With the standard inkjet cartridge now producing a measly 200 pages, we look at whether laser printers represent a cost-effective alternative for the home consumer
Back in 1969, a graduate named Gary Starkweather, working in the copier department at Xerox in the US, had a visionary idea. He wanted to utilise new laser technology to create a radically different type of printer. It would scan an image, transfer it electrostatically, and then use heat to fuse tiny specs of toner dust on to a piece of paper.
The top brass at Xerox thought his idea was wildly unrealistic. But Starkweather persisted and a decade later the first commercial laser printers went on sale. The only drawback was that they were the size of a small car – and equally expensive.
As home printing took off three decades ago, it was cheap inkjet models – which simply hammered tiny dots of ink on to paper – that would end up in most people’s homes. The bulky laser version was a business-only product.
However, the last few years have seen the size and price of laser printers drop dramatically. Some models can now comfortably fit on a desktop.
Basic monochrome models can be bought for less than £100, although more sophisticated colour versions – with features such as Wi-Fi and duplex printing – can sell for three times that, and more. This compares with the £50 and less that inkjet printers sell for. So a laser will only make sense if the savings on ink outweigh the extra cost of the machine.
Standard laser cartridges – coloured toner (dry ink), typically cyan, magenta, yellow, and black (CMYK) – contain a lot of intricate components, print anything from 1,500-3,500 pages but can set you back a hefty £60-£120 each. Still, that compares well with the measly 200 pages you are likely to get from the standard inkjet cartridge costing around £15.
So do laser printers now represent a cost-effective alternative for the home consumer?
“It depends on how many pages you print,” says Patrick Stead, head of cartridge recycler Environmental Business Products. “Laser can be better value over the longer term, but the initial outlay can be a lot more.”
Hewlett Packard manufactures more than half of the printers sold in the UK. Its bestselling HP Deskjet 3050A inkjet retails for about £90. The cartridges sell for £10-£15 and have a standard page yield of 190 (black) and 165 (colour).
The company’s top-selling HP CP2025 colour LaserJet sells for about £300. Cartridges retail for about £110 and have a page yield of 2,800 (colour) and 3,500 (black).
Cursory number-crunching indicates that if you print only, say, 1,000 pages a year – based on ISO standard 5% paper coverage – then the inkjet, at about 5p per page, is better value
But for anyone who prints more than 2,000 pages a year, a laser printer, at about 3p per page, is cheaper. The savings increase the more you print. A screenwriter, for instance, who prints 10,000 pages, stands to save hundreds of pounds by switching.
“If you print a lot of black and white documents then a laser can save you a lot of money,” says Laura Heywood, managing director, at laser cartridge remanufacturer Kleen Strike.
But inkjet does have its advantages. At the domestic end of the market the print quality is higher and the colour definition better. “If you print mostly photos then you probably want to stick with an inkjet printer,” Heywood adds.
David Connett, editor of industry magazine The Recycler, says: “If you’re buying a laser printer, it’s important to work out what you’re going to use it for before deciding on a model. As a rule of thumb, the cheaper the printer, the smaller the cartridge, and the lower the page yield.”
Samsung’s ML2160 monochrome laser printer, for example, costs about £50. But the cartridges also cost £50 – and print a comparatively modest 1,500 pages.
“Do not buy a laser printer on price alone,” says Heywood. “Always look at the cost of the replacement cartridges and their print yield.”
One way to save money on these is to buy refilled cartridges, which can be 30-50% cheaper than the original price, according to the European Toner & Inkjet Remanufacturers Association.
Peter Thompson, director at laser cartridge recycler PBT International, says: “Properly remanufactured laser cartridges are excellent value. But some producers find ways to cut corners, which can result in leakage and sometimes uneven printing. Try to buy from a reputable seller.”
Experts say it’s always worth investing in a laser that supports duplex printing – printing on both sides of the paper – which cuts down on energy and paper consumption.
“Some laser printers automatically print on both sides,” says Connett. “Other models allow you to reinsert pages manually to print the second side. And some do not support duplex printing at all.”
It may also be worth buying a printer that is Wi-Fi compatible so that one click of a button will allow you to print, whether from laptop or smartphone.
Thomson concludes: “If you think how little ink is in the average inkjet cartridge compared to the average laser cartridge the economics are in favour of laser. Sometimes the cartridge prices aren’t that different. But those for the laser can last an awful lot longer.”
The editor of the Sunday Times, John Witherow, is appointed acting editor of the Times, despite opposition from the paper’s independent directors.
See the article here: New editor of the Times appointed
Circulation and advertising continue to slip – but, both here and in the US, a determination is now emerging to fight the decline rather than merely manage it
December’s newspaper ABC sales figures put a wrap on 2012. It wasn’t, on the face of it, a great year. Circulations kept sliding – by as much as a headline 34.7% for the Independent and 14.2% at the FT. Advertising didn’t recover. Where there’d been losses in 2011, there were more in the months that followed. And yet – curiously – the encircling gloom grows too much to take. There are reasons to be very cautiously cheerful about 2013. Here are a few of them.
Watch newspaper shares – and salaries – recover in the US. Media and publishing pay rose more decisively in the last three months of 2012 than at any time in the past six years. Gannett, the biggest American chain, is forecasting between 2% and 4% annual growth as it gets its online and print strategies better aligned, with digital revenues of $1.3bn already achieved. Nobody, rightly or wrongly, believes that they haven’t touched bottom yet.
And what works there can surely begin to work here, too. Local World – the fresh, enhanced face of Northcliffe Media – and the Johnston Press are both taking a Gannett-style digital-cum-print-cum-area-domination approach to news. And part of that stance – explicitly in Local World’s case – means an end to cutting-back and paring staff resources. There’s a little bit of belief out there again, and a recognition that words matter on paper as well as on screen – and thus that content matters most of all, because without it there’s nothing to buy.
That’s why the Guardian and Observer’s move to put the week’s best-selling days together as a weekend of print immersion is important. It follows the pattern of actual reader demand. It sees where the market is heading. It puts thought and effort into developing the print part of the equation. And it adds sections – such as Cook on Saturday – rather than subtracts.
When creative minds concentrate on media present as well as media future, they can still have an impact. Sales of the Independent group’s i are up 31% in a year. The free Evening Standard says it’s making money at last. The free City AM has never enjoyed greater distribution. Three paid-for papers – the FT, Guardian and Telegraph – increased sales in December over the month before.
If you’d asked, even 12 months ago, whether the Sun or the Mirror was in ruder health, there’d have been no escape from the buoyant Bun. But now, under a new chief executive and new overarching editor, Lloyd Embley, Mirror sales decline over the year is only 5.27% while the Sun has slumped 10%. Moreover, the old Murdoch tabloid magic doesn’t seem to be working on Sundays either. His precious Sun on Sunday was down more than 6% in December, by far the worst national performance going.
Big isn’t always automatically beautiful, then. Embley can’t compete with Wapping’s resources, but he can do much better than survive. The superbly resilient John Mullin accumulates prizes and praise for his Independent on Sunday on the shortest of shoestrings. Tony Gallagher, feet well under the table at the Telegraph now, has clearly steadied that ship. Geordie Greig seems to be negotiating the Associated atrium tightrope over to the Mail on Sunday with some aplomb.
You can read too much into number crunchings. The demise of the News of the World still befogs Sunday comparisons. The progressive shedding of bulks and foreign “sales” mists the scene up top. Some losses are posted because supplies are not sent any longer on cost grounds. (Ask deprived Independent readers in Ireland! Gloom confected.) The FT is down because its digital subscriptions are up. The i has deliberately sucked copies away from the Indy. Nobody, remotely, can call this a steady state.
But it is a slightly steadier state. The analysts of Wall Street may never expect to see newspaper sales hit the heights of 2002 again; but they advise investors to “buy” as well as “sell” once more. Productivity can and does mean fatter pay packets. There’s a drawing of a breath, a pause, a resolve to develop what’s there, as well as what might be.
As Sir Ray Tindle, the old crown prince of print, tells his employees this year, the Comets and Woolworths of recession are gone, but more than 1,000 local papers have so far been saved to prosper. The ABCs will still be there in 2014, then. No XYZs yet awhile.
The figures show the print-online relationship is more complicated than the prophets of digital revolution assume
Transition. It’s a soothing word and a calming concept as the old year ends. Change may frighten some and challenge others. Change is a leap in the dark. But transition means going surely and sweetly from somewhere present to somewhere future. Unless, that is, it is newspapers’ “transition” to the world of cyberspace, an uncertain and highly discomfiting process – because, frankly, it may not be a process at all.
But surely (you say) that must be rubbish. Everybody knows that print newspaper sales are plummeting while unique visits to the same papers’ websites go soaring on. Just look at the latest ABC print circulation returns. The Telegraph, the Guardian and many of the rest are down overall between 8% and 10% year-on-year: but their websites – with the Mail breaking 7