April 18th, 2006

Oh Brother!

The saga of Phil and his printers continues.

Yesterday, I had decided to go ahead and get the HP 2600N that Best Buy had on special for $299.  Several sources had told me encouraging things about this printer, and the price was low enough I was able to beat my conscience into submission.  So I went into Best Buy feeling happy, and I came out feeling glum, because the man said "Yes, we have no HP 2600N's"...  he could order me one and it would show up in a few days, but part of what justified me to spend more money than I should for a printer I want but don't honestly need was that I am really sick of not having a printer, and I thought I could take it right home.  In disgust, I went down the road to Office Depot and bought the Brother HL 2040, because at $119 it's so insanely cheap.  By the time I got home last night, I felt like going to bed rather than playing with the printer.

After breakfast today, I opened the box and checked that all the pieces were there.  The instructions told me to install the software first, so I put the disk in the drive, and... nothing.  The drive kept making funny "I'm looking for a disk and can't find it" noises, but never found any files.  I took the disk out and looked at it, and the data layer looked sort of warped.  I called Office Depot to see if they wanted me to exchange the whole thing or they could just exchange the disk; they said I could just exchange the disk.  So I headed over, and after taking a few minutes to find the person I needed, I left with the new disk, which I'd made the salesman show me worked in a demo machine in the store.

While I was running errands in town, my cell phone rang.  The tech from Lazer's Edge told me that the print head in my photo printer was toast, and while he could replace it he recommended against it.  Since I believe I can get a similar 6-color model off the shelf in town, that is probably the way I will go.  He also told me that refilling my own ink cartridges was a bad idea and likely shortened the life of the print head -- but when I told him how long I'd had the printer, he said that was about as long as they last on full-price cartridges.  My ability to make the prints I sell is based on the cost for refilling my own ink cartridges; if I had to pay for new genuine Canon ink tanks, I'd certainly need to raise my prices.  I need to do some research, but I believe I will soon have a Pixma 6something.

When I got home, I plopped the replacement driver disk in the drive, and a few moments later was able to print things.  The Brother is very noisy, but prints pretty fast and the print looks beautiful.

Printer Wars III: Revenge of the Ink

I've done some more research on printers, and now I don't know what to do.

The printer I thought I wanted to get is the Canon Pixma iP6600D.  It is a 6-color printer, a direct descendant of the i960 I've done all of my art photos on.  In my earlier, more cursory research, I thought I had found that it was compatible with the ink and refill kit I already have.  But in my more thorough research, I have learned otherwise.  This printer uses a new series of inks and cartridges, the "CLI-8" series.  The plus side of this is that Canon claims that these inks, when used with their photo papers, will last 100 years, which is at least roughly an equivalent claim to the Epson "archival quality" inkjets that it seems like artists who do their own printing are "supposed" to be using.  The minus side, though, is that the new inks come in new cartridges which have electronics built into the cartridge to detect the ink level, and (I am very upset to report) are a work of pure evil, just like most other company's ink cartridges -- they don't allow you to refill them, they recognize if you do refill them and log that you have and assert that this voids your warranty; and there is a patented chip in the damn things to keep anyone from cloning the cartridges or circumventing the anti-refill technology.  In short, Canon has thrown away everything that made them more honorable than the other printer makers and is playing the same game as everyone else.

I really wanted to get the new printer, so that I could actually have a printer *now* as opposed to at some indefinable future time.  I would really like to be able to claim to be using archival quality printing for my sale prints.  But I really hate this wasteful, greedy, evil technology in principle, and I'm also concerned that my effective ink cost if I only use factory cartridges goes from under $2 per salable picture to over $5.  I am tempted to tell the guy in the repair shop I've changed my mind and I want him to replace the print head in my old printer, but (a) I don't know how long it will take before I have a printer again (I'm 99% sure he doesn't have the print head in stock but would have to order it), and (b) I don't know how long the repaired printer will last; if I knew the replacement print head would last as long as a new printer, I would be more comfortable with getting it.  Maybe this is a sign that I should change brands, but I don't know anything about anyone else's photo printers.

Does anyone have any helpful thoughts?  Does anyone really care?