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Disposable Printers?

Q: I read with interest your review of the HP L7680, given my recent experiences with HP, admittedly at a slightly lower entry point (HP 2710).

I have just experienced the issue you mentioned in your review: a failure, apparently with the hardware relating to the ink cartridges, has resulted in the unit being discarded.

Hardly worth writing about, except that the unit was only 20 months old and, here in Australia, HP provides no repair support for units outside warranty.

In Australia the moral of the story would appear to be buy the extended warranty and prepare to discard the unit, however wasteful this may appear, once the extended warranty period is over.

Patricia Boyce, Australia

A: Sorry to hear about your printer problems. Printers, including multifunction devices, are increasingly priced on the razor model - low upfront hardware costs and high consumables prices - which in my experience means some people actually throw out “old” printers when the first set of ink cartridges is used up!

That said, 20 months is an outrageously short lifespan for a device like this. You might want to consider opting for another vendor that provides local support. In general I have found Canon devices to be extremely reliable.

Multi-Function Printers

Q: I would like to share my experience with HP machines and their colour cartridges.

I have a long-in-the-tooth HP Officepro 1150C and my wife uses an Officejet G85. Both have proved perfectly reliable. Recently, however, both machines have been used for printing short runs of colour leaflets with photographs incorporated in them and we discovered that the colour print cartridges ran out of the yellow ink very, very quickly leaving lots of blue and red behind.

Presumably, the multi-functional machines are optimised for office use (red and blue) and not for more general use.

Incidently, the colour print cartridges are expensive - £23 to £25 in Nottingham. It does not take long to run through £100, and as other printers are available new for £30 there is a temptation to buy printers and throw the whole thing away when it runs out of ink.

A friend has said that Kodak will be bringing out an economy printer with economy-priced inks. Is this true?

Robert

A: You could well be right about the colour optimisation of these devices. Certainly my now defunct G85 was used primarily for mono text and I did not encounter the problem with the yellow ink.

You are also absolutely right in your observation about the relative costs of printers and ink - low priced hardware coupled with high priced consumables has become the dominant market model and I know from personal experience (as a volunteer in a recyling centre) that a lot of people do throw out relatively new printers when the ink runs out. Remember however that some printers sold today come with “starter” ink cartridges that contain less ink than the replacements.

You are also correct about Kodak’s recent entry into the printer market with a series of machines that cost a little more initially, but claim to reduce real world page costs by around 50 per cent.

The Kodak EasyShare multifunction machines (there are three of them) have just gone on sale in the US and should be available in Europe beginning next month. Here is a link to the Kodak site with some more information.

In fairness, since Kodak announced the printers, HP has challenged their claims maintaing that its multifunction devices are much more “ink efficient” than Kodak suggests.

I have not had a chance to try the new Kodak machines yet, but am looking forward to drawing my own conclusions.

Photocopiers

I am looking for a good photocopier for when I retire soon. At present I can use the office ones easily - one scans quickly the other does colour well, but slowly. My wife’s at home, linked to the computer, prints very dark prints, cuts off margins and is not any good for me!

It must darken/lighten, enlarge/reduce and do colour. Should I have one linked to our computer or a stand-alone? Do you have any recommendations for a particular one?

Malcolm Chase, Hants, UK

A: My personal preference would be for a stand-alone copier but they are getting pretty hard to find now. Failing that, my recommendation would be Konica Minolta Magicolour 2480MF laser printer, £250, or one of the Canon Pixma inkjets like the Canon Pixma MP830, which costs around £220.

Paul Taylor tackles more of your high-tech problems and queries at www.ft.com/gadgetguru

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