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Readers respond: To print or not to print

When it comes to printers and printing, some of you are going green and saving green. That’s what you said in e-mail responses to questions about whether you’re printing more now at home than you did a year ago, or even five years ago.
Image: Brother monochrome laser printer
Brother's HL-2140 monochrome laser printer is geared to the home computer user. The printer retails for $120.Brother International

When it comes to printers and printing, some of you are going green and saving green at the same time.

That’s what you said in e-mail responses to questions about whether you’re printing more now at home than you did a year ago, or even five years ago.

You’re pruning your printing, in part thanks to other technology, such as flash memory drives, or keeping documents and photos on the computer, or online.

Some of you have also switched to laser printers, which have longer-lasting toner cartridges, instead of making those frequent trips to the office supply store for expensive inkjet cartridges.

In “Laser printers find a home at home” April 24, I wrote about how smaller and cheaper laser printers are making their way into more households. Inkjet printers still rule, and multi-function inkjets in particular, dominate the home printer market, said Tricia Parks, CEO of Parks Associate market research firm.

In the story, IDC Research analyst Keith Kmetz wondered if some consumers “may not be printing as much as they used to,” because more information is stored online or sent in e-mails, and the increasing use of GPS devices is eliminating the need to print out directions from Web sites such as MapQuest, Google and Yahoo.

Cutting it back
College professor Tom Birkland, of Raleigh, N.C., said he is printing “far less” than he did five years ago.

He never prints his lecture notes, and “all my students' papers are submitted, marked and graded, and returned electronically,” he said in his e-mail.

“I used to go through a case of paper a year; now, I can buy half a case and it will last many years. (I don't buy much ink and toner, either). To save Web pages, I print to PDF (Portable Document Format) and store on my computer. I use a GPS in the car, but when I print Google maps, it's usually on my color printer.”

Part-time student Taylor Darcy, from San Marcos, Calif., who also works part time, has a Dell color laser printer she bought last year, and “couldn’t be more happy. I have yet to go through toner, so it is pretty cost-effective for me,” she said in a e-mail.

“I still have many professors (who) require essays/assignments to be submitted via paper. I would prefer to submit them via e-mail, but many of them are very archaic and old-fashioned.”

Keith Picher e-mailed that he is “printing far less than before because of cheaper jump drives, external drives, hard drives and online backup options.

“With limitless cheap memory, the decision of whether or not to print often can be postponed. That also applies to photos.”

Lois Webb figures she is printing about 10 percent more now than she did a year ago, using both a laser and an inkjet printer.

“I print programs, greeting cards and bookmarks for my church,” she e-mailed. “I use the laser printer for the larger projects and certain graphics because of the quality of the picture, and I use the inkjet to print on specialty papers that are not laser-compatible.”

And, she added, at the end of her e-mail: “I am 80 years old and really appreciate the convenience of modern technology.”

'Changing my printing habits'
Stephen R. Kayara said he prints information like his tax returns, airline tickets, travel reservations, letters and store coupons.

Jay Gorman is printing away, “but also changing my printing habits. I am still using an approximately 8-year-old Epson color inkjet printer, so old there is not even a USB port on it.

“With three kids, printing will always be an issue,” hesaid in an e-mail. “With the costs of cartridges, I've gone from full color to draft mode black-and-white unless needed for a report.”

Gorman said he has been searching for a home color laser printer for a few months now, but has yet to find “the perfect fit” in terms of “initial cost versus features versus toner cost/life. In time, I will change over, but for now I will need to stay with what I have, cutting down even more if needed.”

Dorian Ford, of Sacramento is printing “about the same amount as last year, but somewhat more than five years ago, because I now have a better (laser) printer.

“As an archaeologist, I print site reports and other material of an archaeological relevance. I am also a role-playing gamer, and I print character sheets and other materials for the games I run,” Ford e-mailed.

Ted Stedman, a photographer, e-mailed to ask whether lasers are as good for photo printing as inkjets.

“Photos still come out a little bit better on an inkjet than a laser, because inkjets (show) more color variations and grays then a laser,” said Ken Colby, Samsung senior product manager for office automation.

“But for most photo requirements, or most business applications or most newsletters, laser is going to do the same quality as an inkjet will do.”

Don Heath switched to laser about two years ago. “One thing not mentioned in your article was that inkjet cartridges dry out if not used regularly,” he e-mailed. “I replaced my old Epson inkjet with an HP color laser … because I was wasting more ink than I was using. Toner cartridges don't dry out. I am still on my original four cartridges (black, cyan, magenta, blue).”

Oldies but goodies
Tom Nielsen — “call me frugal” — e-mailed “there’s no need to run out to buy the latest and greatest hardware. We bought a brand new HP LaserJet in 1992 for $1,500 for my wife’s office. The printer is now our home laser printer, and has been rock-solid. We had to replace the fuser after 80,000 pages about four years ago and it’s still going strong.”

And, adding more testimony to the lifespan of some laser printers, Shane Monsees, 26, of San Diego, said he has had the same laser printer since 1991.

“My parents bought it for me when I was in middle school with my first computer,” he said in an e-mail. “They had to save for almost a year to get me the technology that I needed for the schooling I was taking … I still have the printer to this day and it is running strong,” with almost 2 million pages to its credit.

“I have never had it serviced, but I have had to clean it a couple of times,” he wrote. “I can't say enough good things about laser printers and their wide range of uses in our home.

"My wife, who is finishing her master’s, has always had her professors comment on how when they highlight on her papers, that it doesn't run and they ask her how she does it. They always think that she has had them professionally printed, but it’s just my lovely 17-year-old printer.”