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Like most people these days the use of a printer is something primary done in the workplace. I've never had much say in the printers we have had at work - usually tied into contracts and price is not much of an issue. We have usually had the best printer that's suits our needs. Cost effective in the long run, good quality and can sustain a lot of daily use and abuse. It needs to cope with less than patient people not willing to follow any instructions on how to change the cartridge.
So, for the past few years my relationship with printers was how it should be - very functional. Do the job, do it well and do it everyday. I've never had a printer at home as I've never needed one. I live in a world of emails and smartphones - at home I don't ever need to print much.
However, late last year I needed a printer. I wanted to take some work home with me and there were lots of letters I needed to send out - I needed something that could print in color but didn't want to pay much as my use wouldn't be that high spec of heavy.
I made my first mistake keeping the tradition of how many of my poor buying decisions begin - stepping foot into a Cash Converters. I wasn't specifically for a printer - I had an hour to kill and fancied wasting it sifting though 129384124712984 cut price DVD looking for a bargain. I spotted this just as I walked in among 2 other printers I can only assume escaped a museum. Maybe it being sat between to relics was a clever marketing trick to get me to lug this printer home - the £15 price tag helped, as the printers I was looking at getting were £25-£30. I figured I would save myself some money - a printer is a printer isn't it?
Let me start with the first and only plus - installation is easy. It came with no instructions of install disc - so needed a little help form Windows 7. I plugged in the power and plugged the printer to the USB. It showed up in the print options right away.
Thats where the good points end. It came with cartridges, but the ink level monitor that popped up let me know they were empty. As I'm fairly environmentally conscious and a little poor - I went to an ink shop (The Ink Shop in Norwich). A shopping selling refilled cartridges and refills cartridges. After about 10 minutes of the assistance trying to figure out what make the cartridges were, she told me it was about £2 cheaper to get them filled. First problem - the reason she struggled to tell what cartridges were is its all a bit confusing.
Unfortunatly when I got the cartridges home the color was still showing empty - when I wen't back she was reveled it was broken and I would need new ones. I would have been nice her to tell me this before I was refilled.
A simple Amazon search will show about 12 types of cartridge that all are listed as working, ranging from £10-£25 for both black and white and color. However, not all are suitable - only the £25 purchase will work. Others will fit, but only printer will recognize most expensive set. I found this out with a mixture of my own failed purchases and other who have ranted on the internet.
This for me is a big issue, almost as importantly as the quality of prints is cost and availability of replacement cartridges. You need to be able to get them at an price relative to the printer and not have too much hassle getting them. This printer falls short on both of these counts. I paid more for the cartridges than the printer and figuring out what I needed was a pain.
I eventually got working cartridges - in hindsight a waste of money on two counts. The printer is poor, guzzles ink and rarely works. I would have been cheaper and more cost clever to cut my loses and but a new printer.
Changing the cartridges was a pain, its unclear how they snap in. You need to push at a very precise angle to get them in, and getting them out feels as if your trying to break the machine in two.
Its small and the paper tray works by pulling out a small extension for the printed paper to fall into and the paper is fed through with no support. This means most of the time you need to ensure the paper is sat in the right place to be fed in - sometimes you need to help it a bit to tell it paper is there. It prints slow, even large black text - a full minute of so for one A4 page. The hand full of times I printed color its took longer, and the one time I printed a full color photo just as a test it to 3-4 minutes and drank most of the ink. The result was pretty good but cost wise it was bewilderingly bad. About £20 for 5-6 photos. No thanks. The color was sharp and the image didn't bleed at all. It was vibrant and had the finish I was expecting - I was looking forward to knocking out professional looking results at home, as I'd never printed to this level before. The fun of being able to do this at home though had the edge shaved clean off when I took into account how much of a chore getting it done was.
I connects via USB cable but this isn't a selling point, as everything has now moved to this due to the worldwide inter-connectivity.
To add to the list of faults, it just stopped working on me a few times. Just stopped. It was on looked like it should be working, but wasn't. It has a small red light to indicate fault - but with no screen or display to tell you what that is, your left scratching your head.
I feel sorry for people paying full price for this. A quick search shows its mostly out of circulation - only two online retailers selling it, at a mind blowing £193. I checked Amazon.com and it seems this printer is still available in the US, and just as unpopular. I assume this is a product that was on wider sale in the US with only a few slipping through the net to UK shelves.
There is every chance quite a few of these second hand taking up shelf space in various places and my consumer advice would be don't risk it. It is, in a multitude of ways a poor purchase.
I was surprised. HP is a name synonymous with printing, but this product really makes me wonder why.