Simple answer: no manufacturers genuine inks are ultimately so cheap that youll not pause before buying again
Rather longer answer
I would say that most printers in the £80- £150 range will do reasonable photos and be OK for general use.
My experience is that the Epsons will be quite good for photos and just ok for general use. The HPs are mixed in the way they photo print ( range from ok to really good) but are infact very good general purpose printers.
The Canons, Lexmarks are a bit of an unknown to me although Ive read great reviews of photoprinting abilities in group tests in magazines. I would avoid Dell, they are rebadged Lexmarks which dont allow use of even genuine Lexmarks inks!
All printer manufacturers seem to sell the printers cheap to make the money back on consumables (ink and Paper) . With some, Ink costs can easily reach the cost of the printer with 6 months of use depending on volume of print. They are obviously no substiute for a proper photoprint service. Ive known people to put thier printers in the skip and just go buy new ones when the cost of ink hits them
Ink costs for HP and Epson are difficult to compare because they use different systems to print : The HP ink and print heads are intergrated while those of Epson are not so, its inks may appear cheaper until the print head clogs up then repair becomes uneconomical!. This may however not happen before you are ready to let it go.
Most of them also have much cheaper compatibles/ refillable systems but sometimes this is hit or miss as the printer may reject anything that is not a genuine filled cartridge
I ( currently) have 3 HPs inkjets and one Epson Photoprinter R300 6 inks ) and an HP laser and have had Hps for over 12 years. I avoid the very low end models but have found them very sturdy indeed. This is a ( personal) observation not an endorsement over other brands
While I find the photo printing from the Epson ( especially with its genuine inks and Epson glossy photopaper) to be very good, I find the Hps seem to be better, more economical general purpose printers which also give better results on plain paper and resonable if occasionally underwhelming photo prints.
I know this post is a bit narrow in range but it does represent a daily real life experience .
If there is only one thing I could say it is that Inks are the killer unless good online compatible replacement sources will work with your chosen printer
Others may have different experiences . Im loath to name any model nos as they change every 6 months
Cheapo supermarket jobs I would personally avoid unless they were heavily discounted "normal " printers: The terms, poor finish, poor quality output, high running costs all come to mind
HP had a budget line called Appollo once: very cheap £40 jobs with the " powered by HP engine" logo . After initial interest, the line was hastiliy withdrawn as people avoided them like the plague.
The print quality was C**P, durability non-existent ( retailers had record nos of returns), and Inks after the first lot finished cost as much as the printers themselves
Definitely a case of cheap and not at all cheerful
I too have an Epson R300 and find that using Epson branded inks and paper (especially the paper) makes a massive difference to the quality of the results.
Epson have just started marketing multipacks of the six different inks required for the R300, and I found that by visiting the PC World website and ordering on-line to pick up in-store, I paid £32.99. A lot cheaper than buying the inks seperately.
They are also doing a multipack deal on Premium Glossy Epson 6x4 photo paper at the moment, 175 sheets of this superb medium for just over £20.00.
I've tried Kodak and HP paper, but nothing beats Epson going through an Epson.. (And I don't work for Epson by the way)