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Printer math
Old 04-16-2007, 01:15 AM   #1
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Printer math

In Oct 2004 we bought a $99 Epson Stylus CX4600 color inkjet printer, a dramatic upgrade from our seven-year-old 400. We only upgraded because it was getting darn hard to find ink for the 400, but this was before the Cartridge World refill franchise was on Oahu.

18 months later (out of warranty) the 4600 plugged up. I followed all the troubleshooting techniques on various websites but noticed that the long-term solution was "Bitch at Epson, they'll ask you to mail it in for repairs, and they'll give you a 4800". So we sent in the 4600 and meanwhile bought a second 4800 for $128 to keep the teenager's graphics department science project perking along. Eight weeks and two phone calls later Epson "repaired" the 4600 by sending a free 4800 (our second). The advantage of two 4800s is that we now had eight full ink cartridges, basically two free printers for the retail cost of four cartridges, and I could hot-swap them if they plugged up again.

The CX4800s lasted almost a year before we started having the same symptoms. This time the problem, whatever the heck it was, took out both of them. Each was plugged in the same way even with different inkjet color cartridges. Each would sorta clear up after copious head cleanings (half a cartridge or more, and that uses the same amount of ink from all four cartridges even if just one head is clogged) and would clog again in a day or two. It didn't matter if we were using Epson retail ink or Cartridge World $8 refills.

We got through the #$%^ing science project after a lot of arguing (pretty pictures with crappy analysis) plus a little help from Kinko's. Those photos & spreadsheets sure looked impressive, but luckily her science teacher joined in with a resounding "C" grade on data analysis & conclusions. Hopefully future research will depend more on the quality of the analysis and less on the photos.

Total cost over the last 30 months? A $99 printer, a $128 printer, and $443.31 of ink. (Yes, that's over four hundred dollars.) I was also pretty darn tired of late nights & teen tantrums over every page of paper that went through the alleged "color" inkjet.

So over the last couple months I've searched old threads on color lasers, looked on the Web, consulted an expert or two, and narrowed the field. I was all set to do my usual nuclear-engineering LBYM analysis of the merits of the various models, shipping costs to Hawaii, and the deals available at all Oahu military bases.

Then I said "Screw it, what are we saving it for?" and went to Costco to get our Friday-night pizza. After looking over their extensive selection (two models) we bought a HP 2605dn for $410 (after a $75 rebate). If this doesn't work out over the next couple months then we'll return it and start over, but at least I'm out of the graphics-arts tech support business.

It's a big sucker, it uses a lot of energy to heat the toner drums, and it's going to stay turned off most of the time. But each cartridge is expected to produce 2000 pages, which should get us through at least two more science projects years of color printing. In the meantime we'll keep using the CX4800 for scanning, faxing, and B&W printing until it runs out of black ink. If we get through the next two years without having any material problems or cartridge replacements then we'll be way ahead of the inkjet scam game.

I should be writing off printer ink as an educational expense...
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Re: Printer math
Old 04-16-2007, 02:03 AM   #2
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Re: Printer math

Yup. I've long had two printers...a b&w laser and a color inkjet. My inkjet was one where the printheads were on the cartridges, so basically I had to buy new cartridges every time I got in the mood to print color because they'd dry up in the interim. The laser could go any length of time and still fire up and print with no hassle. It eventually got old enough that the supplies were getting hard to find and somewhat more expensive.

Then I bought my color laser. Ahhhh, no drying up. And to tell you the truth, although the photo quality isn't like an inkjet it's been fine for the few snapshots I've wanted to print out so far. If I need more there's always commercial photo printers.

As a support guy I always found the inkjets to be mostly a waste of money and time. The things are trouble defined. I tried to discourage them in favor of network laser printers, but managers say they want their own private printers and then buy the cheap inkjet. <sigh> There were a couple of business class inkjets (HP 1200C and later HP 2000C) that held up reasonably well, but the laserjets and Lanier (rebranded Ricoh) copier/printers outlasted anything with liquid ink.
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Re: Printer math
Old 04-16-2007, 02:18 AM   #3
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Re: Printer math

I always run across stories about the pain of maintaining an inkjet...but have been blessed with perfect performance from every inkjet I've ever owned. I think (I could be wrong, I don't really know a whole lot about what goes on in my printer) the reason is that I've purchased printers where the printhead is part of the cartridge - so when you replace the cartridge, you start over with new printheads. The quality isn't the greatest, but so far it's simple and it works.

I purchased my last printer for $50, and the generic cartridges cost something like $4 each from abcink.com, so no complaints from a cost standpoint either...

I think I'm quite the exception, however - everyone I know is upgrading to laser and loving it...

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Re: Printer math
Old 04-16-2007, 03:45 AM   #4
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Re: Printer math

The manufacturers are giving away cheap printers to sell the ink cartridge. I use recycled cartridges with my old printer. The new (free printer) is still using the cartridge that came with it. I have printed about 40 pages so far and it has about half the ink left. I need to identify an inexpensive solution.
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Re: Printer math
Old 04-16-2007, 08:19 AM   #5
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Re: Printer math

I had two Lexmark inkjets here at home, and one at former w*rk place that all "died" within about a week or two of each other. Did all the reccommended 'trouble shooting'...to no avail. Tossed two of them, but kept one because it's a 3-in-1, and we still use the scanner.

Replaced the other one at home with an Epson Stylus Photo R300, after looking at reviews. It's performed very well.....so far!

I have a new Canon PIXMA iP6700D Photo printer sitting here waiting to be installed. I just have to build a shelf for it.

Before I bought the 3-in-1 Lexmark, we had a cheap-o Canon BJC-250. It's STILL hooked up and works great! It uses 2 cartridges...EITHER a color...OR...a black! I use it for printing B&W copies, and use the Epson for color. Once in a blue moon I'll print color on the Canon, but very seldom.

The only thing that I kind of miss about w*rk, is the Kyocera Color Laser! It put out GREAT color pix! We had it as our network printer, and b*tched about having to go out the other room to retrieve or copies. I don't miss w*rk, or my former fellow employees, or the twit of a boss....but man, I sure miss my color laser!!!

Maybe some day I can talk the salesman (an old school chum of mine) into giving me a really good deal on one! :
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Re: Printer math
Old 04-16-2007, 08:37 AM   #6
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Re: Printer math

I have had good luck with Canon ink jet printers. It may be just luck, but everyone was retired working. Every upgrade was for better quality or features. That goes back over 4 machines and around 15 years. Current i350 has been going strong for 3 or 4 years. I normally use generic ink. Use to fill the old black and white cartridges from a jug of ink. I would keep one brand name cartridge on the shelf and refill the old ones till the heads went bad then put in the new one and start over. I did have trouble with my first color unit plugging up the cartridge mounted heads on the color cartridge. I quickly gave up on color and used it as a black and white printer. The current one we don't try to conserve the color ink since the generic ink is so cheap and haven't had any problems with the printer mounted heads.

Had my share of problems with other brands at MegaCorp, and friends had their horror stories to, but Canon always seem to be OK or better. Have been thinking laser printer of late but the cost and size keeps me using the small cheap Canon.

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Re: Printer math
Old 04-16-2007, 11:54 AM   #7
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Re: Printer math

In my experience ink jet printers are crap. If they sit idle for any period of days, the cartridges clog up. Anytime someone will sell you a new printer for less than a replacement cartridge, you should suspect that you are going to be spending alot of money on replacement cartridges.
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Re: Printer math
Old 04-16-2007, 02:25 PM   #8
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Re: Printer math

Saw at fatwallet that Buy.com is selling a cheap laser... cost about $88... not to bad..

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Re: Printer math
Old 04-16-2007, 11:48 PM   #9
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Re: Printer math

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeb-NY
Had my share of problems with other brands at MegaCorp, and friends had their horror stories to, but Canon always seem to be OK or better. Have been thinking laser printer of late but the cost and size keeps me using the small cheap Canon.
My great inkjet experience has been with Canons as well. Generic cartridges are so damn cheap it's hard to move up to laser. I'm sure it'll crap out sooner or later (how long can a $50 printer last?), and I'll probably bite the bullet and go laser since most of the newer inkjets have taken drastic measures to defeat generic cartridges.
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Re: Printer math
Old 04-17-2007, 04:46 AM   #10
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Re: Printer math

It all comes down to getting consumers hooked on a manufacturer' brand of ink cartridges. A new form of crack!

What in the world did we do before computer printers were invented. How did we exist?
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Re: Printer math
Old 04-17-2007, 07:03 AM   #11
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Re: Printer math

Quote:
Originally Posted by chinaco
It all comes down to getting consumers hooked on a manufacturer' brand of ink cartridges. A new form of crack!

What in the world did we do before computer printers were invented. How did we exist?
What is funny is that when I bought my cheap $30 on sale inkjet, there was a guy buying one. He said he buys new printers all the time because they are cheaper than buying the cartridges...

I was thinking.. have you heard of refills? But, the retail value of the two ink cartridges in my printer is about $50...
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Re: Printer math
Old 04-17-2007, 11:20 AM   #12
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Re: Printer math

Ouch...this thread jinxed me, so now my printer is saying it's low on black toner. That'll set me back about $85. But I've had the printer for two years and this is the first time it's asked for supplies, and that $85 should last me another two years...for black, anyway.

I wonder which color will need replacing next?
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Re: Printer math
Old 04-17-2007, 11:24 AM   #13
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Re: Printer math

remember when "they" said computers would reduce the amount of paperwork?
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Re: Printer math
Old 04-17-2007, 11:35 AM   #14
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Re: Printer math

Quote:
Originally Posted by lazygood4nothinbum
remember when "they" said computers would reduce the amount of paperwork?
No job is finished until the paperwork is done...

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Re: Printer math
Old 04-17-2007, 01:03 PM   #15
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Re: Printer math

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nords
It's a big sucker, it uses a lot of energy to heat the toner drums, and it's going to stay turned off most of the time.
Nords, you are right that heater is a big energy hog (800 W in my small laser printer), but some laser printers are very frugal in non printing mode - when I measured idle consumption of my ML-1710 it came only to 0.9W. So yes - it's a phantom load, but not as big of problem as some other things.
Also be prepared that small UPSes will not be able to run your new printer.
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Re: Printer math
Old 04-17-2007, 03:02 PM   #16
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Re: Printer math

Don't have a printer at home - use the library - printers I have/had were CRAP - they are still in boxes in garage - not worth hooking up after move - actually, the best printer was the impact one with my first DOS PC many years ago - worked just fine.....as for expectations of schools nowadays - does anyone remember pencils, rulers and crayons?? :-)

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Re: Printer math
Old 04-17-2007, 08:04 PM   #17
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Re: Printer math

Quote:
Originally Posted by sailor
Nords, you are right that heater is a big energy hog (800 W in my small laser printer), but some laser printers are very frugal in non printing mode - when I measured idle consumption of my ML-1710 it came only to 0.9W. So yes - it's a phantom load, but not as big of problem as some other things.
I'm going to have to put our Kill-a-watt on the laser printer and see how it does.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sailor
Also be prepared that small UPSes will not be able to run your new printer.
Yeah, I just bought a 1000 VA Tripplite UPS and it's plastered with laser-printer warnings! It doesn't make sense to me to put a power-hungry printer on a battery circuit but it must be a common user mistake... I don't know anyone who's sweating color laser printouts during a blackout.

Quote:
Originally Posted by deserat
...as for expectations of schools nowadays - does anyone remember pencils, rulers and crayons?? :-)
Actually our high school has been very understanding of that issue. There are plenty of school computers & color printers for kids who plan ahead. The lack of understanding stems from our kid. We happen to be dealing with a teenager who can't believe that the home graphics lab a color printer would stop working on Sunday night and that her parents wouldn't be willing to drive her 30 miles to the 24-hour Kinko's. But at least she hasn't called Child Protective Services yet, although we've encouraged her to go live with the neighbors gain a broader perspective.

Thursday is shaping up to be "Nords Offline Day". Spouse will be on travel and the kid will be at school for six hours, so in that time I'll rip out all our computer wiring rat's nests and install the UPS, connect one power strip from the UPS for the Compaq and its monitor, a second power strip from the UPS for the Mac Mini and its SyncMaster landscape/portrait monitor that a friend just sent me, a third power strip (non-UPS) for the printer & scanner & auxiliary equipment, the Kill-a-watt to the printer (later to the whole setup), a slew of other connectors for the Princeton KVM box, the PS/2-USB adapters, and a couple RJ-45 cables for each computer to (separately) plug into the DSL modem when I want to test-drive the Mac. I'm dealing with one two-outlet receptacle and one phone jack. (I sure hope a 20-amp breaker is big enough!) When I'm done the whole setup has to be easily accessible (to me), aesthetically pleasing to spouse (no more rat's nests), kid-proof (no 24/7 tech support required), and bunny-proof (no exposed power cables or DSL connectors). No problem.

I'm sure that somewhere in this process I'll discover an urgent need for a USB keyboard. Maybe wireless.

Guess I'll do a full set of backups before I start. What could possibly go wrong?

You know what they say: Once you go Mac...
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