11/01/2007

Printer Madness

About a year and a half ago Tim and I bought an HP3600 color laser printer. There was a lot of random justification that went into the purchase, but overall we rationalized that it was an investment and would save us money in the long run because ink jet toner was killing us and making us rather peeved all at the same time. This new printer was replacing both our cheapo ink jet and the HP4P that my dad bought for me when I was off to my freshman year of college. 10 years later, the printer was finally on its last legs and while sad to see it go it was definitely time (we really could barely find toner for the thing anymore, having long since been discontinued.)

The new printer was awesome. It worked well on our network. It printed in color with reasonable resolution and speed. All in all, it made life just a little bit nicer for all concerned.

In August(ish) it started warning us about the impending need to change our toner cartridges. We waited and printed and waited some more until finally we figured we should get new toner cartridges to have them on hand for when they ultimately ran out. So we promptly ran out to Office Depot and proceeded to spend just about as much on 4 new toner cartridges as we had spent on the printer. Um. Ok. We consoled ourselves that we would need to do this only once every 18 or so months and surely this was still cheaper than ink jet cartridges.

On Monday the yellow ran out. Tim cheerily opened up the printer and began the process of changing out that toner...and somehow, I'm unclear on exactly the process because right around here is when I decided to go upstairs and start doing the dishes and otherwise getting ready for bed, he broke the printer. Apparently a little piece snapped off and fell into the unreachable recesses of the printer, resulting in two problems. First, the printer no longer recognized that the toner was actually in place (despite visual verification that yes, there it was) and second, it made a grating and chunking noise that nothing good could possibly come from if you dared to turn it back on.

There was much discussion of repair. However, investigation of this found that even starting to get it repaired was going to cost about the same as a new printer and that was without a guarantee that it was fixable - that was just to get it looked at. So then, frustrated beyond measure, Tim said, "Fine. We'll get a new printer. But not an HP!"

I looked at other options. I did comparisons of price and reviews and came to the conclusion that, realistically, we were better off getting the same model because of the 4 brand new toner cartridges that would otherwise be an incredible waste of money as HP makes their toner specific to one printer and one printer only. Well, sticker shock was shortly to set in as we had, apparently, purchased it on sale and the "real" price is much more than we were willing to pay. Yet the wasted toner nagged at me and I couldn't bring myself to buy something else. So I searched some more and found a replacement for about what we paid originally - and it comes with new toner all pre-filled. So really, once you subtract out that price, the printer itself is not all that much.

All this does beg the question: when did printers become consumable? First, why is toner so expensive that you're almost better off just buying a new printer every time you run out of ink? And even if you can get past that and suck up the price of refills - when did HP transition from making printers that lasted a good 10 years to the kind that die painful deaths shortly after the warranty expires?

Lastly, I'm seriously considering using the HP recycling program and sending the old, dead machine back to them. It's only $34 for shipping and it seems to me the better course of valor to not just chuck the thing in the garbage. Is this smart or silly?

4 comments:

Rach said...

I can relate but change HP to Brother...Sigh!

Dennis said...

Here is the best solution to your problem. Xerox Phaser Solid Ink Printers. Toner based machines as you found out are not inexpensive to use. http://www.FreePrinters.com

Stephen said...

^ I know that was spam, but the solid ink printers are good and I think cheaper to use. Textronix makes them, too, but they might have been bought by Xerox.

buddypress said...

Buy 4 PC-21C color cartridges and get the 5th one FREE. The PC-21C color ink tank replaces the Canon BCI-21C color ink tank.
HP Ink Cartridges