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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
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
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
Freecycle.com. 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
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.