Printers READERS’ CHOICE

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Canon. Ever consistent, Canon once again comes out on top of printers overall and in several printer subcategories.

Brother. The come-from-behind vendor of the year jumped ahead in the lineup enough to garner the second Readers’ Choice in printers for 2009.

HP. HP is the 400-pound gorilla of printers, considering the sheer number of responses it received, but users also give the company high scores.

Canon’s middle name is consistent, at least when it comes to how PC Mag readers feel about its printers. The vendor’s overall score has gone up a little, from an SBA of 8.2 in 2008 to an SBA of 8.3 this year. In fact, it hadmodest gains across the board for printers overall, with a nice jump in its tech support number from a BA of 7.3 last year to a BA of 7.7 this year. That’s more than sufficient to keep the company’s status as Readers’ Choice. Our second Readers’ Choice is a slight surprise. For the previous two surveys,
Brother managed a score of BA 8.0—better than average, but the competition is very tough. That score was usually on par with HP, but HP’s overwhelming response rate in previous years helped it get SBA scores. This year, Brother surged ahead with an SBA overall score of 8.2 (compared with HP’s SBA 8.0 overall for 3 years running). Brother remains a clear second place to Canon in business printers, home printers, and printers under a year old, as well. Finally, HP is back in our Readers’ Choice spotlight. Its SBA overall score of 8.0 was nice enough (and in keeping with the company’s high marks last year and the year before), but we felt HP deserved recognition this year for great scores almost across the board, especially a very good showing in printers for the home market, with SBA scores overall (8.0), for reliability (8.3), and in the category of likelihood of being recommended (8.4). The company takes a drubbing most of the time for its tech support, where it is frequently the only vendor that even earns a score (such as with business printers and printers less than a year old). The big surprise of last year’s survey was Kodak, which burst onto the printer scene and our results for the first time after running advertisements promoting its inexpensive consumables. The company garnered a Readers’ Choice with last year’s response. Not so this year. Kodak’s overall score went from a BA 8.3 to an average 8.0 this year, though it did well with home printers, getting a BA 8.0. Perhaps worse for Kodak, it’s the first company to show a percentage of products needing repairs higher than Xerox does. We’ve never exactly been able to figure out why for years running Xerox has had double-digit numbers in this category. Last year it was at 18 percent (and Kodak was at 14 percent). However, this year Xerox’s percentage needing repair went up to only 22; Kodak more than doubled its score to 31 percent. That’s almost one in three Kodak printers needing a fix; a big problem for a company that hasn’t been in the printer business very long.

On the other end of the repair spectrum, if you want printers that don’t need many repairs, go with Samsung or Epson. All that said about Kodak, guess what? Our readers still gave the company the highest score for satisfaction with the cost of consumables, an SBA 8.9 out of 10. No one else comes close; the next highest is an average 5.9 for Brother. Obviously, Kodak’s campaign on cost of ownership continues to resonate. Readers scored Epson, HP, and Lexmark low when it comes to cost of ink and toner, giving each a significantly worse than average 4.9.

In the individual printer types, Canon dominates wherever it plays: ink jets, ink jet all in ones (AIOs), and photo printers. Brother and HP run neck and neck in monochrome laser printers. HP leads only in one category, color lasers, where the competition (Dell and Samsung) are not exactly household names. Well, HP also rules color laser AIO printers and photo AIOs, but that’s by virtue of having such a huge market share that it was the only vendor to make the cut in those categories. Its scores there were quite good.

Source of Information : PC Magazine 2009 11

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