Again today I spent a good 4-5 hours going through the piles on my desk and working through the stuff I had to do to sort, file, and act on the various items within them. It's frustrating work because although the piles are smaller and I can see parts of my desk I haven't seen in months, it's slow going and there's still plenty more work to do. I'm glad I had my Dymo LabelWriter to quickly print new tabs for my hanging files; my scanner let me recycle lots of paper; and my new color laser printer let me quickly print a bunch of expense-related documents and receipts. Today, the tech worked well! I un-Earthed some forgotten expenses that work will reimburse me for, and I also got around to filing receipts for my flexible spending account. At the end of it I should get back around $600, which is always nice around the holidays.
Just the past week I picked up a Lexmark C544dn color laser printer from Amazon to replace my Epson R800 ink jet printer. Well, I'm still keeping the R800 because it does do color very well (much better than any color laser I can afford), and its inks are waterproof, which is great for printing topo maps for hiking, camping, and emergency use. The price for these features, though, is steep: around $150 to replace all eight ink cartridges, which I have to do every nine months or so. So, I decided to get a color laser printer that'll handle spot-color and screen shots just fine at a lower per-page cost. I read several reviews on the 'net, but Macworld's review probably influenced me the most.
So far I'm pretty happy with the C544dn. It prints simple pages quickly, especially if it doesn't need to wake from power saving mode. If it's in power save mode, though, it takes about a minute for it to wake up and start printing. That's not great, but it's tolerable. It also does double-sided printing automatically, which is a really nice convenience. It slows down the overall output speed by about 50% above and beyond what it would take to print the same job single-sided, but since I don't do double-sided printing too often that's a fine trade-off for me.
Another nice thing is that the printer's totally quiet when it isn't printing, and the noise when it is printing is very reasonable. When I first turned it on it's fan started running with a loud, plastic-y clatter that had me concerned, but in practice I haven't heard the fan or the clatter.
The printer plugs into an Ethernet network, so I had to run a new cable to the printer stand, but that was the hardest part of the network setup. Once I plugged it in and turned it on it automatically got an IP address, started advertising itself via Bonjour, and printed a diagnostic page showing all its network settings. Nice! OS X Snow Leopard and Windows 7 both automatically downloaded the latest drivers so I didn't have to install the software that came on a CD with the printer. The printer even does IPv6, so it should be somewhat future-proof.
So far I only have two minor quibbles: 1) Feeding envelopes into the manual feed slot was fairly finicky, as it took three attempts before the printer would feed the envelope. However, this may be partly the fault of the envelopes, as they don't feed too well in my R800, either. 2) The color output in the oranges and reds is a bit over-saturated, leading people to look like they're either flushed or had a bad spray-on tan job. I haven't played with any color profiles yet, so I may be able to correct this, but remember that this is mostly for business printing so the over-saturation isn't that big a deal for me. (The Lexmark drivers on the CD supposedly offer better color control, so I may try them out in the future.)
One other note on paper: Ink jets greatly benefit from having the right kind of paper that will soak up the ink without it bleeding very far. Laser printers need paper that can resist wrinkling from the high temp that the fuser rollers use to make the toner adhere to the page, and it helps to have a good texture that will hold the toner tightly. For general purpose color laser printing, Hammermill's Laser Print paper seems to be a top performer. At 24# it's got a good heft to it, it doesn't wrinkle, toner adheres well to its smooth surface, it's plenty bright at 98 points, and colors don't bleed through to the other side even when printing on both sides of the page. I was all set to order several reams from Amazon at about $12/ream when I decided to check Costco just to see what they might have. Lo and behold, even though they don't sell it at my local store, they do sell it on costco.com at the great price of $8/ream including shipping.