Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Printing costs and a minor surprise

This evening, I decided to compare prices on printers and printing supplies. I've always believed that ink jet printers cost more per page than other kinds of printers, but as it turns out, the reality is not as simple as that.

My ink-jet printer is an older model HP DeskJet 842c. According to HP the black cartridge lasts 500 pages and the color cartridge lasts 480 pages. I can usually buy these for about $30 each in retail stores. This makes my cost per page:

Black cartridge: $30 / 500 = 6 cents/page
Color cartridge: $30 / 480 = 6.25 cents/page
B&W page: 6 cents/page
Color page: 6 + 6.25 = 12.25 cents/page

Of course, this assumes that color pages also use black, which I think is a reasonable assumption. This ignores the cost of paper, which is going to be the same for all printers.

Next, I looked at an inexpensive color laser printer I've been considering buying for some time, Brother's HL-4070CDW. According to Staples, a standard-yield black cartridge costs $65 and yields 2500 pages, a standard-yield color cartridge costs about $77 and yields 1500 pages, a high-yield black cartridge costs about $93 and yields 5000 pages, and a high-yield color cartridges costs about $138 and yields 4000 pages. Plus a drum costs $190 and lasts for 17,000 pages. This yields the following prices per page for standard cartridges:

black standard-yield: $65 / 2500 = 2.6 cents/page
color standard-yield: $77 / 1500 = 5.1 cents/page/primary color
drum: $190 / 17000 = 1.1 cents/per page
B&W page (standard-yield): 2.6 + 1.1 = 3.7 cents/page
Color page (standard-yield): 2.6 + (5.1 x 3) + 1.1 = 19 cents/page

Or using high-yield cartridges:

black high-yield: $93 / 5000 = 1.9 cents/page
color high-yield: $77 / 4000 = 3.5 cents/page/primary color
drum: $190 / 17000 = 1.1 cents/per page
B&W page (high-yield): 1.9 + 1.1 = 3.0 cents/page
Color page (high-yield): 1.9 + (3.5 x 3) + 1.1 = 13.5 cents/page

In other words, the laser printer definitely costs less per page for black and white printing, but for color printing, surprisingly, the ink jet printer turns out to be less expensive. By almost 7 cents per page, comparing against the laser printer's standard cartridges, and by a little more than 1 cent per page when compared against the laser printer's high-yield cartridges.

This is not the result I expected to get when I ran these numbers.

No comments: