25 October 2012

What is the best printer for cheap cheapest ink cartridges?

The question I am always being asked is, "What is the best printer to buy for using cheap printer cartridges?".  The answer to this important question can be complex and can depend on the users requirements.  For instance if a customer wanted to use the printer in a small office then I would recommend a Brother all-in-one machine.  The replacement Brother cartridges are cheap and do not contain microchips, so no nasty error messages.  Buying a Brother printer is usually slightly more expensive than say a similar specification Epson, however the build quality seems to be better and they seem less prone to blocked print heads; at least in the first year of operation.  On the negative side, if a user was looking to print photographs, particularly on slightly thicker paper, then I would sway towards a Canon printer instead.  Brother printers feed the paper from a bottom tray which means the media has to bend around so that it comes back out of the front.  The resistance of the paper or card can slow down the movement causing either a jam or a vertical misalignment.
Canon printers often have a rear paper feed and a bottom paper feed meaning that you can use thicker photo paper within too many problems.  The rear paper feed sends the paper in more of a straight direction which means less resistance.  Canon printers also tend to have print heads with a higher dpi (dots per inch).  For example the Canon Pixma ip4950 photo printer has a maximum print resolution of 9600 x 2400dpi, making it possible to achieve impressive photographic results.  However the dots per inch is not the only factor in a printers ability to produce fine prints.  The type of ink (dye or pigment) that it uses and the included driver and utility software can make a significant difference.  Canon include an Easy Print Utility with this model that improves colour rendition as opposed to printing directly from Windows.  The Pixma ip 4950 uses five ink cartridges, a Large Black PG-525BK (Pigment) which is used for text printing, and four other Dye based inks that produce images.  While a set of original OEM cartridges costs around £50, compatible PG-525BK/526 BK/C/M/Y cartridges cost around £15 per set.  The ink capacity compared to the equivalent Brother ones is less and they are £5 more expensive.
So in this brief conclusion if you are looking for an economical small office printer then I would recommend a Brother ink jet.  If you require a cheap to run photo printer, then certain Canon models are more appropriate.  But be careful which model you choose!  We will talk more about this in future blogs.

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