Sunday, June 20, 2010

I Hate My HP Printer.

Anyone who has bought a printer in recent years knows that the manufacturers are screwing us harder than British Petroleum screwed the Gulf Coast. We're all well aware that inkjet printer manufacturers sell their printers at a near-loss and make their money by charging an arm and a leg to for the ink cartridges that power the printers. They know that after the one-time reach-around, you'll be back again and again to buy the ink that they recommend in the user guide. Want to go off brand for ink? Good luck. Most printers these days require ink sold from the original equipment manufacturer in order to work, using electronic chips embedded in the cartridges to ensure that the ink came from the same company that made the printer.

Up until recently, I've been pretty happy with my HP Photosmart C4210 printer. I ignored the fact that the HP install CD installed a bunch of crapware on my computer along with the drivers necessary to run the printer. I looked the other way when jobs kept getting caught in the print queue for no particular reason. I even bit my tongue when I had to shell out $25 to replace the ink cartridges. What's the ink made from, dolphin tears?

The one thing I cannot abide, though, is that, once the ink reservoir drops beneath a certain level, not only can you not print anything, but you also can't use the scanning function on the HP Photosmart C4210 printer. The ability to scan is not dependent on the ability to print. I called HP technical support on this issue and was told that with an empty ink cart, the printer will not enter ready status (this is in case you do need to print) and thus will not allow scanning. This, in my opinion, amounts to incredibly poor engineering or, more likely, a purposeful act of bilking customers out of money. And HP isn't alone in programming this behavior. A Google search indicates that the same sort of behavior is exhibited by both Epson and Brother printers as well.

I've got a work around that just might trick my pain-in-the-ass HP Photosmart C4210 into thinking that ink is available when it really isn't. There is a sensor in every HP printer that checks ink levels. This sensor employs a beam of light to do so. If the light bounces back, the printer indicates that there is ink in the cart and continues to operate. So, the next time I'm out of ink and in a pinch, I'll I place black electrician’s tape and around the ink cartridge's spine. Screw you, HP.

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