Inkonomics and the REAL cost of your printer
How much does your printer really cost? Upfront cost vs. running and choosing the right printer for your needs and budget
Even though the vast majority of people are becoming increasingly conscious of their use of resources and many have significantly cut down their use of printed materials by using electronic copies instead of paper documents, printer ink and paper are still a considerable expense for most homes and businesses.
When creating a budget and deciding how to spend that money and which machine will perform the tasks that you need it to, there are two types of cost to consider.
The most obvious type of spending is the upfront cost of the machine. Most of the time, consumers will assume that a more expensive printer means that what comes out of the printer will be superior to the output of a less expensive printer. This is not always the case. Many manufacturers and printer retailers sell a less expensive printer or copier assuming that a customer will own and use it for a long enough time that the company can profit many times over by selling ink for it. In this strategy, the printer is known as the loss-leader.
Purchasing one of these printers can keep upfront cost VERY low and still give you a great printer that will last for years to come.
The more subtle expense to consider when purchasing a printer is the running cost. In regards to the ink or toner that your machine uses, running cost is measured in cost per page; and even though that is usually the largest expense, it certainly it not the only one. The total scope of running cost includes ink/toner, paper, and both expected and unexpected maintenance. The best way to keep running cost down is by purchasing low-cost ink or toner.
Keep in mind that printer manufacturers often mark up the price of their consumables (the cartridges of laser toner or ink that work with their printers) to create the illusion of a better bargain on the machines. To keep from over-paying for OEM (printer manufacturer brand) consumables, consider compatible or remanufactured cartridges. Another option would be to purchase cartridges in bulk when it is on sale and keeping the extras until they are needed.
Rule of thumb: You can get much better value in terms of cost per page using a laser printer. However, the inkjet printer will give the superior color and produce sharper images. Laser printers (those printers that use powder toner instead of liquid ink) are better for documents and inkjet printers are better for pictures.