It’s no secret that laser printers are generally expensive. For home and small office users, it is often those lasers that manage to sneak in under the $500 mark that are most appealing. Although this section of the market remains quite small, there are a number of options out there for black-and-white, multifunction and even colour laser printers.
Low-quantity monochrome laser printing is the most competitive part of the sub-$500 laser printer market, with Brother, HP and Canon all providing options. It’s no surprise that Brother’s HL-2140 comes out on top here: the company has long been a manufacturer of small and cheap-to-run laser printers. This is definitely the case with the HL-2140, a low-cost monochrome laser printer that’s got decent speed and is able to print 2600 good quality text pages from a single toner cartridge.
Offering a higher-capacity input tray and faster print times, HP’s LaserJet P1505 is able to handle a slightly busier small office. The LaserJet P1505 is slightly pricier than its entry-level counterparts, but is still economical. It successfully competes with Samsung’s ML-1630, which is available at the same price point.
Entry-level monochrome laser multifunctions may be sparse in terms of advanced features, but they're usually capable of running your average home office. Automatic duplexing is noticeably absent from these machines, but Brother’s MFC-7440N is still fairly functional, providing a 250-page input tray as well as fairly fast printing, copying, scanning and faxing. Though HP’s own LaserJet M1120 MFP provides many of the same features, the MFC-7440N’s integrated Ethernet port is an essential feature for any networked office.
Konica Minolta MagiColor 2500W
Although monochrome lasers can be bought for under $100, the inclusion of colour printing often causes the cost of a product to skyrocket to four or five times that of its mono equivalent. Not only that, but colour laser printer consumables will often amount to the cost price of the printer itself, if not more. For the small business that needs a fair amount of decent quality colour documents at a reasonable price, Konica Minolta’s MagiColor 2500W is definitely a compelling option. Although consumable costs are still through the roof, page yield is commendable and should help financially over the long term.
Combining decent text and colour output, HP’s LaserJet CP1215 provides colour laser printing at an even cheaper price than Konica Minolta. The quality isn’t as good as the MagiColor 2500W, but for cheap-as-chips colour laser printing for the small business, HP’s option is probably more viable.