Updated: Mar 27, 2019
University can be expensive enough these days without the added pressure of printing costs. Ink cartridges can be pretty pricey too if you buy the wrong printer or fail to shop around for the replacement ink. Let's face it, most students would rather spend money in the students union bar than on an expensive pair of cartridges. The retailers are awash with printers, it can be confusing, but these days they're all good performers with added features such as wireless printing, copy, can, and print. However there are some key differences especially if you'd like to reduce waste and improve your carbon footprint, and wallet. Here we feature the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Canon is a well known established brand especially in photography. Printers come in three guises - two ink cartridge, multi ink cartridge, and refillable printers.
Two ink printers such as the Canon PIXMA TS5150 printer that uses PG540 and CL541 inks sell at approx £50 or Canon PIXMA MX495 printer that uses PG545 and CL546 inks sell at approx £35 are my personal recommendations over the more expensive multi ink or refillable printers. Multi ink cartridges are good theoretically as you only replace the colour that runs out but you generally can't recycle the cartridges and they contribute to a lot of landfill waste. Plus buying five cartridges is pricier than buying just two. You can buy compatible cartridges with Chinese origin which are cheap but at the cost of the environment and distribution miles. The latest fad is using refillable printers however they are expensive. The entry level Canon PIXMA G4510 printers starts at £285 which is a big ask for a student and if it fails after the two year warranty runs out your trips to the students union will be limited.
The ink cartridges the Canon PIXMA TS5150 uses are significantly larger than those used on the Canon PIXMA MX495 however you only see the benefit of using the TS5150 if you buy the high capacity PG540XL and CL541XL ink cartridges. Below you will see the difference in ink capacity. Also bear in mind that you can save money on ink cartridges if you buy refilled cartridges and return your empty cartridges to Recycle Ink who will pay you or a charity so they can be refilled for reuse.
Canon PIXMA TS5150 Printer
Canon PG540 Black Ink Cartridge - 8ml
Canon CL541 Colour Ink Cartridge - 8ml
Canon PG540XL Black Ink Cartridge - 21ml
Canon CL541XL Colour Ink Cartrdge - 15ml
Replacement original Canon PG540XL and CL541XL ink cartridges - £35
Replacement refilled Canon PG540XL and CL541XL ink cartridges - £20
Canon PIXMA MX495 Printer
Canon PG545 Black Ink Cartridge - 8ml
Canon CL546 Colour Ink Cartridge - 8ml
Canon PG545XL Black Ink Cartridge - 15ml
Canon CL546XL Colour Ink Cartrdge - 13ml
Replacement original Canon PG545XL and CL546XL ink cartridges - £29
Replacement refilled Canon PG545XL and CL546XL ink cartridges - £23
To summerise our recommendation for the best value student printer is the Canon PIXMA TS5150 inkjet printer. It offers great value for money with a low entry point to buy the printer, it comes with two ink cartridges to start you off and the ink capacity is higher than other brands and printers in the market providing a lower cost per page especially if you opt for the XL inks. On top of that you can return the empty ink cartridges to Recycle Ink which helps reduce landfill and the need to produce more ink cartridges. Oh ad it even comes in white if you prefer, if so, go for the TS5151 printer instead. Now that's worth celebrating. Beer anyone?