Inkjet Printers – The Weakest Link?

Of all the usual PC peripherals, multifunction inkjet printers must surely be the weakest link. The thing that bugs me most about these printers is the ongoing cost of keeping them supplied with ink.

With the exorbitant price of genuine replacement ink cartridges, the less expensive of these printers have become virtually disposable. Take these two inexpensive HP multifunction inkjet printers, for example (prices are in Australian dollars):

Both these printers take the same ink cartridges which are priced at $54.00au for standard and $79.00au for XL (extra capacity) which is roughly the same price as purchasing the brand new printer. Sure, consumers can purchase generic ink cartridges at a reduced cost but, because of the chips which identify non-genuine cartridges, they can be very much hit and miss. I know from experience, for example, that generic ink cartridges will not work with Canon inkjet printers, at least they wouldn’t work with the Canon models I have owned.

Here’s a brief rundown of the 3 brands of multifunction inkjet printers I have owned:

HP: Quality hardware but their software sucks big time. The HP multifunction inkjet printer I owned stopped working after just one week. Figuring it was a software issue I uninstalled the driver and associated software. Then, prior to re-installing, I checked manually to see if there were any leftover bits and pieces. To my horror, I discovered literally hundreds of leftover bits and pieces littered throughout the system. I promptly returned that printer to the store and got a refund.

Canon: I’ve really liked the couple of Canon printers I’ve owned BUT, man, are they ink guzzlers. My hand was in my pocket the whole time forking out for replacement ink cartridges. In the end, I dumped a perfectly working Canon printer simply because it was costing me a small fortune keeping ink up to it.

Epson: This is my favorite and current brand. Quality build, inks last quite well, and their software is excellent. However, once again, I’m fed up with continually forking out for replacement ink cartridges. I’ve owned this current Epson (XP442) for around four years now and during that time I estimate that it has cost me around $600.00, the original purchase price of $60.00 for the printer plus a further $540 in replacement ink cartridges.

Monochrome Laser Multifunction Printers

My Epson XP442 has been printing patchily for some time now and the usual maintenance operations are not improving the situation. So, I’m in the market for a new printer. I’m thinking monochrome, I don’t really need color printing, and a laser multifunction. I get the sense that the monochrome laser printers are more robust than inkjet printers and the toner lasts far longer than inkjet cartridges but, in the absence of any firsthand experience, that is pure conjecture on my part.

If anyone has any experience in this area (monochrome laser printers), I would very much appreciate your input. At the moment I am seriously considering these two options:

I’d never heard of Pantum but a little research revealed a number of favorable mentions. Yes, they are built in China, but then, what isn’t these days? The only difference between the two is the slightly more expensive model (M6559NW) comes with an auto feeder. Both take the same replacement toner cartridges priced at $68.00. I’ve also looked at Brother and Lexmark brands but they are more expensive, both in terms of the original purchase price and replacement toner cartridges.

I don’t mind paying a little extra for a printer just so long as I can cut down on the ongoing costs. Any insights from monochrome laser printer users would be appreciated.

Let me know your thoughts in the comments.

32 thoughts on “Inkjet Printers – The Weakest Link?”

  1. I’ve always used Brother until a year ago when it no longer would do WiFi, even after changing the IP address. Since I figured that I have to go into my back room to get my prints anyway, I just bought a connector to my laptop to printer. I bought after-market ink cartridges for pennies which served me well. Then, I thought, why not get one of those big ink cartridge printers. Apparently, I was asleep at the wheel for this one. I bought myself another Brother MFC-J1205W without checking on the features. It was so minimalistic, but I figured that I only use it to transfer pictures to trace that I wouldn’t need the enlarger feature. Hah! And the cartridges cost $40 for 3. And $20 for the black alone. No after-market, no way of adding ink to the cartridges either. Should have kept the old printer. Lesson learned. Ink is treated like frigging gold.

  2. I have a Brother monochrome multi-function wireless laser printer model MFC-L2700DW for a few years now. I have recommended this model line to friends and customers and they all seem to like them. The software is excellent and everything just works. One nice feature I found when I installed Linux Mint 21.1 on an older laptop; as it booted up with a wi-fi connection, both my Brother printers were immediately found and configured. No software or fiddling around with drivers. Windows locates my newer Brother monochrome wireless laser downstairs which I bought for a little over $110. It is basic, with no fancy features and just works. Both work with generic toner cartridges. I’m not sure about the newer models in the MFC range; they may have newer chips to prevent the use of generics, but my 2700DW works fine with them.
    I think you would be better off with a known brand not from China (at least directly) that has been around for some time. The Pantum software would be an issue for me; who knows what you’ll get?
    I hope this helps.

      1. Hi Jim,
        Thanks for the many excellent articles you publish. I have a Canon MF4360 multifunction monochrome laser printer/scanner/copier.
        I have had it for several years and it works perfectly. I buy toner cartridges from online searches, not using OEM. Cost is very reasonable, $15-20 for several thousand pages.
        Most of my routine printing now is avoiding paper/ink/toner by using Microsoft print to pdf so that I have the doc saved on my local machine and only print to paper when really needed. I agree totally with the overall premise of this thread re the inkjets.
        I have had several over the years and rarely use them now due to high cost of ink.
        Thanks again for your excellent contributions.

        1. Hey Dave,

          Yep, the ongoing cost of replacement cartridges for inkjet printers is the killer. It has taken me a long time to wake up to that fact- I’m a bit of a slow learner, apparently. 🙂

          Thanks for the kind words mate, appreciated.

  3. Elliott W. Carmack

    I gave up on HP printers years ago due to mechanical failures. I have used cheap and more expensive Epson inkjets for several years, now, and always concluded, as you have, that the major cost is with the ink cartridge replacements. When Epson came out with their refillable ink line of printers, known commercially as EcoTank printers, I decided to try them out. We now own three of Epson EcoTanks at our household! The ink supplies have lasted for a year or more. I must admit, these are used at home and not in an office environment where daily printing would be a lot higher. Check them out on Epson’s website (probably varies from one country to another; I’m in the USA).

    1. Hi Elliott,

      The cheapest Epson EcoTank multi-function printer is priced at $400 here. I agree, Epson are great, but that price is a bit beyond my budget.

  4. I learned long ago that if you use an inkjet printer frequently, the cost of replacement cartridges is prohibitive. And if you use the inkjet printer infrequently, the cartridges dry out, and also must be replaced. I switched to laser printers because the toner cartridges last far longer, and, since the toner is dry powder, they don’t dry out. Win-win.

  5. Bought a reconditioned Brother 2710 from Brother (laser) for about 159 USD. It is multifunctional, carries the same warranty as new one, and toner is not that expensive. This was replacement for my 2007 model Samsung Laser 2750 (I think) that was a real work horse. However, Samsung no longer makes printers. I believe the drum went out on it. Anyway, the Borther faxes great, scans great and in color to my computer, B&W copying, and so far, very happy with.

  6. I purchased a Brother monochrome laser printer HL-L2390DW about a 1 or 2 years ago. Never gave me a problem. I use the cheapest refill cartridges on Amazon. I love this printer and recommend it.

    1. Hi Henry,

      The Brother HL-2390DW costs $600.00 here (in Australia), a little bit beyond my budget. For that sort of money I’d expect it to make me a cup of coffee on demand and throw in the occasional cupcake. 🙂

        1. Everything is more expensive here Henry. Inflation is part of the equation but wages are a lot higher here too. Plus, the Aussie dollar is only worth around 67 US cents.

  7. I decided to go away from printers altogether.
    I have a perfectly working high-end Cannon but have not turned it on for over 2yrs.
    So I guess it is dry inside now.
    But the fiddling and frustration became something I could do without.
    I have wanted or needed to print on it a handful of times and no doubt will require it in the coming weeks.
    But I am holding firm! No more printers. I can get my one sheet of this or that done in town for $1 and save the remaining $100+++ for more important things.
    No more wasting money on endless printer refills!

    1. I am hearing you Clissa. Unfortunately, where we live is not close to town or shops and, between my wife and myself, we do use the printer quite a bit.

  8. I own a Canon MG 5320 and have had it about 12 years. We don’t do an overload of printing on it but it works flawlessly and with the generic ink cartridges I purchase at Amazon. I figured years back, using those cartridges would have gummed it by now, but no way. Not sure how things would have panned out if we used it for a business but at this stage of the game, I’m looking for something else to complain about, because this printer is not giving me any reason to.

    1. Hey Nicke,

      I would say your Canon printer was manufactured prior to the chips that identify non-genuine cartridges. You’ve sure had a good run out of that printer.

  9. Charlene Drake

    I bought a Brother HL-L2300D – I wanted a laserjet monochrome that was NOT wifi…..don’t print much and I didn’t want wifi (cause I don’t want to download another dang app)… great – not a scanner – it just prints black and white.

  10. Glad to hear so many use (trust) the Brother brand. My monochrome Laser model DCP-7060p (is over a decade old) and is in excellent condition. Exchange the cartridge every few years when I notice the black print starting to fade (store refills them later). Cost is still under $100.00 CDN. Hardly use the print function even for photocopying, so a box of 500 sheets lasts many years. Since almost everything is digital, a hard copy (paper that is), is only handy when the power does out, Mindblower!

  11. I have 3 different monochrome laser printers, A Canon MF3200, a Brother HL1435 and a Samsung ML 2165W. All 3 use compatible cartridges at a freaction of the OEM product and work flawlessly. The first two were gifts, the Samsung I bought 5 years ago. I dumped all of my inkjet printers and like you seldom used the colour cartidges yet they emptied and they stopped the monochrome operation. The most efficient is the Brother, the most ecomomical cartridge is the Samsung (but 40% lower yield. Colour is only useful to us for photos and when you can get them done commercially for pennies why spend hundreds of dollars on ink! You are definately on the right path.

    1. Crikey Ed, 3 printers!? I’m guessing your running a home office, or have a very large family.

      Thanks for your comments mate, appreciated.

      P.S. My younger brother’s name is Ed- short for Edwin.

      1. No home business but each has different features. Canon is multi function, Samsung is wireless and prints two sided, the Brother was a freebie that I refurbished and has turned out to be the most reliable. Go figure!

        1. Okay, makes sense. I’m going to hang on to my old Epson inkjet too, its scan and copy functions still work perfectly. I won’t buy any more inks though.

  12. Petra Tschauner

    Like you, I was tired of continuously having to purchase ink for my Epson Inkjet (which I loved). I don’t use my printer a lot, so the inkjet ink would dry up, and I would have to purchase more ink if I wanted to do a print job now and then, even though there was still ink in the pods. I purchased a Canon ImageClass MF264dw and am VERY happy with it. Although I purchased this printer approximately 3 years ago, I am STILL using the ink that came with the printer. Would definitely get another one if this one ever dies.

    1. Hey Petra,

      That particular Canon model is not available here (in Australia). You’ve certainly had a good run out of those original cartridges… good one.

  13. Hi Jim – after a very expensive and regretful purchase of a Rioch colour laser printer (breakdowns, expensive toner, burnt out tubes etc etc ) I’m back to inkjets. Epson has been my go to brand and my old trusty Epson P50 with Continuious Ink System (CIS) is a real workhorse. My Epson XP-445 runs on refillable cartridges too. I’ve saved many thousands ( yep that much ) on using this system. I’d be reluctant to recommend laser after my experiences.

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