A Buyer's Guide to the Least Expensive Inkjet Printer

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Dear Subscriber,

Welcome to the January issue of 'Computer & Printer Tips'.

This month's issue contains a 10% off discount coupon offer to help save you some money. (coupon details below)

We've also got a really good featured article this month. It's a new printer's buyers guide that focuses on which printers are the least expensive to own and operate.

A lot of good information and research went into it, so we hope you find it useful if you find yourself in the market for a new printer.


For the next six days until the end of the month, you can get an extra 10% off your order when you enter the special coupon code below.

(In addition, you'll also get Free shipping!)

Here is your special 10% off discount promotion code:

DISCOUNT COUPON CODE newsletter subscribers only

To use this discount coupon code, simply shop our website and add items to your cart as usual.


When you proceed through the checkout process, our system will ask you if you have any promotional code or discount coupon.

Just enter the code word above, and the discount will be applied on the final checkout page.

*** LIMITED TIME - This offer expires Monday, January 31st ***

FEATURE ARTICLE: What's the Least Expensive Inkjet Printer?

In our business, customers are constantly asking for printer recommendations for machines that use inexpensive printer supplies.

So we have decided to put together another in depth study, on which new inkjet printer provides the best bang for your buck, based on your printing habits.

This year's printer review produced a short list of economical printers in comparison to our last evaluation. If the existing trend continues (and it likely will), the options for low cost printers which use inexpensive supplies and have problem free performance may be limited.

As we've observed the trend we're seeing is that in general, the newer the printer, the smaller the cartridge and the more expensive the ink per milliliter.

(This information is current as of January 2011)

Most new printers create superior images typically described in DPI (dots per inch) from 6000 x 1200 to 4800 x 1200. This means that resolution is not a good point of analysis between brands and models since they all produce high quality images (for everyday printing).

This is not a review on photo printers per se, if you are looking for a printer that will be utilized for printing full size pictures exclusively, this is not an article that will help you.

Here's how we reached our conclusions on finding the least expensive inkjet printer model to own?

First, we selected printers best suited for printing text/color with an occasional photo thrown into the mix. Printers can be multifunction or standard, but we were predominantly concerned with the printer and supply costs.

Next, we eliminated printer models, that cost over $200 or any printer models that have well known problems. For this reason most of the Dell and Epson NX series printers were not considered.

A printer must be available as "new" from Amazon.com and have at least 10 user ratings to qualify for review consideration.

Once that list was created, the printers were evaluated in the following areas.

  • Cost for cartridges- The cost for both black and color cartridges on cost per ml (cost based on ASAP inkjets retail price)
  • Cost of printer- The average retail price you would expect to pay.
  • Ratings from users- Star rating 0 - 5 stars from Amazon.com (5 being the best rating)
  • Cartridge reliability- Our own assessment of the most reliable aftermarket cartridges available


This is the cost of the ink only. This does not consider printer rating, printer cost or other costs of operation (such as replacement printheads). If you are a very high volume user of ink, this is an important section for you.

"Page yield" information cannot be relied on because you will most likely not get the same page yield from an inkjet cartridge as the manufacturer claims.

Manufacturer listed page yield information does not account for variances in coverage area, font type, font size, spacing, printing frequency, or environmental conditions etc.

Page yields between different manufacturers also cannot be compared fairly, because they do not use the same benchmarks. In other words, page yield cannot be replicated or verified on inkjet printers.

This is why we choose to focus on the cost per ml (milliliter) of ink in each cartridge to determine value (cost per volume of ink contained in the cartridge). Milliliter volume is absolute, equal, and verifiable.

Judging only on cost for ink, the lowest price BLACK text printing with an aftermarket cartridge is the HP 940XL series black high capacity cartridge. This cartridge was rated first with a super low cost per ml of .22 cents! The HP 920XL series black was second with .42 cent per ml cost. The Brother LC-61 black compatible was third at .46 cents per ml.

Most EXPENSIVE after market cartridge, black ink - Canon PG- 210XL $1.33 per ml

For color printing, these cartridges ranked at the top. The Kodak 1810829 (Kodak 10 color) came in first with .20 cents per ml, which is simply amazing, for color! The Brother LC-61 series cyan, magenta and yellow was in second place with .39 cents per ml. The 3rd place goes to the Canon CLI-221 series cartridges at 1.00 per ml.

Most EXPENSIVE after market cartridge, color ink - Canon CL-211XL $1.69 per ml


Printers had to have an average retail price of $200 or less. Because printer life has decreased to roughly 4 years or so, we felt an investment of more than this could mean a poor ROI (unless you are printing very large volumes, then you can make a case for spending more).

The least expensive printer that made the list was the Canon PIXMA iP2702 for $40.00 (but it also uses the most expensive cartridges.


We wanted to present unbiased quality information on what people thought of each of the printer model reviewed. To do this, we gleaned the star ratings listed from printer owners on Amazon.com to determine their level of satisfaction.

Although many printer manufacturers had machines with 3.5 to 4.5 star ratings, some brands ranked better than others, as to be expected.

As a whole, it was evident that Canon printer owners were happier than any other group, with the purchase of their machines. Although the average price for a new Canon printer was more than HP, Brother or Kodak, some people swear by them and are willing to plunk down the extra money.

The Canon printers are among the most reliable and durable printers on the market and their quality puts them at #1 for ratings alone. The printer supplies costs vary dramatically from model to model, so be aware of this before buying.

Out of the 72 printers surveyed, 7 of the top 10 printers were Canon printers receiving a 4.5 out of 5 star rating.

The most reviewed and highest rated printer was the Canon Pixma MP 560 receiving 532 reviews. This printer, uses the PGI-220 and CLI-221 cartridges, which are rated right around the middle in terms of cartridge cost.

In second place was Brother showing strong customer support for most of their printer models currently available. Brother has been around for years but have never had a huge presence in retail centers.


In terms of reliability, it was close. After much contemplation and debate we have concluded that the Brother LC- 61 series cartridge has edged out the competition in performance. While the Kodak 10 series and Canon PGI-220-CLI- 221 series both have excellent records of problem free use and good to excellent economy, the Brother LC-61 beat all three in one category; simplicity.

The LC-61 ink cartridges do not use a microchip to communicate with the printer like the Kodak or Canon cartridges. With no electronics and a simple sponge reservoir, there is very little that can go wrong with this ink cartridge. It is no more than a plastic box of ink; simple, economical and reliable.


Considering all of the information: cost of supplies, (cost of printer, ratings for printer owners and ratings of the cartridges) these printers do well in some categories but maybe not in all.

Best high volume inkjet printer:

  • HP OfficeJet Pro 8000 4 stars (about $100)
  • HP OfficeJet Pro 6000 3.5 stars (about $70)

The HP 920XL and HP 940XL series cartridges are cheap, big and mostly reliable. The problem is that this type of printer tends to go through printheads which can be about $100 per set. If you print 1000 pages or more per month, this is a great printer for you since the cost will be offset by the low cost per ml in the cartridges.

Best low volume inkjet printer:

  • Canon PIXMA iP2702 4.5 Stars (about $40.00)

This was a tough question to answer since this printer uses the most expensive cartridges. However, if you need a printer that will not be used very often, such as for a vacation home, a backup, or for grandma's house (if she does not print much), this is a low cost unit that is rated well. Again, this would be a good choice for very low volumes of printing.

Best overall printer to own

  • Brother MFC-295CN multi function 3.5 stars (about $75)
  • Brother MFC-J265 w multi function 3.5 stars (about $75)

Although the Brother printers do not tend to print envelopes or heavy photo paper very well due to the bottom feeding paper tray, the value for the dollar cannot be beat considering all factors, for the average user over a period of 4 years.

These machines use the same printhead technology and deliver inexpensive, quality printing in both black and color. They use the LC-61 series cartridges and have an excellent track record using the higher capacity compatible cartridges from ASAP inkjets.

Best overall printer Runners up

In runner up for great all around printing would be one of the following Canon printers that use the PGI-220 and CLI-221 cartridges.

  • Canon PIXMA MP620 4 stars (about $100)
  • Canon PIXMA MP990 4 stars (about $100)
  • Canon PIXMA MP560 4.5 stars (about $100)

These Canon machines are very well built and other than a little higher average cost for the printer and supplies, are nearly perfect.

We don't sell printers at ASAP inkjets but we do try to help people make good decisions when looking to buy one.

If you are in need of a new printer now, or have been on the fence about getting a new one, you may want to act sooner since printer models do not stay around for long.

About The Author

Bob Stephens writes for ASAP Inkjets. ASAP Inkjets offers ink cartridges & toner at up to 80% off. Signup for their free newsletter for tips & discount coupons at: http://www.asapinkjets.com/ or email: subscribe@asapinkjets.com

Ok, that's all for this month's issue.

We hope that you are able to take advantage of the discount coupon, and get a backup cartridge or two.

You never know exactly when you're going to run out of ink, but you can guarantee it will be when you're right in the middle of printing something.

Until next time...

Eli Fry
ASAP Inkjets

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