The Best Bargain Printers

Some printers that have a low sticker price will kill you with high ink costs. But our bargain printer picks treat your budget gently now and over the long haul.

Canon Pixma MP495

If you don't print a lot, this inkjet multifunction printer could be perfect for you. We've seen it priced as low as $60; it produces very nice-looking text and photos; and you can connect to it via Wi-Fi. It does have some drawbacks: The features are a little sparse, and the black ink is a tad pricey at 7.3 cents per page for the standard-size cartridge. Consider the Canon Pixma MP495 if you print infrequently but want what you do print to look great.

Canon Pixma MG5220

A great multifunction printer for home offices or families with light scanning needs, the Canon Pixma MG5220 provides generous servings of speed, high image quality, and features at a competitive price ($150 as of August 25, 2010). Ink costs are reasonable, too, at $16 for a 341-page black cartridge (4.7 cents per page) and $14 each for cyan, magenta, and yellow cartridges that last for 500 to 520 pages (2.8 cents per page).

Canon Pixma iP4820

The Canon Pixma iP4820 is a good choice for home and student use because of its relatively low price ($100 as of August 20, 2010) and its midrange ink costs. It carries four separate ink tanks: a 341-page black cartridge ($16, or 4.7 cents per page) and 500-page cyan, magenta, and yellow cartridges ($14 each, or 2.7 cents per page). Though you can find cheaper printers, the Pixma iP4820's solid performance makes it worth the slight premium.

Epson Artisan 725 Arctic Edition

The Epson Artisan 725 delivers high-quality output and reasonable price-per-page ink costs for the relatively low price of $200 (as of November 17, 2010)--compared to the company's flagship Artisan 835, anyway. Epson offers just one size of black ink: a 520-page cartridge priced at $17 (3.3 cents per page).The five color cartridges cost $16 each for a high-yield 805-page cartridge (2 cents per page), or $10 each for a 510-page standard cartridge (just over 2 cents/page). You must, however, switch to Fine mode to get top-quality text.

Epson WorkForce 520 All-in-One Printer

The Epson WorkForce 520 dispels two stereotypes about inkjet printers: that they're slow, and that replacement ink for them costs too much. The WorkForce 520 broke records on our print output tests, printing plain text at 12.6 pages per minute and generating copies at 7.3 ppm. Other than its speed, the WorkForce 520's best attribute is its low-cost ink. The unit's $18 high-yield black cartridge is specced to last for 740 pages for $18 (2.4 cents per page), and its high-yield color cartridges deliver 480 pages for $15 each (3.2 cents per page).

Dell 2350dn Laser Printer

Tagged at $300 (as of November 16, 2010), the Dell 2350dn monochrome laser printer performs impressively and has reasonable toner costs. It achieved a swift output rate of 22.8 pages per minute rate while printing mostly plain text. A single DIMM slot lets you augment the standard 32MB of memory with 128MB or 256MB of DDR1-DRAM. The cost of replacement toner is average: A standard-size, 2000-page toner cartridge costs $59 (2.9 cents per page) and the high-yield, 6000-page cartridge costs $105 (1.7 cents per page).

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