Free Windows utility lowers your printing costs

PretonSaver Home, which conserves ink and toner, originally cost as much as $40, but now you can get a free license for home use.

How much ink or toner do you want to save? Just raise or lower PretonSaver Home's sliders accordingly.
How much ink or toner do you want to save? Just raise or lower PretonSaver Home's sliders accordingly. Screenshot by Rick Broida

Quick housekeeping note: I'm traveling tomorrow, so I won't have another deal for you until Monday. See you then!

Tired of burning through pricey ink and toner cartridges? PretonSaver Home promises to cut these consumable costs by up to 70 percent. Best of all, it's free. (Note: You can use the previous link to download the program, but click here to go to Preton's site and register for the activation code.)

This Windows-only utility works its ink-saving magic by removing overlapping pixels (of which there are many, apparently) from the printed page, thus reducing ink consumption. And it's compatible with pretty much all programs and printers.

But does it work? And, more importantly, does it work better than your printer's own Draft mode, which ultimately accomplishes the same thing?

I started by printing a few "mixed" Web pages (containing both text and graphics) on my laser printer. The good news: The PretonSaver Home-powered pages looked virtually indistinguishable from the regular ones, despite the driver's claim that I'd used 13 percent less ink.

On the other hand, the printer's own "toner saver" mode did just as well (though without any quantifiable savings).

With a color inkjet, the PretonSaver and non-PretonSaver pages were again nearly identical unless you looked really closely.

When I switched to photos, however, the PretonSaver images looked a bit lighter, but no less sharp. Very good overall, very passable. The inkjet's economy mode produced very poor results in comparison.

I really like the PretonSaver driver's instantly calculated savings, slider-adjustable level of "savings aggressiveness," detailed reports, and other interesting data. Whether it's as accurate as it claims, that's tough to say. Time will tell.

The utility originally sold for $39.95, then $19.95. Now, it's free for home use. You'll need Windows XP, Vista, or 7 to run it; Preton offers both 32- and 64-bit versions.

Bonus deal: If you're among the few people on the planet who haven't yet played Angry Birds, or you just want to play it on a screen larger than your smartphone's, Roxio is offering a free browser-based version of Angry Birds. You need a decent video card, though; on my oldish Compaq laptop, it was too slow to play.

Bonus deal No. 2: Penny-auction sites promise big-ticket items (laptops, iPads, and more) at huge discounts. But are they worth your time--and money? Find out in my new blog post: Are Penny-Auction Sites Worth the Price?

 

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