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Thread: Colour Laser printer - is it worth it?

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    Full Member pietpetoors's Avatar
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    Colour Laser printer - is it worth it?

    I have to get a new printer and would like to know if a colour laser is worth getting?

    We have a small home office. I think we print about 500 black and white pages per month. We do not use colour much, wonder if it will ever get to 100 pages per month.

    Inkjets don't work for us because the ink dries before we can use it all.

    Does a colour laser's ink also dry out?
    How expensive are their cartridges?

    Currently only use a mono laser which is super cost effective and we have the colours printed at a local printing shop.
    Only Dead Fish go with the Flow
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    Site Caretaker Dave A's Avatar
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    The cost per copy for desktop color laserjets is horrendous compared to mono lasers, even if you are printing black only pages.

    Laserjets use powder toners, so drying out isn't a problem. The "shelf-life" is fantastic compared to inkjet, and so is the quality of prints.
    The trouble with opportunity is it normally comes dressed up as work.

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    Gold Member irneb's Avatar
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    For what you're doing I don't think going for a high-end colour laser would be cost effective. What size prints do you do? A4's only? If so the colour lasers may just be "affordable". It's when you also do some A3's (or even larger) when those CL's gets exorbitant (exponentially).

    For our office (around 50 people in total) we have 2 Minolta photostat / combo machines (i.e. Print / Copy / Scan / Fax). One colour & one B/W. Both use Laser technology with toner powder (like a normal photostat would). They're both A3 capable. Though they were very expensive (around R50k for the colour), their running cost is around 10s to 50s per A4 page (depending on the amount of toner and how much colour is printed per page).

    The only gripe I have is that the BW is really their bottom-of-the-range. You notice it if you send a complex document (usually a CAD drawing) to it and wait 30 min for it to calculate the dots before even starting to print. With the colour one that same print takes maybe 10 sec to start. So be careful about the laser's vector-to-raster computation, if that is slow then it might even print a lot slower than an inkjet. If your documents contain very little vector info (i.e. linework, text, graphs, etc.) you shouldn't have this problem. We get around it by rasterizing the file on our PC before printing it, i.e. saveas to JPG/BMP or such then print that - which is then a near immediate print (even on the low-range printers).
    Gold is the money of kings; silver is the money of gentlemen; barter is the money of peasants; but debt is the money of slaves. - Norm Franz
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    Full Member pietpetoors's Avatar
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    Thanx, we only do A4 and mostly only text documents. If the colour laser's ink wont dry I might keep the current old black and white laser for the text documents and get the colour laser for the colour prints only. I just dont want a situation again where I loose half the ink because we do not use it enough. I see some bottom end colour lasers go for only R1,200 which is less than what I paid for the mono lasers years ago.
    Only Dead Fish go with the Flow
    http://www.4x4direct.co.za/

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    Moderator IanF's Avatar
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    Colour lasers do cost a lot more than B/W we print both on Konica Minolta machines. For us as we print heavy coverage light coverage paper and board so service is key. At your volumes a colour laser is perfect just watch out for the "need" for more colour prints. What makes a big difference on colour lasers is to use colour laser paper, you can get this from xerox or a paper merchant.
    For the inkjet I would leave it switched on all the time this seems to help with ink drying out on some printers.
    Only stress when you can change the outcome!

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    Email problem mother's Avatar
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    Piet, I bought an HP colour printer/scanner/copier a couple of years ago, spent a lot of money on it, believing it would be an investment for my small business. The first year the printing quality was fantastic, and it was SO economic. We got over 2000 full colour pages from R4000's toner. Then, all of a sudden, 2 weeks out of warranty period, it all changed. Printing is not our business, so I am no expert on printers, but let's just say that this "investement" has since cost me an enormous amount of money on services. Since our HP had to "go to the doctor" often, we were forced to buy a 2nd back-up printer, and this time I went for the bottom-of-the-range Samsung colour laser printer. What a shock, when I discovered we only got 250 full colour pages from R2500's toner!

    Moral of my story: if you don't do a lot of colour printing, don't buy a colour laser printer! It's not worth it.

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    Full Member pietpetoors's Avatar
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    Thank you for all the input, I checked the prices of new cartridges and with that information and your comments above decided that it is not worth it for the volumes we print. The print shop is just 1.2km from us so I will rather keep on using them for our colour prints. Thanks again for your input
    Only Dead Fish go with the Flow
    http://www.4x4direct.co.za/

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    Gold Member irneb's Avatar
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    Yep, the Afrikaans addage about "Goedkoop is Duur koop" holds especially for printers. You can just see about the cheap (~R400) inkjets with their cartridges costing more than the printer - compared to something like a Canon / Epson (high-end inkjet) where their cartridges cost around R100 to R250, and in the large formats you even get just ink-tanks where you open a cap and fill up the tank from a bottle of ink.

    With laser it's a bit different, unless you need to buy a pre-packaged cartridge of toner you should be able to just top-it-up from a bulk bottle. Though I'd not be surprised if they require you to re-buy the cartridge on those cheap LaserJet's ... same as HP does on those cheap InkJets's. It's not just HP who do this either, nearly all brands have these cheap as sand printers where the first ink/toner replacement costs you more than the printer did (that's where they make their money, not the initial sale).

    And then on the mid- to high-range printers they have a tendency to become breakage prone after their service / guarantee period ends. It's as if there's a timer built-in. We had a "strange" scenario with a Large format (A0) B/W Laser which we bought around 2000 (for just under R200k) from Océ. A few years ago we had to upgrade it to the new version (of the exact same thing again for ~R150k) ... because Océ would not upgrade the drivers to work on Vista/Win7 (the printer was still producing fine, though we had to call out service about once a month). Now we've got a 2nd InkJet from Océ (actually it's a rebranded Cannon Prograpgh - colour A0), which cost us around R75k. With all the added service costs it actually turns out that the InkJet (with it's expensive ink-refill bottles) works out just a bit cheaper than the BW Laser did, the new one has yet to have trouble with servicing (so it's the cheapest of the lot yet). Actually it works out cheaper for us to send A3' to the Océ than to the Konika/Minolta photostat machines, would have been cheaper as well on A4's if we had rolls of paper for that size print.

    So what mother suggested goes doubly from me, colour laser becomes expensive if you don't need it a lot. Especially since I've not had your trouble about drying inks. I've had an Canon Pixma i4300 (since 2007) for home printing of photos / CD / DVD / Covers, I don't do a lot of those and have had stretches of 6 months without turning it on. I've yet to replace the cartridges it came with. So possibly the drying is relevant only to certain models and / or manufacturers.
    Gold is the money of kings; silver is the money of gentlemen; barter is the money of peasants; but debt is the money of slaves. - Norm Franz
    And central banks are the slave clearing houses

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    Moderator IanF's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pietpetoors View Post
    Thank you for all the input, I checked the prices of new cartridges and with that information and your comments above decided that it is not worth it for the volumes we print. The print shop is just 1.2km from us so I will rather keep on using them for our colour prints. Thanks again for your input
    Piet
    I agree support your local print shop,(no bias here). They will have a good relationship with the local service technician. Just do give them time as sometimes it does take the technician several tries to sort out a problem which can take a while. The colour machines are a lot more complex than B/W ones.
    Only stress when you can change the outcome!

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    Site Caretaker Dave A's Avatar
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    A few years ago my tech guru at Makro commented that laser toner is becoming the new cocaine.

    Quote Originally Posted by mother View Post
    What a shock, when I discovered we only got 250 full colour pages from R2500's toner!
    Ouch!

    And to think I'm a grinch about anyone at our office wanting color pages printed which cost a mere R2 per page

    But when it comes to color, I do want it right - and that's why we've gone laser for it. The problem with inkjet is the smallest drop of water on the page marks terribly. Damp hands on a humid summer's day can make that glossy proposal look like the sloppiest of trash.
    The trouble with opportunity is it normally comes dressed up as work.

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