Post by Month

Here at CityInkExpress, we are often asked for advice on which printer model would be best for our customers. In this blog post, we hope to shed some light on the sometimes bewildering array of options available in the market.



Toner or Inkjet?


Traditionally, businesses have always chosen a laser printer over an inkjet because of the reduced running costs involved with a laser printer. That is no longer necessarily the case, and many small or medium businesses (SMBs) are taking advantage of the latest business inkjet offerings from the various printer manufacturers, with real-world print speeds of up to 22 pages per minute. Fitting a continuous ink system can often be cheaper than using toner cartridges, and the reduced startup costs are very attractive.



Which Printer Manufacturer?


Generally speaking, Canon produce the printers most suited to photo printing, and many of their models are able to handle cardstock up to 300GSM (grams per square metre).


Epson produce fantastic all-round printers, and their small-in-one printers from the Expression range are well suited to families on a budget.


Brother printers are relatively fuss-free, cheap printers suited to a variety of uses. Whether you are a small business looking to print invoices, or need a printer to handle your children's homework, a Brother printer may well be the way to go.



How Much to Spend?


Budget is a concern for most people, and we will always do our best to meet all of your requirements, but as with everything you get what you pay for. We can help you find a professional quality photo printer, or a high-speed printer for invoices, for under £100, but there will be a trade-off in terms of other functions. Ideally, you should look to buy a printer which does everything you need it to, and nothing more. That way, you won't be spending money on a function you won't use.


There is also another key point to consider when buying a new printer: running costs. One of the cheapest printers currently on the market is the Canon iP2850, starting at around £30 plus VAT. If you need a basic printer for occasional use, it may well be the way to go, but the cartridges can cost £25 a set, and will only last for around 180 pages. Clearly, printer price isn't everything.



You're Not Helping. Which Printer Should I Buy?


Alright, back on topic. You need a printer, and you don't know which one. There are too many to choose from, and you don't know how to narrow it down. The easiest way to choose a printer is to ask yourself the following questions:


  • How much do I want to spend?
  • Do I need a scanner/copier, or just a printer?
  • Should the printer be wireless? Will I want to print from my phone?
  • What kind of things will I be printing? Is it for card-making, invoice printing, photo printing, or a mixture of everything?
  • How much printing will I do?
  • Will I need to print double-sided?
  • Do I want to print in A3, or just A4?
  • Is there anything else I want the printer to do, or any other features I would like (e.g. printing onto CDs, fax capability, or a rear tray for cardstock).


If you can answer most of these, we will find the printer for you. Here are some examples of printers which we might recommend for different uses*:



"I just want a printer. For printing."

The Epson WF-3010DW is a fantastic little printer. It is completely lacking in bells and whistles, which means that the money goes to producing one of the best small printers on the market. At 9.2 colour pages per minute (or 15ppm in black and white), with automatic duplexing and wireless functionality, and a 250-sheet paper tray as standard, the WF-3010DW punches well above its weight in terms of print quality and speed. If you want all of this and a scanner as well, you would have to spend twice as much on the printer!



"I need something cheap with a scanner to print the kids' homework, and occasional photos."

Epson's Expression small-in-one printers are ideal for light use in a home environment. The XP-225 is the cheapest currently on offer, and for just £45 you can have a USB printer/scanner/copier capable of handling all types of printing.



"I need a printer for the office, as cheap as possible. I mainly print invoices."

Brother's all-in-one printers offer a very competitively priced option for small businesses or home offices. With prices from £75, the DCP-J4110DW is a real workhorse. With print speeds of 16 pages per minute, and the option of occasional A3 printing as well as a scanner/copier, many businesses should look no further than Brother's J4000 range of printers. For larger offices, the J5000 series is well worth a look, as they are more suited to heavy use.



"I want a professional-quality photo printer, but I don't want to spend any money."

The Canon Pixma iP7250 was made for photo printing. For just £60, you can have a wireless printer with a maximum print resolution of 9600*4800 dpi, and capable of handling cardstock up to 300gsm.



"I would like a printer for heavy use in the office."

This is a request we get a lot, and there are plenty of options to choose from. Whether it's Epson WorkForce Pro range, Canon's new MAXIFY printers, HP's OfficeJet Pro or Brother's J5000/6000 range, there is a huge range of inkjet printers available for SMBs. Different prices and print speeds, along with other options such as fax and double-sided scanning, enable you to find the perfect printer for your requirements.



"I don't like any of those. My needs are different."

That's not a problem. Drop us an email to and we'll find a printer/CISS combination to suit any environment.


*Prices and current models are correct as of 29/01/2015. Links provided are to printer bundles, with a CISS and 100ml bottles of ink included in the price.

Ink in printer


Neither ink nor toner are particularly cheap to purchase, but knowing the facts about both will help you to make a more economical printing decision. Here’s a general rule of thumb for anyone who’s worried about printing costs:


Ink cartridges are cheaper, but toner cartridges last longer.

Inkjet and laser printing both have their merits and drawbacks – neither method is objectively better than the other – but broadly speaking, it’s safe to assume that inkjet printing is better for people who only print occasionally, whereas laser printing can be a more cost-effective choice for heavy workloads.


Ink and Toner: The Numbers

So you want to know exactly how much ink cartridges and toner cartridges cost? Well, the prices vary greatly between different brands and models, but here’s an example...


This is a Brother MFC-J6910DW printer. It is an all-in-one colour inkjet printer. If you’re buying direct from Brother, you’ll pay roughly £24 for a black ink cartridge, and roughly £16 each for the cyan, yellow, and magenta cartridges. This means that a complete set of replacement cartridges would cost around £72, and this would keep you going for about 600 pages.


This is a Brother DCP-9270CDN printer. Again, it’s an all-in-one colour printer, but this is a laser printer, so it takes toner cartridges instead of ink. The printer itself costs roughly the same amount as the MFC-J6910DW, but how do the cartridges compare in price and lifespan?


Well, the black cartridge would set you back roughly £60, and each of the coloured cartridges would cost £78 or thereabouts (again, we’re assuming that you’re purchasing direct from Brother). That’s a total of just under £300 for a complete refill, but the superior page yield would keep you going for at least 1,500 pages – more than twice as many as the ink cartridges!


Having said that, there are cheaper ways to do both laser printing and inkjet printing. If you use a laser printer, you can buy cost-effective ‘compatible’ toner cartridges from City Ink Express – while these aren’t made by the original printer manufacturer (e.g. Brother), they are just as good in terms of quality and output, and they cost far less. For example, a compatible black toner cartridge for the Brother DCP-9270CDN costs just £29.60 from our site – that’s a saving of about 50%!


And then, for inkjet users, there’s CISS. Buying a CISS system for your printer will meant that you don’t have to buy new cartridges quite as often, and our CISS ink refills are cheaper than the average ink cartridge to boot!


Photo by André Karwath (view original here)

There’s no question about it: Brother is simply one of the biggest names in the printing business. The company was founded in Japan, 100 years ago; they’ve been stamping their mark on the printer scene in Europe for over 50 years now, and some of their printers are the biggest and best in the game. However, when choosing your printer, you need to be sure that you’ve found the right one for you. Some people don’t need an all-singing, all-dancing expensive printer, because they simply would never use it – whereas some people might be looking for an advanced printer to cope with an excessive workload. Whatever your printing needs, this blog will help you find the Brother printer that’s right for you. 

Brother DCP-J132W
The Standard Printer


 We might have labelled this the ‘standard’ printer, but even though this is one of Brother’s most basic is anything but standard! It offers extremely fast colour printing, built-in wireless networking (that’s right – no pesky cables) and our favourite function of all: mobile printing and scanning. This means you can simply download an app for your phone or tablet and print any document you need on the go!


Brother DCP-J4110DW
The Posh Printer

This is for those who like their luxury items, because this printer is pretty snazzy. This printer allows you to scan and copy your documents, as well as print on A3 paper. You can also scan and print wirelessly by downloading the app! It comes with a touch screen and it’s generally quite chic to look at, don’t you think?

Brother MFCJ5910DW
The Everything Printer


This is the printer with bells on, and it’s perfect for those who work from home. Not only can you scan, copy, and print in 3D, but this snazzy printer also has a fax machine function so you can fax documents quickly and easily. There’s also a fast and secure wifi connection and that snazzy Airprint app that lets you print documents on the go!


Brother HL-4150CDN
The Office Printer


This is the ideal Brother printer for an office where it will be used regularly. It’s packed with features and prints at an extremely high speed in both colour and black and white – it prints double-sided as standard and offers PIN-protected secure SSL printing. If your printer is heavily-used then this is most certainly the one for you!


We offer many excellent printers like these in our printer bundles section – which will come ready with a continuous ink supply system so you can print to your heart’s content! Alternatively, make sure to stock up on cheap Brother toner cartridges from City Ink Express.


I have now purchased 3 printer & CISS bundles from City Ink Express, 2 Brother printers and one Epson. They have all been straightforward to set up, one of the Brothers came with ink in the CISS system, all I had to do was fit the air filters and slot the cartridges in. The second brother I had to fill the ink and then prime the cartridges but this was easy with the aid of the video on the City Ink Express Youtube channel – I would recommend you watch the relevant video before setting up your printer. Both the Brothers have a separate ink tank, but it doesn’t take up much space.


The last printer was an Epson with refillable cartridges which I haven’t done yet, but it’s just a case of filling them using the syringes supplied and removing the air plugs. This a great option if you don’t want a separate tank with tubes.






I was disappointed with the cost of colour printing so I did a search to try to find the printer/system with the cheapest running cost; I fully expected it to be a colour laser of some sort.  To my surprise, it wasn't!  I discovered Continuous Ink Supply Systems for the first time, which if they work, are the cheapest by far.  

I wanted a printer with automatic duplexer to further save costs on paper, and if price wasn't prohibitive I would also like the ability to print on A3.  After checking half a dozen of my favourite sites, I found the Brother MFC-J5910DW (A3/A4, auto duplexer, scanner, copier, fax) from Amazon for just £115 (Mar 2012).  A search for a suitable CISS took me to  Here I could purchase a compatible CISS for the Brother in question for £48. 

 I could purchase normal high capacity cartridges that are good for 1200 pages for £16.80 per colour from  Now I couldn't find out what the volume of these cartridges was, but I did find out that they weigh 79g.  Allowing, say 20g for the plastics, that would leave a maximum of 59g of ink, and assuming that it's the same density as water, that would mean that a high capacity cartridge contains about 59ml of ink. So, four high capacity colours at £16.80 each = £67.20 and would give me around 236ml of ink.  That's 28.5 pence per ml. The CISS kit, including postage cost £54.38 and gives 400ml of ink.  So that's 13.6 pence/ml.

It gets better than that though because the refill inks from are £22.80 for a set of 4 x 100ml.  Giving just 5.7p per ml or one fifth the price of high capacity cartridges for the same amount of ink!

OK, so the sums add up for the CISS, but do they work reliably?  I did a trawl of various websites and forums and concluded that on the whole, there are more CISS systems our there with happy users than ones without.  I also spoke to a friend of mine who is both a computer nerd and a semi-professional photographer.  He assured me that high end, large format photo printers are basically scaled up ink jet printers with integral CISS!

I decide to go ahead.  Both printer and CISS where ordered mid morning on Friday.  The printer arrived Saturday and was setup without problem.  The CISS arrived on Monday.
On opening the CISS box, I was a little disappointed to find that there were no printed instructions at all.  On checking the cityinkexpress website, I quickly found a link to a video guide.  The video is  6 minutes 12 and seemed to explain everything.

There was a difference between the system shown on the video, and the one supplied to me; On the video there is a roller to move which I gather acts as a kind of ink supply cut off – you must obviously turn it on before installation.  My system had no such roller and there seemed to be no equivalent device, so this part of the installation was skipped.
Next, I had to remove some ink from each of the air chambers and drop it back into the main reservoirs.  I was a little concerned because only one syringe was supplied and I was worried about the possibility of mixing the colours by using the same syringe for each ink.  In reality, there was no need for concern.  I simply flushed the syringe out in between each colour ink by sucking up hot water and squirting it out.   I only had to repeat this about 4 or 5 times before clean water was seen going in and coming out.  The mischievous might like to know that you can squirt water quite a long way across the kitchen with the syringe!

I had to have two goes at inserting the CISS cartridges into the printer because they did not readily click into place as the “real” cartridges do.  I found that they needed pushing at the top of the cartridge rather than in the middle as I had first tried. The cartridge door can be gently forced shut with the tubes coming out of the finger shaped indentation that is provided to open the door.
On my larger A3 printer, the supply tubes are not long enough for the reservoir to be placed on the left hand side of the printer; this is a minor problem for me as the right hand side of the printer is also the edge of the shelf that the printer is on, so it opens up the possibility of knocking the reservoir off the shelf! Installation was completed in about 10 minutes (not including syringe mischief time) and without any real problems.

So what about print quality? Are the CISS colours the same as the original Brother cartridge  colours?  Well, no!  They are slightly more vivid! So in conclusion:
• The sums add up; I haven't been able to find a cheaper alternative for colour printing.
• It's basically the same technology as larger higher quality photo printers.
• It's easy to install; watch the video before you buy – it really is that easy and straight foward.
• The colours are better than the original Brother cartridges.
• The length of the tubes dictate that the reservoir must sit on the right hand side of my large printer.

 p.s. I am NOT affiliated with cityinkexpress - I am a genuinely happy customer, although if I was reading this, I wouldn't believe this statement either, so you must make your own mind up whether to buy!
C Davis
March 2012