Color laser all-in-one advice?

Anyone have a suggestion for a reliable, Mac friendly, color laser all-in-one printer (at a reasonable price?) I have a Lexmark that’s about 7 years old, and that’s started bleeding red toner on the edges of the pages.

Looking at reviews of various printers seems to reinforce what I observed the last time I looked for a printer, that (a) anything less than $400 is junk, and (b) most of the more expensive ones are questionable. And, of course, the printer makers change models frequently, so a device that has a good reputation gets replaced by one that sucks.

And I notice that printer prices have shot through the roof because of ‘work-at-home’. :-(

Thanks in advance!

Did you look into a new drum or fuser unit? That was the cause of bleeding on my Oki, which BTW I’d recommend except they recently stopped making printers.


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FWIW, I’ve been very happy with my Brother HL-L3270CDW. I have it connected to my LAN using Ethernet and it works great both for printing from configured devices (e.g. my computers) and via AirPrint.

This model is not an all-in-one, but they make all-in-one models that appear to have the same engine (they use the same toner cartridges and advertise the same print speeds), including the MFC-L3750CDW and the MFC-L3770CDW.


Been happy with every Brother I’ve owned

I’ll second David C’s recommendation of Brother printers. I’ve been using an MFC-3770CDW for about five months, and it’s been great.

It did take considerable time (and daily page refreshes) to find a seller who had them in stock at a price that wasn’t horribly marked-up. I think printers are an item that has been heavily affected by supply chain issues.

For what it’s worth, I do not recommend the HP Color LaserJet MFP m477fdw, not that you’re likely to get one because it’s old. We continue to fight with the drivers, and I was super frustrated just yesterday when print jobs from my MacBook Air failed to both the AirPrint and PostScript drivers, but worked from my iPhone. I’m thoroughly irked that the iPhone can print more successfully than my Mac.

I subsequently went and downloaded the HP Easy Start software and installed a new driver on the MacBook Air, which has worked once. We’ll see if it continues.

Generally speaking, I wouldn’t buy another HP printer because of this. Print jobs should never—at least without significant provocation—fail.

Brother printers have been kind to me for many years. I started using one of their inkjet models (MFC-845CW) in 2010; “graduated” to an all-in-one laser model HL-6050DN; then to a MFC-9970CDW; and finally, in 2019, to the MFC-L3770CDW. All have been reliable and functionally satisfactory. Regarding the MFC-L3770CDW, I have used the complete range of printing and scanning from several devices on my home network and copying at the printer itself. I have not needed the fax capabilities, so I cannot comment about that. Support from Brother has been good; I am a happy user and expect to remain one.

I’ve installed 4 Brother MFC-L3770CDWs in the last 2 years. Users (home and business) love them. The only real complaint is about the cost of toner. (At times I think if toner cost $10 per stick people would complain that it’s not $5.)

Scan, copies, and prints in decently high-resolution B&W or color. Wired and wireless networking. Maybe USB. Maybe FAX but who has a phone jack to plug it into?

Two years ago, they were $400 in general in the US. Now they seem to be $500 everywhere.

I tell clients, yes, Brother toner costs more than a few $$$. But off brand toner may not work or mess the printer up. One person did a lot of research and ordered some from Amazon at about 2/3s the price of “genuine Brother”. Second stick didn’t work. I had to go out. He’ll have to use another dozen or more sticks of the off brand toner to break even.

In the past I was using the printer brand that Adam mentioned for almost everything. Then 10-15 years ago they seemed to decide to go nuts and “how annoying can we make our under $500 printers and AIOs. Let’s try really hard at this. I took one to the dump that was still under the first year warranty. Switched to brother and have never looked back. I, my friends, and clients have some 10-year-old B&W units that just keep working. And DRIVER SUPPORT for them so far.

If you want to step up to 11x17 all in ones, Konica Minolta has some nice units. But you have to add a zero to the end of the price. And maybe bump it up a bit from there.


The same is true for all other brands. No-name toner may work well, but there are many that don’t. Sometimes it’s just that the colors aren’t exactly right (meaning default calibrations will be wrong), sometimes its not ground as fine (producing lower quality prints) and sometimes it can clog up (requiring either a new cartridge or in an extreme case, replacing other parts of the printer.)

When people complain about the price of toner, I always tell them to look at the cost per page, not the overall cost. Printers that use higher capacity toner cartridges will result in larger up-front costs for the toner, but it also lasts a lot longer.

In my case, the last time I bought toner (January 2022), I paid $360 for a set of four TN227-series cartridges. (The current price is $350 from Amazon). At 2300 pages for the color cartridges and 3000 pages for black (according to the boxes), that comes to about 15-16 cents per page for color and 3 cents per page for black.

When people comment about that cost, I always compare this against what I was paying for my ink-jet printer, where I paid $30 for a color cartridge and $30 for a black cartridge, each of which was good for about one ream (200 pages). Meaning a cost of about 30 cents per color page and 15 cents per black page.

I have abandoned Brother after they abandoned me by not providing drivers for a $350 scanner (ADS-1500) that I purchased new 3 years ago. I tried to get a Canon ImageClass MF644 but the only providers that had it in stock (in very short supply) were severely price gouging it ($445 List → $700). So I did the research and purchase a Kyocera P5026 for under $500. Just got it and so far am extremely pleased with it. It is replacing an aged Xerox 6820. Until now, I have always purchased Xerox for the last 40 years but decided against it since they switched from full to starter toner cartridges and severely cheapened the product providing very few positive reviews. When choosing a laser printer I suggest checking the availability of the printer without price gouging; checking the price of the toner cartridges and page count; checking into the technology in the printer to prevent the use of 3rd party cartridges. Lexmark is one of the worst when it comes to preventing the use of 3rd party cartridges. HP is also bad. Printer manufacturers tend to sell their printers with a small markup but price gouge on the toner and ink.

I always have used 3rd party toner with great success. The source I use is LD Products in Long Beach CA, which offers great customer service and an iron-clad guarantee. With my new printer, the cost of a full set of toner cartridges is around the same price as a single one from the manufacturer.

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I’ll just say that scanners and printers are completely different kinds of devices and experience with one class shouldn’t necessarily impact your opinion of the other.

I didn’t realize that Brother even made scanners (aside from those built-in to their MFC devices). FWIW, I’ve been using an Epson flatbed scanner (a Perfection 4870) for a very very long time. This was not a cheap model and Epson’s software support has been spotty, but the third-party software I use (SilverFast) has been supporting it right up to the present day.

I personally don’t think any scanner makers provide ongoing driver support for long after they stop selling the device. Which is (one of several) reasons why I use third-party software, which seems to maintain support for much much more time.

WRT starter-size cartridges in printers, that is annoying, but I wouldn’t base a purchase decision on that. Unless the printer is complete junk, you are going to be buying many sets of toner cartridges over the life of the printer anyway.

Third-party toner? I’m glad you’ve had good experience with the brand you’re using in your printer. I’ve had exact opposite experiences with Brother and HP printers - where third-party toner ends up producing poor quality prints and has (on one occasion) damaged the printer’s fuser unit, which cost more than a new printer to replace.

I agree with you that starter cartridges should not be a dealbreaker but it was something that did influence my decision to historically purchase the Xerox brand as it indicated to me that they were interested in customer loyalty and satisfaction as opposed to maximizing profit. The issue with the Brother scanner was not just that they discontinued supporting current versions of macOS but that they did that within a 3-year span of purchase and not offering any kind of compensation to purchase a replacement. That resulted in my total distrust of the company for a reasonable time of support for their products. Then there is the ecological issue of tossing a working product into the trash and landfill because a company was focused on profits by attempting to coerce you into constantly purchasing a new one. What I failed to mention was that my Brother scanner performed abysmally when scanning multiple pages in its feeder, often jamming and damaging the pages and requiring a carrier for store receipts. It simply was not worth pouring more money into a poorly designed product with a 3rd party driver. My new ScanSnap was only a bit more money than I paid for the Brother, does not need a carrier for receipts, and does not jam when feeding multiple pages with folds or other minor issues. It actually makes scanning fun instead of a chore. It also catches scanned documents instead of having them piling up on my desk or following onto the floor and warns me about misfeeds that occasionally happen instead of jamming and tearing the edges of the documents.

If you carefully read my post, my reason for not continuing with Xerox is that overall their current ratings for their current products were mediocre and quite limited.

Many companies make or sell 3rd party cartridges. I guess I just got lucky and found a good one that is a local small business and stands behind its products.

Although I am risking the Malocchio upon our extremely elderly B&W HP LaserJet that we use regularly, it has served us faithfully for over 20 years.

Had a disastrous color laser from HP, like throwing money down a hole. Sufficient to swear me off the class of printer.

But our HP mono laser jet has served us well for over 17 years, trouble free.

Our HP is over 20.

I too have always had very good experience with b/w laser printers from HP. Both on campus as well as those I bought myself for home use.

Never been an AIO guy myself though. The last HP Laserjet I got for home was very barebones and inexpensive, but it’s quiet, fast, and works out of the box just fine over wifi. Toner — even the ‘official’ bona fide HP sauce — is $50 and lasts forever. :slight_smile:

But I’m getting the impression when it comes to color lasers that Brother seems quite popular in Mac land. Good to know if I eventually feel the urge to get a color laser at home. Are you Brother fans firmly rooted in AIO territory? Or does Brother have good color lasers even when it comes to just a simple barebones printer?

And are Brother drivers good? Are they well made, simple to install, and no fuss? Does Brother keep them well updated so you can still use a say 7-year old printer with the latest macOS after it drops support for this or that? Do you need any at all or does the generic built-in PS driver do the trick? (again assuming you just want to print)


AIO and plain printers are the same mechanism for putting toner on paper. And given that the price different isn’t all that much and a scanner / copier can be very useful at times I just tell people to get the AIO units.

So far scanning is working well up to macOS 12. I just installed 13 and have yet to go there. As there are 4 other non Ventrua Macs in the home. And I’m happy with scanning via Preview.

To be honest, scanning on Mac (and Windows) has always been a total mess. Brother was made it work well for many years now. But Ventura can be a game changer. We’ll see. There is always Vuescan which is just fantasic in keeping older scanners working.

HP LaserJet 1320nw purchased in 2006. Flawless.

If yours is a “4870”, I guess that means my Epson Perfection 2480 scanner is even older? It’s ancient, and still works, although the buttons on the device (other than the power button) no longer work. So I have to launch the driver software manually from the Mac side, which partially works. Maybe I should cough up the money for a third-party driver as you have…

In terms of the general topic here… I’ve always disliked all-in-ones. If one function breaks, it might affect the other functions; if you wanted to send in your printer for servicing, you’ve just lost your scanner too.

As far as Brother printers… my very old Brother HL-2270DW (black-and-white laser) has been somewhat screwing up lately, but still more-or-less works. The drum probably needs to be replaced, but that sounds very expensive and I doubt it makes sense for such an old printer.

I’ve used many printers in my life, starting with Apple’s original dot-matrix, then various inkjets and lasers and even a melted-wax printer at one place I worked… and my general impression is, all printers suck.

No guarantee about that. The model numbers encode things like the series, internal technology, product placement and other things. Looking at the copyright message at the bottom of the product brochures for the 2480 and the 4870, the 2480 is actually one year newer (2004 vs 2003).

I chose this printer for my Mac at the time (which was a QuickSilver-2002 PowerMac G4), because of a few key features:

  • FireWire scanning in addition to USB 2.0. (Remember that Macs that the time only supported USB 1.x, which is super slow for scanning.)
  • A good quality transmissive light source for scanning transparencies and negatives
  • Support for Digital ICE (scanning with an infrared light which, when used with Digital ICE or other similar software, can detect and remove dust and scratches from scans.)
  • A power switch. I am bothered by models that power-on whenever the software asks for them, and remain powered on until sitting idle for a long time. Which seems to be a surprisingly common “feature”.

It was also, unfortunately, a very expensive model, aimed at the prosumer market. I think it cost around $500 at the time.

WRT the software, Epson stopped supporting the 4870 with EpsonScan software at macOS 10.14. I assume they didn’t want to spend the money to upgrade it to 64-bit. They ship ICA drivers for recent versions of macOS, but that of course limits you to what Apple’s Image Capture app can do (unless you have some other app that uses ICA).

When I bought my scanner, it included a CD with SilverFast. This is a much more powerful app than Image Capture or EpsonScan and includes several things I really like including batch scan (so I can scan a tray full of negatives at once) and built-in color profiles for most popular kinds of negative film (eliminating the blue color cast you get if you just invert the result of scanning negative film). I’ve kept it up to date over the years, paying for the major revisions, even though it is not a cheap package. But I like it and they have (so far, at least) kept on supporting the 4870 (I assume it is sitll used professionally by lots of customers).