Tech Talk: Sure looks good on paper

David Behrens checks out the New Year bargains.

A colour laser printer could be a good buy in the sales

ONCE this weekend’s last-minute spree is out of the way, it’s to the post-Christmas sales that all heads will turn, and some will start even before the first cracker has been pulled.

Among this year’s biggest tech bargains are laptops, TV sets, where you can expect knock-down prices on big name, low-spec models, and colour laser printers, which can be had for as little as £80. Those printers look like a great deal, until you need to buy a set of replacement cartridges – the current asking price for which is £120. That’s 50 per cent more than the unit itself.

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Nevertheless, a colour laser could be a worthwhile buy for your household later this week. They produce stunning quality text and graphics and they’re much quicker than inkjets, which makes them ideal for homework and home office use. On the other hand, they’re less suitable than inkjets for printing glossy photos.

No printers are cheap to run; in fact, most of them are extortionate. But despite the cost of replacement cartridges, lasers are actually more economical than inkjets, especially if you use them only occasionally. That’s because the ink in an inkjet dries up over time – Which? magazine estimates a waste factor of up to 54 per cent. Lasers, on the other hand, use toner powder, and take only what they need for each page. Depending on usage they can go a year between refills. Samsung is the principal supplier of cheap, domestic laser printers – both colour and black-and-white. Its CLP360 colour model is £80 at the moment but you should get it for less later this week. For slightly more outlay, Dell’s C1660W adds wi-fi connectivity for use with multiple computers in different rooms. Refills are slightly cheaper than with Samsung, especially if you don’t opt for Dell’s own.

Meanwhile, if it’s a laptop you’re after on Thursday, you’ll find discounts aplenty, driven by declining popularity and made possible by excessive margins on the original selling prices. You should also see reductions on the newer generation of Chromebooks. Sadly, there won’t be reductions on many tablets this week; they’re still flying off the shelves at any price. If there’s one in your stocking on Wednesday, use it to do your sales shopping online and avoid the Boxing Day crush.