bottle or cartridge? Expensive or cheap? If you are spontaneously looking for a printer, you often reach for the cheap models. This can take revenge later, as Warentest proves in the current comparison. A suitable device does not have to be expensive.

Printer ink is one of the most expensive liquids in the world. If you needed them by the liter, tens of thousands of euros would come together in no time at all. But when buying a printer, the price for fresh cartridges, bags or bottles is sometimes not given much attention – which takes revenge at the latest when the time has come for refills. In the current comparison by Stiftung Warentest, the testers came across genuine financial traps. Accordingly, the price range for a text page is between 0.3 and 10 cents, for an A4 color photo it is 8 cents to 4.70 euros – per page. This is another reason why when choosing a printer, which in case of doubt should do its work for a few years, you should not only concentrate on the price tag and consider in advance how often – and for what – you need the printer.

In the current comparison, Stiftung Warentest has adapted the procedure in terms of the environment and thus changed the weighting of the partial marks. The print result, which is made up of quality, water and light resistance and speed, accounts for 30 percent. The scanner, the copier function and the cost of new ink in the smallest available cartridge or bottle each account for ten percent. Handling accounts for 15 percent of the final score, which includes Warentest things like instructions, commissioning, operation and changing cartridges. With around 20 percent, the environmental properties have an unprecedented share in the final score. Warentest takes a very close look at power consumption, the interchangeability of wearing parts and the nature of the cartridges. The remaining five percent result from the versatility of the devices.

Printers under 100 euros are “sufficient” at most – and expensive afterwards

First of all: You should only use it in exceptional cases for less than 100 euros, as the test shows. All devices that fall into this category only made it to the final grade of “sufficient”. The best was the HP Deskjet 2720e for 75 euros, which produced by far the best print results of all cheap printers. Numerous sub-areas rated “sufficient”, such as ink costs, versatility and the copy function, thwarted the device on the way to a better overall grade.

Epson was able to book the price tip for infrequent printers. With the Workforce WF-2960 for 122 euros, the manufacturer achieved the overall grade “satisfactory” (2.6) and ended up in fourth place. The device convinced the testers above all with good print results, good handling and high versatility. High ink costs led to a devaluation of this device. In fact, at 9 cents for a text page and 2.70 euros for a color photo, it is one of the comparatively expensive devices in the test. This is still cheap compared to the HP Envy Inspire 7920e for 156 euros: The printer with the highest ink costs in comparison devours 10 cents per page of text and a breathtaking 4.70 euros for a full-page photo when you have used the smallest available cartridge. It’s a shame, because the device prints well and offers a good scanner, but overall it only gets a “satisfactory” (3.1) and thus sixth place.

If you print a lot, you should avoid cartridges

The test makes it clear that high-volume printers in particular should refrain from devices with cartridges. Bottle or bag systems can make up for the often high acquisition costs in the long run. The test winner Canon Maxify GX4050 initially costs a whopping 500 euros – and thus the most money in the test field – but only devours 0.3 cents per text page and 8 cents per color photo. Good performance in the disciplines of printing, scanning, versatility and environmental properties help the device to get the overall grade “good” (2.0) and a recommendation from the experts.

If 500 euros for a printer is too much for you, you should take a closer look at the third-place winner. The Epson Ecotank ET-2820 costs a little less than half of the test winner at 239 euros, but it also gets the overall grade “good” (2.4) and is only a few cents more expensive than first place in continuous operation. You have to make concessions with this device in terms of versatility and the scanning function, the rest is very similar to the first place winner.

You can find the complete test and other devices in comparison for a fee at

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