Help choosing a low cost family printer

I want a printer/copier/scanner for home use. Photo printing would be great, but we take our pics to the lab now and will probably keep doing that. Might want to print a few photos here and there, but not very often.

I need to print word/excel documents and my girls will want to print coloring sheets and pictures from websites. It will probably sit for up to a week at a time with no printing.

I would like to spend under $100, but I can go up to $150 if the extra $50 translates into savings down the road.

I was all set to buy an Epson CX4800 but saw nothing but bad reviews. Then I see both bad and good reviews for HP. Canon sounds good, but with the printer sitting idle some times, will the heads get clogged?

Any help or advise would be appreciated. Thanks.
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  1. To Husker92,

    You are somewhat asking some questions I carefully reserached about a year ago. And then you throw in two new jokers into the deck--namely your budgit and your desire for a multifuntional.

    First of all, my Canon printers are often idle for weeks at a time and have no problem. Any normal inkjetprinter has problems with three or more months---but Epsons would be good printers were it not that they are super prone to head clogging--unless used almost daily.

    And recent marketing changes by all manufacters now complicates your choices. Namely the issue that all newer printers seemes to be using some chip scheme to force consumers to use only OEM cartridges-----bad for the consumer because the best economy is in a printer where the user is free to use either OEM cartridges, prefilled thirdparty cartridges, or refill just their own cartridges.

    A year ago I bought an Canon ip4000 for my wife----the most economical printer on the market when comparing OEM cartridges to other printers makes using OEM cartridges. For rough estimates see the April/05 consumer reports that list that Canon ip4000 editors choice at $110 street price delivering a OEM ink consumeable cost of three cent per page on B/W text and about eight cents per page mixed text and color---the best HP's and Lexmarks struggled to come in at double that. The best Epsons fall midway in between on economy. And some printers were much much much worse.--beware of $50.00 printers--they tend to rip you off on ink costs.

    But the charm of the non-chipped Canons like the ip3000,4000, or ip5000 is that can readily use third party prefilled Cartridges readily available on the internet---for up to a 7x reduction over OEM cartridges. And greater savings can be had refilling with the bonus that
    these Canons are bar none the easiest to refill.--anything that uses the Canon BCI-3&6 cartridge line.---and for your low photoprinting needs I would normally recommend the cheapest of the three---the ip3000 at about $80. street price.

    But life moves on and these three models are last years models--and getting hard to find--try ebay.------replaced now by chipped Canons with the exception of the ip3000 which has no
    chipped replacement.---we are talking the ip4200 and ip5200---with the ip5200 being better at photoprinting and slightly faster. The chips cost you $2.25 more per cartridge but are almost as economical as their non-chipped sucessors-----but you can't use third party prefilled cartridges until such time--if and when a chip resetter comes onto the market. Refilling is still possible using OEM cartridges as the basis but its harder and you lose ink monitoring to boot. But if you plan to use OEM cartridges only---a ip4200 is readily available at about $100. street

    But now you complicate things by wanting a multifuntional---whose main charm is saving desktop space---you could get a seperate scanner. But given your budgit things get cramped.
    The last of the best non-chipped non-chipped Canon multifuntional is seldom available retail. This week--for the first time in a month and maybe the last time the MP780 is on sale at 200.00 cash and carry at Fry Electronics. Uses the same cartridge line and as the ip4000 but has a scanner and a fax built in----I also bought myself a refurbished MP730 which is a one generation back version of the 780----and its a great machine.---but I'd trade it for a new MP780 in a heartbeat. But thats $50. over budgit.--still your best choice--and you will make it back on the ink.

    But if you demand multifuntional and want to stay on budgit--older non-chipped Canons are still the answer----anything based on the ip1500 printer engine is non-chipped and uses the BCI-24 black and tri-color cartridges. Figure OEM vs. OEM consumable costs a lttle more than twice that of something based on the BCI-3&6 cartridges---but pair the ip1500 printer engine with third party prefilled cartridges readily available on the internet at a buck a pop and you can get. some pretty good economy. The models you want to look at on ebay or elsewhere are the MP130, 370, or 390 that has a fax also. You can usually find a MP130 on ebay at $110. shipped or so.----don't have one of these models but from what I have read, the output is very very good for a cheap printer.

    But the ip1500 also spons a chipped replacement line of multifuntionals that would be a terrible economy choice----can't use third party cartridges and the small cartridges are bad refill candidates.

    HP also has a extensive line of cheap multifuntionals---but nothing I would consider very
    good on consumable costs. Maybe not important if your printing volume is low.

    Hope that helps.

    I have use for prefilled cartridges and now refill with a hobbicolor kit.--these are not the only good vendors---but they are well reviewed---for more of this type information check out the nifty stuff forums.
  2. Thanks so much for all the info Osage.

    I looked at the MP780, I just couldn't justify $200 for what I need it for. I did not realize the ink for the MP130 was so cheap. I was thinking I needed to steer clear of 1 color cart machines, but if the ink is that cheap, it wouldn't matter that much.

    CompUSA has it for 80, but they are all sold out. Office Max has it for 100, which would be at the top of my budget, but I think it would be worth it for a Canon. My old BJC-210 has lasted forever (still going, just too slow - my kids are too impatient)!!!

    Again, thanks for the info and the ink link.
  3. I should know better by now. Both CompUSA and OfficeMax are out of them. I am always a year behind. I guess it is off to Ebay land...
  4. Hey all,

    In case I cannot locate the Canon MP130 I want, any other suggestions. I know, stay away from HP and Epson and Lenmark. What about Brother? The MFC-210C seems comparible to the MP130.

  5. To Husker92,

    Don't know much about brothers printers--but if the printhead is on the cartridge---like HP's and Lexmark---third party refilled cartridges using an existing OEM cartridge that has already been emptied once won't offer much savings. Maybe 50% of OEM new.

    So check out some of the third party ink cartridge resellers for replacement cartridges for the brother or anything else you are considering.---but I do know the ink cartridge reseller link I gave you DOES have em for the MP130 at a dollar a pop.--and those are virgin cartridges--not someone elses reject.--offering a 7x reduction over OEM on black and about 18x on the tri-color.

    Just googled refilled inkcartridges---got a mere 554,000 hits to check out.


    Post script edit---you shamed me into checking the specs and prices
    on the mfc 210 c---which is similar to the dcp 110 which is reviewed in the peripherals section of THG---look at the April/05 multifuntional review.
    Its similar to the canons in that the printhead is not on the cartridge--taking a 20 ml black cartridge and three seperate 12 ml cartridges for cyan, yellow, and magenta---OEM list is $20. each but third party prefilled you can get them at about $4. each.

    Given the low price and the fact that the 210c has a fax also might put it on a short list---quality might be more dubious. Uses alot of ink in color mode and in cleaning cycles--thg review claims they skimp on ink on text to stretch page yield. --you might check output in stores with demo units to see if you like the output.

    Also some users complain printer does not last long and of surly tech support--------just google brother mfc 210 c.
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