Note: This column represents the opinions
of the writer and as such, is not purported as fact|
Time for more mirth, mayhem and madness from the wonderful world of the
Dave Barry is a writer for the Miami Herald and sometimes his columns are
very funny and relevant. Here's what he has to say
Here's a little something
to add interest to the smallest room in the house. Sure beats reading
6-month old copies of the Woman's Weekly I guess.
It might be the middle of winter right now but why not take a moment to
modify your mouse
in anticipation of those long hot days of summer.
A Licence To Print Money
No, this isn't another rant about monopolies, telcos or dominant software
vendors -- it's about printers.
Several years ago I bought an Epson Stylus 600 inkjet printer and I was very
happy with it. The quality of the printing was second to none, even when
plain old paper was being used.
What did annoy me however, was the price of ink cartridges. Within a year
of use, I'd probably spent two or three times the price of the printer just
This came as quite a shock after years of laser and dot-matrix printer use
where the cost per page was very, very low.
At the time, this heavy ink cost was problem enough, but since I bought my
printer, things have gotten far worse.
Obviously the inkjet printer manufacturers have decided that there's no money
in selling printers per se -- but there's a fortune to be made in selling ink.
As a result of this mindset, we've seen the price of good quality inkjet
printers fall through the floor, while at the same time the price of replacement
ink cartridges has gone through the roof.
Now some of the more "economy minded" computer users out there soon discovered
that they could save a small fortune by refilling their old cartridges using
third-party ink kits.
This infuriated the printer manufacturers who saw these little squirts muscling
in on what had become their major revenue generator -- so they got clever.
First they tried using scare tactics. "The use of third party inks will
invalidate your warranty and damage your printer" was one of the most common
claims. Unfortunately, while most people stuck with the manufacturer's ink
for the first 12 months while the printer was under warranty, many of them
switched to cheaper refills after that.
Not to be thwarted, some manufacturers decided to go hi-tech. To prevent you
and I from refilling our old cartridges with new ink, these manufacturers
have gone so far as to embed smart chips into those cartridges that effectively
disable them once they're empty. Even if you refill them, the printer will still
insist that they contain no ink.
Of course the wisdom is that if you plan to do a lot of printing then you shouldn't
be using an inkjet anyway. Laser printers are much cheaper (and often faster) to
run if you're doing more than a few pages a week -- and those who print a lot
often consider colour to be less important anyway.
So inkjets are best for occasional use right?
BZZZT... wrong answer.
My good old Epson 600 worked just fine and dandy while it was burning an inky hole
in my pocket and chewing through ink cartridges at an atrocious rate but as
soon as I cut back my frequency of printing to perhaps once or twice a month
Here's the problem -- many ink jet printers don't like sitting idle. The
ink in the printer head will eventually dry up and block the incredibly fine
holes, which leads to really, really bad printing.
In the case of the Epson, it will let you waste an entire set of ink cartridges
trying to clear the blockage using its little cleaning routine -- but that won't
help one bit once your head is really blocked.
Other printers such as many of the HP line are a little better insomuch as
the print-head is built into the ink cartridge itself. This means you can
simply toss out the cartridges and buy new ones ($$$). In the case of the
Epson however -- you have little option but to throw the whole printer
in the bin because the cost of repair is frequently more than the price
of a new one.
Before everyone emails me saying "have you tried this" with links to the numerous
websites that offer hints and tips on clearing blocked print head nozzles" I
should say -- yes, I've tried the whole range of options and my Epson's
print head is still blocked.
So what do YOU use for printing and how reliable, cheap and effective
is it? Chances are that I'm not the only person experiencing the inkjet
blues right now.
Have Your Say
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