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Doug's Mailbag: More Printer Thoughts

Looks like the topic of printers is a hot-button issue with readers, so we're features some more of your opinions:

I wound up buying a Brother all-in-one inkjet printer for about $100 -- there are a number of similar models that print, scan, copy and fax. I then purchase the ink at because they have cartridges for about $2 each. When they are empty, I bring them to Staples where they give me $3 store credit for the empty ones. I figure I get my paper and ink basically for free. Also, Windows 7 auto detected the printer -- all the more impressive because I have it on my wireless network and not physically hooked up to any PC. (My previous HP deskjet would not allow sharing over the network between PCs, in addition to numerous other problems).

You have touched on a sore spot for me. As an IT Manager and IT Administrator, I have seen just how 'intrusive' printers can be -- not just on computers, but into the time wasted on them by employees and IT (see, here I am typing an e-mail about them when I should be working). I am always on the hunt for better printers -- easier setup, more stable software, reasonable supply costs and decreased intrusiveness.

And why do we stay with HP? Because of the workhorses of the past -- yours was a LaserJet 1000 -- ours is the unstoppable LaserJet 2200! We picked up 12 of these about five years ago off a business lease. I have deployed these printers to construction sites around the world, and it is what our Accounting department still prints our paychecks on -- from a Windows 7 64-bit machine!

But, about two years ago, I drew the line in the sand against HP printers, specifically, the software. The more recent HP products, even the large, 'high-quality' printers would give me problems to no end. If it wasn't the driver and subsequent 400MB software package (that never seemed to work as advertised) then it was the printer itself with either jams or error codes. But the final straw for me was when a particular HP printer software install had the incessant urge to try to log onto our Active Directory the logged in USER! This, as you would expect, resulted in the continual locking out of the user from directory resources. Hours and many trace routes later, the software was uninstalled. I'm sure the software was eventually fixed, but you know how us administrators can be -- an 'attack' on our network is an attack on us.

We have since moved to Brother Printers, and though I have always had my pet peeves with Brother, the reality is its printers work and the software works too...most of the time.

HP DeskJet 500: The Pinto of printers, but the Cadillac in performance. Printed about two pages per minute. Printed every color as long as you wanted black. And the quality really was great. Printed cases and cases of paper  without ever having an issue with it. Was forced to recycle it for a laser printer, but I must have used that printer for at least six years. I still trumpet it as the greatest printer ever made.

Favorite: HP Laserjet 5. TRUE workhorse. Still have several running at work. Only trouble we ever had was when someone turned off the power save mode and the fusing roller overheated. But it wasn't too expensive or difficult to replace the part. Lesson learned!

Least: TIE between an HP 5550 and a Canon inkjet that I refuse to remember the model number for. The HP 5550 drivers for XP refused to install on my brand-new Dell XPS computer (about five years ago) running XP. HP kept trying to blame it on Dell without even trying to troubleshoot why it wouldn't work. The HP generic driver worked, but could not use beyond the most basic of features on the printer. The Canon just quit working. Canon said it needed a new print head (separate from the print cartridge) that cost more than the printer did new!

I wish someone would come out with a multi-function (scan/print... Does anyone really fax anymore?), COLOR, network laser printer that doesn't cost an arm and a leg (less than $200) with decent performance and toner life. I'm still waiting...

Share your thoughts with the editors of this newsletter! Write to [email protected]. Letters printed in this newsletter may be edited for length and clarity, and will be credited by first name only (we do NOT print last names or e-mail addresses).

Posted by Doug Barney on 04/15/2011 at 1:18 PM


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