Thursday, November 18, 2010

Thinking of buying a new printer?

It should come as no surprise when you hit the nearest electronics store for your next printer purchase that you are bombarded with options. Now with inkjet printers that sell 'all-in-one' including wireless, sell for under $100, it would seem a no-brainer to buy one.  But this is where I would ask that you think before you pull out that wad of twenties to pay for it!  First of all, wireless is great but are you tech savy enough to be able to install it yourself or are you going to be calling your local tech person (me?) to help with that install, and if you are, do you think it should be for free?  I say this because I have personally dealt with 4 this week alone and in all instances it took over 30 minutes and just under 60 minutes per call, to talk them through the procedure. So what is that worth?  Personally I'm doing it as a favour to my clients but that certainly does chew in to my day when there are only 24 of those hours to play with.  Of course the printer makers are providing you with instructions and of course the dreaded CD that most state you "must install" BEFORE plugging the printer in to your computer. But what about that, if you are going to be using it wirelessly, why should you be plugging it in to the computer?  Fact is you shouldn't because if you do, especially with windows 7, it will automatically install the printer driver for you but then when you unplug the USB cable you aren't going to be very happy, because you haven't set up the wireless yet. In fact even with the USB cable in, you can't set up the wireless mode as this is usually done by using the menu options on the small display on the printer itself.   This is, of course, why the instructions state you must first install the CD because on that will be software that helps the computer 'find the printer' in its wireless state.  Oh sure, this works on some systems but if you have just purchased an HP printer, my odds are a major FAIL!  Personally I would never suggest purchasing an HP printer, not that the printer itself may be of poor quality but the software/drivers most certainly are.  In all 4 recent instances of recent installs, my clients had first gone through the steps provided by the instructions and two of these spent over an hour on the phone with the printer tech support people which ended in a FAIL as well and were told they would have to contact their local computer tech to help them out.  Of course this is when I would get notified of the problems which always makes me cringe as I am only learning of their recent purchase and problems, including their frustrations of dealing with tech support for over an hour only to have had to contact me in the end anyway. I cringe because in all instances I would have either suggested a different printer (certainly not an HP due to their piss poor software/drivers) and most likely not a wireless system unless they were absolutely in need of this option. In fact in all cases, I would be suggesting LASER over INKJET for the simple fact that you would not be tossing your printer once you go through a set of ink cartridges, since you would be paying about the same amount to replace the inkjet cartridges as it would cost to simply buy a new unit, over the laser printer that would give you at least 5 times as long before replacing the toner cartridge and at that point you might still find it difficult to replace the toner cartridge for less than what it would cost to simply replace the laser printer, since you can now purchase a colour laser printer for just over $100 and an 'all-in-one' colour laser for just over $200.  I personally got in on the colour laser purchase about 3 years ago, when they dropped below $500, paying $479 but I have yet to replace the toner cartridges in this unit. Albeit I got the business model that has a very hefty printer load cycle and since I don't print a lot of pictures, I will probably not be replacing it this year either but when I do, I will be recycling the unit and buy a new printer simply because the newer model is half the size for one thing, and in my case, the cost of toner for this unit for the three colours and black will be almost double what it would cost to buy a new printer altogether.  As well, even if I did decide to purchase new toner, odds are the drum unit would give in before the next round of toner was out and that alone would set me back $150. 

It is truly unbelievable that you would be tossing out a perfectly good working printer just because you have no ink/toner for it but that is the reality these days.  Oh sure, you are going to 'recycle' it but to think this old unit will end up in some third world country that 'can't afford a new unit' is simply not the case these days. So if you are going to purchase a new printer and you are going to go cheap, purchasing the all-in-one inkjet with wireless and all the bells and whistles for under $100, remember you do get what you pay for and unless you know what you are doing when it comes to the installation, be prepared to spend anywhere from $20-$100 depending on what your local computer tech is going to charge you to make that house call to set it up.