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Best printer for Mac user?

I want to buy an inexpensive printer that works well with iMac (both OS X and OS 9.1). My priority is good quality, fast black and white printing, although ideally I'd also like to print in colour occasionally. Any suggestions? And is it worth sacrificing colour printing capability and buying a low-cost mono laser printer in order to get fast, good quality black and white prints, or is an inkjet OK for black and white printing?
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clareturpin
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clareturpin
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hdhondtCommented:
By far the best printers for the Mac are PostScript printers. They use the LaserWriter driver supplied with both OSX and OS9 (and even earlier). Ideally use a printer with a built-in network interface, but USB will work too - at least with OSX. I'm not sure how good the USB support is under OS9.

That leaves a wide variety of printers, but they do cost more than non-PostScript printers. Included are models from HP, Xerox, Ricoh, Kyocera and others. It does not include inkjets though, as there are no PostScript inkjets (software PostScript RIPs work with them, but tend to be very slow).

For speed a laser will always be streets ahead of an inkjet, but a good inkjet will beat any colour laser in print quality (if the inkjet is set to its best quality, lowest speed setting; a laser will give decent quality at any setting).

As I don't know your budget or your country, I can't really recommend any specific printers. Unless colour is a definite requirement, I would look for a mono laser. Some colour lasers are reasonably priced and give excellent speed (16 ppm) in both colour and monochrome.
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wyliecoyoteukCommented:
Just to add to hdhondt`s comments,
OKI do a range of colour LED printers that are fast, high quality, and quite economical.
They also come with postscript as standard.
Many Lexmark USB inkjets now support Macs  ( at least OSX), but you need to check their info.
Eventually, OSX will be able to print to most PCL printers (it actually can now, but it requires some fiddling to get it right), as it includes CUPS, the Common Unix Print System.
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hdhondtCommented:
Wylie is right about the Oki's. They're good and low cost. They can be a little unfriendly when you have to clear a paper jam, as the paper path is a bit convoluted. Single pass colour lasers tend to have a simpler path but they're somewhat more expensive. Try Xerox, Brother, Minolta QMS.

As for inkjets, yes some come with OSX support, but OS9 support is very hard to find.
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clareturpinAuthor Commented:
Thanks for these helpful comments. One question: what does LED stand for?
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hdhondtCommented:
Light Emitting Diode.

In Oki printers an array (or 4 arrays in a colour printer) of LEDs replaces the laser unit(s) in a laser printer. In both cases, light is used to write an image onto an optical drum or belt, which attracts toner that is eventually transferred to the paper.

With 4-pass colour lasers one laser is used 4 times in succession to write 4 colour images to one belt. In single pass lasers, the lasers write to 4 belts simultaneously, making them 4 times faster in colour. Oki colour printers also use 4 belts (and 4 LED arrays), which gives them a speed similar to single pass lasers.
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clareturpinAuthor Commented:
Thanks. With the mono laser I currently have (a cheap Samsung that's a few years old) the print seems to rub off the paper quite easily - especially on laid paper that isn't totally flat. Any idea whether the OKI would be better from this point of view? Or whether there's any other brand that beats the rest on this?
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hdhondtCommented:
All toner based printers (lasers and LED) work best on a smooth paper. If the paper is thicker than normal, most printers have some way of letting you tell it what type of paper it is. That way, with heavy paper the printer can apply more heat in the fuser (the part of the printer that melts the toner and makes it stick to the paper) or slow down the printing speed, to avoid the problem you're seeing. Mono lasers need to have the fuser replaced every 200000 pages or so (it's often called a "maintenance kit"). With colour lasers the fuser does not last as long because colour printers use more toner - typical fuser life is 60000 pages.

If your printer has no settings for heavier paper, it may only be designed for 80 gsm bond paper. The Oki has settings for different papers, but I can't guarantee that it will work on paper I have not even seen. If using this paper is important, I would test it before buying the printer.
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clareturpinAuthor Commented:
Thanks for your detailed advice (I'd give more points but am right out!)
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wyliecoyoteukCommented:
Hdhondt certainly earnt the points.
Laid paper is a problem, as it isn`t meant for laser copiers, especially if it is stored out of the wrapper.
The wrappers are plastic lined, and Laid paper rapidly soaks up moisture from the air the moment it is taken out .(All paper does this, but some are worse than others ).
This causes 2 problems:
1.damp paper does not take a static charge well-unfortunately, that is how laser printers tranfer the image to the paper, so you get feint prints
2. damp paper slows down the heat transference that melts the toner onto the paper.This is a particular problem with colour printers, which have to melt 4 layers of toner at once. - so the print rubs off.

To avoid this,

Keep your paper dry (putting it in a sealed plastic bag helps), and use the thick paper settings.
The OKIs have 4 different paper settings, using the wrong one repeatedly may also damage the printer fuser unit.
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clareturpinAuthor Commented:
Oh thanks, very useful information this. Sorry it's too late to give you points. You should have had some before, too, I realize. Perhaps I'll be able to make it up to you some other time!
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