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Geek Chic: Low-Cost Laser Printers

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Hewlett-Packard LaserJet 1020You probably don't need color ink on every page you print. A monochrome laser printer may cost more than a color inkjet upfront, but can save you money in the long run. Entry-level laser printers start at around $75, but supply costs can be as low as a couple of pennies a page, versus about 10 cents per page for inkjets.

Hewlett Packard LaserJet 1020

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HP's LaserJet 1020 takes a leading role among its peers because of its quick first-page print time and superior monochrome graphics output. HP describes the print resolution as 1,200-dpi "effective resolution," with the physical output at 600x600 dpi. The quality is equal to the true 1,200-dpi printers I measured it against for text output, and I found it the best for graphics.

The printer is easy to set up, partly because of its animated setup guide, and partly because there's little to do. Connectivity is through a USB 2 port. The printer uses a combined toner-drum cartridge that's simple to install and not messy. Cartridges sell for less than $70 and are rated at 2,000 pages, which yields a per-page cost of 3.5 cents. Print speed is 15 pages per minute, slow compared with some other offerings, but its first page printed in a blazing 5 seconds.

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