Bottom Line: Printing cost in black and white

Published: May. 18, 2023 at 7:19 AM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - It’s the warning you hate to see: your printer is low on ink.

If the cost of replacement cartridges have you seeing red, you’re not alone. Consumer Reports explains how saving money on ink actually starts by choosing the right printer.

People have a lot to say when it comes to printer ink: It’s expensive, always have to buy it, and it doesn’t last.

Consumer Reports hears you loud and clear and has some good money-saving news when it comes to printers and ink.

“You want to choose a printer that doesn’t waste a lot of ink on maintenance cycles and one that doesn’t have high costs to replace that ink,” said Chris Raymond, Consumer Reports.

In its laboratory tests, Consumer Reports calculates both factors so you can see just how much a printer will really cost you over time.

Inkjet printers that use cartridges typically have very high ink costs and aren’t known for being very reliable.

But one model that does well in CR’s tests has a low-price tag, and moderate ink costs for an inkjet—is this all-in-one printer from Brother. It uses about $68 worth of ink each year.

Ink costs are based on typical printer use, which is roughly 30 pages of text and 10 pages of graphics each month.

If you do a lot of printing in color, there’s a better option that will actually save you money over time—even though the upfront cost is higher.

“Tank printers don’t use ink cartridges. They have reservoirs that you refill with bottles of ink,” said Raymond.

Compared to cartridges those bottles are a bargain!

The ink for this Epson EcoTank is only five dollars a year, and if you own it for a few years, it becomes one of the cheapest printers in CR’s ratings.

If you don’t need to print in color, CR says a black-and-white laser printer is your best bet. This all-in-one from Canon only costs about $13 a year for toner, and it gets top marks for text quality and speed.

No matter what kind of printer you’re using, CR says there are ways to save ink or toner such as using the draft mode, using printer-friendly all-text versions of stories, or changing your font to Times New Roman—which CR says gets you 27% more mileage on ink compared to Arial.

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