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We've been looking at both color lasers and inkjets that can create color-corrected proofs and do small print runs on tabloid-sized paper.
We had settled on a seven-color inkjet (matte and gloss black), but that printer has proven to acquire--a backorder list a mile long. From the specs, it's a beautiful machie, but it's hard to find a supplier who can get one and ship it.
So, we're back to the dilemma of sorting through inkjets and color lasers for a cost-effective solution.
You aren't going to believe this, but I had to do a cost justification on this very issue a few years ago. It turns out that TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) of a network color laser for the company to replace 4 inkjets had a cost savings recovery before the second year. It is obviously going to be different for each implementation, but TCO is something to consider.
(1) Long term cost - you get a lot more for your buck with toner than ink.
(2) Quality - color laser never smudges and has a much higher quality output on regular paper.
(3) Speed - inkjet printers are very slow in comparison. Off the top of my head I would say I could print 15 - 20 full color pages on the highest quality setting on the laser for every 1 full color page on the fastest inkjet in medium to high quality.
(4) Network - though they do exist, you don't see as many network ready inkjet printers. They typically have to be "shared" from a computer. Many laser printers come with a built-in Ethernet card. Just assign it an IP address and everyone can print across the network.
Since purchasing the color laser, I've been able to do things that I wouldn't dream of doing on an Inkjet. I printed my own DVD Labels in-house (you know, the paper that goes in the plastic sleeve on Amaray cases - distributed some software about a year ago in DVD cases and it was nice to be able to print up our own labels). I also printed my own post cards using a STAMPS.COM account. I printed the cards, then flipped the stack of paper and printed the destinations on the back.
Kinkos has a paper cutting machine where they will do a perfect cut for $1 per cut, you just bring them the stack. So after I had printed out my cards (4 per page on an 8.5x11) I paid them $4 to slice the stack into 4 stacks of cards, then dropped them in the mailbox on the way out. Cheapest mailing I ever did :)
I paid about $800 for this printer when it first came out, but I have seen them for $300 on ebay brand new. It also has other options like extra paper trays so you can do different sizes, etc. I had bought this originally for my office and then ended up buying another one to take home shortly after. The high capacity cartridges get 4,500 pages.
Try to figure out what the replacement cycle and costs are for any given printer and do your calculations. Over the life of the printer, this will likely add up to a lot more than the difference in initial cost of "similar" printers.
For example, at least for b/w printers, Brother toner cartridges are much cheaper than HP toner cartidges. However, HP cartridges are really a cartridge/drum unit. With Brother, you need to buy a new drum every few cartridges (or every time you accidentally feed in a page with a staple in it) and, in the long run, the Brother is much more expensive to run.
As for inks, I have two friends who are ink chemists for printer companies. Few inkjet printers have true colorfast, waterfast inks, but some actually do. HP is not one of them. My friend said Tektronix inks were colorfast, but I don't think theiy're even in the printer business anymore.
We got ours when they had a free black ink deal, so we don't pay for that, just the color sticks - it lasts a long time at average coverage. The maintenance kits can be pricey, but you don't have to do that too often.
It's got a nic, just plug it in to your network. We use it for short run printing (we print 900 copy directory book annually), we also print brochures, business cards, postcards and the like as well. It has an onboard hard drive so you can store frequently printed jobs and reprint them from the printer.
Nicest thing, it prints on both sides of the page, on all but the heaviest stock. It has settings to print 2 or more pages per sheet, and can do a separator page between sets.
It's been a good investment for us - can't imagine working without it.
Tektronix were bought by Xerox. All Tektronix machines in the range are now badged as Xerox.
These printers are fantastic - but be careful which ones you buy. Some of the consumables on some of these machines come in pack sizes only. (e.g. 5 cyan+2 black, 5 magenta+2 black, 5 yellow+2 black. You cannot buy the black on it's own!).
I paid the better part of £10,000 for a HP Color (sic) Laserjet 5.
All I can say is don't buy one 7 years ago.
Yeah, back then it was a nice compliment to your $8,000 Tandy PC :) Color Laser has really only even become a consideration for home users in the last 5 years. Prior to that even print shops typically had to finance them.
Our laser was a big upgrade for everyday useage. Water doesn't make the page run, you can erase pencil on the page and not smear everything up... and it just plain prints nicer.
Plus... you can't highlight anything from the inkjet and that's nice to be able to do now that I print posts on my laser!