2010-02-06

Keep That Old Printer, or, New Printers Stink

Old laser printers have some notable advantages over many newer printers.

An old laser can be found for little money. You can easily find great working printers on Craig's List for under $40.

My old-school HP LaserJet 5L - still works like a champ!

The inexpensive toner cartridges for these printers can often be found on Amazon for under $20 each. And each cartridge, typically rated for several thousand pages, can last five times longer than many more expensive inkjet cartridges.

And these old printers are solid. Many were designed last for years in high volume situations. And they were designed to be maintained, instead of thrown away. My laser is nearly 15 years old and it keeps on ticking.

Keeping it Modern

Buying a good old fashion laser jet for under $40 is easy. But it likely has an old-fashion Parallel interface on it - meaning that your computer can't even use it. What to do?

My answer was to buy an Epson Net C823781 Print Server. It isn't the latest device on the market, but it can be found for under $30, and has a lot of great features. The print server easily plugs into my printer, and then I simply connect the print server to my home wireless router.

Inexpensive ethernet print server on the LaserJet 5L


Configuring the print server

For the Epson C82378, I found printing success by using the "LPD" option. First, I found the address of my print server by going into my router's configuration screen. Then, on my Mac, I simply added a new LPD printer via the Print & Fax system preferences. I entered the IP address of my print server, used the "default queue", and chose the generic PCL print driver (as my HP, like many good lasers, supports PCL).


Configuring my Mac to use the Epson C82378 print server with my HP LaserJet 5L

Conclusion

I love the fact that I'm able to use my old laser printer from virtually any machine on my modern network. The cost-per-print is extremely competitive compared to all modern printers, and the total investment was extremely low.

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