For the last few months my computer has been popping up a warning from my colour laser printer. “Help”, it says (if I may paraphrase), “I’m running out of toner!” But I’ve been reluctant to heed the warning because to replace the toner cartridges (and all four need replacing) will cost $576. That’s for colour cartridges rated at 2200 pages, and black rated at 2500 pages.
Meanwhile, the Canon Pixma G3600 inkjet multifunction (scan, print, copy) device is rated at 7000 pages of colour and 6000 pages black, out of the box, for a total cost of $499. And that includes the device itself.
I shall return to the pricing and economics of using this printer shortly, but first let’s look quickly at its features.
Although I shall mostly call it a printer, the Canon Pixma G3600 is also a scanner and a copier. The print paper path is from a vertical paper stack at the rear, through the printer, popping out onto another tray at the front. The scanner has its long dimension from left to right. The print path is rated to support papers up to 275gsm glossy photo paper. The paper tray can accommodate up to 100 sheets of regular print paper.
Down the right hand side at the top are the controls and indicator lamps They’re pretty straightforward. There is no display on the printer. If a warning lamp goes on, the printer driver control panel on your computer will tell you what the problem is.
The print resolution is 4800 dpi horizontally and 1200 dpi vertically. The optical resolution of the scanner is 600 by 1200 dpi.
The print speed is specified at “8.8 ipm” for black and “5.0pm” for colour. I confess I really don’t know what that means. For what it’s worth, I printed ten pages of a black and white document with fairly full coverage of text on each page using Word. It took one minute and 37 seconds from the time I pressed the “Print” button until the last page dropped into the output tray, so that includes processing time within the computer and network connection time.
There’s only one physical connection: USB. However Canon expects the printer to be connected to the network via the built in WiFi. That works in the 2.4GHz band and supports up to 802.11n connections.
The reason I bought a laser printer in the first place was because it was much cheaper to run on a per page basis, even though it costs a fortune to replace the cartridges. But that was then. This is now. Last year one of the big printer companies introduced models which refill from bottles, and this year another biggie, Canon, has likewise come into the game with this, the Canon Pixma G3600 printer. At 135ml capacity, the black bottle is larger than the others (they contain 70ml each).
Now let’s do a quick comparison for just black printing and assume that the brands use similar means for calculating the number of pages which can be produced. The black cartridge for my laser costs $123 for 2500 pages, which works out at 4.92 cents per page. A new black ink bottle for the Canon Pixma G3600 is rated at 6000 pages and costs $29.99. That works out at 0.500 cents per page, or very nearly an order of magnitude lower in cost.
Um. Wow? It’s hard to think of a sufficiently strong exclamation in the face of such a fact.
For colour, the laser pricing is $151 per colour for 2200 pages, or 6.86 cents per colour per page. For the Pixma G3600 it is $24.99 per colour for 7000 pages, or 0.357 cents per colour per page, or 5.2% of the laser price.
Yes, you’re paying a lot more up front for the hardware. Most consumer inkjet printers (and lasers, it seems) discount heavily on the hardware and make it up with the consumables. With this printer you’re paying a truer price for both hardware and consumables. And remember, again, that the up front purchase price includes a page yield of two or three times that of an equivalently priced laser, and goodness knows how many multiples for an inkjet using regular ink cartridges.