Which Inkjet printer - Brother, Epson or HP < $600

I'm looking to spend under $600 for a durable printer. I'd rather have a quality model with fewer features than one with lots of bells and whistles but won't last a year.
Are there any sites, articles or stats on printer quality, durability, longevity?
I had my HP laserjet III for 15 years!!!!!!! I heard the LaserJet IV was not as well built. Flimsy plastic versus the III.
I heard good things about the "refillable" Epson printers.  Is this a gimmick or does it really make a difference?
I'm confused.
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Dr. KlahnConnect With a Mentor Principal Software EngineerCommented:
You didn't specify whether you wanted laser or inkjet, and normal or large format, so we're kinda shooting in the dark here.

I would not buy an HP inkjet.  I wouldn't have one if it was given to me.  HP has put unreasonably great effort into making their ink tanks non-refillable so that printer owners can't refill their tanks or use third-party tanks.  HP now puts electronically coded expiration dates into the firmware in their ink tanks (! firmware in ink tanks !) and ink can actually expire while it is being used.  A side effect of those expiration dates is that this also prevents buying HP ink when it's on sale and putting it on the shelf against future need - it'll probably be expired by then.

A little fillip is that HP's "starter" cartridges supplied with their inkjets contain far less ink than a standard cartridge.  This ensures that shortly after purchase you must go out and buy at least two of their cartridges at retail.

HP laser printers - The one I use is a Laserjet 1100, which is going on 20 years old and still works fine.  No experience with their more recent lasers, but I also hear that the quality has gone down.

I've always used Epson inkjets, and Epson has recently come out with printers that have *big* ink tanks such that you might fill them up once and never have to do so again.  Older Epsons can also be fitted with external ink tanks and extra-large waste ink receptacles.  Refilling six Epson ink tanks with 20 ml of ink each for (6 x $2.50 =  $15) vs buying 6 new HP ink tanks with 10 ml of ink (6 x $50 = $300) totals up and over the lifetime of a printer you can buy several top-of-the-line printers with the difference.

Epson has an online discount store where their printers can frequently be bought for half off or more.  I buy printers from their Clearance Center and recommend the same for my clients; I've never been dissatisfied.


JohnConnect With a Mentor Business Consultant (Owner)Commented:
An InkJet printer is not likely to last 15 years.  We get up to 10 years from a simple black and white HP laser printer and up to 5 years for an HP InkJet All-in-one printer.

I have an HP 8610 InkJet printer that is in its 4th year and it shows no signs of failing, so that series or the newer HP 8710 series is very good.

One of my clients uses Brother laser printers and they have proven good.

I do not have experience with Epson.
David Johnson, CD, MVPConnect With a Mentor OwnerCommented:
with inkjet printers the major lifetime cost is surprise surprise INK.  The Epson EconoJets with their refillable tanks come with about 2 years worth of ink. A plus is that you can look and plan ahead so that Sunday evening you don't run out of ink for something due first thing Monday morning.
JohnConnect With a Mentor Business Consultant (Owner)Commented:
For my own HP 8610, Black Ink is about a penny a page. Colour is about 3 cents a page.

So 2,500 colour pages annually plus 5,000 black pages annually is about $125.  That is not excessively above the cost of laser refill supplies, so this works well for me.
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