Printing is broken.

In fact, as the ever-spot-on Oatmeal says: Printers were sent from Hell to make us miserable.

I own a printer. I’d rather not, and I run a mostly paper-free life, but there are still occasions when I need to print stuff – end of year stuff, the odd invoice, a letter or two.

Every single time I dust off my printer, these things happen:

  • The ink runs out. I go to Smiths, spend half an hour looking at a vast wall of different cartridges for printers with slightly different model numbers before realising that my exact model isn’t represented here and so I apparently need to order online instead
  • I go to Amazon and find an incredible array of possible inks – the official ones come in at about half the price of my printer. Let’s consider that again: my printer costs £45 new. The ink costs £25. This is like filling up a £5,000 car with £2,500 of petrol every time you want to use it.
  • I inevitably choose a dodgy non-HP ink and then suffer a deeply irritating “non compatible HP ink will DESTROY YOUR LIFE” message until that ink runs out too (normally only about 3 minutes, I grant you, but hey)
  • The printer crunks 15 sheets of paper with every print
  • The printer requires a 100 Tb driver download every time I’m in a hurry
  • If something breaks, I have absolutely no option but to bin the printer. I believe as an individual I have owned at least 5 inkjet printers in the last 10 years.

We all just accept this as the norm, and it’s obscene.

I refuse to believe that printers are SO complicated they need official inks, or can’t have replacement parts. I refuse to believe that in this year of our lord 2013, we can’t build a device that’ll print out one page of text without performing complicated origami techniques on the next 14 pages in the tray. I refuse to believe that I absolutely MUST download that fucking printer application, edit suite, Chrome toolbar, desktop helper and new OS in order to PRINT A FUCKING LETTER.

I’d much rather pay £100 upfront for a decent, open-sourced printer. One where I could buy spare parts and £5 replacement cartridges.

If it were on Kickstarter, I’d fund that shit.

7 thoughts on “Printing is broken.”

    • Ha. Good rules!

      I suppose “using my parents'” is actually a slightly different style of Open Source… 🙂

  1. Less than a year ago I would have completely agreed with you. However, having a printer that supports AirPrint and email-to-print has removed almost all of the hassle I had with printers. No more driver installs, no more ‘printer is offline’, etc. Those features have completely changed my interaction with printers to one of near zero-pain.

    Admittedly, the price of ink is still an absolute joke – but then it’s the razor blades business model. I think I paid about £35 for the printer and at that price I don’t expect it to last long, but I’ve come to accept that buying a printer is a near annual task.

    • Yeah, I agree that stuff helps. In driver terms my Mac is (almost) ok but I had to sort our R’s Windows laptop the other day – horrendous…

  2. I scrapped my first and last ink jet printer last year. Seems to be an immature technology that simply doesn’t cut it. If I ever get another printer for those rare occasions, it will be a laser printer.

  3. I’ve been thinking about this too. I use my printer (inkjet photo printer/scanner) fairly regularly, but the ink seems to run out a bit swiftly. Was considering a laser network printer, as that would do away with clunky software suites, though not sure of the cost of laser cartridges per printed sheet yet. Having said all that, my current Canon MP630 doesn’t load require the software that came on the CD (or I’ve got by without it…).

  4. I find that printing, like mobile office work, is pretty much a state of mind as well as a set of hardware. 
    If you have a printer you expect it to work. When it doesn’t work it’s annoying. So it’s not the actual printing that’s annoying, its the failure of the expectation.  If you expect the printer not to work then its not annoying.
    I gave up on my printer some time ago and put anything I need a hard copy of into a file on my desktop. When I actually need (rather than just want) a hard copy I put the file onto a USB stick, wander down to the library and pay 25p a sheet.  It’s quite possibly more time consuming and I doubt if it is any cheaper, but it is so much more relaxing.

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