Abundant Options for Desktop Printing Solutions

No matter what your budget for a desktop printer, there are plenty of choices coming on the market in the New Year.

December 1, 2005

As you start planning for the year ahead, this might be an opportune time to consider upgrading your printer for home or office. The newest models are more affordable than ever, making desktop printers a solid investment with good return, whatever your tech budget.

Multifunction Machines

Multifunction machines, or MFMs—which not only print, but scan, make copies, and fax—are still the best buy if you want the most bang for the buck or when you want to squeeze maximum productivity into minimum space. Prices on the newest models start at just under $200.

  • The Lexmark X8350 All-in-One Plus Photo, available in January, is a color inkjet printer with 2.4-inch LCD monitor for viewing and editing images prior to printing. The unit supports direct printing from memory card readers or USB Flash drives. Maximum print speed is 25 pages per minute (ppm) in black and 19 ppm in color at 1,200 dpi resolution. $199.
  • The Dell Photo All-in-One Printer 964 inkjet printer/scanner/copier/fax combines a 2.4-inch LCD with memory card reader and USB support for PC-free printing. An optional adapter connects the unit to a wireless network. $199.
  • The Brother MFC-640CW color inkjet printer/scanner/copier/fax/answering machine comes equipped with Wi-Fi 802.11b/g and Ethernet interfaces for connecting to a network. Print speed is 20 ppm in black and 15 ppm in color. $199.99. For the less cost-conscious, Brother has added the $799.99 MFC-9420CN, a color laser multifunction machine that prints at 31 ppm in black and 8 ppm in color
  • The Xerox WorkCentre PE220 Multifunction Printer combines monochrome copying, scanning, printing, and color scanning for individuals or workgroups. It includes software to turn scanned documents into digital files that can be edited. Print and copy speed is 20 ppm. $399.

Photo Inkjets

As MFMs become more affordable, dedicated inkjet printers are putting an emphasis on photo-printing capabilities.

  • The Epson Stylus PhotoR220 and the Epson Stylus Photo R340 feature six-color ink systems for enhanced color reproduction. The units produce borderless photo prints ranging from 4-by-6 inches to 8-by-10 inches, support direct printing from Bluetooth-enabled phones, and can print labels directly on CDs and DVDs. The R220 is $99. For $100 more, the R340 includes a 2.4-inch monitor for previewing and editing images.
  • The Lexmark P450 boasts one notable first: a built-in CD burner for archiving photos on CDs. This dedicated photo printer produces 4-by-6-inch color inkjet prints and supports direct printing from USB Flash drives and PictBridge-compatible digital cameras. Optional adapters equip the unit to print images stored on Bluetooth-compatible camera phones, or connect it with the monitor for viewing images on a larger screen. $199.

Laser Printers

As prices fall, the consistent speed and quality of a laser printer is now practical, even for the home office.

Monochrome

If you have an ongoing need for simple black-and-white prints in volume, one of these models makes a nice complement to any color printer.

  • The Brother HL-5200 series includes four new models that boast a print speed of 30 ppm, at a print resolution of 1,200 dpi. Prices start at $229 for the basic HL-5240, a stand-alone printer, to the $349 top-of-the-line HL-5280DW, which comes equipped to connect with Wi-Fi 802.112b/g networks.
  • The Dell Laser 1710, $199, and the network-ready Dell Laser 1710n, $299, offer a print speed of 27 ppm at 1,200 dpi and a 250-sheet paper-input tray.
  • The Lexmark E series includes five new network-ready monochrome laser printers. Suggested retail price starts at $179 for the Lexmark E238, with a print speed of 25 ppm for 1,200 dpi prints.

Color

Significant price drops make a color laser printer a practical buy for anyone frustrated with the speed of inkjets.

  • The HP Color LaserJet 3600 Printer series, which features four models, delivers color and monochrome prints at 17 ppm, with pricing starting at $699. The step-up HP Color LaserJet 3800 Printer series offers a faster print speed (22 ppm), with prices starting at $799.
  • The Lexmark C520n series includes five new network-ready color laser printers. Print speed for all is rated at 20 ppm at 1,200 dpi. Pricing starts at $499 for the C520, the basic model.
  • The low-cost, network-ready Oki Data C3200n, $399, prints 20 ppm in black and 12 ppm in color at a resolution of 1,200 dpi.
  • Xerox Phaser 6120 Color Printer, $499, prints at page sizes ranging from 4-by-6 inches to 8.5-by-14 inches. Print speed on standard 8.5-by-11-inch paper is 5 ppm in color and 20 ppm in black at 2,400 dpi.

As this range of new models shows, printer technology continues to evolve in all directions and offers something for everyone, whatever your primary printing need or budget. Before you decide which printer is the right buy, be sure to check prices for ink, toner, or specialty papers—both from the original equipment manufacturer and other suppliers. Remember, the printer price is just the start. The ongoing cost of replacement supplies should ultimately determine which printer represents your best buy.

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