Are you a SmartPrinter?
Last week I was reminded of a joke which goes: "A printer consists of three main parts: the case, the jammed paper tray and the blinking red light." I first heard this 30 years ago and it is still pertinent in 2022.
Recently, many seniors have sought my recommendation for printer procurement/replacement candidates as inventory improved. I answer them with a question: How much do they print and how often?
I explain to them that printer ownership is like car ownership thus comes with recurring costs. Purchasing consumables, like toner/ink cartridges and paper, needs to be budgeted. It's similar to changing the oil and buying gasoline to drive a car. To top it off, the blinking yellow light on a printer is akin to the check engine light glowing on your dashboard.
If they answer just "occasionally," I ask them if they have kept up with what our libraries have to offer. Westlake Porter Public Library's current posted printing rates are 10 cents per black-and-white page and 15 cents per color page. These rates, in my opinion, are good alternatives to printer ownership. Similar rates await Cuyahoga County Public Library patrons at the Bay Village branch. These rates, in my opinion, are good whether you own a printer or not. It gets better with the cherry on top: both WPPL and CCPL patrons get up to $1 of *free* printing per day!
PSA: Please practice Internet Street Smarts when doing this. If your print job includes any PII (Personally Identifiable Information) such as birth dates, Social Security numbers, account numbers, etc., be sure that only you get your printouts or find other means to print documents with PII.
For printer ownership, I mostly recommend a black and white laser printer, or AIO ("All-In-One") if your use case requires scanning too, that uses a toner (dry) cartridge instead of ink (wet) cartridges. Why? My personal opinion is that color ink cartridges get to be expensive even when color inkjet printers themselves are cheap and replacement color toner cartridges can cost more than your initial cost of a color laser printer. When you need color prints, I will take advantage of the library rates or big box office stores.
But what about printing pictures? If you want to print your digital pictures like the good ol' film days, i.e. on archival photo paper instead of show-and-telling on a dinky little smartphone screen, color printer ownership capable of finer detailed prints together with special photographic papers and toners/ink will increase cost of ownership. However …
The good ol' days of printing your pictures at your pharmacy are alive and kicking and the service has kept up with the times. You can easily upload your pictures to pharmacy websites (I use both CVS and Walgreens) or online printing storefronts (I use Snapfish and Shutterfly) to print, enlarge, create photo books, and other gift items that you can touch/hold.
Matching your print use case to appropriate strategy, now that's a "SmartPrinter."
Strategist and technologist with over 30 years of experience in the private sector. Holds Bachelor of Science in Computer Information Science and Executive MBA from Cleveland State University.
As Founder of the Center for Aging in the Digital World, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit empowering seniors with digital literacy, Tak connects the dots to help people utilize appropriate technology in their personal and professional lives while using digital literacy as a tool for seniors to avoid loneliness and social isolation. Please visit EmpowerSeniors.Org for more information!