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Dealzon Email Q&A Bag #238: What's a good printer for my MacBook Pro?

Every once in awhile we get questions from Dealzon users regarding purchasing decisions. We'll now start posting answers to these from our favorite Dealzon Q&A Editor, Sharks With Laser Beams. If you think getting answers to your question is awesome, wait till you see it being answered by a shark, with a frickin' laser attached to its head.

Question: I can't get my old HP laser printer to work with my new MacBook Pro laptop. What are some good all-in-one printer / scanners that I could buy that are compatible with Mac? I'm using OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard right now, but I might upgrade to 10.7 Lion at some point.

Good question. There's a seemingly endless variety of printers to choose from spanning an enormous range of prices. The most basic printers/scanner combos do just that - print and scan - and for casual use, those seem to be the most appealing option. Unfortunately, many inexpensive printers carry a hidden cost in expensive, low-capacity ink cartridges. In other cases, manufacturers doom entry-level models to planned obsolescence, ceasing support past a certain point and leaving owners high and dry for ink and other essential parts.

But if you can navigate those potential pitfalls, there are moderately priced models that come with an impressive feature set. Wireless connectivity is now common, as is the ability to print from and scan to anything from tablets to the ubiquitous "Cloud".

Unfortunately for those with a Mac, finding a printer whose functionality is unimpaired by their hardware becomes more difficult. So you don't have to spend hours scouring reviews, manufacturers' sites, and support forums, we've outlined a few choices below that we'd recommend for all-around Mac use, with some reservations.

The cheapest printer out there that gets the job done is the Epson Stylus NX430.

Affectionately known as the "Small-in-One" for its diminutive footprint, this printer can be had for under $60 and prints and scans from a wireless network. It's also generally Apple-friendly, allowing you to scan and print from an iPad or Apple Airprint. If you're away from your MacBook, you can use its 2.5" touchscreen to print from a memory card as well. You can even use Google Cloud Print with this model.

It'll print black and white at a respectable 6.2 ppm. The printer uses a four cartridge design, allowing you to replace only the color you've depleted and thus use all your cartridges until empty.

The caveat: If you run out of a particular color, Epson has designed the printer to cripple functionality until it's replaced. That means no scanning, even though scanning requires no ink. A money-grabbing gimmick, but if you've got spare cartridges on hand for emergencies, you're good to go.

To ensure full compatibility, owners recommend you allow Lion to automatically install its preferred drivers and not those provided on the CD from Epson.

If you're looking for a faster printer that can multi-task and finish in bulk, another good option is the Canon Pixma MX410, which prints 8.7ppm in black.

Its 30-sheet auto feeder lets you rapidly scan, copy, and fax documents, while its built-in wireless connectivity lets you print and scan from a wide variety of portable devices. In addition to Apple and Android devices, the MX410 can easily connect to Canon HD cameras with its Full HD Movie Print, so you can capture movie clips and print them.

Scanning will look stunning at high-precision 2400 dpi - the same pixel density as the Stylus NX430. The Pixma MX410 uses only two ink tanks, so you'll probably have to replace more often than the Stylus NX430.

Theoretically you shouldn't have driver issues when you upgrade to Lion, as MX410 uses the same drivers for Snow Leopard. In case you run into any problems, you can locate your drivers right here.

Maybe you're thinking of getting another HP. In that case, we'd recommend the HP Envy 110 e-All-in-One Printer - probably the slickest/sleekest option, albeit the most expensive one.

It has similar wireless connectivity features as the two printers mentioned above, and is also compatible with most Apple, Android, and HP portable devices.

The Envy 110 may not be ideal for office use due to the absence of an auto document feeder, which may hinder you from multi-tasking, and it uses a flatbed scanner so you'll have to manually align your document. Scanner resolution is 1200 dpi - half that of the other two printers - but still produces crisp images at its maximum resolution.

Lion totally supports the Envy 110, and you can find the drivers in the HP website. Feedback on this printer revealed one user had trouble printing with Lion, but other people got it working perfectly by letting Lion download the drivers.

Got a laptop, gadget, or game buying question? Contact your pals at Dealzon and we'll help you out or write a blog post making fun of you.

Image from Gabrieel.

    Past Editor’s Notes and Discussions

  • sharkswithlaserbeamsFeb 20, 2012

    Sometimes an OS upgrade doesn't actually make your computer more useful. As fun as it is to move your fingers in a different direction to scroll and to be able to make application windows slightly larger, the move to Lion CAN come with drawbacks...namely, some of your peripherals may inexplicably stop working. But if you're in the market for a new all-in-one printer and want to be sure it plays nice with the king of the jungle, we've got you covered.

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