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Syntho

Which printer should I get?

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I would like to have a printer on my 9600 machines so I guess that entails either serial or maybe even scsi connections from what I’ve read. I don’t know much about laser vs inkjet printers so I don’t really know what to get. I just want something that’ll print text and sometimes diagrams, mostly in B&W, no photos really. So nothing really fancy or expensive, just something that’ll get the job done. What could you guys recommend?

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Look for a Postscript compatible printer that supports AppleTalk on its network interface. MANY HP LaserJets (both color and B&W) support this. Brand new printers with Postscript (emulation usually) are out there, but very few support AppleTalk these days, so you'll likely have to go used or have to setup a separate AppleTalk printer server.

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Laser is a much better print technology thank inkjet. Only bother with inkjet if you need a brand new printer for $30 or you frequently need detailed color prints. Even then, I ended up with a color laser and it was going to be much cheaper per page over the life of the printer than any inkjet would be. I don't know if that has changed in the modern time now that we have stuff like big-tank and explicitly refillable inkjet printers.

 

The trade-off is that, especially older lasers are big and take a lot of energy. They take longer to get warmed up if you leave them switched off but they typically print faster than inkjet and so you definitely make up your time if you print often or if you print larger jobs.

 

There are cheap, plentiful laser printers from the last 20 years that'll talk the Apples over Ethernet (Ethertalk) which can be adapted to older Macs with Ethertalk/Localtalk bridges (which I consider to be an important tool for networking anyway) and of course will be able to talk to a 9600 directly over Ethernet.

 

I got a Xerox Phaser 6120EN back in ~2006. I don't remember if there was a dedicated PPD for it, but you can point the Laserwriter 8 driver on shstem 7 or newer at it and say "that's an apple color laserwriter" or "that's an hp color laserjet" and it works great. I also have some friends who bought less expensive monochrome lasers. You can tell a Mac that something like a Brother HL2070N is a laserwriter 16/600 or so and it should work. I don't remember if these printers included dedicated PPDs that worked on OS 9, but you don't strictly speaking need it for simple print jobs on PostScript printers.

 

There's also older HP LaserJets. LaserJets 4M and 5M will probably live longer than you will, a couple companies are still making toner for them and I believe you can more or less still get spares of all the other consumable supplies, like rollers and stuff. When I was looking, a cartridge for the LJ4M or LWP600-LWP630-LW16/600PS was being sold by Xerox and advertised as having around 15,000 pages of print life.

 

With regard to Apple LaserWriters specifically, the only model that I would say to avoid unless you get one that includes a lot of supplies is the LaserWriter Select series. These use a print engine that as far as I know is unique to that printer.

 

The smaller laserwriters, Personal 300/320 and 4/600 and the bigger 600-16 series share engines with HP printers and so they're easier to find parts for. (I don't know this detail about the LW8500, the 12/640, or any of the color lasers, though.)

 

One other note about color lasers is that you might not want to go too old if you can avoid it. Really old color lasers like the Apple color laserwriters and the HP 4500/4550 were GARGANTUAN and took inordinate amounts of electricity and had specialty supplies like oils. I don't know if supplies for those are still in common circulation the way they are for older heavy duty monochrome lasers.

 

Whether you want something relatively modern or modern-usable or want to "collect" something that's vintage is sort of up to you. There's  low hanging fruit out there in terms of compatibility. Conversely to the modern laser situation, some of the higher end LaserWriters can accept print jobs over TCP/IP and might be more usable on modern computers as well.

 

I pretty much outright wouldn't consider buying an older inkjet or dot-matrix printer. Even ones that share parts and supplies with other printers and where you might still be able to buy ink, or use refill kits. Text will look awful by modern standards, probably on either of these, and inkjets were really terrible technology that existed only for cheap, infrequent usage by consumers where $700 + for a laser printer wasn't reasonable. Today, you can get new HP LaserJet for $110, so unless inkjet has changed a lot in the last fifteen years (and: it might have, I don't keep up) a laser printer would be a better buy. (Though on hp.com at least the least expensive handful of models are out of stock, suggesting a possible rush on printers suitable for home as part of the global pandemic, I don't know if this has done anything to pricing on userd printers.)

 

(That's me though and I have little enough space at the moment that it wouldn't make sense for me to use any printers not usable by most or all of my computers, and, I also don't really have a daily need to print, if I did, I'd get my old Phaser 6120 out of its box.)

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17 hours ago, Cory5412 said:

Really old color lasers like the Apple color laserwriters and the HP 4500/4550 were GARGANTUAN and took inordinate amounts of electricity

Gargantuan compared to current consumer models?  Absolutely.  Built like tanks.  You won't see much of a difference when you compare like for like though, since at the time LaserWriters and LaserJets (except for the personal varieties) were geared mostly towards business and comparing them against current business lasers shows they weigh nearly the same.

 

Took inordinate amounts of electricity?  <Lumbergh> Oooh, yeaaah, ummmm, I'm gonna have to go ahead and sort of disagree with you there. </Lumbergh>

Granted, these are published specs, and I don't own either so I can't plug them into a kill-a-watt and get live readings but the newer HP Color LaserJet Pro M479fdw actually takes 50 watts more electricity to print than the older Color LaserJet 4500 (550w vs 500w).  It bests the older machine in standby and sleep (140w vs 20w and 2w vs 0.7w for the 4500/M479fdw respectively), but if you keep the printer turned off when not in use that doesn't matter.

 

https://www.cnet.com/products/hp-color-laserjet-4500/

https://www.cnet.com/products/hp-color-laserjet-pro-mfp-m479fdw-multifunction-printer-color/

 

It's part of the reason that I haven't replaced my LaserJet 4050 yet.  If I was saving a bunch of power that would ease the monetary pain of buying a new printer and new toner, since the other features (color and scanning) are niceties I don't need or are on parity with features I already have (auto duplexing, multiple trays, built-in networking).  

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My recommendations for B&W lasers is usually going to be the LaserJet 4000 series (aim for a 4100, its newer and faster than the 4000 and 4050), but avoid the 4200 and newer. All have EIO slots that take networking cards.

 

For color lasers.....well that depends. I personally have a Color Laserjet 3700. Not the worlds best constructed printer, but its been cheap to run and isn't nearly as big as the 4500, 4600, or 4700. Its got oodles of legacy compatibility though, parallel port, USB, and a EIO JetDirect card. Biggest problem I've had with it is the image transfer belt streaking, but thats a consumable part anyway.

 

All the above printers have PostScript 3 emulation, and HP PCL 5e/5c  and PCL 6 support. The CLJ3700 can even print PDF 1.4 files directly. All work "out of the box" with Macs, just need the PPD files for the LaserWriter 8 driver.

 

If you happen across an older Canon EX engine printer like the HP Laserjet 4 or 5 (not the smaller P models), I wouldn't turn it down. They are tanks too, just be sure to get the "M" versions with Postscript, they usually have JetDirect cards in them with Ethernet and LocalTalk too. Apple's version of the EX was the LaserWriter 16/600 PS (has Ethernet, needs AAUI adapter), along with the earlier LaserWriter Pro 600 and 630 (no Ethernet).

 

Funny how the HP Color LaserJet Pro M479fdw came up. I was looking at it last week when my 3700 started to act up (Error 59.99, I fixed it by blowing out the insides, dirty sensor!). Before I forget, if you do look at used color lasers.....make sure they come with toner! It really saves you a bundle. Any reasonable seller will be more then willing to run off a supplies status page. You don't want to invest a new set of toner into a printer that is in an unknown state of repair.

Edited by NJRoadfan

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13 hours ago, EvilCapitalist said:

but the newer HP Color LaserJet Pro M479fdw actually takes 50 watts more electricity to print than the older Color LaserJet 4500 (550w vs 500w). 

Fair enough. My thinking was about the movement of color lasers toward being small. I didn't go look them up. 550 isn't that  bad but it's also more than I'd want to be dealing with. 

 

For example, a Color LaserJet 2600 from roughly 2005 or so is cited by CNET as having a 190w power supply. (I couldn't find a number quickly for my Phaser 6120 and it needs a cartridge so it's not out and running otherwise I'd offer to measure it.)

 

Although, the point about vintage color laser power usage is extremely elegantly put when you compared big color lasers that are all big to new modern color lasers and to the monochrome laserjet 4000 series which use a third of the power and are faster and so on.

 

Point taken though.

 

I went to go look at whatever the lowest-end HP Color LaserJet is today and, if I'm not reading it wrong, that's the M225 which HP cites as being able to draw 330 watts, which is "fine" but also seems more than the 2600, which was sort of middle of low end (there was a couple models below the 2600 but they had the same basic mechanism). Though, IDK, maybe I'm using the store wrong and HP "has" a cheaper color laser I'm not looking at.

 

Another LaserJet series to look at though might be the LaserJet 2x00M series. 2100/2200/2300 with the networked or mac suffixes tend to work well/be reliable and work on classic Macs, in my experience. 2400 should too but if I remember, 2400 is new enough not to look old ("not beige") and so I don't know what pricing will be like for one of those.

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The CLJ2600 is a "host based" printer and requires special drivers that speak the "Jet Ready" raster language. Same can be said for the cheaper siblings of the 3000 series, the 3500 and 3600. The CLJ 3000 series seems to have been marketed to both home office and bushiness segments. Its not nearly as big as the 4000 series color printers, only uses 400w, and is FCC Class B certified. Its hard to avoid the power draw when running due to the fuser needing heat. Some of that figure may be surge capacity for all the motors turning on at once, I haven't checked with a Kill-a-watt meter.

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My apologies for the confusion, I didn't intend for that to sound like a recommendation of the 2600 for this context. It's "fine" and it's okay as an OS X 10.2+ and Windows printer, but it's missing postscript emulation at the very least.

 

I need to figure out what does which, but there was another color laser underneath the 2600, the 1600, which was completely host-based, but I might just be confusing "host-based and networked" for "host-based and USB-only". I don't have the time to re-research it at the moment and the last time I thought about this specifically was in 2005 or 2006, so, very possibly misremembering.

 

That issue, anyway, was part of why I ended up picking the Xerox Phaser 6120 anyway. It speaks AppleTalk over ethernet and you can use it with the LaserWriter 8 driver, which, I was still daily driving Mac OS 9 for some things in that moment. (Although that only lasted a couple months and then I switched to Windows, but, having the extra options are great and if I ever need a printer regularly again, I'll pull my 6120 out of the box and hook it up and have it on my old Macs.

 

 

 

 

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I'd say the bigger problem with the low end printers is that the consumables cost a lot more. Gotta make up for the cost of that cheapo printer by selling more razor blades.... eh toner.

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Yeah, there's always a trade-off there. You come out ahead even on HP's cheapest lasers, relative to inkjets, in several metrics, but if you can swing a bigger printer, there's more room for toner in it, and with HP in particular, a lot of the cost of each toner cartridge is the imaging drum in it, so it doesn't cost too much more to get a 2000-page toner for a bigger printer than to get a 1000-page one for the basic printer.

 

When you're buying used and/or you have a relatively generous budget, you have some more latitude to make decisions like that. I bought close to the leading edge of "color lasers a single person can lift on their own" as a category, back when I got the 6120. (*Also, it was purchased for me as a school supply by my parents, and my track record up to that point buying used hardware had been very poor, so I suspect they would not have gone for the idea of buying something used.)

 

For me, it's tough to say what the best mix would be today, if I had some reason to buy a new printer. (which is probably the real indicator: my print volume is under 100 pages a year) I need to look at some point because I have a mild fear that the decision might be made for me if there are no longer new toner cartridges being made for the 6120. It'd be tempting to go get a LaserJet 4 or 5 and start getting Staples' house-brand 98X cartridges for it, but I don't really print anywhere near often enough to merit that over a much less expensive printer, even if HP gets a few more bucks out of me every second or third year when I've exhausted a cartridge.

 

EDIT/Add: Xerox appears to have discontinued its own 98x toner, which when theyw ere making it a decade ago claimed over 10,000 pages a cartridge. Staples' TRU-RED brand claims 8800ish pages.

 

On the Phaser 6120, which I of course recommend if you need color and can find the supplies for it, there are standard and high capacities for each C/M/Y/K toner and a separate imaging unit, the bummer is that the standard capacity cartridges are $100 a pop and the high capacity ones are roughly $230 a pop (Staples pricing). Granted, I used the printer for like four years before the first toner ran out and then had to pack it up because it wouldn't print and I didn't have money at the time to get a new one. That inertia has carried me for around ten years and I'm still carrying the thing around with me.

 

Xerox's pricing appears mostly comparable, but they appear to have it in stock and Staples doesn't.

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Calling back to the OP, I think color might have been a diversion, so my apologies for that.

 

There's no really great need for a particularly big printer, and depending on what OS you're running @Syntho you don't even have to go that old. Here are two options that should work in Mac OS 9. The 2300 advertises that it works with the LaserWriter 8 drivers, and explicitly states support for both AppleTalk and TCP/IP based printing. The 1320 might not have AppleTalk but it can accept TCP/IP based print jobs from Mac OS 9, so it might be worth considering if you primarily run 9.

 

Just idly, I took a super brief look at eBay and it appears I was correct about the LaserJets 2300 and 2400. The 2300 is around $120 in buy-it-now auctions and the 2430N is around $200 or so in buy-it-now auctions. Xerox is selling a toner for the 2300 rated at roughly 6000 pages for $50.

 

The LaserJet 1320N is an even smaller printer but appears to be that much less expensive on eBay. I have one in my office shared between a handful of us and it's been reliable. The manual confirms it can accept postscript input. It works with Mac OS 9 but the instructions in the manual are for TCP/IP, so I can't at the moment confirm whether or not it might work with AppleTalk. It appears the 1320 series had duplexing built in as well. 

 

 

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After reading the thread a couple times, I’m... overwhelmed. lots of options and lots to think about.

 

i think I wanna do it ‘right’ the first time around and get a color laser jet with an Ethernet card in it for network printing. It makes more sense for network printing since I’ve got multiple machines around in different rooms.

 

My main OS is 8.6 across all my systems. Sometimes I boot into 7.6.1 but rarely, so I’d need something that’s color, a laser jet, and has an Ethernet port. I’ve always disabled all the printing extensions in 8.6 since I never use them, so I’m gonna have to figure out how to connect to the printer (desktop printer utility in the extras folder?) as well as figure out which driver to select for it.

 

But that’s after I figure out which printer to buy in the first place.

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Hey guys, let me try and narrow this down. I’ve been looking at the models suggested here and it’s a hard choice so here are my requirements:

 

1. I run mainly OS8.6 across all my systems. It would be nice to access it from a newer OS occasionally but 8.6 is pretty much what I run.

 

2. TCP printing seems the better way to go since all of my systems can print to it, but as a bonus it would be nice to have a serial port. If not, no worries.

 

3. I want a color laser jet.

 

4. I also don’t care if it’s big and bulky.

 

5. I’ll buy used, and if possible keep it under $200.

 

What are my options then?

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Still trying to sort through so many models. From what I can tell the color laserjets are all at the least double-triple the price compared to a mono laser jet. I don’t have $600 to blow on a used printer right now and I’m pretty sure only $200 for a used color jet isn’t possible, at least with network printing capability. Hmm... I might just go with a mono version. I have another printer on the network that I can print from OSX on.

 

It would be ideal to have a color laser jet with all the requirements I posted above but of course $$$ is an issue.

Edited by Syntho

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The 4100n looks like it’s fitting what I need as @NJRoadFan mentioned. Duplexing for front-back printing would be nice too. Is that very difficult to do from an old Mac? I’m only used to OSX’s little dialog where you just tick the box and it works.

 

i think I’ve decided that a 4100dtn fits the bill. Now I just need to find one in decent condition, unless you guys have a better idea.

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I picked up an OKI 321dn from a university student who had finished her studies and was moving. It is a colour A4 printer.

It supports EtherTalk and is seen  by both the AdobePS-driver and the LaserWriter 8 driver.

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The PPD file for the LaserJet 4100 series will add a duplex checkbox to the LaserWriter 8 driver. Used color lasers can be found for less then $600, you just have to  be patient and wait for the right one to come along. For $600, you might as well buy a new one! Just keep in mind that these printers, including the 4100dtn, are VERY heavy. Shipping is going to be expensive, and likely sent freight depending on the seller. Something that you can locally pickup would be preferable.

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I’m also looking at a cheaper 2300dn that Cory mentioned. That’ll save me some $$$. Gonna do some research and see if I can find out if they’ll work with OS8.6. It’ll work with OS9 for sure but I run OS8.6. I guess that compatibility is only if you intend to use the provided software though, and I believe I’ll be doing it differently. Never printed stuff on an old Mac yet, still have a little to learn.  But as long as I can print two-sided pages over a network to a 2300 series from OS8.6 I’ll be happy.

Edited by Syntho

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Alright so the 2300dn definitely works with 8.6. I’m gonna use it over a network though so not sure that even matters. As far as I know there is a ppd file for it which works with the LaserWriter 8 driver. 


I’ve always disabled all printing extensions on my systems so now I wonder which of them I’ll need to enable. I’ll be printing over a network, if that helps.

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I’ve got a 2300dn right in front of me now, but... lots of issues. Paper jams and duplexing doesn’t seem to work, but I’ll get to that later. The main thing I’m concerned about is that in the I/O configuration area there is no setting showing up for networking. I’ve got the Ethernet cable plugged in but it’s acting as if there is no networking card in it.

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Looks like the seller pulled a switcheroo, after I noticed that the one I got was different from what was described. Returning it.

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If it's consistently jamming and the paper isn't the reason (high humidity and paper is a bad mix) it might need a maintenance kit which would be some mix of pads, rollers, and sometimes the fuser assembly.  Given that the JetDirect card isn't showing up / isn't detected and the duplexer isn't working right you're taking the smart approach by returning it.

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Probably smart to budget for a maintenance kit anyway at this point. The LaserJet 2300 is getting closer and closer to twenty years old and any that hasn't had at least one or two by now is certainly due for one.

 

Bummer that the machine didn't arrive as-described. Was this one of those scenarios where one seller has a warehouse of things and they just make twelve listings for $THING with the same pictures and then you get whichever one happens to be on top? That's relatively common for high volume IT types of items, and, for better or worse it's not unlikely that more LaserJet 2300s were built that year than all Macintoshes across all product families.

 

Randomly, on the jetdirect: does the card light up? Are there lights on it? What if you turn the printer off, pull the jetdirect out (IIRC it's still an EIO slot on that model, so you should be able to unscrew it and pull lit out) and then put it back in?

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Yep, it was a business that inherited many printers at once and they had a duplicate. I contacted them and they said that I can just keep this one for parts and that they’ll send me the other one. Problem is though that I hope the other one I working fine. I asked that they test it beforehand, so we’ll see.

 

I’m not certain that any lights are coming on on the network card since it’s housed in a metal case. I looked on the inside through the holes in the housing and I don’t see any lights on, and I also pulled it out and reseated it but it’s not showing up.

 

I don’t want to spend too much time trying to fix everything but I read that baking the network card can help. I also have a heat gun. Don’t wanna try anything too drastic though since I’ve got another one on the way.

Edited by Syntho

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I can almost get the thing working, sans the network card. Seems to be jamming mostly in the cartridge area. I’m gonna tinker with this one until the other one is here.

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