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.
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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