…you know, come to think of it, there is no caveat here. I simply do not like printers.
The reason for this is that I have spent twelve years working in various forms of IT, and therefore have seen every sort of printer malfunction the human mind can conceive. The rollers wear out. The firmware melts down. The Ethernet connection burns out. Sometimes a little bit of the fuser roller melts, so every page comes out with a black stripe. Paper jams beyond numbering. Or someone prints out a website and it comes out as 600 pages of gibberish. The vast, bloated software packages HP installs just so you can print. Related to that, an endless, endless vista of driver problems and incompatibilities. Someone prints a malformed print job, and so kills the spooler on the print server and nobody can print (admittedly, this does save on toner costs). The motor dies in an inkjet printer, so the print head can’t move. Or someone neglects to use their inkjet printer for a few months and the ink congeals into a substance harder than diamond.
Color printers. Oh, I hate color printers. Listen to me, people: you don’t need to print in color. No one is going to read your handout, brochure, slide notes, thesis, or political manifesto. Don’t bother with color. And when color printers break, they break hard.
Multi-function printers (MFPs) are really bad. These are the units that combine a printer, a scanner, and a copier all in one. Invariably they come with enormous bloated software packages that inevitably configure themselves to start automatically, so you can had 45 seconds to your computer’s boot time as ScanThingy or InkThingamabob or whatever starts up.
And PowerPoint! Invariably someone will print a 200 slide PowerPoint presentation, and they’ll do it in Slides mode, which prints one slide per page. Why!? The Handout mode, which prints 6 slides per page, is right there in the Print dialog box! Right there! And then, because it takes the printer a bit to render a 200 slide PowerPoint filled with graphics, they’ll wonder why it isn’t printing and then hit print five or six more times.
Sometimes you open up the printer and the toner gets everywhere (the Brother 350n series was really bad at this).
And sometimes the print driver is buggy, and random documents come out formatted correctly, but look as if they were typed in a random combination of Spanglish and Engrish (the HP 2015/2035 series was really bad at this).
So because printers are the devil and I hate them, I haven’t personally owned a printer since 2002. It is amusing that as a writer, 2011 and 2012 have been my most successful years, and I’ve only needed to print out two – exactly two – sheets of paper. (The contracts for SWORD & SORCERESS XXVI and SWORD & SORCERESS XXVII.)
But circumstances, at last, have forced me to get a printer. Some kindly and well-intentioned people, meaning nothing but the best, were planning on buying a new printer, and wanted to give me their old printer, since I was a poor benighted soul without a printer. It was an inkjet printer, which are even more evil than laser printers, because inkjet printers work on the same business model as crack dealers – the first hit’s free, but you gotta pay for the rest. Similarly, inkjet printers are cheap – but the cartridges are expensive and quickly emptied.
And if these kindly people gave me their old inkjet printer, I would be stuck with it forever.
I had no choice but to take action.
So I bought a laser printer, specifically an HP LaserJet P1102w printer (HP LaserJet Pro P1102w Printer (CE657A#BGJ)). It is a bare-bones printer that prints black and white, and does nothing else. Additionally, it also comes with built-in wireless networking, so there’s no need to have it connected permanently to a computer.
Actually, it’s rather clever – the printer has some built-in flash storage, so when you plug it in via USB, the flash storage mounts as a CD drive, and all the drivers are there. By HP standards, the driver isn’t too terribly bloated. It installs the driver, a monitoring utility, and nothing else. The installation utility also allows you to set up the printer as a network printer right away.
For an entry-level networked laser printer, the web interface is actually pretty good. (A web interface lets you control the printer via a web browser, which for the P1102W is a necessity, since the printer doesn’t have an LED display.) The web interface also lets you download the driver and install it from the web browser, which is really quite handy and a nice touch. Additionally, the install automatically sets up the printer as a network printer on your PC, which is a bit easier than manually adding the TCP/IP port.
Further, the imaging drum is built into the toner cartridges, so every time you change the cartridge, you get a new imaging drum. This adds to the expense of the cartridges, but since imaging drums commonly break down in laser printers, it’s a nice bit of preventative maintenance.
So, I do not like printers, and it is best to have no printer at all. But if you are absolutely forced to get a printer, you could do worse than the HP P1102W.