PC Printer and “quality” should not be uttered in same breath

A couple of months ago, I questioned why notebook touchpads were so bad and my sentiments struck a chord with SmartPlanet.com readers who for the most part agreed that they can make mousing around a very jumpy proposition. Upward of 40 readers commented.

Dell A920 at the ready to crumple the next sheet paper
Dell A920 at the ready to crumple the next sheet of paper

Next on my -hit list are PC printers. My experience with them is terrible. Paper feeds are unreliable and they always seems to send you that annoying “ink is low” message right after you’ve installed a new (and expensive) cartridge.

They fail when you’re in a hurry to print out an important document.

Yesterday, I wanted to print a letter and I spent the better part of 90 minutes shuttling between my Canon PIXMA 310 and a Dell (nee Lexmark) A920. The PIXMA 310 said it was low on ink and printed faded characters. I went downstairs and tried the Dell A920 – after five crumpled copies given its crooked paper feed and the obligatory `ink is low so you’d better run out to Staples and buy more cartridges at $35 a whack,’  it quit.

Efforts to revive the A920 by cleaning out the print queue and switching it on and off failed. I went back upstairs to the home office and inexplicably the PIXMA 310 printed a fine-looking copy the second time.

Sure, printers are dirt cheap, but you get what you pay for. When laser printers and before that dot matrix printers cost several hundred dollars 20 years ago, I remember them as far more reliable.  Back then, printing was one of the few things a PC did well.

I can recall four other inkjet printers in my household from the last 10 years: three HPs and another Canon.   The Canon PIXMA 310 I use have now is the best of the sorry lot. The Dell A920 came free with a desktop PC we bought years ago. It’s worth what we paid for it.

Actually, the A920 is not as bad as all three HP models. The paper feed on one almost never worked, constantly reporting it was out of paper when it wasn’t. The Dell A920 feeds stock into the printer like it was paper shredder. It either jams or out comes a crumpled and torn mess. But comparatively, I’d take it over HP printers.  An HP DeskJet printer from several years ago was just plain awful.

The printers no longer in use met their end at the electronics recycler. None were worth trying to peddle at yard sales. It was my sense they failed because they were poorly made and designed. In other words, they did not wear out because the problems were almost immediate after I acquired them.

Punch in “printer problems” at Youtube and you’ll witness people tearing their hair out. My favorite is the cat below banging on the printer. Make sure you read the  subtitles.

By the way, Computerworld has an excellent post about why ink cartridges are so expensive based on the explanation from an HP executive, who says the company spends $1 billion in ink cartridge R&D a year. I am not sure I buy any explanation rationalizing the expense of cartridges , but it’s a good read with a healthy dose of skepticism.

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11 comments On PC Printer and “quality” should not be uttered in same breath

  • This whole article surprises me. Granted, I’ve only ever owned three printers, but all of them have been excellent. My ancient Epson LQ-1050 impact matrix printer still works. My Canon S600 inkjet printer died after a few years, but gave superb service for that period of time. I used to tell friends it was the most perfect product I had ever owned. And my current printer is a Canon PIXMA MP600 photo printer/scanner/copier. It’s a dream to use, produces excellent output (that has, unfortunately, degraded slightly over the 2.5 years I’ve had it), never jams, and is otherwise pretty much flawless. My only real complaint is that the ink is so expensive, but that’s obviously a widespread complaint in the world of printers.

  • Everyone’s experience is different, I guess. Having PC printers for almost 30 years, I’ve seen the quality (and prices) goes dramatically downhill.

  • Bonnie Sparks

    I am surprised at the comments here…I have only used HP printers because I have seen what other have done..including laser from my school. My copies are outstanding..no jams, etc. Yes, the ink is expensive and I go through a lot of them and a lot of paper but the quality is worth it.

  • Case in point: I just tried to print a receipt. The printer mechanics whirred for about 40 seconds. Then I got a “open paper out tray” message which could mean the printer is out of paper or I need to open the paper tray. I did something that approximated the latter. The printer started whirring and made the sound that it was scanning the receipt.

    The result in the “paper out” tray? A blank sheet of paper. I rest my case. It’s something like this all the time using my Canon PIXMA 310.

  • Agree, everyone’s experience is different. I’ve used HP printers, seems like forever. I worked in a small office using a couple of HP DeskJet printers from several years ago and they were workhorses, cranking out pages and pages of reports day after day, year after year, and they are still usable because they were given to me when the company moved to California. I had experience with a new Canon printer once, and compared to HP, it was a piece of junk and had to be returned. I just bought a new HP Photosmart 3-in-1 wireless and I love it! It’s the very best HP printer I ever owned and it was on sale for $89. The wireless was so easy to set up and works beautifully. I will not buy any other printer but HP.

  • I had an HP 3 in 1 printer which had a paper feed that never worked.

    And more problems with Canon, this time the PIXMA cartridges…I just ran over the Staples to get replacement cartridges and took the empty ones with me. The old color cartridge leaked all over my hands and on my favorites Boston Celtics t-shirt and the finals between the Celts and Lakers starts tonight. I’m mad as hell and am not going to take it anymore to quote Peter Finch in Network.

  • Oh no, John! Sorry about your favorite shirt! Seems to me I remember that Canon I had the bad experience with had leaky ink cartridges too. I admit, maybe I’ve been incredibly lucky with all the HP printers I’ve used, owned and loved, and maybe that particular Canon was a lemon. Fact is, no matter how good any product is, there are always bad ones in the batch. I forgot about the Xerox 3-in-1 I owned for a short time until it just quit working. I had a lot of problems with it. Tossed it in the dump, went back to HP (no, I don’t work for them). 🙂

  • i use this printer but face but issues now i m using Canon’s MP490 its really good model

  • I don’t think I’ve ever had a placid relationship with a printer. They constantly break or randomly don’t work, no matter what brand I’ve tried. It’s frustrating to say the least. I’ve resorted to printing as few documents as possible and dashing out to Kinko’s when there’s something I have to have in hard copy.

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  • I have an Epson All in One inkjet and a Brother Laserjet 2170W and am happy to say that both work great. The ink is pricey for the Epson so I picked up the Brother and couldn’t be happier. I had an HP 7650 Photosmart before that. The original was DOA, the service was outsourced to India and it took almost 4 months with several hours on the phone to get the replacement. Once I got the replacement it worked fine unless I needed to use heavier or lighter weight paper. The thing is, both the Epson and the Brother I have now work fine even if I do need to use different paper.

  • Cassy Schmertz, Sr.

    This entire guide surprises me personally. Granted, I’ve just ever before possessed 3 printers, however them all are actually superb. My ancient Epson LQ-1050 result matrix printer however will work. My personal Cannon S600 printer’s passed away right after a couple of a long time, however offered fantastic support for that spray painter period of time. We used in order to inform close friends it was essentially the most excellent products I’d ever before possessed. And my personal present printer is a Cannon PIXMA MP600 photograph printer/scanner/copier. It is the aspiration to work with, provides superb output (which has, unfortunately, degraded a bit through the actual two.five a long time I’ve been with them), in no way jellies, and is also otherwise just about flawless. My only real complaint is that the ink is really expensive, but that is definitely the prevalent complaint within the entire world associated with ink jet printers.

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