Cheap printers have been around for years, and the joke was always that you were better off buying another cheap printer when the ink ran out as it would cost more to buy replacement cartridges.
Now, we live in a subscription world where everything from music and video to mesh Wi-Fi systems are provided as long as you keep paying a monthly fee.
Printer ink subscriptions aren’t new either. HP was among the first to move to printing-as-a-subscription a number of years ago with its free tier of 15 pages per month being an attractive option for many people. Free Ink For Life is no more, and 15 pages per month is unlikely to be enough for any household with children as printing has surged in lockdown because of home schooling.
Brother has recently launched its own subscription called EcoPro, seeming to compete with HP’s new HP+ service but where that only includes ink, EcoPro includes the printer as well.
You can choose whether to subscribe for 12 months or 24 months, and Brother offers an incentive if you return the printer at the end, though you can keep it if you want to.
What printer do I get for £1.20?
Fortunately, not a cheap and nasty one. There are three subscriptions: colour laser, mono laser and colour inkjet.
And with all of them, you get a printer for £1 plus VAT. That means you could get a DCP-L3510CDW colour laser printer (actually a printer, copier and scanner) worth £264 for just £1.20.
Brother is offering its DCP-J1100DW all-in-one inkjet printer on the inkjet subscription, which costs £322.80 if you were to buy it from the company’s website separately. If you need to print on A3, that’s fine but receiving an A3-capable MFC-J5330DW costs £4.99 extra per month.
The mono laser option is the DCP-L2530DW which is worth £178.
You may not receive these exact models: Brother says it might send an equivalent model if it can’t supply the named one.
How much does an EcoPro subscription cost?
The cheapest is £9.98 per month, and that’s for a two-year subscription. If you only want to commit for a year, the price is £13 per month.
Here are all the options, along with the number of pages you can print per year:
1 year subscription
£29.99 per month
£14.99 per month (£19.98 for A3)
£13 per month
2 year subscription
£25.99 per month
£13 per month (£17.99 for A3)
£9.98 per month
Max. no. of pages per year
The number of pages is the amount you’ll get from the included ink or toner per year according to an industry standard page. In other words, a normal amount of ink coverage: not full-page photos.
When the ink or toner runs out you have to order more via Brother’s EcoPro portal, and you can only do this once every 30 days. If you go over the 6000 pages, you can still print, but you’ll have pay a ‘top-up fee’.
Brother says the subscription costs mean you save 70% compared to buying the printer and supplies at full price. However, it’s always worth calculating the full cost of any subscription – just as with a mobile phone – to see the full outlay over one or two years.
Will the £1 offer end?
Yes. The offer of a printer for £1.20 runs until 31 March 2021, and after that you’ll be charged £20 instead.
Do I get to keep the printer?
Yep. It’s all yours: you’re not renting it. Bear in mind that the subscription will renew automatically at the end of 12 or 24 months if you don’t cancel it with at least 30 days’ notice in your Brother Online Account.
How does this help the environment?
Those ‘disposable’ printers mentioned at the start were bad for the environment. And that’s no joke.
Brother’s subscription is called EcoPro for a reason: the aim is to reduce the impact on the environment by recycling both used cartridges (you have to return them to Brother when they’re empty) and also the printer itself if you no longer want to keep it.
The company also reckons that by keeping printers in use for a longer period (as opposed to manufacturing new ones) can reduce CO2 emissions by up to 66%. You can even monitor the ‘total CO2e offset’ in your Brother account.
Brother also refurbishes returned printers and sends them out to new subscribers, which is again better for the environment.