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Saturday, June 24, 2017

A Post About Printers

Good morning! Today I am typing up a post about printers to share with you. This was inspired by many conversations that I have had with teacher friends (both online and in real life) about printer woes and printer love. Yes, "printer love" is a thing! I have a deep and abiding love for not one, not two, but three printers in my life...haha! I thought I would highlight each one, explain where and why I have it, and detail each one's pros and cons.

But first...you're probably thinking, "Honey, why do you need THREE printers? Isn't that a bit excessive? One printer should do you just fine." Yes, it probably should. However, I consider owning three printers to be an investment in my personal sanity. Also, I am spending less on ink and toner now than I did three or four years ago, yet I'm printing a lot more...and spending a lot less time standing around at the copier.

Here's my breakdown of printers from oldest to newest!

1.) First...my trusty Brother laser printer. I've blogged about this little guy before.
This is an older version of this printer on Amazon. It is a workhorse of a printer...it can turn out class sets of documents quickly and efficiently. The best part is, my toner is dirt-cheap. I buy generic brand high-yield toner for between $11-$12 and that lasts me 2-3 months (depending on how much I run). I get about 3,000 prints per toner cartridge. My system is basically to run what I can at work with the limited copy numbers that I have...then print everything else and NOT STRESS ABOUT IT. $11 for toner every couple of months is more than worth it in my sanity. Also, there is something to be said for being able to hit the 'print' button on my computer and letting it print while I go about my business at home, versus having to baby-sit a copier at work.

2.) After I discovered how AMAZING it was to have a black and white printer that worked well, it wasn't long before I began looking for a solution for my color printing needs. Like every teacher, I print a ton of stuff for centers and classroom decorations. We have a color printer in the media center, but it is temperamental to put it mildly. At home, I used to have an inkjet that seemed to drink ink through a straw. I thought I was being savvy by buying my ink at Sam's and I tried to stock up whenever there were good deals on the multipacks. Still, I was shelling out a small fortune for ink that lasted for what seemed like no time at all! It was around this time that I started hearing about HP's Instant Ink program. I'm sure many of you know and participate in it now, but in case you haven't heard about it, here's the scoop. You pay a flat fee per month for your ink. The price levels are tiered and based on the number of pages you print, not how much ink you use. (Think about that for a minute!) I have the most expensive package and pay $9.99 for 300 pages. You can also roll over unused pages, up to 300 pages. I blew through all my prints last month but still have 300 pages left in reserve, so for this month I could print 600 pages if I wanted to for no extra cost. If you DO go over, you pay a small fee per every page you print. (I've only gone over once and it was a tiny amount.) You can track your printing and how many pages you have left through the HP Instant Ink website.

So, I decided I waned to try the HP Instant Ink thing and needed a new printer to replace my inkjet. Since I have been so happy with my Brother printer (which technically is meant for small office use), I decided to look for the equivalent in an HP printer. There are many printers that participate in the Instant Ink program, but I didn't go with the cheapest one. Instead, after consulting many Amazon reviews and feature comparison charts, I chose this one:

It's an OfficeJet Pro 8610. There is a newer model out now but it looks exactly the same. This printer is as amazing for printing items in color as my Brother printer is for printing items in black and white! Now I don't usually print class sets of anything on this printer-I am limited to my number of pages, after all-but I print all of my centers materials, Brag Tags, and anything else I want in color with this printer. It handles large volumes of printing well (it doesn't get hung up mid-print like some of my other HP printers did in the past) and I can also print remotely, which is a handy feature (although I rarely use it because I never can remember what kind of paper I've left in the tray). And perhaps best of all-I NEVER RUN OUT OF INK! The printer communicates with HP when it hits a certain threshold of ink and they immediately ship new cartridges. I get the new cartridges well in advance of when the printer is actually out of ink. (I was super skeptical about this initially-I thought for sure there would be a lag time and I would be left waiting on the postal worker before I could resume printing, but that's not happened once!)

I highly, highly, recommend the HP Instant Ink program. It's awesome and has saved me a ton of money, even when you factor in the cost of the printer. If you're interested, you can check it out through my referral link here: http://try.hpinstantink.com/dFH3H  You get a free month and I get a free month! Also, I've heard that the printers still ship with several months free. You can stack a bunch of those codes and get up to 6 months free! (One more thing: When I bought mine, my "free" months didn't start until I used up all of the starter cartridges that came with the printer. They sent me the new ones in the mail but my subscription didn't start until I installed them. How amazing is that?)

3.) So, I had dream printers for b&w printing at home as well as color. What more could I need, right? Well, this past year I had to add printer #3 to the rotation...at school. Here's a little bit of backstory: As long as I've been teaching the school has provided me with a printer in my classroom, but that ended as of this year. We went to a "communal" printer in the workroom...and that just does not work for me. There are times that I need to print something out RIGHT THEN and it's not feasible for me to line up my class to walk down to the workroom every time I need to fetch something out of the printer. I ranted and raved when I found out about this little change at the beginning of the school year last year. Basically, the mister got tired of hearing me complain and he told me to pick out a new printer. I would have liked to get another Brother printer (or simply taken my printer from home to school) but that idea was a bust because our district's technology department would only install certain printers onto the network. To summarize, my hands were tied and I had to purchase one of the printers they would support or go without a printer in my classroom. So this is the printer I ended up with:
This was the only printer on the district's list that was in our price range. All of the other printers were super-duper-office printers with the ability to fax, make mega amounts of copies, and consume way too much space. I was not expecting a whole lot out of this printer, to be honest...but I've been pleasantly surprised! It is a little more fickle than my Brother printer (mostly it's too smart for its own good sometimes and tries to warn me about a potential problem that's not actually a problem) but it prints quickly and can handle double-sided printing no problem. I purchased generic high-yield toner for this one to the tune of about $30 a cartridge. I replaced it once all year long and I printed a good bit on it...at least 4-5 class sets every week plus all of the random single prints that I needed (RTI paperwork, class rosters, etc.). I also learned that it has a lot of toner left even after it starts to send error messages that it is running low. I ordered another toner a few weeks before school let out because it told me I was below 10% left, but it just kept printing!  

I will also say that when I got mine last summer it was much closer to the list price than it is right this second on Amazon. For $80, I would absolutely buy this printer again...I think we paid $120! Eeep! One of my coworkers also purchased this printer and she feels about the same way as I do about it...worth it for the peace of mind it gives us!

Some General Advice About Buying A Printer
If you're in the market for a new printer, turn to Amazon and the product reviews. Read what other people have to say! And then watch the price like a hawk. Amazon will drop their prices to match their competitors'...so when Staples and Office Depot start having their back-to-school sales, you can expect to see some of the printer prices drop on Amazon, as well. You can also Google "Amazon Price History" and come up with a site like camelcamelcamel that will show you an item's price history. You can see whether it's at a low, average, or high price right now and plan your purchasing accordingly!

So, there you have it! This is everything I know about printers and how I keep myself from stressing about copies and printing! I know some people will say that I'm crazy for having three printers, but I say that the peace of mind and extra free time is worth it. 

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