Monday, November 10, 2014

Choosing Right Printer for Print-at-Home Coupons

Making full use of all couponing and discount opportunities available online in Canada, you might need to have a compact, inexpensive and reliable printer at home. You have probably noticed that the majority of Canadian coupon sites: save.ca, websaver.ca, gocoupons.ca, smartsource.ca are gradually moving to the print-at-home model. Why? Well, the main reason is that the coupon sites do want to save themselves too. Printing and shipping coupons to households all over the country is a costly thing. Brands want to save too as they do not agree to absorb the shipping and printing costs. So, the print-at-home approach is a way to go.

For us, coupon fans and saving maniacs (I meant to say “deal hunters”, but maniacs is a good one too!), print-at-home coupons have one great, great benefit. We can print the right coupon out immediately before we go shopping. I love printable coupons – it takes me 30-40 min to browse and search for the coupons I need and would consider, print them out, head to my store and save $$$.

Having a reliable and inexpensive printer is a necessity if you want to save with coupons and if you want to avoid unnecessary frustrations when your preferred coupon is not a mail-in, but a print-at-home one.

Luckily, I have some friends who have been in the consumer printing industry. They consulted me before I bought my HP LaserJet printer, which I am so happy about. In this post I would like to share my learnings about home printers and, hopefully, provide some useful tips you can use before this holiday season. Yes, by the way, Black Friday deals are around the corner, so see the tips below and plan to get the right printer when the deals come in.

So here we go with the 3 tips that will help you save hundreds of dollars in initial and ownership costs when it comes to printers:

Tip #1: Choose a toner printer over an ink printer

It is so tempting to buy a cheap ink printer and, seemingly, start saving from the start. But don’t be fooled by the initial low price. Ink is so much more expensive than toner. Your ink cartridges will be short on ink in no time and then you will be unpleasantly struck by the cost of new ink cartridges. Genuine ink cartridges cost half the price of your ink printer. Say, if you set your eyes on an Epson ink printer for $80-90, expect the new cartridge to be within the $40-45 range.

Well, you can always go for alternative ink cartridges – compatible or refillable ones. The cost of those is as low as their quality. So, you may as well destroy your ink printer with a low-quality cartridge that would clog the printhead’s nozzles inside your printer.

My advice is to exclude ink printers from your list. Go for toner printers! Toner printers are more expensive, but low-end toner printers (with print speeds under 20 pages per minute, which is even faster that you need for your home print jobs) are actually within the same price range as the higher level ink printers.

Toner printers usually have more solid constructions: the main elements are not as easy to break (well, don’t use the hammer to test it!). Toner cartridges also have higher yields (print volumes) than their ink counterparts.

The good news about toner cartridges is that alternatives (refilled or recycled cartridges) are usually as good as the original ones. Here is my personal example: I used to own a HP 1020 bought in 2008. My printing jobs (including coupons) were always relatively small – so I ran on the original test cartridge for 1 full year (2,000 pages printed). In 2010 I bought a replacement cartridge (compatible with HP 1020) from 123inkjetcartridges.ca. That cartridge (with the promised 5,000 prints) lasted until early 2013, and that with all the school print jobs for myself and the kids added to the regular printing. There is still some toner left, I believe, in that printer even if I stopped using it. Overall, I paid $120 for the HP printer and $30 for the replacement cartridge (with 30% off and free shipping). So, for $150 paid for all my printing needs, I was printing for 5 years and produced over 8,000 prints or $0.02 per print. Would you have the same cost per printed page with an ink printer? I do doubt it!

Tip #2: Choose a one-function printer over a multifunctional printer

My neighbor, who is actually my friend too, bought a multifunctional Samsung printer in 2010. She was so proud she got it for $150. For that price she got a printer, a scanner and a copier in one. Such a deal! Well, not so. After 9 months the lamp in the scanner broke, so she tried to repair the device. But because she had used a non-original cartridge in the printer, Samsung voided the warranty. The cost of repairs was higher than the cost of a new toner printer from a different make.

Now that overpraised printer had to be tossed away and replaced with a new mono-functional one!

Tip #3: Choose a black-and-white toner printer over a colour toner printer

Colour or black-and-white (monochrome) toner printer? If you work in an office, having a colour printer is probably good to have nice prints to show your managers and clients. Having a colour toner printer at home is a waste! Colour printers tend to have separate cartridges for each colour (there are four colour cartridges: black, blue, yellow, red). Colour cartridges are more expensive than the black one. What is really bad is that colour printers tend to stop functioning when a colour cartridge runs out of toner. Even if the black cartridge is full, the printer will be spitting out the message at you “Low Toner” till you replace the colour cartridge. Basically, your ownership costs for a colour printer are equal to those of a monochrome printer multiplied by 4! Go, go, black-and-white toner printers.

Now here are some reliable black-and-white toner printers that you can use for small printing jobs at home:

Brother HL-2240
Compact, Personal Laser Printer ($80 + tx: brother.ca)

Brother HL-2230
Compact, Personal Laser Printer ($120 +tx: brother.ca)

HP LaserJet Pro (P1102W) Wireless Monochrome Laser Printer
($170 +tx: staples.ca)

To print coupons from online sites you will need to apply some more elbow grease. Usually, it’s about updates that the site wants you to have to be able to print directly. This is what Websaver, a Canadian coupon site, recommends you do before attempting to print coupons from the site.

So, buy the right reliable and inexpensive printer, install all updates and print your coupons quickly and painlessly.

Brother HL-2240: an inexpensive compact laser printer
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