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I seem to have endless problems with inkjet printers, and I'm not entirely sure why. I'm well aware that the whole printer market works on a topsy-turvey model driven by selling as much expensive ink refills as possible, but that doesn't wholly explain the issues.

I don't, generally, use a printer very often. When I wanted to, it seemed almost every time it would complain about some shortage of ink and refuse to print. If I wanted a grayscale output, it'd fail to print because it was out of cyan or something. If I wanted to print an image in black and white, it'd fail because the larger black "text" cartridge was empty. To get things to work, I had to buy a whole new set of cartiridges every few documents, which seemed ludicrous.

I tried buying well-reviewed printers and that didn't seem to make any difference. Then I read somewhere that inkjet printers had a problem with infrequent use - the ink dried out. That seemed to explain the issue. However the recommended solution - a laser printer - wasn't helpful. I could afford one, but they're too big to fit anywhere in my modest house. Miniature ones seem not to exist.

Speaking to friends and family however, made me doubt myself. No-one else seems to have these problems with inkjet printers. Was it me, trying to refil them with budget inks? I don't know any more.

As my kids have gotten older, they've needed a printer at home more and more frequently, and my inkjets have always failed them. Now my current model (a Canon) has actually bust and I need a new one. Ideally it will have a built in scanner too. But most of all I just want a printer that I can go to and use when needed - even if there are large gaps between use - and have it work!

I am happy to pay a premium for this if necessary, and I am happy to pay for a laser printer if one exists that's about the same size as a large inkjet.

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  • Can you somewhat quantify your understanding of "rarely"? Ie once a week? Once a month? Once every couple of months? Also what are your size constraints (which you obviously have given that you don't have a laser printer)?
    – SEJPM
    Jan 2, 2018 at 15:37
  • @SEJPM Thanks for looking. It's about once every couple of months. I can't measure the space as I'm not at home, but it's roughly 75cm wide, 35cm deep and 35cm high.
    – Bob Tway
    Jan 2, 2018 at 15:40
  • Do you need a pure printer or do you need a printer with integrated scanner? And do you categorically exclude laser printers or only if they violate the size constraint?
    – SEJPM
    Jan 2, 2018 at 19:12
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    Bob, if it makes you feel any better, my experiences with inkjet printers are the same as yours. They either quickly clog due to lack of use, or run out of ink from frequently running maintenance mode. I tried several models of HP and EPSON, and all were horrible. May 14, 2020 at 22:10
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    My experience: anything with Liquid ink is WAY less reliable than toner. Had four different brand ink printers in 2 years. Eventually bought a Brother MFC-9460 CDN, which has been going flawlessly since around 2015. Their A4 printer footprint currently is about 410w x 475d mm. The height for a MultiFunction (MFC) is about 415mm, plain printers are shorter, about 250mm. Be aware that toner printers can't quite get the vibrant colours that ink printers can, at least in the home/small office price range. Not sure links are acceptable, but FYI brother.co.uk/printers
    – Stax
    Feb 13, 2022 at 21:45

3 Answers 3

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I would go with a laser printer. You can get black/white or color laser printers. The color laser printers are true laser printers. They contain 4 toner cartridges. Many laser printers are available as part of a multi-function device, where you can print, scan and fax.

Now.... some laser printers are vastly cheaper to operate than others. For example, I have an old HP M2727nf. This is a black/white multi function printer. It takes HP toner cartridges. HP uses a 4 digit code for cartridges. Some printers can accommodate high capacity toner cartridges and HP (and 3rd parties) make these cartridges and they are suffixed with the letter X. For example, 1234 and 1234X. 1234X is the high capacity cartridge. My M2727nf printer can print about 7,000 impressions on one high capacity cartridge. These cost about $20 (3rd party), so each impression costs .285 cents.

I also have an HP color laser printer. The cartridges for this are much more expensive and there are no high capacity cartridges available. Impressions on this printer are around 10 cents a page, so the older printer is around 50 times cheaper to operate.

So you could buy a new laser printer that takes high capacity toner cartridges and you should be able to print for well under a penny a page.

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I personally swear by Brother inkjet printers that have ink tanks. My model, Brother DCP-T310, can go weeks without printing and will just start whenever needed. Just make sure that the tanks never go totally empty. If you let a tank becomes empty, there's a danger that air bubbles enter the ink feed lines and you'll need to invoke the printer's "Power Cleaning" maintenance function several times to push the bubbles out.

A set of 4 ink bottles (genuine Brother ink, not third party) for my printer cost me US$ 10, and I only refill like every 2 years (YMMV). The ink cost is so low I just don't want to bother with possible problems caused by incompatible third party ink formulations just to save $1 - $2 per 2 years.

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Since a compact laser printer is within your scope of options, it seems most that I can find are in the neighborhood of a 45 cm width, which might fit depending on how accurate your estimation was.

I've been in the market for a new printer as well, also unhappy with the performance of recent (HP) inkjets.

As of 2023, the most promising one looks like the Lexmark MC3224dwe Color Multifunction Laser Printer, with dimentions of 40 x 41.5 x 31 cm (15.5 x 16.2 x 12.1 in).

That said, the
HP Color LaserJet Pro M283fdw Wireless All-in-One at 42.2 x 42 x 33.5 (16.6 x 16.5 x 13.2 in)
and
Canon Color Image CLASS LBP622Cdw Duplex Laser at 43 x 44 x 29.5 (16.8 x 17.2 x 11.5 in)
both look like good contenders, too.

If you are willing to sacrifice color, then you can go even smaller with HP's LaserJet M110we Printer with HP+ 35 x 19 x 16 cm (13.6 x 7.5 x 6.3 in)

As I'm only at the research stage myself, I can't recommend anything per se, but these have been the ones that have stood out.

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