Frugal Friday

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It wasn't long ago that a laser printer for your home computer cost a couple thousand dollars, but now some laser printers cost as little as a hundred bucks after rebates.

To find out whether they're worth buying, News Channel Seven's Carla Kneeland looks at some inexpensive laser printers.

The short answer is yes, you can get a good laser printer for less than a hundred bucks, but most laser printers only work with PCs. If you use a Mac make sure the printer you buy is compatible.

Name brand manufacturers are now offering laser printers for around $100 after rebates. That sounds like a pretty good deal, so engineers tested three of them from Dell, Brother, and Konica Minolta, and they compared these with a $170 "multi-function" from Canon that is also a scanner and copier.

"We found that price does not dictate quality or speed, but generally, more expensive printers are going to offer more features. These printers are really great for college students that print out their term papers and assignments, small businesses and families."

Setup is similar to ink-jet printers. Simply connect a power cord and USB cable. Installing the toner cartridge was easy enough on all models. To evaluate print quality, engineers looked at text, graphics, and photos.

ImageCLASS MF3110

"The Canon printer was a little bit more expensive than the other printers that we tested. But, it offers scanning and copying functionality."

Dell Laser Printer 1100

But the Dell was the best at printing among the low-priced models and easy to operate.

Brother HL-2040

The fastest printer was the Brother HL2040, about 20 pages per minute. The Brother's $60.00 toner cartridge can print about 2,500 pages. That's less than 2 1/2 cents per page.

If you're in the market for an inexpensive laser printer, keep an eye out for rebates and advertised sales. Laser printers are faster than inkjet printers and it costs less per page to make printouts with them.

Manufacturers' Contacts:

Brother HL2040
908-252-3232 (Jeffrey Sandler)

Canon Image Class MF3110
949-713-6574 (Scott Heath)

Dell 1100
512-728-7838 (Maggie Beery)