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I rarely need to print, but when I do, I need the output right away (within 5 minutes).

I typically print 0-5 pages per month.

Is there any type of printer that would suit my needs?

What I care about:

  1. Size. The smaller the better. Something portable that I could take out of a drawer when I need to print would be great, but that's not a requirement. But given that I'm rarely going to use it, I don't want it occupying a large amount of space.
  2. Reliability. When I need to print, I need to print. I don't want to be dealing with clogged heads or anything like that.
  3. Cost. Since I'm just printing 0-5 pages per month, it's hard to justify spending much money on this. I would like to keep the cost per black and white page down below $0.20 if possible.

What I only care a little about:

  1. Color. It would be nice, but definitely not required. Even just a single accent color would be a plus. But again, not required. I own a red pen, a ruler, and four colors of highlighters. ;)
  2. WiFi or Bluetooth connectivity. One of these would be really nice, but not required. Otherwise, USB will suffice.
  3. Print quality. It doesn't need to be publishing quality. It just needs to be legible and reasonably clear. I think even 150dpi will be sufficient.

What I don't care about:

  1. Speed. As long as a black and white page can print in under 5 minutes, that's fine.
  2. Duplex. Single-sided is fine.
  3. Paper feeder. I don't mind feeding one sheet of blank paper at a time.
  4. Noise. Wake the dogs. Wake the neighbors. Wake the neighbor's dogs. That's all fine.
  5. Accommodating various paper sizes. As long as it can print on letter-sized paper (A4 or 8.5"x11"), that's fine.

Is there anything out there that might be suitable?

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  1. Size. The smaller the better... This means ink jet or the equivalent; every other technology makes the printer significantly bigger. A review of the best portable printers shows hardware costs for portable A4/8.5x11" printers much higher than non-portable printers; you can get a good laser printer for US$73 FOB US Destination (more detail) that's only 14" square by 7 1/4" tall. Will you sacrifice size to keep the cost down?

  2. Reliability. Ink jet printer heads clog when infrequently used, and the unclogging cycle of HP printers use a lot of ink to clear the heads as well as taking several minutes. Many HP ink jet printers nowadays will fail to print if one color is out or low, even if the black ink supply is OK. Reliability means not getting an ink jet printer. Reliability means a laser printer. The Brother printers are the PC Magazine Buyer's Choice for the last decade.

  3. Cost. Since I'm just printing 0-5 pages per month, it's hard to justify spending much money on this. I would like to keep the cost per black and white page down below $0.20 if possible. Easily done with an inexpensive laser printer. Inexpensive Brother printers cost around 2.2 cents/page in toner, less if you do not insist on Brother-branded toner.

What I only care a little about:

  1. Color. It would be nice, but definitely not required. Even just a single accent color would be a plus. But again, not required. I own a red pen, a ruler, and four colors of highlighters. ;) Any printer on the market today that has any color to it is a four-ink machine; there are none with just one accent color.

  2. WiFi or Bluetooth connectivity. One of these would be really nice, but not required. Otherwise, USB will suffice. The recommended Brother has both USB; the next step up in their line adds WiFi & wired Ethernet.

  3. Print quality. It doesn't need to be publishing quality. It just needs to be legible and reasonably clear. I think even 150dpi will be sufficient. Recommended choice works at 600x2400 dpi.

PS: A good review of the small Brother printers led me to get one half a year ago, and I'm very happy with it, after four decades of increasingly fussy HP inkjets. These toners from Amazon drop the per-page toner cost to under 1p.

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