July 18, 2024
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The New World of Printers

When you write a weekly tech column, sometimes finding interesting subjects becomes a challenge. When I see something in the field that is new or unique, I try to bring that knowledge to my readers.

About 15 years ago you went to a large office supply store and purchased this huge 400-pound Hewlett Packard LaserJet III. It was this vanilla-colored monstrosity. No one thought about the warranties because they rarely broke down. There are some clients who are still trying to hold on to these units and have the IT groups jerry-rig the connection. Besides the reliability of these units. the ink used to last forever. The operation costs were quite high. Maybe a paper jam would happen here and there or a reinstall rarely, but for the most part they lasted forever.

These units were not made for the home unless you were willing to lay out the high price tag. The laser ink was quite high as well. These units were a bit complicated to put on a network and at times had to be shared via someone’s PC. If that user shut down their PC, printing would stop. There was no Wifi., so no remote printing.

This is probably the most common complaint a client would say about The Garb Consulting IT group. We will get a call about a printer. We will ask how old is it. “Oh, it’s brand new—it’s two years old and an inkjet.” If the issue is related to the physical printer we tell them don’t bother with a visit to the office or home; purchase a new one. Why? The cost of the visit will cost more than a new printer.

Fast forward 15 years. Now, printers can be purchased for under $200. The new printers will offer scanning, faxing and printing. The printer will take about 25 mins to install with no tech needed. The printer will have an app that you can download on your smartphone and more, with Google Apps in the world now. Google Apps allows you to add a printer to your Gmail account. From wherever you access your Gmail account you can print straight to your printer.

The printer’s business is now mainly in the inks called consumables. They will sell the printer for $100 and want $45 for the ink. My suggestion is stick with the big brands like HP, Brother and Canon in that order. Do not go out and get that special sale at Staples to find out that the printer flaps on and off the Wi-Fi or the inks cost $75 and are impossible to install.

Today, with a purchase of certain HP models, you sign up for their ink replacement program and put your credit card on file. When your ink is running low it will automatically send the ink straight to your home. DO NOT purchase aftermarket ink from Amazon. If you do it will probably have long streaks on the paper and could possibly burn out the printer.

When purchasing a printer, if you can afford it look for printers with high-capacity ink. The printer will take less ink to print and will save you money on the ink in the long run. If you are not much of a color-printing person go for black and white laser—it will save you money.

Some items to be aware of to keep your printer running properly.

Fan your paper before putting it in the tray.

Do not overload the paper tray.

If you load labels in a printer, they may get stuck and ruin the printer.

If you streak on the page when printing, get new ink or take a Q-tip and clean the head off with alcohol.

DO NOT buy those refill kits. They never work and will get everywhere.

Lastly, it irks me to no end when I see on social media or large email lists: “Printer for sale—best offer—all it needs is ink.” Or when I see a parent donate printers to a school and put pressure on the school to use it when they don’t want to purchase new ink and can’t just throw it out. Any free printers usually mean the ink is high or there is an issue with the printer. Save your time and money and only buy new printers. I would buy them from Amazon and check all the reviews. My favorite model for now is the HP Officejet Pro 8610 it is really simple to install.

An amazing app that I highly recommend is printhand (www.printhand.com) available for the Droid. The app will install most printers in about one minute. Once the apps are installed you can easily print from your phone to your printer from various sources such as smartphone, Google Apps, Dropbox, email and more. One amazing tool is the scanning feature. Load a paper to be scanned, launch the printhand scan tool, the scanner will send the document right to your smartphone. This has been a lifesaver for me if I need to get a document out and signed. There are various programs that will let you sign PDFs right from your smartphone.

Shneur Garb is the CEO of the Garb Consulting IT Group and gives seminars to education and businesses on various IT subjects. Shneur can be reached at (201)379-9234 or [email protected].

By Shneur Garb

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