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Printer The Almighty Buck

Comparing New vs Refubished Printers? 40

Posted by Cliff
from the getting-your-money's-worth dept.
GraWil asks: "Does anyone have advice on purchasing a color laser printer? I'm trying to decide between getting a new small 'personal' color laser or a used/refurbished workhorse. For the roughly the same money, I can either buy a Xerox 6100 or a refurbished Tektronix 740/750 or even a tabloid sized 790. I've had mixed luck with color HP and Lexmark printers but I'm open to any suggestions at this point. There are a fair number of reviews but none of them ever compare new with the old."
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Comparing New vs Refubished Printers?

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  • Refubished? (Score:3, Funny)

    by Maxite (782150) on Friday July 23, 2004 @02:39PM (#9782074) Journal
    A new printer is great, but a refubished printer, well those just don't exist.
  • Toner cost (Score:4, Insightful)

    by wpc4 (169892) <wpc4NO@SPAMcynical.us> on Friday July 23, 2004 @02:40PM (#9782087) Homepage Journal
    Besides the technical differences one of the things you may want to do is check toner costs. Our department has a Lexmark High Output color printer and a full set of toner for all the colors costs about $1000. Happily we haven't had to replace them yet, but the bigger printer may prove itself to be much more expensive.
    • Re:Toner cost (Score:3, Informative)

      by crmartin (98227)
      He's got a good point. I've got an old IBM 3316. Lovely printer, cost me $500 refu(r)bished five or six years ago, works great.

      New cartridges cost $220 or something like that.

      I bought a LaserJet 1300xi at Sam's Club for about $320. It's not quite as fast, and you have to load it twice to print 500 pages, but cost per page is miniscule.
    • toner cost and reliability are pretty much the only points you should consider nowadays.
      • Don't just focus on toner. Yes, you will replace toner more often than anything else. But there are other consumables, like the fuser, the imaging drum, transfer kits, and pick-up rollers.
    • Re:Toner cost (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I had a Tektronix Phaser 740. Each colour (C-M-Y-K) was it's own toner cartridge. To buy a full set of four toner cartridges was about $1300.

      Also check what they say for coverage when estimating how many 'pages' a cartridge can print. You, like us, will be unpleasantly suprised just how little one of those toner cartridges lasts when the boss is printing off pictures of his family on it.

  • It depends (Score:2, Insightful)

    by bagofcrap (260283)
    on (among other things):
    What do you want it for?
    How long does it need to last?
    How much are you willing to pay for disposables?
    (mainly ink & paper)
    Interface? USB vs. lpt vs. Ethernet?
  • I use two printers (Score:2, Informative)

    by linzeal (197905)
    I use a HP 1012 [amazon.com] and an Epson Stylus [amazon.com] for color. I've found that not buying the damn black inkjet cartridges has saved me about 50 dollars a semester since I bought the laser, but if I really want to print some color the epson does a lavish job. If I want anything bigger or slightly nicer I go to Kinko's. Don't waste your money on a color laser printer, often times they are a pain in the ass to mantain. Maybe that is why there are so many refurb units coming out all of the sudden.

    I print about 40-100 pag

  • by AuMatar (183847) on Friday July 23, 2004 @02:56PM (#9782287)
    I actually design printer firmware for a living (although I do inkjets), so take that as a bias. But from a technical perspective, anything refurbished that I didn't know the age and use model of would scare me.

    Printers have a fixed lifespan. Gears grind down, aerosol builds up, capacitors burn out, internal memory has limited write cycles. Generally, a printer is rated for x number of pages. A cheap 50 buck one is maybe 10-15K, a 120 would give you 30K+. There's a large difference between a refurbished printer that someone used once a day for 3 years, and one someone printed 5-10 pages a day on (and as much as it surprised me, some people do print more than that). The second will have a high chance of breaking in the next 3 years, the first probably won't. Of course, this data is for inkjets so multiple by a factor of 3 to get better numbers.

    I'm not saying that refurbished can't work. But with the price of lasers still fairly high, I think you get a better deal buying a new one rather than risking it breaking early.

    Also, make sure to look into cost per page. Thats the cost of toner, divided by the number of pages printed per cartridge. This differs vastly between printers, and for heavy users can dwarf unit cost.

    • I actually design printer firmware for a living... internal memory has limited write cycles.

      Care to expound?

      • Lets see, what can I say without getting in trouble at work...

        All memory has limited lifetime. RAM has a very long one. Permanent memory, however, has much more limited. All printers have some small amount of permanent memory, to store configuration settings, code updates, internal states, data on pen problems (so you can correct for them) etc. These have much more limited number of times they can be written before they fail. Its a failure of all memory, those nice little USB storage devices and memor
        • What kind of design are you using where you are re-writing EPROMs over 100,000 times?

          The *only* sector of memory that I could see failing is the page counter. A good desgin would allow the printer to continue to function despite a broken EPROM sector containing the page counter. A cheap and nasty design would simply store the settings in capacitor backed RAM.

          I can say this: I have seen laserjet IIs, which use EPROMs from circa 1992, with greater than 1 million page count that *still* function. And the
      • Yes, it means that his employer doesn't make any money if you bay a rebuild/used printer. So, it's better for his employers and his bank account if you buy a new printer.

  • Don't do it (Score:2, Interesting)

    by vasqzr (619165)

    The Phasers look like a good idea, but they're really not.

    The 750/740's are the worst of them.

    They weigh something like 100lbs. They only print 8.5x11" or smaller. They don't take many different types of paper well, like cardstock. The ink rubs off the paper if folded, scratched, or smeared. The ink comes off in fax machines and on copier glass. Certain colors look really bad.

    They have a really long warm up time. Every time it cools down/warms up they eat a TON of ink. The black ink is free (all you pay
    • Re:Don't do it (Score:3, Informative)

      by GraWil (571101)
      Actually, you are thinking of the Xerox/Tektronix thermal wax printers whereas the article lists dry-toner, laser printers.
  • ...with refurbished items that makes them shy away from them? I mean that in a general sense, of course. I don't have anything to add to this particular discussion, but I'm hoping this particular question brings up interesting points that the person asking this question will find interesting.
  • by MBCook (132727) <foobarsoft@foobarsoft.com> on Friday July 23, 2004 @03:01PM (#9782340) Homepage
    I only have a B&W laser that I bought new (HP LaserJet 2100). I'd like a color laser, but the fact is I don't have the money or the need. That said, I looked at the spec page for 6100 and it doesn't seem to have PostScript. The 740, 750, and 790 do. I'm a big fan of PS, and given the choice I would definatly buy a printer that has it.

    I wrote a comment [slashdot.org] on PS a little while ago in the "printing on Linux" article.

    Also, given the choice, get a printer with a built in network server (you know, ethernet). If you have a desktop, it might not seem important. But since I've gotten more computers and started to use my laptop as my main computer, having the printer seperate from any computer is great. I don't have to keep one computer on. Even if I only had a laptop, I could plug the printer into my network and print from anywhere in the house thanks to WiFi. I can keep my printer next to my computer, in the basement where my cable modem is, in a bedroom that has an ethernet jack, or in a bathroom (if I added a ethernet jack). And with a little ethernet->wireless adaptor, I could put the printer in the attic if I wanted. It's actually very handy.

    Also, as a /. special, if you have both ethernet and PS on your printer, it's AMAZINGLY easy to configure with Linux, Windows, or OS X. Windows is a little weird (a network printer that's not attached to a computer is considered "local" when adding a printer. Huh?). But no messing with GhostScript or anything under Linux. The printer already speaks PS, and if it's like mine ACTUALLY RUNS LPD, so you just forward jobs.

    I hope others can help you better with the which is best, as I said I've no experiance with color lasers, but PS and ethernet are fantastic features that you should be looking for.

    • "I can keep my printer ... in a bathroom"

      Great idea - any time you need some toilet paper just print up a few Slashdot stories :-)
    • Windows is a little weird (a network printer that's not attached to a computer is considered "local" when adding a printer. Huh?).

      This is actually pretty easy to understand. When you setup a LPD or CUPS printer, it makes a virtual port (like TCP0:) or something. Same as a local usb (USB0:) or parport (PAR0: or somesuch).
      A "network" printer means SMB printer sharing, so no virtual port, but you can make it emulate a local parport for compatibility.
  • IMHO, the thing to compare when deciding new vs. refurbished is warranty.

    For example, when I was last shopping for a laser printer (several years ago now), Panasonic was the only manufacturer who offered the same warranty for refurbished printers as for new printers (in my price range with my desired features) while the others had warranties between 30 and 90 days on refurbished printers.

    While I normally wouldn't purchase extended warranty plans, the one case when they are worthwhile is if you can buy ref
  • by daviddennis (10926) * <david@amazing.com> on Friday July 23, 2004 @04:06PM (#9783147) Homepage
    I bought one about six months ago, and have used it to print out photographs, web pages, and documents. I've probably printed about 200 8x10s out of it and it has a page count now of a bit over 3,000 pages. The Cyan cartridge is going to run out in about 200 pages, but all the other cartridges are just a shade under half full. I happen to print out a lot of green text, so this is perfectly understandable.

    I work for a company that remanufacturers toner cartridges. One major disadvantage of buying a new model printer is that if your company doesn't make cartridges for your printer, it won't be able to give you free ones :-(.

    That being said, since remanufacturered toner cartridges are a big help to anyone on a budget, you should bear this in mind when considering what to buy. I'd give the nod to HP because with the highest market share they also have a bigger remanufacturing industry. Lexmark has a lawsuit going that is trying to prevent remanufacturing entirely for copyright issues. As a result, I would strongly recommend going with HP if you want a shot at cheaper cartridges.

    I've had many conversations with the guy who runs the factory about what to buy. I said "Gee, used color LaserJet 4500s are getting pretty cheap, maybe I should buy one". He talked me out of it saying there are all sorts of problems with those old printers, and the technology is much better refined in newer models. His opinion is that anything older than the 4600 is not worth getting, and he's not doing that to try to sell cartridges since at the time we made cartridges for the 4500 not the 4600.

    I think his advice was sound, since I like the quality of the 3500 quite a bit better than what I've seen of the 4500.

    Color lasers do not print as beautiful photographs as inkjets do, and you should be aware of this. At the same time, it might cost you $0.50 a page to saturate a laser-printed image with ink, while it costs about $2 a page (including special $0.50 a page ink) to print your photos on a typical colour inkjet. My actual printing cost has been a hair under $ 0.10 a page including a good mix of text and photographs.

    Judging by the listings on eBay, you will get a Color LaserJet 4500 for about $450 or so but it may not include the toner cartridges, or it may include used-up ones. You're still going to have to buy about $400 to fill it up. That seems to imply that you're not spending much more to get a brand new 3500 with brand new full-life toner cartridges. I paid $999 for my 3500N (with the networking). Since the new cartridges are $130 each just about everywhere, that means most of the value is in the cartridges, not the printer!

    Looks like my six months of printing has cost me around $54 a month for around 500 pages. Not bad considering how much I've used it.

    In conclusion, I've been extremely pleased by my Color LaserJet. The photos aren't perfect, but nobody who has looked at them has complained. And the text printing is, as the C|Net review says, darn near perfect. I can say that printing in colour is downright addictive and I would never want to go back to the spattery inkjet or the boring monochrome LaserJet.

    Hope this helps.

    D
  • Inspect it carefully, make sure you can see it working, have it checked out by a qualified mechanic, and just accept the fact that you're going to be completely fucked when it breaks down in a week.
    • Yes, but as posted earlier, there is a limited life to the parts in the printer. Little plastic gears do wear and break.

      This is true in a car too, but the aftermarket parts supply is much more prevelant. I can think of at least 3 auto-parts stores within about a mile of my house, this doesn't count dealerships.

      And speaking of dealerships, I can go into my dealership, walk to the parts counter, and tell them I have a model year X car, and I need a new widget, and they will pull up the scematic on their com
  • Very recently, I bought a used printer on ebay. I got a real steal ($300 for an HP Color LaserJet 4550)...

    But, I'd been looking off and on for a long time. Make sure you look at the cost to run, and how much expected lifetime it has left in it.

    Mine has 19,000 pages printed total, and the printer is rated for 35,000 / month, so that's pretty good :)

    But, of course, you don't get any warranty coverage or anything.

    On mine, it might be the case that the alignment is off or something. I don't know if that'
  • I bought a used HP LaserJet 4050N from a seller on eBay who specializes in reselling HP LaserJets and SGI workstations. For ~$250, I got a PCL + Postscript laser printer with a rockin' built-in print server (Win/Classic Mac/Unix-LPR/even ftp to the print queue!). I don't recall the published PPM rate, but it spits out a page every couple seconds. I think the page count was 74,000 when I bought it, yet it looks and works as though it was brand new. I think the duty cycle rating for this beast is 65,000 pages
  • Refurbished is fine (Score:3, Interesting)

    by pair-a-noyd (594371) on Sunday July 25, 2004 @04:25PM (#9796030)
    If you KNOW what you are getting into.
    I refurbish laserjets all the time.
    I acquired three HP 4500n's and am very pleased with them. One was dropped and is parts only, one has minor problems and I'll get around to it one of these days, and one works great, I use it several times a week. I had to disassemble it completely and clean it up and do some minor repairs but it's great.

    Only thing that scares me is what they refer to as "The consumables" and I don't mean toner..
    There are a lot of user replaceable components in the 4500 that have a limited lifespan. And the price of those "consumables" is HIGH... One replacement part could cost as much as an entire used printer on ebay would cost.

    Other brands may have similar practices, I don't know, I only do HP.. But be aware of it.

    I also refill the toner carts myself. I have a large supply of color toner stockpiled and I'm covered for the next 20 years there..

    One other thing to be aware of.

    The NEW laserjets are all made in China and they are CHEAPLY MADE.. The frames are made of plastic or of very low grade Chinese steel that bends and warps very easily. They are NOT designed and built to last for years of heavy use, they are designed and built to fall apart after a year or two so you have to buy expensive parts or just buy a whole new printer.

    The OLDER refurbished printers are usually made in the US with Japanese made engines are are much more sturdy, designed and built to take serious, heavy use and abuse. I have a lot of Laserjet III's and IIISI's that are in perfectly good working order and will give many more years of use because they were designed and built to last.

    I'll take OLD refurbished stuff over new stuff just about everytime...

  • We just purchased a Xerox Phaser 6100 (note: the Phaser line of printers used to be owned by Tektronix, and was purchased by Xerox - actually, Tektronix was purchased by Xerox). Anyway, the 6100 is a decent printer for a moderate amount of usage. We are setting up a new laboratory with perhaps 4-6 people in it, so printing is not going to be a huge demand. We do require a reasonably high-quality laserjet, due to printing of color graphs, charts, and molecular models. The 6100 is of sufficient quality (600 d

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