06 November 2014

Print Queue

I haven't had good luck with printers. I've had several over the past decade, and they seem to start getting problematic after only a couple of years. We had various issues with them that I don't even remember now, mainly ink issues and printing issues, and spending too much on ink.

In 2007 I bought a Mac mini that came with a free printer of my choice up to $100 valu, so I picked up a Canon inkjet. The frequency with which we had to buy replacement ink, and its cost, left us very unsatisfied. Kodak had come out with a line of inkjet printers that had significantly lower ink replacement costs, so we decided to get one of those. I bought that printer in 2010.

That printer really seemed to blow through ink too, and I didn't even use it that much. Eventually I read a story on Consumerist that said leaving a printer on standby rather than turning its power completely off would save ink, and the Mrs. pointed out that I could use the "draft" setting for print quality, something I hadn't even thought about. But this printer, too, became problematic, particularly after I upgraded my Mac to the latest version of the operating system a few weeks ago.

When I sell an item on eBay, I can purchase and print a postage label at home, and then just drop the package at a post office. But twice within a few weeks I purchased the label and was unable to print it. eBay lets sellers void a purchased label, but the refund takes 15 days for the postal service to process! When I sell an item I need to be able to reliably print a label so I can get the package out as quickly as possible. We decided we needed to replace the printer again.

This time I went to the library and spent half an hour going through the past year's issues of Consumer Reports to see which printer models they had tested and which ones they thought were a decent buy. I also looked at replacement costs for ink cartridges for the three major inkjet printer brands: HP, Epson, and Canon. Among CR's recommendations was an HP printer called the Envy 4500. The Envy models are sleeker than average, which appealed to my aesthetic sense. HP's ink costs are reasonable ($36 at Staples for a combo pack of black and color ink) and most retailers were selling it for about $80.

There was also a slightly nicer model with the same specs plus a two-tone black and silver finish and a larger color touch screen instead of a simpler LCD. That model was selling at most places for $100, but there was a Staples coupon in last Sunday's paper for 15% off one item, and being able to go to a nearby store and get one right away was preferable to having to wait for one to arrive from ordering online.

So we ended up with the Envy 5530. If you want to spend a little less you can get the 4500, which will perform the same. I've sold two items on eBay this week and the printer has done its job. It was easy to set up, it's quieter than our last one, and it prints more quickly. I'm hoping this one will last a little longer than two or three years.

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