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We resorted back to sneaker net with the office next door. So your comments will have some weight on what we buy, so:
What brand should we be seeking: is color worth it?
Let me know ASAP
You should note that, with a laser printer, you save a lot by not having to buy new ink (called "toner" in this case, of course) so often. You pay more up front, thefeore, but running costs are lower.
Or you can get a Brother HL-1440 for $124.99 and free shipping Here [amazon.com]
I've got two of the Brothers. Nothing fancy. Just good basic transportation. :)
For basic office work, we just picked up the exact same deal on the HL-1440 as lawman pointed out. No complaints so far, and Brother printers have always treated us well.
After my old HP5L crapped out, I looked at the choices out there. The home and home office laser printers were simply not well built, even worse than the 5L. Good print quality when new, but destined to fall apart quickly.
I also decided I did not want another gravity-fed printer (they're cheaper but far inferior to the horizontal tray, mechanically fed printers).
Ultimately, I found a discontinued HP LaserJet 2200D, much more printer than I needed, for about $600, and decided it was the best investment. Can't tell you how happy I am to have such a substantial machine cranking out my pages. Discontinued printers in this price range are a good deal.
As for color, you've got to decide whether it's worth the cost to you, depending on what you want to print. I can't speak about the quality of color lasers, but I can say about the cheap ink cartridge printers I've seen that if you print a lot of pages, the cost per page is going to kill you. In general, on the cheap printers, the manufacturers make their profit on the ink.