Prices, Available Makes and Models, and More

Until fairly recently, color laser printers were out of the price range of most small business and personal users. Prices have dropped dramatically over the last few years due to advanced technology, availability, etc., bringing the possibility of adding a color laser printer within reach of even more people. While costing less than they did a few years ago, they are still more expensive than color inkjet printers or regular laser printers, so you should think carefully and compare printers and prices before taking the plunge. You'll need to factor in the cost of toner as well. If you have done a careful study of costs for out-sourcing your color printing needs versus purchasing your own color laser printer, the information we provide here should help you decide if a color laser printer is in your future. We also review some of the top makers and some of their models, including Hewlett-Packard (HP), Lexmark, Brother, Minolta, and Xerox. We'll also give you a ballpark figure of what supplies to run your color laser printer will cost and point you to some places where you can buy one.

What's On The Market

Today, most manufacturers of inkjet and standard laser printers, also make color laser printers. Following are the top-rated makers of color laser printers, price information, and other miscellaneous information on each one.

  • HP or Hewlett Packard
    Hewlett Packard, or as they are more commonly called, "HP," is one of the first makers of printers. My first basic HP color inkjet printer didn't cost much less than some of their personal models. The HP Color LaserJet 1600 printer can print up to 8 ppm (pages per minute( in both black & white as well as color; and has a paper input capacity of up to 500 sheets. Prices range from about $225 to $300. The 2600n Printer is a little sturdier, and sells for $300-$400. Office models range in price from about $375 (2605 series), and go up to $1,299 for a beefier model (the 3800 series). You can get up to 22 ppm in color with the 3800 series, but a respectable 10 ppm with the 2605 series model. And if you are looking for a high-volume laserjet printer, you can get those as well, with prices ranging from $900 to $6,000. Be sure to visit the HP web page for more information on their printers
  • Lexmark
    Lexmark offers several models to choose from, includes their C550n, which runs about $349 and prints up to 8 ppm. This model gets good ratings from PCWorld magazine. Raise your budget a little higher and you can have the C530dn for about $500. This model can print color copies at rates up to 22 ppm. And brand new on the market is their C534dn color laserjet copier. The ppm is about the same, but response time is nearly doubled that of the C530dn--your first copy is printing in 11 seconds, compared to 19 seconds with the C530dn.
  • Brother
    Brother offers several color laser printers as well. Their price ranges are from $400 - $500. The HL-4040CN is the $400 model, prints up to 21 ppm in color, and can process about 35,000 pages per month. The HL-4070CDW and the HL-2700CN are their $500 models. The former can print up to 21 ppm with a monthly workload of 35,000 pages. Be sure to check their web site for even more information.
  • Minolta
    Konica Minolta has a wide range of color laser printers. The magicolor 2500W is compact and affordable, costing at right around $300, and is perfect for the home office or small business with a limited budget. While color copies only print at 5 ppm, it still has a 35,000 page per month duty cycle and impressive copy quality. If your budget is capable of more and you need a bigger machine, Minolta's magicolor 5570 delivers 31 color copies at a rate of 31 ppm, and first page begins printing after just 14 seconds. This model runs about $1200.
  • Xerox
    Well known for many years for making copiers, Xerox has also entered the printer market. You can buy the Xerox Phaser for as little as $300. This is a small printer, good for small jobs. It prints color copies up to 4 ppm, at a cost of roughly $.18 per copy for color, and $.03 per copy for black & white. Other models include the Phaser 6180, priced at about $500 and recommended for small, frequent print jobs: Color copies print at up to 20 ppm with this model; the Phaser 8560, which prints up to 30 ppm, good for everyday color print jobs and costing about $800; or the Phaser 6360, printing up to 42 color ppm's, with a price tag of $1400, but best for long, complex print jobs. They have a few models with an even higher price tag, but better capabilities, so if you are looking for a color laser printer that can handle anything, check Xerox's web site.

Check out the web site for each printer, you can order directly from them. There are also other places to purchase from, including Office Max, Office Depot, Staples and other computer or office stores.

You Need More Than the Printer

While you're considering the cost of the various printers available, you should factor in other costs as well. You'll need to purchase toner too. And you should be aware of how many copies you can make before you have to buy more toner, as that should help you determine which printer model is the most economical for your needs. Here's general information on toner, including pricing and approximately how many copies can be made from each toner cylinder for most of the color laser printer models we've discussed above. Keep in mind that you will need to buy 3 different color toner cartridges: yellow, cyan and magenta, as well as black.

Black toner for the 1600 & 2600 series sells for about $75, and $83 for each of the three color toner cartridges. Color toners average about 2,000 pages, and the black toner about 2500 pages. Pricing is higher for the 3800 series, at $133 for black and $170 for each of the color toners. Capacity is about 6,000 pages.

Cyan, magenta and yellow toner cartridges for the 6110 cost $49 each and has an average capacity of 1,000 pages. The black cartridge will run on average 2,000 pages, and costs $59. If you are considering the 6180, the above color cartridges will cost about $90 each, but they will also print on average 2,000 copies. The black cartridge also sells for $90 and will print on average 3,000 pages. Color cartridges for the 6360 run about $190 each with a capacity of about 5,000 pages. The black cartridge sells for $140, and has a capacity of about 9,000 pages.

Examples of toner costs and capacities for Lexmark include $135 for C550n Black toner cartridges and for colors toner cartridges, $120 each. Printing capacities up to 3,000 color pages and 5,000 black from this model. For the C530dn, prices are about $105 for black and $119 for color, with 4,000 black pages and 3,000 pages for color.

These prices are from the printers' web sites, you may be able to locate better prices with a little more exploring.

In Conclusion

Prices have really come down in the past few years on color laser printers, as well as printers in general. You should be able to find a color laser printer that fits your copying needs as well as your budget if you do your homework first. Some of the printer websites even include a section on cost-per-copy for both color and black and white copies. If you study these out and compare them to the cost of out-sourcing your copying jobs, you may find that it is cheaper in the long run to purchase your own color laser copier.

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