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”Paperworld
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Consumer study analyses printer reliability

February 1, 2017

printers in warehouseConsumer Reports found that “it’s not always wise to go with the most popular model – especially when you buy an inkjet printer”.

The company undertook an “exclusive survey” on “how to get the most reliable printer for your home”, stating that “price does not equal performance”, and pointing out “popularity is a poor measure of performance, too”. Over 36,000 subscribers contributed, altogether purchasing over 42,000 printers between 2012 and 2016, with HP Inc AIO inkjets “the most common choice”.

These machines “accounted for 43 percent of the printers” in the survey, but results showed that “consumers likely would be better served by selecting a model manufactured by Brother”, as only 13 percent of Brother AIO inkjets “will develop a problem by the third year of ownership”, compared to 14 percent for Canon and 20 percent for both HP Inc and Epson.

One HP Inc printer owner stated that “about every month there is a problem of some kind that disrupts printing ability. Often printer head related. If you don’t use HP ink, they really mess with you. If you remove an ink cartridge to check if it’s clogged, you can’t put it back in”. In turn, another said that their printer “frequently fails to print. Often due to connection problems”.

Single-function inkjets saw “similarly striking results”, with Canon machines “half as likely to break as those made by HP”, with estimated problem rates of nine and 18 percent respectively “by the third year”. Other key points included that HP Inc “fares well” in the monochrome laser market, with 61 percent “completely satisfied with its performance”, and only Brother scored higher with 63 percent, while Samsung scored 47 percent.

Consumer Reports pointed out that “shoppers have good reason to be bullish on HP in this category”, as “only five percent of its [mono] laser printers will present problems by the third year”. The study also found that “extra features lead to extra problems”, as MFPs “are definitely handy, especially for small-business owners”, but “bring more headaches, too”, with the estimated problem rate 17 percent compared to 10 percent for single-functions.

Epson’s EcoTank printers “deserve more love” as they try to “solve a common complaint among printer owners” – high cartridge costs – “by employing refillable tanks”. Despite being “half as likely as other Epson inkjet models to experience problems”, the range has “yet to be warmly embraced”, and represents only six percent of Epson inkjets purchased since launch. The “low adoption rate” was explained by the “high entry price” of around $280 (€259) as well as “low market visibility”.

Another finding was that “aftermarket ink is an afterthought”, with the high cost making it “easy to see why consumers often grumble about their options”. Conversely, only 37 percent “have given aftermarket ink a try”, while only 12 percent “use it regularly”, though 63 percent who do use them “think the aftermarket cartridges are just as good as regular cartridges”, while 36 percent “think they’re worse”.

Finally, printers “often get replaced because of performance problems”, with new printers purchased since 2012 and “subsequently swapped out by their owners” seeing “nearly 75 percent” abandoned because “they had stopped working well or stopped working altogether”. The remaining 26 percent “were replaced by owners who wanted to upgrade”, though only 21 percent “were thrown away”, with 37 percent recycled, 17 percent donated, and 12 percent used elsewhere or passed on.

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