The razor’s free, but you have to pay for the blades…

We recently bought a Samsung ML-2010 black and white laster printer to replace our aging HP LaserJet 6L. It was on sale at CompUSA during one of their “Midnight Madness” events for $69.

We got it home, hooked it up, and it works great. REALLY fast (20 pages per minute) printing text, and the print quality is great. However, we found out tonight that the included toner/drum cartridge is only rated for 1000 pages at 5% page coverage. In other words, without using the “Toner Save” feature you can put a single ream of paper through it before you have to start shaking the toner cartridge for better coverage.

The “replacement” toner/drum cartridges sold by CompUSA and others are rated for 3000 pages – THREE TIMES the amount in the “starter” cartridge. They’re also $70 – as much as the printer cost us to begin with. I never thought that laser printers would reach the point where it was cheaper to just go buy another printer than to buy a replacement toner cartridge! Inkjet printers hit that point about six years ago (anybody else remember the HP-offbrand “Apollo” printers where the printer cost $40 and the replacement ink cartridge was $50?).

Fortunately I’ve found a vendor that sells the ML-2010 replacement cartridge/drum for $50. I’ve ordered one and will see how it goes. In the end, I may take the original “starter” cartridge and see how well it works with a cheap toner refill (using the existing cartridge and drum). That would take the cost per cartridge down to less than $10, and I can refill each cartridge two or three times.

I give it a year or two before laser printers are completely free, but they come with a toner cartridge that only prints 100 pages before you have to buy another.

Update: I’ve discovered that holy men like my printer! I can buy a refilled toner cartridge from the LaserMonks for only $91.50!