*NEWS*PRINTERS:THEIR PRICES ARE INSANE

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*NEWS*PRINTERS:THEIR PRICES ARE INSANE

 user 2005-11-04 at 10:27:00 am Views: 51
  • #14507

    Printers: Their Prices Are Insane
    Although you can get a printer essentially for free today, spend a few more bucks to get the Canon Pixma iP1600.
    Back
    in the mid-eighties, a hyperexpressive character called Crazy Eddie
    hawked electronics on late-night TV. Along with inventing Christmas in
    July and touting his unbalanced mental state, he’d frequently bellow:
    “Our prices are so low, we’re practically giving it all away!”
    Nowadays,
    the big three ink jet-printer vendors seem to be channeling the spirit
    of Crazy Eddie. Canon, HP, and Lexmark each offer ink jet printers for
    less than $50-with some as low as $30. But what’s really crazy is that
    the ink jet cartridges included in each box cost nearly as much as the
    printer itself. It’s as if you get a free printer with every set of
    cartridges you buy.
    Two of the printers I found, the Lexmark Z611
    and the HP Deskjet 3740, come with just a color cartridge, even though
    both will need a black one to print text. The Canon unit comes with
    both cartridges in the box-a plus for most users.
    The Z611 cost just
    $30 at Target and was for sale for as low as $24 at shop.pcmag.com. The
    lowest price I found for a replacement color cartridge was $23 at
    CompUSA. The HP Deskjet 3740 was a bit more expensive: $29 at CompUSA
    and $27 at shop.pcmag.com. The color cartridge was a bit cheaper-just
    $22 at Best Buy, CompUSA, and Circuit City. Black cartridges for both
    cost around $22.
    The new Canon Pixma iP1600 costs a bit more,
    probably because it includes both black and color cartridges. Circuit
    City and CompUSA both promised a Pixma for $50, while $45 was the best
    online price I could find. Replacing the bundled cartridges will set
    you back $45 everywhere I checked.
    Aren’t these prices insane?
    Subtract the cost of the cartridges and the Lexmark printer costs a
    buck; the Canon and HP models, a fiver each. -Continue Reading
    But
    what do you get for a fistful of quarters? Are these printers any good?
    I put all three to the test, printing out everything from mixed text
    and images to photos. I compared the output with that of other ink jet
    printers, and in the case of glossy snapshots, with my favorite online
    photo finisher, Snapfish.
    Alas, at least for two of the three
    printers, free is still too expensive. The Z611 was glacially slow,
    taking almost a minute and a half to print our mixed text and image
    document on standard paper, using the driver defaults. The default ink
    cartridge printed out just 102 pages before the colors started
    distorting. Text was readable-albeit in an increasingly blood-red
    hue-until the 127th page. Although the Z611 delivered the best
    light-to-dark color gradations on the clouds in our photo test, the end
    result was terribly oversaturated, grainy, and pixelated.
    The
    Deskjet 3740 did better. It printed our test page in about half the
    time, 48 seconds, and printed twice as many pages as the Z611 before
    the colors started distorting. Although sepia-toned, text didn’t start
    distorting until page 269. But photo output was miserable from
    beginning to end. Details were blurry and grainy.
    The Canon Pixma
    iP1600′s photo print quality was better but still not as good as what
    you’d get from a high-quality photo service. The transitions between
    high-contrast areas were sharper, but I noticed a slight dottiness
    around the clouds, much like newspaper photos. Still, it delivered a
    much better image than either the HP or the Lexmark units.
    Adding a
    black cartridge in the box helps the printer’s performance
    tremendously. It delivered 380 copies of our mixed text and image test,
    and the black text stayed black until the bitter end. It was also the
    speediest printer of the lot: At 24 seconds a page, it was twice as
    fast the HP and almost four times better than the Lexmark printers.
    Although
    you can get a printer essentially for free today, spend a few more
    bucks to get the Canon Pixma iP1600. It delivers passable photos, and
    text looks fine. The included black cartridge means you’ll get a lot
    more pages out of the box. And this printer’s ideal for high-risk areas
    such as classrooms or kids’ rooms, because the hardware itself is
    virtually free. If you use a photo-refinishing service such as Snapfish
    or Costco, the Pixma makes even more sense.
    Actually finding one of
    these printers, though, might drive you as insane as Crazy Eddie. They
    were out of stock everywhere I checked, forcing me to buy it online
    through shop.pcmag.com.
    Oh, and another thing that will drive you
    insane: None of the three includes a USB cable in the box. Be sure to
    pick one up with the printer.