[eDebate] Laser Printer Recommendations?

Jean-Paul Lacy lacyjp
Tue Mar 14 22:08:29 CST 2006

Its the time of year that we've got to put together tech requests at Wake.

(Not that convenient just before NDT/CEDA, but we're *very*, *very* lucky 
to be able to make the request in the first place, since it doesn't come 
out of our travel budget.)

I'm looking for recommendations for good traveling laser printers.

No matter what printer we buy, not one seems to make it through more than a 

 From luggage handlers, heavy use, and general tournament abuse, none seem 
to live much longer than the warranty period.

Granted, there are tournaments where we print *far* too much *and* there 
are rapidly diminishing returns to handing Debaters mounds of paper every 
morning of a debate tournament. We definitely need to figure out how to 
print less.

Granted, we don't treat our printers with much care. At this point in the 
year, our printers are held together with tape.

But, I'm still looking for the "Timex" of printers:

Its got to be:
High volume
& Dependable.

And, its got to have easy to find, fairly inexpensive disposables: Toner, 
Drum unit (I'm sure everyone using a laser has had their drum unit fail at 
a tournament in the middle of nowhere...Those things cost almost as much as 
the printer and have a published service life of about 5 cases of paper. My 
solution when I can't find a drum is: 1. Panic, then 2. Panic again, then 
3. Find a 24 hour Wal-Mart and buy a 25 dollar inkjet. Yes, Wal-Mart.)

Printers I've dealt with:

Canon Image Runner 6000: Office copier. It scans, it prints, it copies. 
Great for imaging back files, high volume scanning for OCR, & big print 
jobs. Too bad we can't take it on the road.

Canon Portable Inkjets: Very, very nice portability. Dependable. Very nice 
with low volume. Generally slow. High up front cost. High cost of use: They 
burn inkjet cartridges too fast to be economical. Inkjets & hi-liters are a 
sub optimal combination.

Inexpensive Inkjets: Very low up-front cost( $30 or less.) Easily portable. 
I use one at home about once a year around April 15th. They usually make it 
through about 3 reams of paper before they wear out. Inkjet cartridges cost 
almost as much as the printer.

Ross's Lexmark laser (don't know the model): Fantastic, fast printer if you 
don't have to pick it up and move it. Weak traveller.

Brother HL-1440: Most durable of the printers I've dealt with. Easy to find 
toner etc. Larger than optimal. No longer manufactured. Paper jams become 
frequent as the feed mechanism wears. Prone to sudden un-explained death. 
Good for Office Space re-enactments when they finally crap out.

Brother HL-5140: Faster than the 1440. Easy to find (but fairly expensive) 
toner. Larger than the 1440. Drum units last 20 thousand pages (4 cases) @ 
about $160. Prone to paper-jams after about 7 months. More fragile than the 
good old 1440 -- We've got two of these, one has a year of use, the other 
we bought in September. One is held together with tape. Both jam frequently.

I'd like to get more than a year out of a printer. I'd also like to find 
one we easily transport daily at tournaments. We *can* definitely do more 
to print less and care for them better. But, the things cost about a third 
of what my car is worth but just don't seem to hold up [I treat my car far 
worse, (when I use it...) but it still runs...]

Should I just accept that printers are a very expensive disposable 
commodity? Or is there a good printer that can handle a year of debate 
travel with a bunch of teams?

So...any suggestions, impressions, reviews, or recommendations would be 
incredibly helpful.

--JP Lacy
lacyjp at wfu.edu

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