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Printers are evil

I have never in my life had a computer printer that didn’t constantly give me grief.  Software screwups, ink cartridge problems, paper jams, even freezing up my word processor if I tried to print a document that wasn’t saved.  When I got this new HP Photosmart printer/scanner/copier five months ago, I was hoping it would be more trouble-free than my previous printers.  And so far it’s been working fine, easy and reliable… except:

It’s an ink guzzler.

As I mentioned before, I’m printing out a novel manuscript to send to an editor (who’s kind of old-fashioned and insists on hard copy).  Night before last, I ran out of ink with only 96 pages printed out of 350.  So yesterday morning I went out and bought a brand new ink cartridge.  It ran out that same evening after only another 224 pages had been successfully printed.

I did manage to discover a way to change the settings to reduce the ink volume and get more life out of it, but by the time I figured that out, the damage was done.  I’d used up 2/3 of the ink cartridge on only 112 pages.

I dug out the receipt to check the return policy, but it said that technology and business machines have to be returned within 14 days.  So I’m stuck with the thing.  I’ll just have to be very careful to minimize ink usage.  For routine stuff, I’ll have to use the draft setting as much as possible, and remember to set the ink volume to a lighter setting (I can find no way to reset the defaults).  Maybe if I understood more about the settings for different types of paper (I’ve been using “other inkjet papers”), I could pick one that used less ink.  And maybe for big print jobs like entire manuscripts, it’d be worth investigating whether it might be cheaper to run it off at the FedEx/Kinko’s up the street.  (Well, maybe not.  I estimate that if I’d done the whole thing on the reduced ink volume, it would come out to maybe 6 cents a page, which I’d guess is about on a par with what Kinko’s would charge.)

Anyway, I really hope this pays off, so all this will be worth it.

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  1. Devin
    February 9, 2011 at 10:09 am

    I’d recommend searching Amazon for very cheap replacement ink. You might get fewer pages out of a discount cartridge, but the cost per page will go down considerably. I have purchased an enitre color set for my printer for about $5. Buying the retail Canon replacement set is abotu $25.

    • February 9, 2011 at 11:02 am

      I didn’t have much luck with discount cartridges on my last printer. They didn’t last long at all, kept clogging up (though that might’ve been the printer’s fault or mine for not using it much), etc. It seemed like a false economy.

  2. February 9, 2011 at 1:47 pm

    In situations like this, I always end up going to UPS Store or some other place that does printing and just laser-printing the file there. Even a 500-page manuscript will cost less to print that way than a new ink cartridge would.

  3. February 15, 2011 at 6:20 pm

    I don’t know if you ever visit the humor site Cracked.com, but as soon as I saw today’s article I thought of your post:

    http://www.cracked.com/article_19022_5-ways-hi-tech-retailers-are-secretly-screwing-you.html

    Ink cartridge manufacturers are the first entry on the list.

    • February 15, 2011 at 6:44 pm

      As it happens, I just read that article minutes ago. If I read it correctly, it doesn’t seem to have been an issue for me here, because I used up the whole cartridge before the ink could “expire.” It ran out in the middle of a page, which seems to suggest it legitimately ran dry.

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