Tired of being dictated to by printers
March 4, 2009 10:41 AM   Subscribe

Inkjet Printer filter: My wife and I both have HP All in One Inkjet devices, me the 3310, her the 7280. Ink is a PITA. I'm looking to upgrade anyway, what should I get?

My 3310 scanner glass is dirty and almost impossible to clean, plus I need a document feeder. So I was going to get a 7280 like my wife's BUT...I believe honestly that HP is bending me over on ink. Sure, all inkjet ink is overpriced, but it seems that these are ALWAYS short on ink of one color or another. Worse, unlike old ink carts which you could run dry, these actually stop you from printing ANYTHING if the printer determines one is too low of ink. I can't even choose to print in black-only mode of one of the two shades of purple is out.

I love the HP for their photo-printing capabilities, the prints really do look like photo prints, but I think I'm being taken on this whole ink thing.

Is there any better product that can scan to OCR with document feeder, mac compatible, and NOT an ink terrorist?
posted by arniec to Computers & Internet (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
My experience with all-in-ones is that they are never as good as stand-alone devices. This may have changed since I last looked at them, but... I went way out of my way to ensure that my old, SCSI flatbed scanner could be hooked into my new computer (had to find a replacement card, original was ISA!) simply because the old beast consistently beat the pants off of the scan quality I got from newer, higher-resolution all-in-ones.

So, have you looked at getting a flatbed scanner with form-feed, AND a printer just for photo printing, AND a laserjet for black and white? Yes, it's a lot more stuff in your office, but you're saving money in the long run. You only need to replace the part that doesn't work, not all parts at once. Bonus, if this is a home setup, get one networked laser printer and share it. Color printer and scanner can probably be plugged in as needed.
posted by caution live frogs at 11:13 AM on March 4, 2009

You can always gets an HP JetDirect unit to network her printer and share it between the two of you.

But yeah, HP's ink system sucks. We buy our ink at CostCo and it helps save some costs.

Also, for photo printing, I've got an older CP-200 postcard printer that's been excellent. I'm sure the newer models are way better. Dedicated printers do take up more space as caution live frogs says but you get the benefit of better quality, easier replacements and less wasting of ink.

As an aside, I had a networked HP printer that would use all four inks to print in black, it ate ink carts like nobody's business.
posted by fenriq at 11:20 AM on March 4, 2009

I'm quite pleased with my Canon Pixma MP510 all-in-one. Non-Canon replacement cartridges are available at a fraction of the price of 'official' ones, and (the ones I use at least) seem to print just as well. Photo quality is very good. It's also possible to override various warnings so that it will allow you to continue to print when a cartridge is empty.

If you're a really serious consumer of ink you might want to look at a continuous inking system. These tend to be manufactured by third-party manufacturers and will adapt certain printer models to run from large bottles of ink which feed ink to the print head via (usually) a modified cartridge. If you do a serious amount of printing something like that could be worthwhile.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 11:24 AM on March 4, 2009 [1 favorite]

Why not get a laser all in one, and then farm out your photo printing to CostCo or something like that?

We used to print photos at home, but once you compare to a digital printing service, you can see the cost savings. Going laser with the all in one would save you a ton per page on black and white work as well.
posted by WinnipegDragon at 11:59 AM on March 4, 2009

I work for a major electronics retailer and when people ask me what printer I recommend, I always say Canon. I had four different HP models and each of them was utter crap. I now have the canon mp530 (about three years old), and love it. I printed many of my wedding photos on nice quality Canon brand photo paper and they look super professional. The color ink cartridges run about $15, I think, and I almost never replace them.
posted by santojulieta at 1:29 PM on March 4, 2009

Oh, and if you get an all in one from Canon, the bundled scanning software is great. It allows you to scan directly to PDF without extra conversion software.
posted by santojulieta at 1:30 PM on March 4, 2009

Another Canon fan here - I bought my Canon all-in-one about four years ago and their separate ink tanks were not 'chipped', as well as did not have an integrated print-head, so that generic ink tanks are easy and very inexpensive (I usually pay about $3 each). Newer Canons from what I understand have a microchip in them to discourage generic inks.

Anyway I found that pictures printed best with the genuine Canon ink (about $12 each), so I reserve the use of my all-in-one to everything except printing photos - my spouses' Canon printer has that duty.

Another plus for the Canon is their print driver software isn't a resource monster, unlike my prior experience with an HP printer (that completely died after two years of minimal usage). The document feeder on my MP model works fine for me (but I don't have major scanning projects).
posted by scooterdog at 5:24 PM on March 4, 2009

Best answer: I had a few HP all-in ones and they were, as people have been saying, crap. They use epson for the grown up printers at the photography school so I bought an epson artisan 800. They will jam you on the ink but it was a dream to set up both for my PC and my wife's mac and it prints and scans great. I understand it is not so fun when it wont let you print black and white when one of the colors is out, but I think that is the case with all printers.
posted by shothotbot at 5:33 PM on March 4, 2009

Response by poster: Just wanted to let you know that I followed Shothotbot's suggestion, got the Artisan 800 last week at Office Max on sale for $230, and it's working like a dream. The printing is ehh... but since it also does CDs I got rid of *2* previous inkjets and then hooked up my old laser printer (a HP1200, a workhorse that refuses to die!) for all non-essential non-color printing.

Thanks, all!
posted by arniec at 2:14 PM on April 28, 2009

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