Home Printers – Box O’Nightmare

Over the time, we expect that technology will improve.  The general notion is that gadgets become cheaper, with richer feature sets, and finely tuned reliability as they mature.  We see this throughout tech, in computers, smartphones, tablets, etc.  Everywhere, except printers.  Let’s face it, home printing technology has become harder to use, less reliable and has generally been on a downward spiral since the invention of the ink jet printer.

Back in the 80’s, I could run thousands of sheets through my tractor feed dot matrix printer  (I think it was an Epson LQ 590 or similar) a day.  The thing might as well have had a hopper into which whole trees could be fed, it was that good at processing paper into printed material. Ribbons for the thing lasted forever,  but at $5-10 you could keep a few extras in your desk drawer, just in case.

Then in the 90’s the laser jet became the thing.  My experience with these was that you either got a good one or a bad one.  I had one I liked a lot, an HP Laserjet 5L, that was capable of printing large manuscripts without jamming, so long as I kept feeding it paper.  I bought the same model for a friend, and it was nothing but problems.

Now we’ve got a Lexmark Pro 205 wireless printer, which is mostly used for the kids homework, and it honestly couldn’t be a bigger piece of crap.  Literally, every time one of the kids needs to print a report, I end up spending a minimum of 2 hours doing tech support trying to get the damned thing to produce a handful of pages.  Fun stuff like:

  • The thing loses it’s ip, and doesn’t get a new one.  So you can’t connect to it via wireless.  Negating that whole “wireless printer” thing…
  • If you don’t use it for a couple weeks, you can count on a trip to the store to replace a cartridge.
  • If you need to replace one cartridge, you’re going to end up replacing them all.  You just don’t know it yet.
  • The cartridges cost something like $25 for the black one, and $50-70 total for the colored ones.  If you need them late at night, because SOMEONE didn’t tell you they needed to print a doc early in the evening, Walmart carries them.
  • I am now replacing cartridges monthly.  Or more…
  • It has an annoying habit of burning through print heads.
  • A bad print head will turn your daughter’s science experiment write up into a Jackson Pollock-like presentation, as if the printer barfed random colors all over the document.
The short version: my experiences with both this printer, and it’s predecessor, a Canon All In One Pixma, are that Ink Jets are seriously bad technology.  Neither one ever gave me even the slightest hint of reliability.  I have a failure rate when I hit the print button of nearly 95% and run through reams of paper, gallons of ink, and too many hours of my time to count before I can cajole either into producing an even slightly passable printed product.
The long and the short of this is that I’ve gone over to requesting my daughters email me anything that needs to be printed before 5pm everyday so I can print it on the office printer. Eventually, I’ll go over to Staples and buy myself a nice, new dot matrix printer.  Maybe there are still a few Epson LQ 590s around somewhere…

6 Replies to “Home Printers – Box O’Nightmare”

  1. We have used HP for the last decade or more without the drama describe above. We currently have the Officjet 6500. My only disappointment is that I didn’t think to ask the salesperson about duplex printing, which our old one did. This one does not, but a similar model does. And my kids print wifelessly drama free.

    I think our ink lasts for more than a month. And some in my family do behave like we own a forest or two. Such a shame.

    I like the change in blog theme since I was last here. Looks sharp.

    Buy an HP.

    Cheers,
    Jim.

  2. I’ll consider giving it a try. The 6500 is certainly at the right price point, but I’m so gun shy on ink jets at this point, I’m not sure. I wonder if I still have the HP 5L in the technology graveyard that is my basement…

    This is the stock 2012 theme with a minor header change. I’m now starting all my theme customizations off it…

  3. I agree with Jim. HP makes a good printer. I have a 7 year old photosmart printer that still works great. I had to move it to an old computer because my new Mac is running Lion and my work and my daughters homework can’t wait to see if HP will update the drivers on hardware this old. My new Lexmark all in one has already caused me some grey hairs from network (wifi) and dead cartridges issues but the printer was free with my new Mac pro and I guess you get what you pay for. Good luck

  4. Whatever you do, DO NOT BUY the Lexmark Pro Platinum.
    I ran into the office between meetings to copy 25 sheets of an important document I needed for my next client.

    Ahh, not so fast. This highly touted piece of ^*%&^^% can only duplex or copy about 6 sheets of paper before it just inexplicably stops! It just hangs there. You HAVE to hit the cancel button. When you do, a little x bounces up and down and tells you that you have canceled the job… which, of course, you KNOW.

    Then — NOTHING. Absolutely NOTHING happens. If you tap the little on-off button thinking that will get you back to square one – you are wrong. That puts the machine into Power Saver mode. Which it DOES NOT WAKE from. EVER.

    Yes – I’m shouting at this point. Yelling. Scaring small children and chihuahuas. All I need is 25 copies of a document, duplexed. My cheapie Canon did that without blinking.

    So – I can do about 5 copies before it hangs. Then I hit Cancel. Then I unplug it. Then I plug it back in. Then i have to tap buttons 11 times — ELEVEN TIMES – in order to get 5 more copies made. Then it hangs. Then I yell. Then I hit cancel. Then I unplug it. Then I hit 11… well, you get the picture.

    And this machine is touted as being top of the line, Professional. A Platinum….
    well, I have to go now. Time to unplug the dang thing again so I can make 5 more copies. Tomorrow I take it to the range for target practice.

  5. I could not agree more. I make good money. I told the dude at fry’s electronics, “I want a good printer, I am willing to spend, so which one is the best, home office type thing?” he told me Oh this Lexmark pro 901 is awesome and the best thing the black ink cartridges are cheap, like 10 bucks” I stupidly said…Ok great, I’ll get it. Well thank God the ink is cheap cause I can print about 10 pages before I need new cartridges. The fluctuating IP adress is a clever feature, I have to walk to the “wireless” printer every time I need to print something, turn it on(since it is constantly in power save mode saving me pennies a month)…then I have to restart my computer to “find” it. Then I can attempt to print. Then after another 1/2 hour wrangling with it I MIGHT get a few pages of readable copies. What a freaking joke. I want to take this f’r back to Fry’s and throw it at the dude. Well probably a safer option is to take it to one of the berms out in the desert here and simply riddle it with bullets. Thanks for the space to vent.

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