Selling Razor Blades

october 29, 2006

For a while, Eileen and I have been using our Epson Stylus 777 over the network for all our printing duties. It has served us well. We do cringe everytime we go to Fry's to pick up a new ink cartridge. Up until right now, I did not do a calculation on how much it costs to run that Stylus 777. My mom bought me that Stylus 777 a while back to print photos with and the printer itself was pretty inexpensive. The printer, as I found out today, is Epson's razor. The black ink cartridge for the Stylus 777 sells for $29.99 at Amazon. The yield (at 5% page coverage) is 190 pages for that cartridge. That comes out to an astonishing 15.8 cents per page (using only the black cartridge)! Yikes. Well, I saw a refurbished Brother HL-2070N for sale at Fry's. The regular price was $149.99. The sale price is $119 and there is a $50 mail-in rebate. Not bad for a laser printer with an Ethernet port, USB port, and Parallel port. I just got it all setup on the network and it prints just fine. Twenty pages a minute, 10 second warm-up time, PCL6 emulation, 16MB memory, web-interface, and even (this is out of the way) telnet/ftp interface. The cost for a toner cartridge is $44.02 at Amazon. The yield (at 5% page coverage) is 2500 pages! That comes out to a much cheaper 1.7 cents per page. That is a lot more reasonable if we are just using the printer for black and white printing (which we do). The Stylus 777 will still stay on the network for color printing, but we will definitely not use it for normal printing duties. Update:  Aha.  I forgot that Brother print systems seem to always go with a toner + drum type combo.  So, the toner at $44.02 gets replaced every 2500 pages.  The drum at $77.60 gets replaced every 12000 pages.  At that cost, the per page cost is 2.4 cents.  Still not as bad as the Epson.