Bob Rankin: Should I Buy That Cheap Inkjet Printer?

Should I Buy That Cheap Inkjet Printer?

By Bob Rankin

While shopping for a new inkjet printer, I saw an HP Deskjet and a Canon Pixma on sale for $29 each at a local office store. It sounds too good to be true, but they’re both well-known brands. Is there some catch I should be aware of? Other similar looking models cost over $100. Is a cheap inkjet a good idea?

How Much Does an Inexpensive Printer Cost?

Before you jump on that inkjet printer bargain, you should take a hard look at what it may cost you to use it for a year, or three years. As a general rule, the cheaper the printer, the more its ink cartridges and other consumable supplies will cost. The true cost of owning a cheap inkjet printer may surprise you.

Let’s take the example of a $40 inkjet printer whose OEM black ink cartridge costs $19. It’s not uncommon to get 170 pages out of such an ink cartridge. If you print an average of 7 pages per day, that’s 2,555 pages per year. Divide that by 170 pages per cartridge and you need about 15 cartridges per year; that’s $285 worth of black ink per year, not to mention color cartridges and paper.

Sure, you can cut ink costs dramatically by buying remanufactured or refilled cartridges. But the cost of ink still adds up to a lot more than the cost of the printer. See my related article Should You Buy Discount Ink Cartridges? for more on that.

More expensive inkjet printers, like the HP Officejet Pro Wireless All-in-One printer, may run $300. But HP claims that the black ink cartridge for this printer produces 2,200 pages, while color cartridges are rated at 1,400 each. Incidentally, you may save money by buying colors separately instead of all-in-one color cartridges. It’s frustrating to throw out one of the latter when only one color runs out.

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