Find the perfect printer for occasional use and print only when you want to, without worrying about dried out printer cartridges.
It’s no secret that many are printing less these days. Now that everything is just a couple taps away on our smartphones, the need for an everyday printer is rare for most home offices. Printers can be nice to have for printing out one-off documents for work or your kid’s latest homework assignment, but in between prints, they can easily sit untouched for weeks!
For inkjet printer owners, a dormant printer can quickly be a problem if you forgo printing for even a short period of time. Printer cartridges can dry out, the printhead can clog, and inevitably, you have to invest in a new set of pricey replacement cartridges. Low cost compatible printer cartridges can alleviate some of that cost (more on that later), but if you want to get the best long-term print value, you need to find a machine that can weather that printer down time.
In this quick guide, we break down our four favorite printers for consumers that print occasionally. Whether you just need black and white prints or full color photos, all of these machines can be used infrequently and still produce a quality print when needed.
What Type of Printer Should I Buy?
Two types of printers are preferred for occasional use: laser printers and reservoir printers. Which one you choose all depends on the sort of printing you do.
Laser printers have long been a popular option for busy offices and are capable of handling large print volumes and text-based documents. These machines use toner powder to produce a print. A dry, plastic material that won’t dry out like an ink cartridge, toner powder can sit idle in the machine for an extended period of time. If you don’t need to print photos, a good laser printer is the way go.
Reservoir printers, also known as ink tank printers, are a relatively new addition to the printer industry. Instead of printer cartridges, these machines rely on an ink tank system and ink bottles to produce a print. Ink is delivered from an ink bottle to the printer through an airtight tube, preserving the ink in a sealed tank until it’s ready to be used. Reservoir printers are incredibly cost effective, printing thousands of pages for pennies on the dollar and can print anything a regular inkjet printer can, including high quality photographs. Most are more expensive than the standard inkjet machine, but thousands of prints per ink bottle and low operating costs make them worth considering.
How to Save On Printing Costs
Even if you don’t print a lot, replacing printer cartridges can get expensive. One great way to save is with LD brand compatible ink and toner cartridges. With cartridges available for thousands of printer models, including all of the printers mentioned in this article, you can get comparable print quality and page yield to the original brand at a fraction of the price. Check out the savings for each of our featured printers below!
Best Basic Monochrome Laser Printer
Brother HL-L2350DW – Buy on Amazon*
The Brother HL-L2350DW’s high yield printer cartridges and compact size make it an ideal candidate for consumers working with a limited a budget and a tight workspace. For an affordable price, you’ll get fast print speeds, easy to use wireless printing options and a handy automatic duplexer for efficient dual-sided printing.
Monochrome laser printers only print in black, so if you are looking to add some color to your prints, skip down to our color printer recommendations further down the page.
The printer works with two different cartridges sizes, the TN-730 standard yield and the high yield TN-760. High yield toner cartridges are better option if you print regularly but occasional users are probably fine going with the standard cartridge. An original TN-730 toner cartridge from Staples prints 1,200 pages and sells for $41.99. The high yield option prints 3,000 pages and sells for $74.99.
You can save up to 52% when you purchase the LD compatible version of the TN-760 cartridge, available for $29.99. LD compatibles print the same number of high quality pages as the original at a competitive price.
Best Multi-function Monochrome Laser Printer
Brother MFC-L5700DW – Buy on Amazon
Printer users desiring a bit more versatility will want to look at the MFC-L5700DW, a multifunction machine with convenient print, scan and fax capabilities. Featuring print speeds of up to 42 ppm and a 50-sheet automatic document feeder for scanning multi-page documents, your office will stay productive, no matter how seldomly you might print. A USB port in the front of the printer offers quick access to essential documents and a built-in wireless functionality prints directly from your smartphone.
Two cartridges are available for this machine; an original TN-820 standard yield cartridge prints 3,000 pages and sells for $65.49 and the TN-850 prints 8,000 pages and sells for $106.99. LD brand compatible TN-850 cartridges are available for just $16.99 apiece.
Best Multi-function Color Laser Printer
HP Laserjet Pro M254dw – Buy on Amazon
With print speeds of up to 17 ppm, HP’s LaserJet Pro M254dw is a speedy laser printer that is perfect for small offices with basic color printing needs. It is one of the least expensive color printers on the market and is a highly reviewed printer too. Offering reliable, sharp text and vibrant color prints at a great value, this is a solid choice for consumers that need to print the occasional color document. Mobile printing technology connects seamlessly to you smartphone and a duplexer lets you print on both sides of the page. Unfortunately, the duplexer isn’t automatic, but that shouldn’t be a deal breaker for users with lighter printing jobs.
The printer works with four color HP cartridges that are available in a standard (HP 202A) and high yield (HP 202X) cartridge size. Original replacement cartridges can get pricey, ranging from $64.99-$102.99, depending on the cartridge type. Alternatively, high yield LD compatible cartridges are great deal at $49.99 each!
Best Reservoir Color Printer
Canon PIXMA MegaTank G4210 – Buy on Amazon
Reservoir printers have slowly grown in popularity over the last couple of years, with the Epson EcoTank, Canon MegaTank and Brother Inkvestment Tank all competing for your printing dollars. The Canon PIXMA G4210 MegaTank is our number one pick because it offers the most bang for your buck at a price lower than most reservoir printers. You get all of the multifunction printing features you need, plus a 20-sheet automatic document feeder and wireless printing functionality.
Thanks to the printer’s high volume GI-290 ink bottles, you’ll be able to print thousands of pages at an incredibly low cost per page, with the black bottle printing up to 6,000 pages and each color bottle printing 7,000 pages. On top of that, Canon includes two additional black ink bottles with the machine, offering a total yield of up to 18,000 pages. That is a lot of ink.
*Savings based on price comparison between remanufactured/compatible cartridge prices on www.LDProducts.com and OEM cartridge and printer prices from the listed retailers: Amazon and Staples. All prices effective as of August 12, 2019. OEM names are registered trademarks of their respective owners and are not affiliated with, and do not endorse LD Products.