Tuesday, 16 November 2010


I haven't had a rant about anything on my blog in ages. Heck, I haven't updated my blog in ages. So I thought I'd write up something that's been on my mind recently. Printers.

I've been hunting around for an all-in-one printer for my studies. Yes, the university has very nice laser printers on campus which charges (arguably) reasonable rates (4p per side duplex B&W), and does duplex printing (Save the trees!). But there is a problem - for me to print, I have to send the print job from a University PC. And more often than not, the PCs are all taken up (often with valid reasons, like people finishing up their assignments or a tutorial happening in Streatham Court 0.93). This leads to a lot of time wasted refreshing the "Find a Spare PC on campus" page on my iPhone. As someone who lives off-campus (in Rowancroft), I'd rather have the flexibility of being able to print whenever I need to, rather than having to do it only when I am on campus.

So I thought, forget it, it's time I get my own printer so I can print what I want, when I want, and from the apps that I normally use (IE is hopeless at printing webpages).

Over the last decade, I've gone through 3 different makes of printers - A Canon BJC S200, a Canon Pixma MP220 AIO, and most recently, a Lexmark X4550 Wireless AIO. (Notice the evolution of models there - from a printer, to an all-in-one, to a wireless all-in-one).

Today, while surfing through tons of review sites and Amazon, I saw printers that have web capabilities (The HP Photosmart Premium e-All-In-One particularly caught my attention). How cool would it be if you could send a document by email to your printer, and it will print it off for you? And how about putting apps on your printer? This certainly feel like the future.

Until you stop reading the marketing material, take a step out of the reality distortion field, and look through the reviews of these (if I were honest) pretty expensive printers. (£129 for the Photosmart Premium from Amazon).

These words are probably quite familiar if you've been reading reviews for printers: Difficult to set-up. Driver issues. Poor customer support. Poor printing quality. Super expensive ink. Noisy. Slow.

Mind you, it's 2010, you would have been forgiven for thinking that printer manufacturers have been able to improve the quality of the core functions of the printer (Print, Scan, Copy), while delivering the innovations I mentioned above (web connectivity, wireless printing). And with the environment in mind, you might have expected features like Duplex Printing to be in every make and model today.

Today, consumers are smarter, and they often think about more than just the price of the printer. They think about the running cost (or cost per page), additional features it has to offer, and the quality of the prints. Too bad it seems that the manufacturers are rather like politicians - pretending to listen, but in reality, rather out of touch with the picky consumers.

Maybe I'm just being picky and pedantic here. Maybe the manufacturers are finding it hard to shore up profits when people are buying 3rd-party ink cartridges in place of the 'genuine' ones, which affects their bottom line. But as we have seen in the music industry, the consumers will be there, as long as you treat them well by giving them what they want for the right price and in the right way. The printing industry have been innovating by finding ways to prevent the use of 3rd party printer ink cartridges. To them I say: why not use those resources in fixing your own cartridges and products?

Just my pennies' worth...