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The Almighty Buck

Printer Makers' Ploys 456

Ellen Spertus writes "The San Francisco Chronicle has an interesting article on printer makers' ploys, such as lying about print speeds and selling printers with crippled cartridges. I'm sure that slashdot readers could identify more deceptions. Are there any printers that actually live up to the manufacturers' claims, ideally with Linux support?"
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Printer Makers' Ploys

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  • lexmark and hp (Score:2, Informative)

    Lexmark and HP LJ's have good linux support and come with good toner. I'm refering to the laser jets printers.
    • It's probably improved a bit, but a few years ago Lexmark had *NO* Linux support.

      I don't know about speed, but quality-wise when printing photos, Epson is one of the best AND has *excellent* Linux support. (Not from the vendor, but Epsons always seem to get the coolest new driver improvements under Linux.)
      • I will second the comment about Epson Inkjet. I have a Photo 785EX and had no problem getting my Linux box to talk to it, via CUPS and gimp-print. And the quality is phenomonial. Most people can not tell the borderless 4x6in prints are NOT photo prints.
      • Lexmark do support linux, after a fashion.

        Sadly, I had numerous problems getting a windows 98 client, with the offical Lexmark driver, to print to a samba (linux) server, wired up to a Lexmark Z52. Talk about the windows printer driver sending samba in to a complete rage.

        Never it works after I fiddled with the lexmark driver on the windows machine.

        I mean who needs windows printer drivers that talk to you?
    • I got a Lexmark X73 multifunction printer/scanner/copier from my wife as a Christmas gift last year. The "X" series of multifunction printers (X63, X73, and X83) don't have ANY Linux support whatsoever. Much of their output is driven through (Windows) software. I e-mailed them asking about PCL support, postscript, or raw ouput support I couold use for Linux. I also offered to work on a driver for it if they sent me specs. What I got was the e-mail equivalent of a form letter telling me that the X73 had no support for any platform except Windows, and that the interface to it was proprietary (ie, locked up tighter than a drum).

      After hooking it up to my wife's Windows PC, I also found I couldn't write to it from any other box on a network, even another Windows box, as the driver for it won't install or run correctly unless it finds the printer hanging off a USB port on the box you're installing or printing from.

      I stayed with my battle-scarred HP Deskjet 400, which happily prints from Windows or Linux, and across the network via Samba, etc. Meanwhile, my wife loves the X73...although it does cost us a fortune in cartridges...
    • Lexmark do indeed make good printers. I've always had good luck with them (I've bought about 5 in the past 4 years).

      My personal printer at home is a Lexmark Optra E310. I bought it in the US but live in Canada. After a few weeks of use the printer stopped working. I called Lexmark and explained the problem. The nice man at Lexmark told me it would need replacing. He shipped me a new printer with a return slip for the old one. I received my replacement the next day.

      With service like that I'll continue to recommend Lexmark.

  • Linux (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tmark ( 230091 ) on Monday September 09, 2002 @02:43PM (#4222357)
    What the fsck does Linux support have to do with whether or not printer manufacturers are screwing their users ?
    • Re:Linux (Score:2, Insightful)

      Nothing. He was hoping that there is a printer that does what it claims, and as a BONUS that it would work in Linux.

    • Re:Linux support (Score:2, Insightful)

      by wytcld ( 179112 )
      Manufacturers who provide Linux support are enabling their users. In my modest life experience, those people and organizations that are more generous in enabling others are also more likely (not a perfect correlation, but a significant one) to be honest and straightforward in other ways. Openness tends to generalize across dimensions.
      • Right..... (Score:3, Funny)

        by NDPTAL85 ( 260093 )
        ....because by adding Linux support you obviously show that you are compassionate, like puppies, can sit still during a chick-flick marathon, are in touch with your inner female and are just an overall good person.
      • Re:Linux support (Score:4, Insightful)

        by tswinzig ( 210999 ) on Monday September 09, 2002 @04:32PM (#4222832) Journal
        Manufacturers who provide Linux support are enabling their users. In my modest life experience, those people and organizations that are more generous in enabling others are also more likely (not a perfect correlation, but a significant one) to be honest and straightforward in other ways. Openness tends to generalize across dimensions.

        Give me a break!

        Or perhaps they're just shrewd businessmen, and would like to sell as many printers as possible by opening it up to more platforms?
    • Re:Linux (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Audin ( 17719 )
      If the printer lacks linux support then most likely it's because the manufacturer isn't decent enough to publish interface specs.

      Selling a product while refusing to tell the purchaser how to use it counts as slimy in my book.

  • Lexmark Z33 (Score:2, Funny)

    by hattig ( 47930 )
    I finally managed to get my cheap-ass USB Lexmark Z33 to work with Linux. This would have been simpler had CUPS not been running, as the Lexmark provided Linux drivers are for LPD only... it wasn't the simplest thing ever. The Lexmark GUI tool looks good though.

    However, the printer is ass. The sheet feeder puts a dent in the paper at the bottom, and the paper goes in at an angle, and it only works one sheet at a time.

    Never again will I listen to the wife when it comes to buying a printer. I wanted a black and white laser with a network connector. She was like "but that is expensive when you could get this one"...
    • Re:Lexmark Z33 (Score:3, Informative)

      by Ctrl-Z ( 28806 )

      I haven't had any trouble with the Epson Style Color 777 that I bought a year and a half ago. It works great with Linux. I remember when I got the printer, I checked [] and found that Lexmarks weren't very well supported at that time.
  • My Printer of Choice (Score:2, Interesting)

    by MxTxL ( 307166 )
    HP 2200

    Full duplex. Fast. Ethernet ready.

    • Agreed! (Score:3, Informative)

      I picked up a 2200dse (duplexing, USB/parallel but no network) for just over $700. It has built-in PostScript which makes setup under UNIX-like OSes easy and eliminates the need for ghostscript which I've used over the last eight years. HP had a deal where you buy an additional toner cartridge at the same time and get 16 MB of RAM free. I sprang for it. I also picked up a 610n JetDirect 10/100 card off of eBay reasonably cheap. It's quite nice to have it on my network at home with minimal setup hassles.

      Great quality printing at a not-too-unreasonable price. My previous printer (HP LJ 4L, which I paid $700 for back in, oh, late 1993/early 1994) ran without a single problem around 15K-20K sheets---hopefully this will last as long or longer.
      • Re:Agreed! (Score:3, Informative)

        by afidel ( 530433 )
        I think time got to the plastic more than wear, the LJ series typically has routine maint times around 200-300K pages (bigger models like the 8150 are around 350K), and they typically last 2-3 main cycles before things become bad enough to put them out to pasture in high use environments. I have serviced several LJ3 and LJ4's where a single plastic gear had just gotten old and brittle and shattered, after replacing said gear the printers typically last another couple years.
    • Here [] is a link to the HP Source Forge site. It has a lot of information on Linux printing
  • basically they teach you not to lie but they teach you lies and hype about the product. its amazing how three companies cna do 9 independant studies and arrive at 27 different results.
    • by macdaddy357 ( 582412 ) <> on Monday September 09, 2002 @03:35PM (#4222475)
      I fix HP, and other brands. The following is a true story about an Officejet G-85 a customer brought in for repair that would not fax or receive fax. It gave an error message, and prompted to cycle power when either was attempted. HP is a sinking ship. Before the merger, HP had serious problems, all of which have been aggravated since the merger. They have lost market share, and are losing money and don't for a minute think it's because they give lousy customer service. I am a repair technician. Recently, a customer who bought an Officejet G-85, a single unit that prints, scans, faxes and copies. It failed in about a month, but more than 14 days, so the retailer wouldn't take it back. The end User called HP. Lexmark, Brother, or just about any other manufacturer would have replaced the unit, but the customer was told to take their G-85 to an authorized service provider, so it came to me. My company was not able to repair the unit. Like all ASPs, we were only authorized to "facilitate repair" by sending it in to HP. They sent me a replacement with no automatic document feeder; with out which the unit was useless. When I complained, they said one was on it's way, but instead sent a manual and cable set. This whole process took three weeks. At this point, I asked HP to just send the end user a new G-85, as they should have done in the first place. They refused, and sent me a document feeder, but the emblem that says HP Officejet G-85 was missing. Again, the unit was incomplete, and I could not return it to the user. By now, it had been one month. I e-mailed Carly Fiorina, and called their headquarters, all they did was offer phony apologies, and pass the buck, blaming other people. Eventually, the end user, called HP, and was accused of wanting something for nothing by a man named Jim Williams. He told me at that point that he was going on vacation, but the problem would be handled. The end user would get a new unit. A week later, I heard from the end user, who still had nothing. I e-mailed and called again. Finally, they replaced the end user's unit with a new one. It had been nearly six weeks. They also kept sending me parts, including a second document feeder, worth $185.00 retail. When it was over, they asked me to return the G-85 base unit only, without either automatic document feeder, the accessories, or the manual and cable kit. They instructed me to just throw away more than $400 dollars worth of parts. How can a company that is losing money afford to just throw away four hundred dollars, when they couldn't afford to give an end user any customer service or customer satisfaction at the outset? I have not thrown away the parts, and hope I will have an opportunity to use them, but I don't have a lot of storage space. HP has angered a customer who will never buy their products again, and probably tell dozens of people why. They have also made a service technician, namely me, lose confidence in their products, and stop recommending them to anyone. HP is a sinking ship because Carly Fiorina, and the entire executive staff view their customers as a dirt-cheap commodity, and take them for granted. Based on the news, they must also think that their employees are a cheap commodity, too. People are starting to call them Hewlett Packard Bell all over again, and this time, it is not because they are confusing two companies.
      • by Anonymous Coward
        Ever heard of paragraphs? I am not reading your shit. It hurts my eyes.
      • Dude! Why did you waste your time e-mailing Carly Fiorina. Don't you know she's a mole for IBM? []
      • by King_TJ ( 85913 ) on Monday September 09, 2002 @05:58PM (#4223688) Journal
        Thanks for writing about your recent experiences with HP! I'd have to say I had similar suspicions about their products over the last few years - and this was even before talks of the merger began.

        Traditionally, I always recommended HP for anyone buying a laser printer, and almost always for a networked inkjet. (I never thought their inkjets matched Epson's ability to print near-photo quality images - but Epson's print drivers can really bog down a network print server.)

        Nowdays, I have to really re-think that.

        A while back, I had problems with a Deskjet 1600C that died - and was met with endless frustration getting it repaired. (Despite this being originally a $1400+ business-class inkjet with optional paper tray, HP acted like it was disposable - and couldn't understand why we wanted to fix it instead of just buying a newer model.) HP refused to sell the repair parts needed, and insisted that we ship it in for repair.

        In another case, we bought several HP Laserjet 6L printers, all of which developed problems jamming when feeding paper. After over a year of putting up with this problem, HP *finally* acknowledged it as a design defect and offered to ship customers a "repair kit". When I got the "repair kit", it turns out it was simply a piece of cardboard with a double-sided block of sticky foam on the end. You were supposed to use the cardboard to shove the sticky foam down inside the printer, so it would stick to a part beneath the vertically stacked pieces of paper. That way, it was again able to "grab" sheets without trying to suck in too many at once and jam up.

        Granted, this work-around did cure our problem - but it's obviously not going to be a permanent fix. HP screwed up and used a rubber material that got hard over time and lost its "tacky" characteristic needed to grab paper. They should have supplied a substitute part for the defective one - not a stick-on-top band-aid fix.
  • Alot of the HP printers, both inkjet and lazer, have very good support from HP themselves. Since Ghostscript came out with a plugin interface for printer drivers (instead of patch and recompile), installing the drivers is eazy no matter what LPD/LPRng/CUPS/etc you use.
    • Re:HP's (Score:3, Informative)

      by mickwd ( 196449 )
      If you're an unfortunate owner of an HP DJ9xx class printer (e.g. HP DeskJet 970) which the HP Linux driver doesn't (yet) support in hi-resolution printing mode, please see this entry in the Sourceforge forums for the HP Inkjet Driver project for a patch to HPIJS to support hi-res printing in 1200x1200 mode (and other enhancements).

      It's here. []
  • Yes Xerox.. (Score:5, Funny)

    by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Monday September 09, 2002 @03:06PM (#4222405) Homepage
    Xerox Phaser 850 color laser printers live up to all the claims, have the best linux support on the planet (Postscript printer... out of the box) and you wont get robbed blind on the ink prices....

    granted... the printer is $3500.00USD Appx (I have 4 of them... 2 DX's and 2 N's so I got a good deal :-) but is the best thing cince sliced bread IF.... your users have 1/3rd of a brain... all of them have had ZERO trouble except for one receptionist who has done $1500.00 worth of damage to one printer in 2 seperate instances... and has caused another $400.00 in damage to it recently...

    First she violently rips a jammed paper out of it... leaving a nice 3"X3" chunk stuck deep inside instead of using the obvious levers for releasing a jammed piece of paper.. then she loads the paper tray with inkjet lables that decided to adhere to the printing drum...after she ran the same label sheet through 5 times trying to get them looking just right and removing a few of the labels..

    oh and finally she broke the high capacity paper drawer by "using her foot" to remove the paper guide.... because it wouldnt come off easily (you have to lift a tab first that is labelled in several languages..

    so if you are stupid.... dont get a Phaser 850 printer... or if you have stupid workers in your office...
  • You often have to read the fine print (if you can find it). The industry loves to do things like qoute printing costs based on 15% color coverage, which is less than one embeded pie chart. They will also almost never quote time to first page, because heat up times or nozzel cleaning cycles would put most people off. Another common trick is to quote print speed for 150dpi economy printing then quote the great high end resolution that takes 9 minutes per page.
  • Linux printers. (Score:4, Informative)

    by aardvaark ( 19793 ) on Monday September 09, 2002 @03:07PM (#4222411) Homepage
    Both Epson and HP are really pretty Linux friendly. They release info to the community, and I think Epson has actually written some Linux printer drivers, and released them open source. I chose an Epson printer after learning they are also very good about supporting their scanners with Linux.

    I've purchased several printers and scanners from both HP and Epson over the years, and never felt like I was cheated or what have you. They've all worked under Linux without a hitch.

    However, if you want absolute Linux compatibility, spring for a postscript printer. They will always work without a hitch, but are a tad spendy.
    • Lexmark Optra 312L is available for ~ 200. It's speedy, and a great printer. Lexmark doesn't advertise it as supporting ps, but it's exactly the same thing as the 312 with a smaller print cartridge. I have on at home, and it works like a champ.
    • Since *NIX supports postscript right out of the box I bought an HP 1200 laserjet for $390. The printing is very good and i had it printing in ten minutes with FreeBSD.

      I've also used ghostscript to print to my color Epson 400 inkjet (now retired) without any problems.

  • I have two printers... A dinosaur of a HP DeskJet 672 for color, one that I can easily get cheap 3rd party carts and refills for, and an Okidata OL4W LED/laser printer. I got the Oki used, and I now use it for virtually ALL my printing (which isn't all that much, actually). It also gives me the advantage of being able to print anything that I have that needs it (ie, resume) in sharp, professional type.

    Toner for the Oki is cheap, and I've not replaced it even once. Both print fine from Linux.

    The HP Deskjet is slowly dying, which is to be expected given it's age (6 years). Given what I've read about HP's tricks with their low end deskjets (and their firing of Bruce Perens) I would have another one only if GIVEN to me...

    I am in the market for a new color printer... Which manufacturer sticks it to you LESS than the others? I'm considering Epson, Lexmark, and Canon (I owned Canon prior to the HP, and was less than impressed with the durability of their printers).
  • I bought a Lexmark Z22 and Lexmark supports Linux right out of the box. Even their technical support staff (well, some of them) are Linux savvy.
  • modern printers (Score:2, Informative)

    by PiGuy ( 531424 )
    Most modern printers are terrible - they don't
    support PostScript, they have no internal memory,
    they hold a miniscule amount of paper, and they
    get jammed often. My family's Lexmark inkjet is
    case in point - it holds about 30 sheets, has no
    memory, and only uses Lexmark's "jnl" format.
    Laser printers are somewhat better, but I've no
    expreience with them.

    Me? I use an Apple Imagewriter II. Sure, it
    doesn't support PS, but that's what ghostscript
    is for (does a nice job, too). Never jams, has
    unlimited paper supply (the paper is stored
    externally), almost never gets jammed, and even
    has 2KB memory in it, upgradable to 32KB! Most
    printers die after a few years, but this one's
    twelve years old and running strong!
    • See if you can find a used HP laser online. I have an old Laserjet IIp that has been in continious use for longer than I can remember. Supports Postscript natively, has decently fast printing, great quality. While the toner cartriges aren't cheap (about $60-70 US), with my moderate usage I can squeeze 3-4 years of use out of one cartridge. Also, it can take really cheap paper that an inkjet would never print on. Anything that won't melt onto the fuser will print beautifully. And because it's got native Postscript support, it will coexist happily with damn near anything. Windows, Linux, Mac, oddball machine that was only produced for 6 months by an unknown Taiwanese company, anything. Not only that, they're relatively cheap. You could probably score one on ebay or something for the $80-150 range.
    • I have one of those Imagewriter II's. It's a 9 pin dot matrix. Not even NLQ. It's built like
      a tank, but it's strictly utility grade output.
  • by silverhalide ( 584408 ) on Monday September 09, 2002 @03:16PM (#4222452)
    Hate to be a whiner here, but you get what you pay for. If you pay $200 for a printer, you're not getting a 24ppm anything, period. My personal experience has been the higher end printers are more loyal to their specs. I've worked for a company that owns several laserjet 5siMxs (HP's workhorse from a few years ago), and those things nailed 24ppm on the dot after the first page was out on most jobs. The newer 8000 had a faster processor which got the first page out quicker. Point being, if you want a fast printer, pony up the money and pay for it. Otherwise, be content with your slower inkjet and/or laser. The best deal by far are the old Laserjet 5L and 6Ls on ebay for around 50-100 bucks that reliably churn out 3-5 pages a minute. With recycled cartridges, they are by far the most economical printing solution (under 3 cents a page), and their prints look just as good as the new printers. Save your money, buy used printers.
    • Not the point... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Lurkingrue ( 521019 )
      You may, indeed, "get what you pay for", but that isn't why everyone is so ticked off. The point of this whole thread is about how printer companies practically lie to potential customers about their machines' specs.

      A low price may warrant selling junk, but it doesn't (shouldn't?) permit deceptive marketing practices.
    • 6L (Score:2, Informative)

      by PW2 ( 410411 )
      When I bought this printer (new) over 5 years ago, I didn't know it came with a toner cartridge so I bought an extra one -- I still have the extra one in the box as the first toner cartridge is still working great. Buy a laser printer!
    • by Hollins ( 83264 ) on Monday September 09, 2002 @03:59PM (#4222580) Homepage
      The HP 5L had a terrible feed problem because they relied on gravity to pull in the paper. They would like to suck in 8 pages at a time. I owned one that had this problem, and found a lot of users online complaining about it. It seemed to crop up after a couple thousand pages. HP told users to be sure their printers were on stable, horizontal surfaces (duh), but not much else.

      I don't know if this was corrected in the 6L, but I won't be buying a gravity feed printer again.
      • I have a 5L that was having this problem. I talked to the friendly HP service rep at our office, and he sold me a new pickup mechanism for $20 and gave me instructions how to replace it. The thing has worked like a champ again since then.

        I can't even imagine how many thousands of pages it has printed in it's lifetime, but it has gone through at least 10 toner cartridges so it has really been quite a workhorse for me.
        • Do you happen to have the part number, description, or someting of the like so that I can find it to order it from HP?

          Can't find anything about it on HPs website except for the $189 maintenance kit for a printer that has reached an insanely high page count.
      • Yep, mine did the same thing....after about 3000 pages or so it would start to grab the entire pile instead of just one sheet....supposedly there was a cleaning kit or replacemnet rollers or something to correct the problem, but I could never find it.

        Other than that, it was an extremely reliable small deskspace laser printer with extremely good quality. Mine has been in a box for the last couple years, since I didn't have the deskpsace, and because I go a Deskjet 1220 (mmmm.....llx17 color glossies :D) but now that I've moved into a new place, I think I'm going to dig it out. If I remember correctly, it was compatible with the jet-direct cards, and it could easily be updated to 8 Mb of RAM (from the default 1). It was a good laser printer for a very good price.
      • I too had this problem with a 6L. One day, I found this support page [] on HP's site. They had a fix. Their so-called "Seperation Pad" is basically a piece of sticker to put on the feeder. They shipped me the fix to Canada from UK at absolutely no cost. I did not have a single paper jam ever since.

        That's what I call great support.

        Now, checking if the fix exists for the 5L is left as an exercice...
      • by jedrek ( 79264 ) on Monday September 09, 2002 @05:31PM (#4223446) Homepage
        My family has owned about half a dozen HP LaserJets (we've had 2 printers outside of the LJs) and we actually purchased 2 5Ls, remembering the excellent experience we had with the IIIP and II. Those 2 5Ls went through 10-15 repairs and they STILL sucked. Finally sold them off.

        The IIIP we own, on the other hand, is 10 years old and has been repaired once, for $20.

        They don't make 'em like they used to.
    • 1989 HP IIp Bought for $25

      I have gone through 3 toners since I bought it 4 years ago.. Still going strong.

  • I tell you what, my Cannon 750 prints damn fast, but the amount of time it takes to get the very first page out is outrageous!!! (I'm talking about a simple plain old page of ascii text, no graphics, no special fonts.)

    A full minute!!

    I'd bloody well like to see some statistics on that. I rarely print big long documents, but I often print the odd page or two. The *effective* print speed ends up being 1-3 ppm, even though once it gets going it can do 11ppm.

    WTF is the printer doing? I don't remember the old BJC 200's taking that long to get started.
    • The printer is assuring that the inkjet tubes are clean and full of liquid ink instead of dried out crud that has been sitting there. This is the only way that you can assure good page quality after the printer has been sitting for more than a few hours, especially as drop size is now down to single digit picoliters. Lasers have similar warm up times but for them it is warming the fuser to assure the toner is fused properly to the paper.
  • Contrary to popular comment here on /., the HPDJ 960c does NOT do what I expect it to do on the Linux platform w/CUPS.

    Sure it works, and for B&W it works fine. But when I try to print color photos (on photo paper) it just blows. I have to print over the network to it from a Windows machine.

    According to HP [] this printer will print 15ppm draft B&W and 12ppm draft color. Unfortunatly I have absolutely *no* use for draft mode so what good do these numbers do me? Marketing ploys and mind games. I am thinking for the work I do (B&W mostly) that it is around 5 - 7ppm all text.

    I like the printer in that it is about $200 retail, it has both USB and LPTx, and it is relatively quiet compared to my previous printer.

    Problems are that it is slow, it runs out of ink WAY too fucking fast (I mean w/my DJ 400c I used 2 B&W cartridges, and 1 color cartridge in 5 years), w/this printer, 2 B&W's and 1 color since December 25th. Note: I printed TONS more shit in 5 years than I have since Dec. 25th.

    CUPS makes printing on the Linux machine ok. It's nothing special but it works. I still have to print from Windows if I want color photos to look right. It's slow and it sucks ink.

    If you are using it for B&W text mostly, it's affordable, good quality printing (600x600 dpi black, 2400x1200 dpi photo color), and it has an LPTx port for Linux.

  • by pla ( 258480 ) on Monday September 09, 2002 @03:36PM (#4222479) Journal
    About two years ago, I bought a Brother HL-1270N. Around $450, but probably cheaper today (and still competitive as a reasonably high-end home and small-office printer).

    It does 12ppm, connects directly to 100bt ethernet (so I don't need a slave PC as a print server), and of course it works just fine with Linux (supports PCL6 and PS2).

    Black-and-white laser, but *very* good quality (1200x600... At 25-up, I can still read a 10pt font, though I need a magnifying glass to do so) and a high throughput make it thge single best printer I have ever used (not just owned, used... at my previous job, we had a variety of serious high-end HP lasers, y'know, the $15k type) and they all SUCKED in comparison).

    Not as cheap as a chinsy little $80 color inkjet, but, 99.9% of the time I care more about printing speed and quality than having color on my printouts. And when I do, I visit Kinkos (If I actually need a color document, you can bet I won't accept the crappy quality of those $80 inkjets).

    Incidentally, for quite a lot less (around $150) you can get the HL-1240. It has very similar stats (my parents have one of these, and it impressed me enough to get the 1270N for myself), except no ethernet and half the memory. If you don't mind needing a PC to act as a print server for it, this makes a GREAT deal on an amazing printer.
  • Along with almost every printer's ppm benchmark I've seen, manufacturers also include the time to first page. Printers consume a lot of power (my HP 4P laserjet sends my lights flickering every time it prints), so it rests in a power saving mode. When it gets a print job, it takes it a little while for it to heat up enought to burn the toner on the paper. This warm up time can often take 30 seconds or more. If the author wanted to give meaningful statistics on a printer's ppm, he would've started timing after the first page was printed, or include the initial warm up time.
    • If you care about print speed, then you are using the print enough that it will never enter power saving mode anyway. I print a few pagers a month. I don't even turn my printer on most weeks. When I do it takes a minute to warm up, but I don't care. freeBSD has a preety good print spooler and is willing to wait for the printer. Sure it would be NICE hit print within a few second hold the printout, but in practice you don't need it instantly.

  • by Snowgen ( 586732 ) on Monday September 09, 2002 @03:48PM (#4222513) Homepage

    So, I read the article, the bulk of which was that the reporter's 17 ppm printer had a throughput of significantly less than that when printing a trio of single pages.

    No kidding. The problem here isn't that the printer manufacturers are trying to pull a fast one on the consumer. The problem here was that the consumer in question was ignorant about what the rating meant.

    I bought my first laser printer back in the 1980's. Back then it was only computer geeks buying these toys, and we all knew that when a printer was rated at 6 ppm, that meant that the printer engine itself was rated at 6 ppm. The engine speed didn't account for the time the printer's processor took to render the PS or PCL code into a laser raster. We all knew that in order to get 6 ppm you would have to set the printer to print 6 (or 12 or whatever) copies of the same page. That way the printer's CPU only had to parse the PS/PCL file once and just start spewing forth paper.

    Back then, when most home use dot-matrix printers were printing at about 100 cps (roughly 1.1 ppm if my math is right), this seemed like a fair and equitable way to rate laser printers.

    So it's not that the printer manufacturers are trying evil ploys to up their PPM ratings. It's simply that times have changed, and that consumers no longer bother to educate themselves before making a purchase.

    At least that's how I see it. It's a free Internet--you can disagree if you want.

    • by chill ( 34294 ) on Monday September 09, 2002 @04:00PM (#4222588) Journal
      Since it's a free Internet -- I'll disagree.

      Printer manufacturers print the PPM in big, bold letters on the box. They use it as a main selling point, same as with DPI. Yes, there are several cavaets that the buyer must be aware of. However, it is deceptive marketing.

      Same goes for tape drive manufacturers who quote 2:1 compression figures in 2" high letters; monitor manufacturers who make the "viewable" size much smaller than the regular size.

      Well, the monitor people are getting better. A couple years ago you couldn't find "viewable size" anywhere on the box. And LCDs are "true" size -- not that inch-behind-the-bezel size.

      Yes, it is up to the buyer to educate themselves. However, printer manufacturers are very much like car dealers in that they SHOUT the one number, while whisper all the "gotchas". Deceptive.
      • Well, the monitor people are getting better. A couple years ago you couldn't find "viewable size" anywhere on the box. And LCDs are "true" size -- not that inch-behind-the-bezel size.

        If memory serves me, this was due to a law passing and not due to the kindness in the hearts of CRT manufacturers. I could be wrong, but I seem to remember the "viewable size" being a big enough issue a few years back that a law was passed requiring the actual display size to be printed on the outside of the box.
    • But they put it in big letters on the box. Not for geeks. For normal people. Its pretty clear they are out trying to take advantage of people's misunderstanding of the rating. It's really as simple as that.

      No wonder people have such crappy experiences with computers. They way they are sold, the companies go with the numbers that seem to fool the customers the best, the geeks yell "wise up" at people who don't have the opportunity to spend time learning about computers, and the point of sale folks and the companies with the best marketing strategies take the money and run.

      Caveat Emptor is understandable in small amounts, but when the numbers companies use to assert competative advantage become meaningless, this isn't "buyer beware", its "buyer distrust". If you want to live in that world, go ahead. I don't, nor do I wish to subject my friends and family to a world where they need to become the super-geek I am in order to make smart purchases. When it comes to how technology is marketed, its little wonder non-computer people are so scared to spend their money without the advice of a computer nerd on hand.
    • I was pretty befuttled by the article, until I read your comment. It got me to thinking about this particular reporter's testing. Did he time his printing averages from the moment he pressed the print button? Or did he wait 'til the first page started printing?

      Then I realized that we don't know that, because the reporter never published his method.

      I am a firm believer in the scientific method. It's been proven, and has stood the test of time. The method should be applied to all testing, even in the computer world. And the method should always be published with the result data. As is the case with this reporter, we don't know this information, and therefore his test is not reproducable.

      I guess I don't necessarily believe this writer's data. I do, however, agree with his market analysis of the printer market. Printer makers make the money off of the print cartridges -- but this is not anything new, and I don't see any problem with that sort of market plan. This type of market plan is very common -- in the game console market, in some current games (any MMORPG game), even with some hardware (like ZIP drives, JAZ drives, etc). Is there any reason to have a problem with such a market? It is fairly profitable...and I have no problem with that.

      I have learned to conserve my printing over the years. I don't print useless stuff anymore. I'm sure that many people do the same.

    • First, have ou read the article? Of the three printers he comments only one (incidentaly the best one) is a laser printer. The two ink-jets wild claims do not have the PS/PCL excuse.

      But this is not even the main point. Their consumers are not specialists anymore. They are selling to the average consumer who has absolutely no obligation of interpreting what they mean to say.

      If a manufacturer printed "Average number of matches: 50" on the side of its matchboxes and consistently delivered boxes with 10 matches (and now and then send out a big box with 2000 matches to make the "average") it would go to jail real fast. There is no excuse for using unreal or confusing specs as a selling point. The continuing use of such data to sell printers is just bad faith.
    • by Jester99 ( 23135 ) on Monday September 09, 2002 @06:00PM (#4223712) Homepage
      Frankly, that's crap.

      Let's say that you need a letter hand-delivered to somebody 10 miles away. And there are no roads to drive on. You gotta get a guy to run there with the letter.

      If I come up to you and say "Hey, I can run 20 miles an hour, let me deliver the letter for you," you would say "that's great! You're hired."

      What I neglected to tell you was that I can only run twenty miles per hour for about 15 seconds. And that's if I'm running down a steep hill. For the 10 mile jog to the delivery point, I can really only average maybe 2 miles per hour.

      Was it up to you to know what I meant when I said I could hit 20 mph? I wasn't lying, I was just not telling you what you wanted to know.

      If I'm buying a printer and I see the words "20 pages per minute" on the box, I expect to queue up 80 pages of documents in Word, come back four minutes later, and see the 80th page spitting out. If it can't do that, then they're not living up to their claim.

  • When you get a printer just get a PostScript 3 compatable printer. As long as you pipe the the postscript right out to the printer you will never have to worry.

    You made have to tweak the PPD file some, but thats half the fun :)
  • by Dausha ( 546002 ) on Monday September 09, 2002 @03:52PM (#4222535) Homepage

    I'll say! Those vendors really know how to sell a piece of shiznet. I have an HP 845c that prints every single copy upside-down. In order to right them again I have to use the company photocopier.

    Anybody have a patch for the CUPS driver that can fix this?

  • by cloudscout ( 104011 ) on Monday September 09, 2002 @03:52PM (#4222536) Homepage
    The speeds listed by the manufacturers are 100% accurate. It's just that those are the page-per-minute ratings for blank sheets of paper being pushed through the printer. It doesn't include any actual printing.
    • Indeed.

      But in some cases, even that isn't accurate.

      I've got an HP 1120C at the office here.

      Rated for 5.5 pages per minute.

      I've actually timed it at 8 minutes per page.

      Even dumping out blank pages barely hits the 7 pages per minute that it is supposed to do in black draft.
    • 100% accurate. 100% Deceptive.

      For the consumer level, there is no reason to rank "blank sheets pushed through printer per-minute". That's the ONE thing NO ONE will ever do. Why not make a "page" size Arial/Times New Roman. Size 12 font. Double spaced, full page.

  • My Canon BJC-2100 (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Boomer2 ( 515406 ) It is a total scam.

    Oddly, I bought a second to replace the first because I had invested in a large quantity of ink cartridges during a sale. It turned out to be cheaper to buy a second Canon and use up the ink rather than shift to a new printer. Once this ink is gone, though, I'll never buy another Canon.
  • by thesolo ( 131008 ) <> on Monday September 09, 2002 @04:01PM (#4222597) Homepage
    I own an HP LaserJet 1200 Personal printer, and it is by far the best home printer I have ever purchased. It's very fast for a personal model, 15 PPM, with the first page always printed within 10 seconds of the print command. Size-scalable paper trays, which are great for envelope printing, and it supports an addon module for scanning & copying. Even the price isn't too bad, has it for less than $400.00 US.

    And if you're wondering what OS it works under, well, you're in luck. It is fully PostScript compatible, and works under Windows, MacOS, and Linux. I've used it under all 3 with perfect results. HP gets a big thumb up from me with this printer.
  • by delcielo ( 217760 ) on Monday September 09, 2002 @04:03PM (#4222610) Journal
    I'll have to try something similar at home.

    "Up to twelve inches long, depending on usage."
  • I just bought a Samsung ML-1450 laser printer. They advertise linux support, and so far, I haven't found anything in what they advertise to be a lie. Of course, I haven't used up the toner yet, so who knows if it's only half full like some of the inkjet manufacturers have been doing. But I have to say that so far it's lived up to its specs, and you can't beat the price. I paid $230 for it.
    • Re:Samsung (Score:2, Informative)

      by Deosyne ( 92713 )
      I have to second the recommend for a Samsung. I have an ML-1210 that has been a rock solid performer, and was trivial to set up in Linux (Debian even, though only Redhat is mentioned by name in the docs). They make it very obvious that the cartridge included is strictly a starter rated at only 1,000 pages, and coincidentally I have just started to get blank lines indicating that the toner is running low, so I ran a demo page to get the page count: 1,243. And I don't even use the Toner Save feature. For laser printing with such great performance, my ML-1210 was a fucking steal at only $180. Highly recommended.
  • by jmichaelg ( 148257 ) on Monday September 09, 2002 @04:21PM (#4222744) Journal
    I run a business that entails printing about 20,000 sheets of paper a week. At that rate, we're swapping toner carts almost weekly. I spent a fair amount of time analyzing which printer could deliver the best image at the lowest price and the two HP laser printers came in ahead of Lexmark and Xerox. Inkjets were way out of the picture due to the cost of the ink cartridges and the fact that they're slower. I don't recall what Xerox's deal-breaker was but Lexmark has a very subtle one. Though the printer's toner and initial prices are quite reasonable, the Lexmark hits you for $250+ at 100,000 copies when the drum needs replacing. The HP's drums go out at around 200,000 copies and cost about the same.

    Ignoring paper costs, the HP can deliver an image at about .7 cents/sheet as compared to 1.2 for the Lexmark. Though .5 cents doesn't sound like a lot, it adds up when you're cranking 20K copies each week.

    Print speeds are as advertised, I get 17 ppm from the 4050's and 24 ppm from the 4100. I looked at some very high end printers because I didn't want to wait forever while the paper churns through. The 40 ppm, and better, printers came in above $10,000. So instead, I bought 3 HP's and wrote a little bit of code that spreads the load out over the 3 machines. Saved $7,000 and had fun while I was at it.

    Unfortunately, there has been a downside. All of this ran on Windows 98 with not too many problems. I had to write a prompt into my code to remind me to disable power saving sleep mode whilst printing and it helped if I rebooted before firing off the printer job. I was fairly happy with the setup but thought I could do better if I migrated to Win 2000. (Stuck in Windows for other reasons.) At any rate, Win 2000, Excel, and HP do not seem to get along. One of those three pieces seems to drop a bit every so often and away goes a print job. Away, as in, I've got to watch the printout carefully to catch random imaging problems. I don't know if it's Microsoft trying to coerce me to upgrade from Excel 97, which didn't help, or HP not fully testing Windows 2000 with the 4050's. Right now, you don't want to be around me when I struggle with the mess the problem engenders. Ain't a pretty sight. Fortunately, the bug has migrated from Heisenbug status to reproducible so it's just a matter of time before it's fixed.

    • Why did you write code, printer pooling is a default feature of windows printing, has been since nt4 at least, maybe since 95. All you have to do is setup the first printer, setup two additional ports and enable printer pooling, easy as can be, then you just blast the job to the one queue and let windows print daemon decide how to load balance the jobs.
      • He stated that he was using windows 98. Win9x has no concept of "network spooling" between shared printers. Now that he has moved to win2k, he can setup what you suggest.

  • I've been burned by Epson in the past with regards to their 5700i Laser printer and not updating the Mac driver for OS X.

    After that I resolved to only use PostScript laser printers and my current one is a Brother HL-1650 with an internal printer server installed (with Ethernet jack)

    It is black and white but, lies up to Brother's claims very well.

    My advice is that if you are buying an inject you are buying lot of ink all the time (have yet to replace the toner cartridge in the HL-1650 and I've had it since last March)

    Me, I hate inkjets.

    Now, if you print to Linux using it it should work even though you will need a PPD (it is PostScript Level 3) to use the Duplex unit without using the printer control panel or the web admin tools.
  • by gelfling ( 6534 ) on Monday September 09, 2002 @04:38PM (#4222882) Homepage Journal
    We runs scads of these and they can run as fast as one side/~2 sec for simple text, hardware fonts etc. They are particularly well suited to PDF output and the speed is unaffected by 2-up or 4-up or duplex. Plus they rarely break down so you can send a 300 print job to the printer w/o worrying that it'll jam on page 179.
  • Samsung (Score:3, Interesting)

    by DragonMagic ( 170846 ) on Monday September 09, 2002 @04:46PM (#4222968) Homepage
    Samsung ML-1210

    Came with an extra toner cartridge, works with my XP Home, Win 2K Pro, and Mandrake 8.2 boxes extremely well. It's fast for graphics and text once it warms up (takes only a couple seconds even for that) and it's relatively cheap.

    USB and Parallel compatible. Black only, though.
  • I just tested my own printer, a Canon S630, out of curiosity.

    It's rated at 17 pages per minute. I printed out 15 pages of plain black text, with the "print draft" setting in Word set, and the printer set to monochrome printing, all the quality settings all the way down.

    It printed the 15 pages in 1:47, which is 8.4 pages per minute. About 15 seconds of that 1:47 was a couple of breaks it took to clean the print head. Even considering that, that's 9.7ppm. Still rather short of their 17ppm claim.

    I'd like to know how they got 17ppm.
  • One of my relatives has some Brother color bubblejet. The computer runs Debian and it works perfectly.

    There's one creepy thing about the printer: the noise it makes.

    When it's powered up, it makes perfectly normal noises. When I print something, it makes perfectly normal noises. During printing, it prints and makes pretty dull noises. After printing, it makes perfectly normal noises. After powering down, it blinks lights and makes perfectly normal noises for a while and powers down.

    You know, I'm well used to the fact that laser printers are quiet, dot matrix printers are NOISY, and bubblejets have distinct sounds. I have a HP Deskjet 600 here and it operates very predictably. I can listen to it. I can hear at which phase the printing is going. It makes different noises on different phases of printing. But that Brother thing... I never could tell what it was doing. It was *zweep*-*zweep*ing back and forth for no logical or illogical reason. It just made noises for the sake of making noises. I doubt I will ever learn to understand that printer.

  • Lets ignore linux support for just a momment. I think it's commonly agreed that printer manufacturers are out to extract every last cent from consumers any way they can.

    What about the magazines that "Review" these printers? I mean it's pretty obvious that magazines like PC World, Home Computer Luser and all the other magazines that target clueless users, are basically just glorified advertising catalogs. But try researching a new printer.

    I recently tried to find some reviews on photo printers and found that whatever reviews available are highly biased, largely unscientific, based on old models and generally useless. This article [] links to some other reivews which are horribly old:

    Canon S820D [] February 2002
    Epson Stylus Photo 785EPX [] July 2001
    Epson Stylus Photo 2000P [] February 2002
    HP PhotoSmart 1315 [] November 2001
    Kodak Personal Picture Maker 200 by Lexmark [] January 2001

    If you can make your way through those articles you'll see that there is no common baseline for comparison. A fault in one printer may be talked about extensively, but in another printer it's mentioned casually. The Canon 820D has been recently replaced with the 830D (about 1-2 weeks ago) and there is no mention of it. Compared to the offerings out there the units reviewed are few.

    I wish more "reputable" hardware review sites would take the time to review printers. I still haven't been able to decide between the Canon 830D, the Epson 960 stylus photo and the Epson 2200 stylus photo mainly because I don't have enough information.

    As it is now it seems like printer reviews are conspicuously absent or out of date. It's almost as if the printer manufacturers are supressing reviews so that people will "gamble" on printers due to their low price and how good those "specs" on the box are.

    Anyone happen to know anything about the Canon 830D, Epson Stylus Photo 960 and the Epson Stylus Photo 2200?
  • by El ( 94934 ) on Monday September 09, 2002 @06:31PM (#4223905)
    Just about every network printer now supports LPR, which is a lousy protocol but is the defacto Unix "standard." What more do you want -- CUPS support?

"An open mind has but one disadvantage: it collects dirt." -- a saying at RPI