Thursday, September 15, 2011

To Repair Or Replace a Printer?

"Should I buy a new printer or fix the old one?" I don't know how many times I've heard this question, but I wish I had a nickel for each time. Of course, if they asked a salesperson, he'd have a ready answer for them... always "yes". But as a technician, I like to analyze the question a little before giving an answer. The standard equation was always that if the repair costs more than half the machine, then replace it. But as printer technology advances, and smaller printers last longer, that standard is changing.

Just to give you an example, a $1,000 laser printer might easily last 150,000 pages before ever breaking down. When it finally does need repairs, a $500 maintenance kit (including labor) is nothing to wince at. It's standard almost. And the $500 will most probably carry you through another 150,000 pages. In a case like that, if you'd replaced that printer, you would have wasted $500.

So once we get down to the dollar for dollar, the modern equation has changed, even though the standard answer from printer dealers hasn't.

Of course, the question of repair cost and printer cost isn't the only thing to consider anymore. You have to consider down time, technological advances, and a whole mess of other things. In the end, you won't get a short, simple answer... but you can make a list of pros and cons taking into account each of the following:

Small Consistent Repairs - If a machine breaks down every other month, it's probably time for an upgrade... even if the repairs are cheap. They aren't supposed to break often. If yours is, then either the parts are getting old and brittle, or the machine itself isn't made for the amount of work you're giving it. An acceptable 'break free' period is four months.

Parts - With smaller machines, parts availability is usually the deciding factor when trying to decide whether to replace or repair. Especially with inkjet printers. As a matter of fact, the odds of being able repair an inkjet machine is very slim, because inkjet parts are usually not manufactured--the machine was designed to be replaceable.

Down Time - Sometimes it's not the end of the world when a machine sits in the corner for a week waiting for parts. Sometimes it is the end of the world. If your business relies on your machine, then you need to consider a few things: 1-Is the machine reliable enough to go for long periods without breaking? 2-Is the machine a popular model, and are there parts readily available when the machine DOES break? 3-do you have anything for 'backup'? If you answered 'no' to any of these questions, you ought to think about buying a good, reliable, POPULAR machine.

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