From the February 2002 issue of Entrepreneur

Laser Pointers

A few years ago, a cheap laser printer was one that wiggled under the $1,000 mark. These days, $200 gets you in the door with a Lexmark E210 or a Samsung ML-1210. Even Hewlett-Packard hit an all-time low with its $249 (street) LaserJet 1000. At that price, it's tempting to abandon all inkjets, but new low-cost lasers mean some compromises.

The one inkjet feature budget lasers can't replace is color. But if monochrome will suffice, it's hard to resist the after-the-sale supply and consumables savings. The LaserJet 1000, for example, comes with a print cartridge that can output an estimated 2,500 pages for an operating cost of 2.5 cents per page. This category is sometimes referred to as personal lasers-and for good reason. Designed as desktop SOHO companions, you won't have much opportunity to network them. Memory and memory upgrades may also be limited compared to their more expensive brethren.

Dirt-cheap laser printers are good news for those with tight tech budgets, but don't chuck every inkjet out the office window just yet. The continuing PC and peripherals sales slump will keep prices down as manufacturers duke it out for market share and a slice of the lucrative consumables pie. Expect these deals to be around for awhile.

On the Agenda

The FTC is taking a new approach to consumer privacy, both online and off. Rather than push for additional legislation, the agency-under the direction of chair Timothy J. Muris-is turning to more vigorous enforcement of existing laws. The first step is a 50 percent increase of privacy protection resources. In a speech to the 2001 Privacy Conference, Muris outlined a revamped Privacy Agenda. On the tech-related front, the FTC will increase enforcement against deceptive spam.

Muris discussed the FTC's revamped Internet and e-commerce philosophy: "It is increasingly difficult to see why one avenue of commerce should be subject to different rules than another, simply based on the medium in which it is delivered." Entrepreneurs may not have to worry as much about keeping track of new privacy laws, but it's now more vital than ever to be in compliance with existing rules.