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Home > Articles > Computer

Free Printers - Are They For Real?

by Kwan H Lo

Can you really get a new printer for free and what is the deal? What do you need to consider when you join a free printer program?


Nothing is free? Or is it? Free stuff is often used as a marketing technique these days, so getting a free printer is not that hard to comprehend. In fact, there are many ways to obtain a free printer.


For examples, you can get one from a friend who has just bought a new printer. Or, you can exchange other items that you no longer need for a printer through recycle programs such as In both cases, you end up with a used machine of old model.


Some PC manufacturers also offer printer or scanner as free bonus when you purchase their system. These free printers are usually less expensive inkjet printers under the price of $100 and are not the latest model. Nevertheless, they are brand new and can probably satisfy your basic printing needs.


But what if you want a high performance brand new printer for free? There are some companies offering new color laser printers for free. The deal is you are obliged to purchase their printer supplies. In other words, they make profits from the sales of ink / toner supplies and not from the printer itself.


To get a free printer, you need to apply for the program, sometimes with an application fee. You agree to purchase a minimum amount of printer ink each month (from $100 to $300 depending on printer models). Once the monthly commitment is fulfilled for a certain period of time (2-3 years), the printer is yours to keep.


These free printer programs have both advantages and disadvantages. The advantages are: you can get a high end printer with minimum or no initial investment; these companies also claim that their printer supplies are 25-30% cheaper than the regular prices.


However, there are also some disadvantages. The first one is lack of flexibility. You need to purchase a certain amount of printer ink or a whole set of color / black cartridges each month. If your printer usage decreases, or you happen to print more black and white documents than colored documents in certain months, the unused ink will be wasted.


Secondly, it is hard to estimate your actual savings on printer supplies. OEM printer cartridges are expensive and a 25-30% savings seems a lot. However, many vendors are offering remanufactured and compatible cartridges these days. These discount ink / toner cartridges are built according to the specifications of OEM cartridges but sold at half price of OEM cartridges. The lack of flexibility and the higher price of printer cartridges including wastage of printer ink may offset the price of your free printer in the end.


Therefore, whether it is economical to join a free printer program depends on your printing needs and purchase habit. If your printer usage is fairly constant in the next 2-3 years and you are a die-hard OEM enthusiast, you may consider the free printer programs. Otherwise, it will be wiser to invest on your own printer and have the flexibility to purchase any discount cartridges in the future.





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