k.
    The printer is also huge, if you need that whole geek factor thing ;)

I've noticed several design suggestions in your code.