Color Printing Capability

We’ve been printing solely to a B&W Brother laser printer for many years…but now that we’re no longer living in the RV my bride wants to have the ability to print color occasionally…5 or 6 times a year probably but perhaps as many as 10 times. This won’t be any serious, hang on the wall photo printing but more flyers and advertisements and such for one of her ladies groups. I’ve not been following the color printer market for a long time…but know there are issues with inkjet printers if they sit for a long time and that the ink costs more than the printer generally and is like paying for gold. So I was wondering if a color laser might be a better option…it’s more expensive to buy but I have no feeling for cost per print.

Even with her occasional color printing…we might go through a single ream of printer paper per year…maybe a bit more or less but it’s really only occasional.

Given the occasional use of color…I’m tempted to just tell her to keep doing what she’s doing now…which is send the document to another lady in the group to print who already has an inkjet printer…but happy wife happy life ya know so I’m hesitant to do that unless buying something for that occasional of a use is a dumb idea.

Thoughts or recommendations?

We too used a black/white Brother laser printer for many years. About 1.5 years ago we gave the printer to my lovely bride’s father (so his kids could use it when they were there) and we purchased a Xerox WorkCentre 6515 color laser printer/scanner for our home. Color prints are very occasional, mostly b/w printouts. Scanner works well. It prints as well as scans two-sided, which is quite nice.

The printer most likely came with “starter cartridges” which aren’t as full as replacement cartridges, but the black cartridge is down to half full and the yellow, cyan and blue cartridges are 2/3 full. So you should be able to go for at least that long or longer with similar results.

As usual, third-party toner cartridges and much less expensive than official Xerox toner cartridges. You could literally buy a whole new printer/scanner (with starter cartridges) for about the cost of a complete set of replacement cartridges.

Good Mac support, also; latest printer/scanner drivers were release last July and there is a forum that can answer most questions.

FWIW: we are a household of older Macs, still running Mohave. I’m guessing that with a printer driver released last July, Xerox supports more current versions of Mac OS.

That sounds about like what I do. I have an HP Officejet Pro 8620. Looking at my records (I keep too many records), I seem to change color cartridges about every 18 months. These are HP 951 cartridges, if you want to check how much you would pay for them. I use the large-size black cartridge (950XL) and I seem to change it about once every four years. Other than the printer taking a long time to prepare to print (perhaps trying to clear ink nozzles), I have had no problems (well, no problems that I don’t attribute to user error). I have no doubt that more ink dries in the cartridge than gets applied to paper. I mention it in case you want to quantify “issues with inkjet printers if they sit for a long time” and guess at costs. The device also does two-sided printing and two-sided scanning, but it always seems to skew the paper during scans (even one-sided), so I often use the flat bed scanner. This is not a recommendation for or against HP nor for or against ink-jet printers; I’m just providing some of my experience.

That sounds reasonable to me.

Thank you for that mini-review.

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Laser is the way to go, IMHO. You’ll get sharper and much better quality images and type. You won’t have to worry about the ink drying or colors schmearimg. Laser printers and cartridges tend to last longer than inkjet, especially if you print high volume. And you aren’t going to have to change laser cartridges nearly as much. And Ink jet cartridges can dry out if don’t use them much. While you might save some money on ink cartridges upfront, if your wife isn’t going to do a lot of color printing on a regular basis, you could get stuck with cartridges that died from disuse.

Another plus is that laser printers will print a lot faster than inkjets, whether printing in color or black and white. If your wife is printing a bunch of pages for newsletters, etc., it can be a PITA to have sheets of paper with wet ink scattered around the room to dry out; laser ink is dry.

While I can’t recommend a particular printer model, something you should consider is that some color lasers, usually the very high end ones, need special color paper; color prints on regular paper won’t look as good. But these models are usually high end, more expensive, professional caliber. Just check before you buy to make sure.


I’m in Neil’s situation with rare use of color. Reliability is more important than cost. I had a Textronix/Xerox color printer and used cheap clone cartridges with it. It worked fairly well for a few years, though every time I went to print I had to hassle with it a bit to get good copies (shake the toners, fiddle with color settings in print dialogs, etc.).

Then it started gunk up and essentially smear clumps of toner across every page. I research online and this is a known problem – the cheap carts leak toner everywhere and you end up with excess toner inside the printer. Cleaning it out is a challenge, since you have to take the machine apart and you have to do it in the dark so you don’t expose the photo-sensitive drum to light (which ruins it). I got mine partially cleaned and it sorta worked for a few prints and then they started coming out bad again.

I eventually gave up and bought a new brother color laser (around $200 on Amazon at the time) and now I only use authentic brother toner cartridges and it has worked well. Yes, the real carts are outrageously expensive – like buying all four is over $300 – but since I use it so sparingly for color, I figure that cost is spread out over many years and it’s not so bad. The main thing is the printer consistently works and I don’t have all the problems I had with the clone cartridges.

I generally just print a few copies and if I need more, I create a PDF and get color printouts at a copy shop in town. Cheaper, easier, and I don’t have to fuss with color settings and such.

So just a warning if you’re thinking of using cheap cartridges. They void your warranty, the results are finicky, and eventually they may ruin your printer. I’m usually pretty cheap, but this is a case of you get what you pay for.


Add me to those recommending color laser. The printers aren’t very expensive anymore and they are much faster than ink-jet.

I’m currently using a Brother HL-L3270CDW. Its key features (at least the ones that mean the most to me) include:

  • Duplexer
  • Up to 25 pages per minute for single-sided prints. Up to 8 sides per minute for double-sided. This is for both color and B&W.
  • Can print via USB, Ethernet, Wi-Fi and NFC. Including AirPrint. (I have it connected to my home LAN via Ethernet. AirPrint works through my home Wi-Fi router.)
  • Supports PCL and PostScript (which Brother calls “BR-Script”). So you’ll be able to print even if Brother stops providing updated drivers.
  • A set of four high-yield toner cartridges (TN-227 - 3000 pages black, 2300 pages color) costs about $360 from Amazon (a bit more in retail stores).

The only thing laser printers are not good at is photo printing. Although you can get glossy photo paper for laser printers, you’ll always get better looking photo prints using an ink-jet printer (and photo-paper, of course). But for everything else, I think laser is definitely the best way to go.


10 times a year will only give you problems with Ink Jet printers clogging up…just tell her to keep doing what she’s doing now… :grinning:

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On my Canon Pixma, I have been fortunate not to have any ink clogging problems. I use it mostly for small photo prints and a monthly calendar and my laser printer for bulk printings. I used to have an Epson printer that required “cleaning” almost every time I wanted to print if it had been more than a few days sitting.

I see that Consumer Reports is recommending Brother printers, but with their episode last year (and may still be relevant) of locking up printers if you did not buy their ink does not make me lean toward them for a purchase.

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So happy to see this thread as I’m about to buy a printer. I was going to go B&W, but color would be great for when I print quilt patterns.

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I’m going to go with the Brother color laser like David recommends and keep it and the existing B&W one…I’ve had way too much experience with inkjet nozzles clogging or ink drying up in years past. It’s more expensive but really not all that bad considering…there was a Canon one about the same price but we’ve had bullet proof performance with the Brother…although it is surprising that just like inkjets a full set of Brother cartridges costs more than the printer new.

As to the keep doing recommendation…it sounds perfectly reasonable to me as well…but we all know how spouses can be…and while it’s not cheap it’s way cheaper than the camera bodies and lenses that I keep buying, not to mention the new 14” MBP I got for myself along with a couple of Samsung T7 2TB SSDs for backing up photos on travel. We spend as much a month…probably…as the Brother is on bar bills anyway. Happy wife…happy life:-).

I don’t print many photos but do occasionally want one of my better ones to be a wall hanger…but those get printed by one of the professional printing places since they use better printers, paper, and inks. It’s in stock at Amazon but estimated delivery isn’t until mid January…but it is what it is I guess, I’ll put a picture of it in a card for her unless they surprise me and ship sooner.

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Note that nearly all printers (including the Brother I’m using) come with starter toner cartridges. So I’d recommend ordering a replacement set with the printer so you’ll have them when you need them.

I always keep a full set of spares in a closet so I don’t need to worry about running out.

Color laser printers are inferior to inkjets for photo prints using photo paper. The ink dries quickly so that is not an issue unless you’re using some type of generic ink that is not of a high quality. Some brands do dry out and clog but my HP unit performs well even when not in regular use but I did have an older Epson that dried out easily.

I use a black and white Samsung laser for most of my regular printing and it works well and can use generic cartridges so it all depends on the OP’s needs.

I used a Brother B&W laser for years. One of the first things we did with the stimulus is a Brother color duplexing laser. I have a separate scanner.

3rd party cartridges do NOT void your warranty. Regardless of what you have been told, the supreme court says they can not do that. Same with repairing your own stuff etc. That is why the software tricks such as Apple’s checking software and HP’s cartridge/printer chips etc. They may not like it and the stores loose money, but they can’t void your warranty.

If you’re printing color that infrequently, I wonder if it wouldn’t just be cheaper to take it to a print shop in those rare occasions when you actually need it. Around here you can walk into one of those shops with your USB stick and they’ll print it for you within 2 min for a couple bucks.

That said, these days I wouldn’t buy anything but a laser regardless of color or b/w. Inkjets were a constant source of pain ever since I got my first SyleWriter. Went laser about 15 years ago and never looked back. At work we always had lots of fancy HPs, went HP at home albeit not so fancy. Never regretted it.

This is what I’d do. In Australia we have Officeworks who have digital print sections which charge 88c for an A4 sheet - I expect similar stores in the US would be far less. Based on a click charges it’s expensive but if you only need a few prints a year it seems a no-brainer. It sounds a better option than forking out a few hundred bucks for a laser who’s quality won’t be as good as the print shop OR a smaller amount for an inkjet which will probably be unreliable due to infrequent use.

Having said all that, yeah, happy wife, happy life :slight_smile:

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On the other hand your wife may find other uses for a color printer if you have one at home…

Thumbs up from me for Brother for home color laser. Inkjets are best for photography, and as one I love my Epson P900. But i bet Epson love it even more.

Theres a new Ecotank range from them which offers the ability to top up cartridges, but only beneficial for high use, lots of printing.

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For me…it would be easier to just have her friend with the inkjet do it…but she wants what she wants…so I’m not going to argue with her about it…especially when I spend more than that (by a lot) on cameras and lenses.

Ditto on the color laser. I have a 10-year-old HP LaserJet CP1025nw, and it has always printed flawlessly. I replace the black cartridge about once a year, and the three color cartridges about every two years. I’ve never had to muck about with printer drivers, but it’s networked (Bonjour) so I can print from Panther, Tiger, Mojave and Monterey. (Yes, I keep old hardware running for the sake of old software!) It’s much more satisfactory than the inkjets I used to use. Although I do keep track of how many pages I print, I’ve never actually figured out what the cost per page is, because overall its just so satisfactory.

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Yes to color laser. Two points: I got a nice Canon and its instruction and interface are from hell. I’m not bad at this stuff but I was baffled. Machine-translated computer-engineer-stuff. Just awful. Stuck with it but… I had a Brother that I liked much better. BUT I used non-standard cartridges and it punished me. Kaput. Until the Feds insist on compatible cartridge standards, the monopoly controls us.

Like you, I don’t like inkjet printers. They always clog on me due to infrequent use. I had an old Xerox that had driver issues and streaking problems. Decided to replace it with a HP M255dw. So far been very happy with it. Bought it exactly one year ago. We have printed 910 pages, 268 monochrome and 642 color. We also have an older Brother monochrome that handles more of the monochrome prints. My wife prints a lot of color for patterns for her crafts and sewing.

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