Sunday, June 5, 2011

InkJet Printers

Commentary: HP or Epson Printers - Probably neither. It is time to abandon home color printing.

I am unhappy with my HP Photosmart D7160 printer.

It has 6 ink cartridges and, at any given time, one of them is out of ink. Although the cartridges are relatively inexpensive ($15), they seem to conspire with each other, saying, "hey Magenta, why don't you run dry this week."

I occasionally use the printer, probably printing 40 sheets a month, along with a photograph or two. But this must not be exciting enough and the printer gets bored. It starts a cleaning cycle, preening like a cat, and this consumes prodigious amounts of ink. Because the cartridges are so small, there is never enough ink to print when I actually want to.

There are other problems. Last month I needed to print a portrait and 45 minutes later, I succeeded. Part of this was operator-error; part was not.

Here is a typical print job: It printed from the wrong tray. I had the photo-paper in up-side-down. There was a line in the print and it had to clean itself. It printed landscape instead of portrait. The driver set itself to Draft. The driver changed to regular paper instead of Photo-paper. It printed 3x5 on 4x6 paper. A cartridge ran out of ink. I installed a new cartridge. It had to clean itself. A second cartridge is sucked dry.

I could have driven downtown and back in the time it took to resolve all of this. On top of this, the prints are not waterproof and they apparently fade. With all the hassles, I'm ready to toss it and try something else. Of course, the problem is 5 of the 6 cartridges are still full and it seems like a waste to trash the whole thing on the account of one cartridge. But this is enough and I am done.

What I'm going to try is going to the local photo store and let them do the printing. By all accounts, this is cheaper than doing it yourself.

As I was reaching this decision, I researched the differences between HP and Epson printers and came across an interesting article.

Mr. Tim Hunkin did a series of tests, comparing the two brands, inks and papers. The un-dated article discusses HPs Vivera inks and Epson inks.

In summary:
  • Buy Ink from the OEM manufacturer
  • Buy paper from anyone
  • HP Vivera inks rapidly fade when exposed to light or air
  • HP inks do not clog as easily
  • Epson inks do not fade
  • Epson inks can clog when not used
He also refers to this site, which has a lot of other interesting Inkjet articles, including Myths of Digital Inks (horribly formatted; virtually unreadable - note sent to vendor).

In Conclusion

Color printing at home is too expensive and should be abandoned. Everyone should quit, sending HP, Epson, Lexmark and Canon a message. Let the local photo-lab do the printing for a fee. I'll report on my findings in a future post.

Keyliner Comments: HP Vivera Ink Promotion