I recently ran into a dilemma with my current laser printer. I have a Konica Minolta Magicolor 2300DL laser printer and it has worked well over the past four or five years that I have owned the unit. However, now that I am trying to move from 32-bit to 64-bit operating systems, I cannot find the drivers needed to make my printer work. I spent an entire 3-day weekend working on this issue. I researched on blogs and other sites what others have tried to do, have done, have not done, what worked, what did not work, what might work, etc. Overall, I was very disappointed in the results. The manufacture does not provide a driver for Windows 7 64-bit, they offer a Windows 7 driver for 32-bit. Because I cannot get this printer to work with my new 64-bit computers, I began looking into a newer color laser printer.
In my search for a new printer, I found a number of nice looking printers in my price range. However, when I looked deeper into what the printers were offering I found five must have attributes in order to be a quality printer, and these are:
1. Quality of Print
3. Driver compatibility
5. Connection Type
Most color laser printers in the price range of $300 to $400 offer 600dpi x 600dpi or greater printing resolution. I found a number of Lexmark and Okidata units offer either 600×1200 or 1200×1200. The higher numbers the better print job you will receive. For most color, printing 600dpi x 600dpi will do just fine, especially when working with a laser printer. I was most impressed with the demo print that was from the HP CP1515n. When looking at printers, obtain demo prints, or if allowed have the store print one of your files. See if the results are what you are looking for in a printer.
Price is always a huge consideration, and with color laser printers, this is no exception. In today’s market, there are a number of great color laser printers that are between $200 and $400. Two areas that you will want to look at when determining the cost of the printer. These areas are the price of the unit and the cost of replacement supplies. When looking at the cost of supplies also look at availability. Do most office stores such as Staples or OfficeMax carry the supplies local, or will the replacement cartridges need to be ordered? This can make a huge difference when you are working on a report that is due the next day and you find out that a color is going out. Look at overall price too, for example just the color cartridges for the HP CP1515N printer cost $200.00 while the Lexmark C544 color laser cartridges cost $110.00 each so replacing all the color cartridges will cost you over $330.00. This is a huge difference in your pocketbook.
Another area to investigate is the drivers provided by the manufacture. Start by looking at the driver list provided by the manufacture. You might want to go to the manufactures web site and look at some older printers to see if the manufacture is showing continued support for older equipment. This will be of no guarantee, but it can give you a sense of what support you will have in the future. A good example is my situation mentioned above. I found no support for my 5-year old Konica Minolta unit. On-the-other-hand, I found that my 8-year old HP LaserJet 1200 B&W laser printer is being supported. Using this logic as I look for a new color laser I will give higher preference to a HP unit rather than another Konica Minolta as I would not want to be in the same situation as I am today in just a few short years. Also, consider items like will this printer only work with a PC or are there drivers for a Mac, what about Linux, etc.
Look next at the amount of memory that installed into the laser printer. A good laser printer should have upwards of 96MB or greater. Ideally in my opinion the printer should have 128MB or higher, but I would go with a printer with 96MB so long as I can add memory. Which is the second thing to look at, can you upgrade the memory. The HP CP1515n printer has 96MB of ram and that is the max amount of installable RAM. In this case, I would most likely look at other printers unless this printer had all other criteria met.
Finally, look at the types of connection. You want a printer that easily addable to your network. If the unit supports wireless that is a bonus, but the unit at the very minimum needs to support a RJ45 plug. A RJ-45 plug hard-wires the printer to your network. By having this feature it will be easier to share the printer among a multiple computers.
By looking at these five areas of criteria, you will be able to find a printer to meet your needs. Do not forget to also look at warranty, paper sizes and capacities, print speeds, etc. If you do your research, you too can find the perfect color laser printer for your needs.