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What's Better - Purchasing a Large Format Printer Online or from an Independent Dealer?

What's Better - Purchasing a Large Format Printer Online or from an Independent Dealer?

Are you currently shopping for a new large format printer, and you’re left wondering why a printer model can cost about $1,000 to $2,000 less when purchased online versus from a dealer?

Are you also wondering if this price discrepancy is due to a difference in quality or some other factor you may be unaware of? If so, you’ll find everything you need to know about why printers cost less when bought online than from a seller, what the difference in service looks like when partnering with a national manufacturer versus a local service provider, and which option is best for your organization, depending on your capabilities.

After reading this blog, we guarantee you’ll know the exact reasons why purchasing a printer online will always come with a lower price tag — and if the price difference is worth it for your office.


When you purchase a large format printer online — whether it’s from Canon direct, HP direct, or a third-party seller, you’re essentially paying a reduced rate made possible through a reduction in service and installation costs.

Let’s break down why that is.

There’s no difference in quality between a printer model purchased online versus from a dealer. As long as the model number of the printer matches up, you’re getting the exact same product. The difference in price comes from the lack of prep and set-up on the website’s part.

Now, how hard can it be to prepare a printer? Well, if it’s a standard desktop printer, anyone can do it in about thirty minutes. A large format printer, however, is a completely different story. When a large format printer is shipped, this is what it looks like:

Screen Shot 2022-12-15 at 14.23.04

And when you buy from an online retailer, that’s what shows up on your curbside, your parking lot, or wherever is the easiest place to drop it off. The model shown in this photo is a Canon IPF, and weighs (with pallet included) about eight hundred pounds.

Even an HP DesignJet, which is a small large format printer, will weigh about four hundred pounds with the pallet included.

This means that you’ll need to unload the printer from the pallet, transport the printer to its intended destination, and then set up the printer for operations. Setting up a large format printer is not the same as setting up a standard desktop printer. Large format printers require physical set up, assembly, and understanding of proprietary software. Plus, you’ll need to know how to properly network the device before you can print straight from a workstation to the new printer.

Even loading the printer with ink can be a challenge for those inexperienced with large format printers. To make matters even worse, while online retailers do offer set up services, they increase the overall cost of your purchase, and operate on a slow timetable. Some of the most well-known large format manufacturers and suppliers only have one service technician in the entire state of Virginia.

The simple truth of purchasing a large format printer from an online retailer is that you get what you pay for: the machine, and nothing else.

As an example, this is what the Canon IPF looks like when it’s fully set up:

Screen Shot 2022-12-15 at 14.22.27


When you sign a service contract with an independent copier dealer, you’re signing up for a white-glove experience. Essentially, after you’ve signed on the dotted line, everything is taken care of.

Rather than being shipped directly to your office, your service provider will ship the large format printer to their own location, assemble the device, load up all of the software and firmware necessary for your office’s operations, and then deliver, install, and network your printer without any effort on your part.

Plus, unlike buying from an online retailer, which only supply you with a starter batch of ink, your service provider will load up your new large format printer with a full supply of ink, and send you refills as per your service contract.

In addition to this, your service provider will also perform preventative and routine maintenance on your printer, checking for wear and tear on parts like printer heads and rollers that wear out with use.

And, if you ever have any questions or concerns regarding your equipment, or require employee operator training, your service provider will be ready and available to help you with whatever you need.


While we can say that working with an independent dealer is a simpler, less labor-intensive option, purchasing a large format printer online will always cost less. However, it’s important to consider how much time will be lost during set up, installation, and follow-up maintenance when purchasing from an online retailer.

If you’d like to learn more about large format printers, read our blog, Do I Need a HP DesignJet or an HP Pagewide XL?

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