Expectations vs Reality of Printers


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There is a rather interesting phenomenon when it comes to consumers and their expectations about purchases they make. Expectations vary greatly depending on the type of product being purchased. 

For example, when purchasing a new winter coat or a suit, most people have not given a lot of thought to how long they think, or expect this new item to last them. 

They are probably most focused on how well the item looks on them, if it is well-priced or how well-made it is. 

But when it comes to electronics, computers and related accessories, the life-span of these items is high on the list of questions asked when doing pre-purchase research or at the point of sale.

Although there is a fair amount of “printer-bashing” around the internet on various tech blogs and chat forums, generally speaking, people really do like their printers and are happy with their selections. 

HP and Samsung specifically receive very high praise from their consumers.

Survey Reveals HP and Other Printer Brands Are Highly Liked by Users

In a survey recently conducted of our TonerBuzz community, we discovered some fascinating facts ( Jump to the Infographic):

  • The majority (well over 50%) of the people we surveyed have HP printers in their home or business, and they are, for the most part, quite happy with their printers.
  • Over 80% of HP customers in our survey indicated they like, or even LOVE, their printers.
  • Less than 10% said they do not like their printers.
  • Those who own Brother Canon, Lexmark and Samsung also replied that they like/love their printers.

Consumer Reports Survey: HP and Brother Lead in Laser Printer Satisfaction, but Lifespan Expectations Vary

The survey conducted by  Consumer Reports revealed that HP performs well in the regular black-and-white laser printer market. 

About 61% of the respondents who own an HP model were completely satisfied with its performance, while Brother scored slightly higher at 63%. Samsung had a satisfaction rate of 47%.

The report also noted that a significant proportion of printers are replaced due to performance issues. 

Of the printers purchased new since 2012 and subsequently replaced by their owners, nearly 75% had stopped working well or stopped working altogether. The remaining 26% were replaced by owners who wanted to upgrade.

There seems to be a disparity between people's expectations for the lifespan of their printers and how long they realistically last. 

The longevity of a printer is largely determined by the number of pages printed, rather than years of use. Manufacturers rate their products based on the ' Duty Cycle' - the number of pages a printer can handle per month. 

The duty cycle varies depending on the make and model of the printer and its intended use. Personal printers typically used in a home office can handle a few thousand pages per month, while larger models for business use can handle upwards of 100,000 pages per month.

Among those who participated in our TonerBuzz survey:

  • Over 50% expect their printer to last between 3-10 years.
  • About 22% expect it to only last 1-3 years, yet the majority of this group think their printer should last at least 3-5 or shockingly even 5-10 years!
  • 15% responded that they expect to get 10 or more years from their printers.
  • The respondents who expect their printers to last 5-10 years were also those most closely aligned with how long they think it should last with 78% responding also 5-10 years, and about 22% of this group think they should last 10 or more years.
  • Those who expect 10+ years from their printer also overwhelmingly responded the same regarding how long they
  • think it should last.

HP Community Support: Factors Affecting Printer Lifespan and Considerations for Service and Repairs

The HP support agents on the  HP community support forum indicated that the life expectancy of a laser printer depends on its usage and that electronics can always be vulnerable to failures, so they could not provide a specific answer to the question of a specific printer's life expectancy. 

However, they mentioned that typically the support or service options for a printer would be for 2 or 3 years with an extended warranty, and it becomes obsolete after that. 

One of the agents suggested that 8 years is a good amount of life to see out of a printer, and it might be a good idea to replace it rather than repair it at that point.

The type of printer being considered also plays a role in its life expectancy. For a typical desktop ink jet or laser printer used in a home office, a good life seems to be around 5 years, give or take. 

The variables at play include the printer model, the actual print volume, how well the printer is treated, and the environment it is kept in.

Even the larger, more sophisticated printer suitable for high volume printing still contains many electronic components which can break at any point, regardless of wear and tear. 

Not surprisingly, more features often leads to more problems – MFP's (multi-function, all-in-one) printers that also scan, fax and copy were found to have close to double the amount of problems reported than those of simple black and white laser printers. 

As with most electronics, printers tend to require repairs and service long after the manufacturer's warranty has expired. 

Since laser printers are so widely used and they typically still run well past their initial warranty periods, there are plenty of 3rd party companies who offer service and replacement parts for older models, which can further extend the life of a good machine.

Some points to consider regarding printer service and repairs:- What is the cost of the repair?- What is the cost of replacement?- What is the anticipated post-repair life span?

When it comes to printers used in the home, they are generally not very expensive to replace with a new one, and therefore, the cost/effort to repair may not be worthwhile. 

However, higher price-point printers that are more complex and generally purchased for business could definitely be worth the effort and investment in repairs and service to help keep it in use for some time to come.

When you do the homework up front before you buy a printer, ensure that it will be able to handle your printing needs. This will help close the gap between the expectation and the reality of your printer's lifespan.

Although there is no 'magic potion' around yet to guarantee your printer will last forever, here are some useful tips and suggestions to help your printer life a longer, more productive life:

  • Use OEM toner cartridges that are manufactured by the same company that makes your printer
  • Use good quality paper suitable for the type of printing you will be doing
  • Follow the manufacturer's instructions for cleaning and service/maintenance of the printer to keep it working in optimal condition.


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