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Sunday, 11 April 2010

"Check Printer Cartridge"

I occasionally have a dream in which I suddenly remember some task I'm supposed to do, along with the realisation that I'd completely forgotten about it for a very long time. Usually it's revision for an exam I actually took 30 years or more ago. Shortly after my son was born, I dreamed I'd forgotten to feed him for nearly a month, and couldn't even recall where I'd left him. In a similar vein, I realised today that it's been nearly two months since I added to this blog.

In the search for inspiration, I need look no further than my HP PSC 1510 'all-in-one' colour printer, sat not 50cm away from this keyboard, which has smugly informed me that it needs some more colour ink. I'm just guessing at the smugness, of course, but it seems a reasonable guess, considering its behaviour since I installed a set of W H Smith own brand ink cartridges, faced with the high cost of the HP versions. Right from the start the printer kicked up a stink. It detected the alien inserts immediately, refused to even guess how much ink they still contained, and insisted from thence forward on printing a test page every time I switched it on.

I'm just speculating, but my guess is that they thought that this would make me think twice about buying non-HP cartridges the next time I ran out of ink (an event that was only hastened by all those unnecessary test pages that it produced). Well, that worked. Their victory is tempered though by my new found determination that my next printer won't be from Hewlett Packard.

And so now it's out of ink, and Amazon are quoting around £25 for a replacement set of cartridges. Plus, the printer's paper feed has always been temperamental, to the extent that it's only accepted a sheet at a time for the last several months. Plus, when I recently went to HP's web site and downloaded the latest driver for the 1510, the installer reported that, "A newer version of this software is already installed on your HP All-in-One series computer." (How'd that happen?) Plus, I can get a completely new printer for £70 or so.

Much as it pains me to replace a piece of kit that is mostly still working, the bizarre economics of printers means that I can actually do it for less than three times the cost of its consumables. If I pick the next printer looking at the cost of its inks rather than of the printer itself, it can even make economic sense to.

But now I come to the 'devil you know' situation. There are so many choices available--which to pick? And as Michael McIntyre pointed out, in this age of web reviews, no matter what you're thinking of buying, you can always find a bad review for it somewhere. So for now the printer will still sit on my desk, unable to print, while I weigh up the pros and cons of replacing its cartridges or relegating it to the loft, where it can sit next to a motley collection of other old printers and monitors that still work, but will almost certainly never do so again.