Printer Buying Guide

The purchase price of the printer is just the beginning of its overall cost because over time, the hidden cost of ink or toner, paper, and parts will add up. These "hidden costs" are the consumables; dividing the total cost of consumables by the number of pages that can be produced from the consumables gives you the cost per page. Laser printers offer the lowest cost per page, using relatively inexpensive toner and normal-weight, uncoated paper. On the other hand, cost per page for inkjets can be four or five times as much, depending on how much ink you use and the cost of the paper -- normally more expensive, coated, glossy paper for higher-quality color output. The tank configuration for inkjets should also be taken into consideration. Inkjets with a single cartridge for the colored inks will incur higher replacement costs because the cartridge must be replaced as soon as one color runs out -- even if the cartridge still contains plenty of ink for the other colors. To save costs, get an inkjet with separate cartridges for black and each individual color.

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