My New Printer…aka My Latest Grudge Purchase

Yesterday I bought a gadget that I didn’t have much interest in buying at all…another printer. I have a large-format Epson Sylus R1800 and an HP Photosmart all-in-one that’s about two years old. I don’t print a whole lot, but when I do I use the HP all-in-one for printing documents and small photos, while the Epson is  reserved for printing high-quality photos at up to 13″ x 19″.

I have a couple of return shipping labels to print and both printers are fresh out of ink at the moment. While shopping for groceries at Costco I remembered that I was in need of ink and headed over to the electronics section in search of ink.

A pair of XL printer cartridges cost $47.99 and a set of XL color cartridges was $65.99. I really wasn’t in the mood to spend $113.98 on ink for an outdated printer.  I’m guessing I could locate a single black cartridge for less elsewhere, but I was in a hurry and really needed a quick solution for printing a handful of pages.

Just around the corner from the Ink I found a pile of HP printers that actually cost less than the ink I was looking at. Sure, they only come with standard (non-XL) cartridges, but I felt better about walking out the door with a big box with a WiFi-enabled printer than a couple of ounces of ink. I threw one the HP Photosmart Premium E printers in my cart.

I completely understand that HP (and its competitors) nearly give away the hardware in order to win the opportunity sell high-margin supplies to customers over and over again. But it just feels wrong to pay so much fo the stuff. The contrast between what you get for the price of the ink compared to the hardware makes it even more painful.

Usually I get excited about buying new gear, but that wasn’t the case here. This is the fourth HP printer that I’ve bought in a row after its predecessor ran out of ink. You’d think I’d learn my lesson, but they always seem to run out of ink when I don’t have time to research alternatives. If you really want to get your blood boiling, open up one of your ’empty’ inkjet cartridges and see how much ink is actually remaining.

Document and casual photo printing isn’t nearly as important to me as it used to be now that I lead a mostly paperless existence. The cost of ink and running out of the stuff on too many occasions are two of the reasons why I’ve printed fewer and fewer documents over the year.

I’ve got to print a few shipping labels, then I’m going to start looking at alternatives. Fortunately, Costco has one of the best electronics return policies out there. The retailer allows returns on electronics for up to 90 days.

When it’s time to buy a high-quality printer for my photography, I enjoy researching high-end printers. But I really haven’t kept up on what the best solution is for home and home office document/casual printing. I’ve head some good things abou Kodak’s low-cost printing solutions and I should probably explore getting a basic laser printer.  What do you use and what do your recommend? Are printing supplies a grudge purchase for you?