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 Printers that suck    
 Dated:  Wednesday, July 30 2008 @ 05:08 PM PDT
 Viewed:  822 times  

I've gotten rid of my Epson C80 color printer. It works fine, but I can't be bothered screwing with it anymore. Every time I try to use it, one or more of the cartridges has dried out, or the heads need to be cleaned, using massive amounts of ink, and I end up having to buy cartridges for the thing and muck around with it before I can complete the current project.

The elderly monochrome laserprinter, on the other hand, has only ever had one cartridge since I bought it and has printed thousands of pages with no problems.

So, what exactly do I need color for, anyway? It really boils down to two issues:

1) Printing images from electronic media

2) Printing color documents

Let's take 2) first. Unless you live in the middle of nowhere, there's probably a Kinko's nearby. You can upload your job to Kinko's directly from your computer, decide how you want it printed and bound, and pick it up at your leasure. And if it's screwed up, they have to eat the cost of reprinting it. For modest volume, this beats the heck out of managing your own printer.

If convenience, absence of a Kinko's close by, or immediate need are issues, get a color laser printer. The up front investment is high, but the cost per page is significantly less than inkjets, and -- most importantly -- the toner doesn't dry up and become unusable over time. This is probably the most important factor, from a cost and frustration standpoint.

But the best color laser printers still don't do a really good job on photos, so you'll still need to find a solution there.

Kinko's also has a photo service, but I prefer to be there when my photos are printed, in case further touch-up is required.

Enter the Kodak kiosks at most malls, grocery stores and photo shops. They will pull images from every consumer digital storage device, and print on real photographic paper for (again) a fraction of the *true* cost per page (counting waste from age and head cleanings) of a common inkjet.

(When I get time, I'll work up some real-world cost-per-page numbers and turn this into an article.)

So, in summary, I upload the annual Christmas letter to Kinko's and pick it up after work. I dump photos to an SD device and drive around the corner to the Albertson's and print them at the Kodak kiosk. And I print black-and-white documents on a refurbished HP Laserjet (about $200). There are times when I thought I might want to try the Epson again, but it's such a hassle, and so expensive, that I rapidly quell the notion. Finally, I took it off the counter and stuffed it in the closet.

Inkjets, bubblejets, why do people still buy these things? In real-world conditions, they stink. They're cheap to purchase, but expensive, finicky, and frustrating to use. I see a time when these things pretty much vanish.

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