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The battle for the soul of digital freedom taking place inside your printer (eff.org)
457 points by MilnerRoute 7 months ago | hide | past | favorite | 313 comments

I've had a Samsung ml-2525 for probably ten years, it works great. Sadly Samsung sold their printer division to HP. HP even removed features from the driver, they took out the ability to do manual duplex printing.

HP doesn't sell toner for my model anymore but I was able to find it from cdw. I figure the printer will outlast my ability to find toner for it.

This just confirms my already existing stance to never buy anything from HP.

Similar here: I've had a bottom-of-the-range Samsung laser for over 10 years, and it just keeps going (using cheap 3rd-party toner cartridges), despite periods of relatively heavy use for a "home" printer (hundreds of pages per day, at times). But I'm not sure what I'll do when one day it finally dies.

Just buy a Brother printer. Mine is probably more than 15 years and runs very cheap and no failures. Haven't even changed drum yet. 3rd-party toners very cheap and can be easily found online.

Seconded on Brother. Mine (B&W laser) is over 7 years old now, does automatic duplex printing, and is on its second toner/drum cartridge. Still trucking along just like it did when it was new. It cost like $120 to buy and only a couple of cents per page.

Of course, their value and longevity means all of these reviews are years out of date so I have no idea if the current models are as good. I hope they are, though.

Also it's easy to get even cheaper refills on these toners. Brother works great.

I'm in a similar situation. 3rd party toner. I've got a Brother laser printer (MFC7840W) that doesn't die. I've owned it for nearly 12 years and I really want a new fancy printer, too, but it's silly to replace something that works.

I think this is the same exact situation I'm in. Getting some banding on one edge so I think I might need to replace the toner, but the last cartridge I bought was probably 8 years ago.

Yeah, I have a Samsung ML-<I can't remember off-hand> printer which still works great after about fifteen years.

Unfortunately, I don't think there are drivers for it for any current OS. We have it connected to an iBook of similar vintage which more or less is only used to use the printer.

Probably Linux has drivers. You could set up a network printer with a raspberry.

I'm using mine with cups, all I needed was the ppd file. It has been a while but I think I found it in either their linux tarball or the mac driver.

Thanks to all the replies — looks like I'll be able to set something up!

Instead of all this hand wringing over bad business models why not just vote with your wallet? Brother and Epson already make inkjets that accept bulk ink and at reasonable prices.

https://epson.com/ecotank-ink-tank-printers https://www.brother.ca/en/inkvestment/c/pr-printers-inkvestm...

Voting with your wallet is also a good thing to do, but if you expect to send some signal to a company that way to imply that they should change their behaviour, you have to realize that you're communicating over a very noisy channel. All they'll notice -- if they notice -- is that sales have decreased, and they won't know the reason.

EG. you: "I hate smart TVs! I'll keep my old dumb TV!" --> them: "Our smart TVs aren't doing well, maybe we should make them smarter?"

Hand wringing has a good chance of at least delivering your message.

That's where entrepreneurs and innovators come in - it's literally the whole idea of industry disruption.

That's an even noisier channel! It has its place, but don't expect it to solve all such problems. Unless they're disgruntled HP employees, they don't even have access to the declining sales figures, just their own frustration with printers to motivate a story for investors. And most people who have the know-how to launch a new printer company know that they'll get a better return on their time by doing something else.

Lastly, "barriers to entry" are real things. It's not impossible to overcome them (eg. SpaceX) but you need to make an exceptional case to try.

How many people do you know who buy their office equipment off of Kickstarter? Or do you want to try pitching a VC on outcompeting Samsung at flat-panel televisions, and see what they tell you?

Businesses also track competitor sales, and love to copy what successful competitors are doing, so it does show up.

What capitalists seem to love more is buying the good business and making it crap too so one has no choice but to buy a product that will break sooner.

When the business model changes after you buy the printer, how are you supposed to know about it?

Instead of calling it "hand wringing" think of it as "educating potential buyers of HP's past abuses so they don't make the mistake of buying one"

Look, I'm not against going after HP for loss of use as here, and I'm all for the end users hacking the hardware they purchased to suit their desires, but where a lot of these activist groups loose me is when they try to force their ideas of how these business relationships should be structured upon everyone else.

And at the end of the day there is a reason why brands and trademarks exist. The reputation of a business has value.

Caveat emptor.

It's not complaints about how their business relationships should be structured. It's complaints about how the business relationships are structured and then changed out from underneath the consumer.

And at the end of the day there is a reason why articles like this exist. To destroy the reputation of businesses that do this.

Also, don't be foolish enough to buy a printer from a company that'll be sold to HP within the next 15-20 years.

People shouldn't be buying inkjet printers unless they're printing photos all the time. Laser printers are simply unbeatable for occasional document printing because toner never dries out and the printer never clogs.

If you want to get the most out of an inkjet printer, the best thing to do with it is to load fresh cartridges into the printer and then print continuously until it runs out. Leaving it sit around with partial ink cartridges causes the printer to repeatedly waste ink on cleaning cycles in order to prevent the nozzles from clogging up with dried out ink.

Personally, I think inkjet printers are really only viable for people who do volume photo and other graphics printing, as you would in a commercial printing business.

I'm I've had a couple relatively cheap Canon's in the last 10 years hooked up tp my ac at home, and I've found them generally reliable

I'm going to push back a little regarding Epson, although I'm hoping someone with direct experience will reply with useful feedback.

The 'ultra-high capacity' black ink bottle (T542) used by many of these printers is only 127ml. Further, from the user guide it appears that Epson recommends using the entire bottle to refill the printer (truthfully, I have not been able to find specs on the actual ink capacity of any of the ecotank or supertank printers) and does not recommend storing the bottle after having been opened. This doesn't really seem like bulk ink to me.

Yeah I bought one of the first gen Ecotanks for a college clubs when it came out. IIRC the bottles and the reservoirs come in two sizes, the normal ones and the double sized ones like the T542. One bottle is enough to refill up to the line so the use case is just to refill when the tank is almost empty.

So I don't think we ran into this because someone ended up breaking it a few years later but looks like it still has some counter bullshit for the waste ink pad but it looks like you can work around that fairly easily.


Also newer ecotanks have user replaceable waste ink waste pad boxes for $10 now.

Except HP scammed its customers by promising free ink for life and delivering $0.99/month ink until the next price increase. It's hard to vote with your wallet if companies make false promises.

People can vote with their dollars, but we could also have laws protecting customers from powerful companies blatantly defrauding people. This “just vote with your dollars” hand waving of an increasing anti-consumer situation strikes me as naïve. Voting with your dollar doesn’t really work for corporations doing 10s of billions of dollars of sales through 50 different subsidiary companies, in 80 different countries.

Open discourse is an important part of voting.

Brother and Epsom are more expensive though.

Turns out quality actually isn't free.

Stop buying HP! Get a Brother laser printer.

Yes. As someone with absolutely no vested interest in anyone buying brother printers, I can confirm that my brother printer has worked for years, the ink lasts apparently forever, and I'm finally beginning to unlearn the feeling of dread and uncertainty I instinctively have whenever I think to myself, "Man, I really need to print this out."

Printers are mostly-mechanical devices, with a little bit of electronics. Most consumer printer brands, though, are designed by computer hardware or consumer electronics companies who don’t know all that much about mechanical engineering. Meanwhile, Brother is a typewriter and sewing machine company—mechanical engineers make up the majority of their engineering competence.

So, IMHO, it’s no surprise that Brother gets design elements correct like “efficient use of toner” and “self-cleaning” and “optimizing for low wear on the print head” that other printer manufacturers struggle with.

(If anything, you’d fear that Brother’s software [e.g. drivers] would suck even worse than everyone else’s; but somehow, it doesn’t. Then again, hardware-headed companies do seem to treat drivers as literal drivers, while software-headed companies seem to treat them as a fat shim that value-adds and makes noise all the time.)

HP's historic printers were fantastic though. It's sad to see the company that produced the Laserjet III and battletank of a Deskjet (I think I saw the "plus", black only with two slots for font cartridges) fall so low.

> Most consumer printer brands, though, are designed by computer hardware or consumer electronics companies who don’t know all that much about mechanical engineering.

That was, until the rise of Darth Carly at the earliest, not the case for HP, which made a name for itself as a manufacturer of scientific and industrial equipment before expanding into computers and printers (and bringing that manufacturing expertise to those fields). HP's printer business is based on rock-solid hardware chops from decades ago.

Indeed, I was very much impressed with the software that came with my Brother label printer. The included P-touch Editor[1] is Windows-98-good, and if that's not enough, they also offer b-PAC SDK[2] to programmatically access the printer and templates made with the Editor.

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YdU9geyCyac

[2] https://www.brother.co.jp/eng/dev/bpac/index.aspx

I wonder how many management consultants HP has hired versus Brother to increase their quarterly revenues, etc.

>>Brother is a typewriter and sewing machine company

Do you think they still have any mechanical engineers working on typewriters? Which industry still has a need/requirement for typewriters?

I don't know if they still sell typewriters, but the GP is talking about their heritage, not their current focus.

Right now they make a lean, mean, CNC milling machine!


You need a typewriter for those triplicate forms which some folks still require. Another amazing reason we still have a dot matrix printer and a daisy wheel on a shelf.

Take this with a grain of salt but I've heard that some kind of typewriters are still used in some countries for the top secret material.

I wonder: do they burn or otherwise destroy the ribbon after the fact?

Also I have to confess, I've definitely bought used (tape-based) answering machines/typewriters at yard sales a few times solely to listen to the greeting/messages or typed messages, respectively. Having the device itself is nice, too, of course. :)

It's an interesting slice of the lives of people I'll never know, like picking up discarded shopping lists.

Or when you want typewritten information but don't want to give that person access to a computer (such as a hacker).

> If anything, you’d fear that Brother’s software [e.g. drivers] would suck even worse than everyone else’s; but somehow, it doesn’t.

On Linux it certainly does. For some reason I can use network printing on my Brother laser from Windows and even Android, but not Linux.

See https://unix.stackexchange.com/a/436250 and https://wiki.debian.org/CUPSAirPrint — apparently the AirPrint universal-fallback file format "URF" is patent-encumbered, such that you can't really have a FOSS encoder for it without licensing the patent (just like the MP3 format, until recently.) So OSes that cost money can pay for licenses and so ship encoders, but FOSS OSes cannot.

(I'd nevertheless have expected AirPrint support to exist somewhere in Debian's multiverse repo — but it that doesn't seem to be there. Does nobody have that itch to scratch?)

Most brother printers just speak PCL or Postscript. You just need to figure out how to make it work. On my printer is means use the right queue as it detects one that doesn't work. Otherwise any PDL will work it seems.

I found that I didn't even need to manually install any drivers for my Brother laser printer. Once I got it set up on the wi-fi the Windows, Mac, and Linux machines in my house automatically detected it and were able to use it just fine with only the built-in drivers. That gave me a good feeling about investing in it.

It's quite a challenge to suck more than HP printer drivers, really.

That would have to be the iPhone app:

Detects my printer just fine, then spites me by refusing to do anything until I give away my email address.

No way! I'll probably try to find a guerillamail equivalent and use that to sign up if I need to use the app.

But that's only after you download 380 megabytes of a "driver".

I bought a printer at the beginning of COVID just to print Amazon return shipping labels, etc. that I used to take advantage of the office printer for.

All I really wanted was a wireless printer so I could stick it somewhere out of sight (small apartment) and be able to print easily. I settled on an HP because it was a good combination of cheap/decent reviews.

Setting it up was such a pain in the ass, including instructions telling me to install what I later found to be the wrong setup program. Now I have two separate programs (one that I can change printer settings including changing wifi networks, and another to use the scanner). It doesn't seem right and I feel like I should only need one, but whatever it works right now and I don't plan on changing anything until the printer or I die.

That feeling of dread and uncertainty is all too real for me.

The first tip I got from an older fellow computer nerd at the first company I worked at was: When customer asks for printer, suggest brother for laser and canon or epson for inkjet. So far I'm very happy I listened. The Brothers just work so never got so far as to try the canons. And I got no support calls about the printers either.

To a first order approximation, nobody actually needs an inkjet printer. The vast majority of consumers don't print enough photos to make inkjets worth it, once you include purchase price and wastage due to dried out ink, most people should get a laser printer for documents and send their photos to Costco or similar.

The cartridge does really last a very long time. I just replaced mine after about a year of intermittent use. I thought that that was fine, but then my wife pointed out that we were replacing the half-capacity cartridge that came with the printer. I expect this cartridge to last a good two or three years.

The AirPrint abilities have been a little spotty at times, though that might just be my WiFi. I might hard-wire a raspberry pi to drive it though.

Also, I have no incentive for anyone to buy a brother printer. Just another happy user.

Took me a year to print something for my mom the last time she needed it because I simply KNEW that inkjet was going to be impossible when I needed it. And, lo and behold it was.. It was a Canon Pixma G3200, one of the ones with the built-in inkwells. When I finally decided to face the frustration I knew the thing would present me with, it threw an error.

It took a fair amount of time to track down the error (a particular pattern of blinking lights) that meant "the ink cartridge is inserted incorrectly." Ok.... I thought to myself, this thing doesn't even have cartridges.

At which point I bought the Brother laser printer I currently have that has not failed me even once.

> I can confirm that my brother printer has worked for years, the ink lasts apparently forever

I've had to replace my (Brother) toner once in almost a decade. Granted, I do not print a lot.

And before you replace it you just take it out, shake it a bit and put it back in again for another 200 pages. Repeat until it starts giving you missing lines on the pages. This can be going on for many cycles. I just plopped in my spare that been sitting half a year waiting for it's turn when the printer started complaining about low toner.

It's just math. If you don't print much, you can get a HP printer for $30.

The cheapest Brother laser printer is $100 + ink.

At $1/mo, it's going to 6 years (thanks Ansil) for the price to work out in favor of the Brother.

And to the people saying brothers last forever: they don't. I've owned 3. When the drum wears out, the printer is trash because brother charges almost the cost of the printer for a replacement. That $100 brother has a drum that costs $89 and lasts for 12000 pages. So 12000 pages is the life of that printer.

Edit: Re: ink drying out. HP doesn't consider printer cleaning and maintenance pages in their page count. So you can actually clean the printer regularly so the ink doesnt dry out, and they'll keep sending you new cartridges.

Sometimes, $100 is worth not being stuck in a crappy "ink as a service" contract designed to extract the maximum amount of money from your pocket.

As an aside, for a "don't print much" point of view, 12,000 pages is a long time (I, for example, print about 100 or so pages a year, which would give me a lot of time with my hypothetical Brother printer).

I don't think that's the point of the service.


A) A way of getting people over that "How much for an official replacement cart‽" hump, which often causes them to buy 'fake' ahem carts, or a new printer

B) A way of getting people who "don't think they need a printer" to get a printer knowing what their costs will actually be up front.

> causes them to buy 'fake' ahem carts

A system that addresses one point is still capable of addressing a second - extracting a maximum 'value' from their customers.

> get a printer knowing what their costs will actually be up front

I'm sorry, but a company that changes the price of the contract is the complete - ideologically and practically - opposite of "knowing [your] costs up front".

From HP's point of view of not given them a penny for maybe 20 years - and now I'm paying them $2 a month. They can knock off the cost of making and sending me a new cart - but they're ahead from this. A transaction has occurred due to this innovation and both sides are 'happy'. Innovation/Capitalism - should be catnip to this audience.

I agree that I can't predict the costs exactly - but ballpark is good enough. Like cutting the cord. You don't know how your cable price might change, Netflix prices might increase, your provider might shift cost to your broadband to compensate - but for now it works out and presuming nothing major changes, you'll be fine with incremental stuff and maybe make another bold decision in a few years.

> Innovation/Capitalism - should be catnip to this audience.

Not when it's at the cost of a customer's rights. Between abusing the DMCA to restrict what ink cartridges can be used and actively changing a "free" ink program after advertising that it's for the lifetime of the printer.

There's absolutely nothing we should be praising HP for here.

‽, What is this monstrosity‽

It's an interrobang[0].

[0]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interrobang

I don't why you're being downvoted.

Programming ligatures are one thing. Your IDE manages them silently and transparently. They are client-side tech, not part of the actual data exchange. Teammates who find that they hurt code readability, rather than help it, are free to not use them in their own IDE.

But going out of one's way with escape codes or whatever, to insert a poorly-legible replacement for "?!", is simply awful.

I don't know why either, I gave him an upvote.

I put it in my post, as I quite like the interrobang and will never pass up the chance to use it.

It's entirely legible, just uncommon - and "?!"?! just seems insert new character that represents gipping.

Is it "?!" or "!?" or "!?!" to indicate outrage, query and analysis, resulting in heightened outrage. Why not just add an f'in emoticon (shaped by you gurning at your iphone) seethes :)

For English, it's always '?!'. The question mark gets priority over all other punctuation but an ellipsis (which is pretty rare).

Other countries and languages (Japanese, in particular) give the exclamation point the priority.

As a side note, I can't recall ever seeing the ligature of ?! before today. It feels like one of those typesetting relics we're better off not using.

The interrobang only dates back to 1962, didn't actually appear in a typeface until 1965, and from what I've been able to find, it didn't start routinely appearing in typefaces as a distinct character until it become part of Unicode. So don't blame old typesetters -- blame the internet. :)

I don't see anything wrong with the interrobang, although I don't think I'd go out of my way to use it, simply because it calls rather undue attention to itself. I wouldn't say that about most other ligatures, even some relatively uncommon ones; I'm sure that most people read text in set in Chaparral, for instance, without ever noticing that "Th" is a ligature in that typeface, because it looks optically correct in the same way the near-universal "fi" and "fl" ligatures do.

For the record, I can't find any supporting evidence about the ordering of punctuation marks; both "?!" and "!?" are non-standard in formal English, and the advice I've seen online -- and in the Chicago Manual of Style I have on my bookshelf I just checked -- suggest that an "exclamatory question" just uses the exclamation point. It's just that "?!" is more common when it gets used. (A question mark comes after an ellipsis not because of punctuation priority, but simply because the "..." indicates elided words, but doesn't replace the terminating punctuation mark.)

> poorly-legible

That's a matter of font choice, which (for HN, which doesn't go out of its way to stomp on user defaults) is, like the use of programming ligatures you have tried to distinguish on this basis, a client-side user decision.

Some websites use fonts with programming ligatures, so I'm still subjected to them in those code blocks from time to time.

Which characters are acceptable then? Only ASCII?

It's called an interrobang. It's essentially a way to ask a question emphatically.

It’s James Bonds signature data mining technique as punctuation, aka “The Interrobang”

it's called an interrobang https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interrobang


You can type it in X11 (and Wayland too IIUC) with Compose, !, ? (or ?, !).

> No results found for ‽.

Not a glowing example of DDG there.

The Wikipedia article is in the sidebar. Maybe it doesn’t appear on mobile?

You can also search “!s ‽” and get this: https://startpage.com/do/metasearch.pl?query=%E2%80%BD, but then you have to click “More” to see the full first paragraph of the Wikipedia page, and only then will it reveal the link to the full article there. The rest of the page is just clutter to me.

For that $30; you also get 1GB of software installed to your computer with all sorts of ads and telemetry sending data back to HP, and making any print operation bring your computer to it's knees, and invoke all sorts of popups.

I don't know what comes with a $30 HP printer these days but I'm using HPLIP and I'm quite happy with it. Granted, I've never audited it but it's in the Debian repos and I've never heard anything bad about it either. Or did you mean something else?

On Windows, it's pretty bad. I understand HP has acceptable Linux support, and the driver package on a Linux platform is not as intrusive as the Windows side.

Ah, I see. I suspected that but I wasn't sure. Which makes me wonder why they're even doing HPLIP in the first place. Printing is only really a thing on the desktop and in business networks but in both cases I'd guess the majority of HP's customers are using Windows.

$1/month buys you 15 pages of printing. That’s a joke. A more realistic plan is the $3/mo for 50 pages (still not much for an average printer owner, but not the joke 15 pages is). At that price your math is adding up in less than 2 years.

My highly used $30 Canon printer is in its 4th year, and 3rd cartridge. I’m well ahead of where I would have been with the HP (I print about 3-4 pages a day, so I’d probably have had to shell out for the $5 or $12 plan).

Also, much like most subscription services, even if the math works out, it only does until the next change in the pricing plan.

I probably print a page every other day at most. So 15 pages isn't a joke for me, it's perfect.

If you don't print much, your inkjet printer will probably not work when you actually need it.

This was me until a few months ago. If you don't print frequently you have two options:

1. Buy an inkjet and pray that it prints every time you need to use it.

2. Spend a little more for a lazer and never worry again.

Inkjets only make sense if you print a lot of photographs, which is a vanishingly tiny portion of the market.

3. Use the public library

I don't know exactly what premium I'm paying per-page to print stuff at the FedEx Office location a couple of blocks away on the rare occasions when I really need something on paper, but whenever I see a discussion like this about the endless compromises and annoyances in home printer ownership I feel like I'm really getting a bargain by comparison

Not such an attractive option this year.

Don’t print much != never print anything. I print approximately 20 pages a month. I have been paying $1 every two months for it. Now I’ll be paying on average $3 every two months. I hate HP for doing this but this is not enough of an impetus for me to move now. I paid $30 for the printer. I prefer inkjet because I print photos and recipes. I’ll be moving to an EPSON tank when I decide I’m done with HP. But for now it’s actually a great service for me. (It’s just my preference)

Depending on what you're printing photos for, you may find it more convenient/a better fit to use a laser for text based things (including recipes), and getting photos printed at a print center (better color fidelity, lots of high quality paper options, etc). That's what I do, but, again, it's rare I print photos (and when I do it's generally for display or similar, so stuff that an at home consumer printer is just subpar for).

Living in a dry climate, rarely printing usually meant by the time I needed to print again my ink cartridges had dried up (or at least enough to not dispense ink anymore). Not sure if this is still true today.

I've been using cheap laser printers for many years and will never go back to inkjets! But my needs are very simple, not trying to print photos.

Recently excavated my early 2008 inkjet printer from the basement. Works fine. Even the color cartridges still work.

Modern inkjet printers use ink at almost the same rate whether you are printing or not, with innovations like daily self-cleaning routines that just spray ink into a receptacle inside the machine.

Our Brother printer (inkjet circa 2014) doesn't use ink when we're not printing because we unplug it when we're not using it, as we do with all of our corded electronics. If it's been more than 2 months since we've printed a page, it only takes two minutes for the printer to run the "ink > clean" cycle, and then it prints just fine. We've had the same black cartridge for three years, no problems, and we're still using the color cartridges that came with the printer when we got it secondhand.

> It's just math. If you don't print much, you can get a HP printer for $30.


> The cheapest Brother laser printer is $100 + ink.


> At $1/mo, it's going to take the rest of your life for the price to work out in favor of the Brother.

What? At $1/mo, it is going to take under six years for the price to work out in favor of the Brother. Are you suggesting the person you're responding to has six years to live?

lol thanks... should have had more coffee before writing. Was thinking $1/year.


At that rate of printing, ink is going to dry up in the headers. Which would require running the cleaning procedures. Which use a lot of ink.

Ink printers are a really bad proposition.

That laser printer goes on sale often, frequently for $50, and periodically for $40. [0]

Also, it comes with toner. Just a starter cartridge, granted, but if you're not printing much it will last years.

[0] https://camelcamelcamel.com/product/B00NQ1CLTI

Brother HL-L2300D Monochrome Laser Printer with Duplex Printing

Thank you, that's exactly what I needed: a reliable compact duplex printer (to carry most of the burden of the old color MFP that now jams every second page ...)

Edit: Seems to have been replaced by the HL-L2310D, or HL-L2350DW with WiFi

If you don't print much, 12000 pages is the lifetime of the printer. I've had a cheap laser printer for about 6 years now, and I only think about it once or twice a year when I need to print something.

I don't do any maintenance, and I don't worry about the ink drying out.

I wouldn't take a one-time payment of $70 in exchange for having to do regular printer ink maintenance for 6 years, so it makes sense to pay an extra $70 to avoid that. Paying the extra $70 makes even more sense if you factor in the fact that I'd actually have saved $72 in monthly payments over that time period.

Brother Monochrome Laser Printer, HL-L2320D $100 USD + tax, but you get a starter cartridge, so you don't need to pay for toner immediately. AND it has a duplexer so 2-sided printing is included. Toner is $40 for 1,200 pages.


I have not yet hit the drum-replacement point on my Brother color printer yet so we'll see where that goes.

I picked up that model for $80ish a few years ago on Black Friday at Best Buy. For those with the patience, it could be worth waiting a couple of weeks. (And I've been very happy with it for my needs.)

That still sounds cheaper than the HP when the cost of ink is considered. More importantly, if you don't print often, your dry toner will continue to be useful after sitting for 3 months.

>At $1/mo, it's going to take the rest of your life for the price to work out in favor of the Brother.

$1/mo = $12/y

(7 * 12) + 30 = 114

Do you know something about the rest of my life that I need to know? How much time do I actually have left!?

> it's going to 6 years (thanks Ansil) for the price to work out in favor of the Brother.

6 years is not a very long time. I've had my Brother laser printer for a decade now, am as happy as the day I bought it, and can easily imagine using it for another decade or more.

We need to rid ourselves of the mindset that electronic devices are inherently short-lived.

So far I'm still going on the 3000 page toner "starter kit" that came with my (HP) colour laser four years ago. If that $100 brother is 'only' going to last me around ten years, it's probably beating the HP inkjet on price.

That $30 HP isn't going to last forever either, and will need periodic replacement.

Huh, I see two replacement toner cartridges AND a drum for my Brother printer for $40. (Not Brother branded, but that's the point: you can use competing products because Brother doesn't stop you.) You should shop around.

> If you don't print much, you can get a HP printer for $30.

Those $30 printers either don't come with ink cartridges or they come with very small "starter" cartridges, good for a few dozen pages at the most.

> The cheapest Brother laser printer is $100 + ink.

Toner, actually. The $100 Brother printer does come with a "starter" cartridge but it prints 700 pages. So even if you threw the printer away after the starter cartridge ran out, you'd still be paying $0.17 per sheet as opposed to the $30 inkjet's initial cost of $1.25 per sheet for the first cartridge.

If we're talking refills then, I can buy an aftermarket toner cartridge for my laser printer for under $20 and that yields 2600 pages. ($0.008/sheet). Black HP 67XL ink (240 pages) works out to $0.10/sheet. The laser is an order of magnitude less in both scenarios.

The drum unit in mine did start going bad after 3-4 years. I bought a new drum on Amazon for $20, far less than what I originally paid for the printer. It has been going strong for a few years since.

HPs instant ink program lets you print full page prints in full color for the same price. Costco charges $2 each for 8x10 enlargements. Given that HPs base add-on rate is $0.10/pg, there are environments where that could make sense. Kinkos and Fedex routinely charge $0.50/pg for color prints.

Sure, I wouldn't print 500 pages of B&W text on instant ink, but when printing things that require color, it's not ridiculously expensive.

That's assuming they keep the price at $1/month. It was free for "life", so I'm skeptical they'll keep prices at $1/month for 6 years.

$100 for a laser printer is stupid cheap. Like, it's kinda wasteful because it will someday end up in a landfill, but I've been printing a few hundred pages a year off this Brother for ages now and it Just Works. It's noisy, the driver is not very user friendly, I don't enjoy scanning with it, but if it dies I'll probably just get another one.

12000 pages at HP’s $1 plan will cost you $800 to print assuming you actually print 15 pages a month and don’t go months where you printed less.

Their most cost effective $25/700 pages plan will cost you over $425 to print that much assuming you use up the entire quota each month.

I've had my Brother laser printer since '11 and have replaced the toner cartridge once in '15. Still works great. I probably would have gone through 5 HP printers in that span.

If you leave an HP inkjet for a few months will it still print or be clogged?

Not without it doing a substantial amount of 'self cleaning'. If you print infrequently, a laser printer is actually a better use case. Frequent printing, namely of photographs, is a good use case for inkjet.

And even then, a consumer inkjet doesn't do that great a job on photos. You're much better off having someone like Walgreens do it for you. Faster and better, still cheap.

HP's Instant ink does solve this problem. They charge per-page, so you can automatically run self-cleaning every few days at zero cost to the consumer.

And, many printers pick up the spilled 'self cleaning' ink in a tank, and when it's full they refuse to work any longer. It a total scam.

Although depending on the paper and ink involved, the quality and longevity of your inkjet-printed photographs may turn out to be disappointing.

You can get an aftermarket drum for a bit cheaper in many cases.

Yea, I've done this several times. My brother printer finally wore out at 3 years of pretty heavy use.

There seems to be a general shortage of inexpensive laser printers. That would not be a surprising consequence of work-from-home, I suppose.

The inexpensive Brother model that we have at home is permanently out of stock everywhere. I've been looking for one so my daughter (college music student) can print sheet music from her apartment.

All I use my printer for is shipping labels for my home business.

Okay, that and Sudoku. ;-)

Get a laser printer, brother https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=25014482

Brother Linux support is bad and ChromeOS support is non-existent. I am going to have to replace a perfectly operable Brother laser because it won't work with mother in law's Chromebox now that Cloud Print is turned down.

It would not have been difficult for them to provide CUPS drivers...

Wow, really? I trashpicked an old Brother multifunction, and whatever provides the printing service on Ubuntu just found it automagically. I had to download a .rpm to get the scanner working, but it was right there on Brother's website. Years old, but worked flawlessly.

I've got a Brother MFC L2710DW that both Linux and ChromeOS print to without any trouble at all. Newer Chromebooks with the Google Playstore also give you access to the Brother Print & Scan app, which also works.

Huh, we have a Brother HLL2390DW multifunction laser, and I can't figure out how to set it up on ChromeOS at all. There's no working driver as far as I can tell.

The Print&Scan app is a disaster, largely due to how Android works on Chromebooks. It can only access the totally separate Android filesystem, which isn't visible in the ChromeOS Files app. If you want to export a scan to the ChromeOS files, you have to use the "Share" button and pick the Files app. You can't use the very prominent "Save" button.

They don't provide handy-dandy single-click driver installation tools for Linux, but I'm not aware of any printer manufacturer that does. However, Brother printers do use standard protocols, so if you can find the PPD file for the model number, all you need to do is provide that to CUPS and it should Just Work.

They provide CUPS drivers even for my $50 HL-1112 "Windows Printer" (you know, one of those that doesn't have built-in PCL or processing, it needs everything rendered on the PC). I know the networked ones are even better.

Not using ChromeOS though so can't comment on that.

I purchased my Brother MFC-8890DW (multi-function laser printer) sometime around 2011. I'll admit I don't print much but it is only recently that I finally got a "low toner" message. I bought a toner cartridge but haven't installed it yet as waiting until I see the effects of the low toner.

For my situation I would never buy an inket type printer. When I need to print photos I send them to Costco, which is maybe every couple years.

Logged into the printer and see that I have only printed 3370 pages in all that time. I probably use the scanner feature more than the printer :)

Yup. My $100-ish Brother laser is 12 years old and still going strong.

I love my Brother laser printer, however I did not like my Brother inkjet printer. HP has better cartridge design where the printing head is on the cartridge itself whereas Brother's cartridge is separate from the printing head. This sucks because if the printing head fails you cannot fix it by replacing the cartridge.

I can second this. I bought a $120 laser printer years ago for college. It's been extremely solid, I've only needed to replace toner once and it was cheap. It can sit for months unused without getting clogged or become unusable.

If you print sporratically and don't need to print pictures, then it's perfect.

This 100%. My Brother laser printer is 7 years old, I've never replaced the toner, and it still prints quickly and perfectly every time; of course I only need to print a handful of times a year, but I know for a fact that letting any ink jet printer sit that long would result in terrible prints.

Even with Brother, you should be mindful of WHICH you purchase. Some like the MFC-L3770CDW I purchased have higher running costs than you would expect, for example. I knew this when I bought it, deciding that my low print volumes made it worth higher running costs vs the lower upfront cost (if I have a massive job it’s cheaper to send it to a print shop anyway without getting into the real $$$ printers, and otherwise I print tax documents annually and occasionally print a few pages every month. I use the ADF to scan documents on a weekly basis however, so the cheap upfront cost for a auto duplexing scanner is a huge win).

Just a counterpoint, my Brother printer was very difficult with a VPN a family member had to use (after using the VPN, I couldn't use the printer anymore, short of rebooting and reinstalling the driver). Every other printer we've had worked well with the same VPN.

I didn't manage to get it to work, but my investigation led me to suspect it was because of some networking shenanigans it was doing (some kind of broadcast packet IIRC). At some point, it started working, maybe a firmware update fixed the issue. Might also have been a Windows issue to be honest.

Those Epson ink tank ones seem pretty cool, though I've never used one.

I have one, and it is clogged up now :(. The only printing mode that give somewhat readable prints is the “Epson photo” mode (or something named similar), which is really slow. But I hope it will magically fix itself if I keep on printing in that mode for awhile.

Similar experience. For some reason my Epson clogs more easily than the HP it replaced.

I tried cleaning heads manually (there are a few tutorials out there that show how to do it with distilled water and some cloth). It's very dirty work and that didn't really work for me. It very quickly gets clogged again.

A trick that I found more useful is to not bother with the print head itself, but instead clean the parking spot and the tools that the printer uses to clean the heads itself (there's a rubber wiper, foam and some other stuff there). I unplug the printer, unlock the head and roll it off to the other side, and then use some cotton swabs and distilled water to clean the rubber and rinse the foam. I also keep the parking spot wet with water (the rubber seal + pad that rests on the head when the printer is turned off).

Keeping that part clean + the periodical head cleanings that the printer seems to do automatically works out reasonably well. Although every time I do a nozzle check I still always have a nozzle or two clogged so it's not perfect.

Pigment vs dye ink difference?

My Epson has a function in the Tools menu to unclog things. If you haven't looked for it already, that might be something to explore.

Inkjets will clog more in dry climates, which is why they are far more common in regions like SE Asia with high humidity.

You probably have clogged black nozzles, and photo mode uses the 3 colours to make black.

(Lasers are prone to clump toner in those climates.)

Try diluting the ink with alcohol (70% isopropanol is fine) and doing a bunch of throw away prints. If that doesn't work you can buy a replacement print head from Epson.

I suggest checking the type of ink first. Inks for my printer (type 664) are definitely water based and don't dissolve well in alcohol. A cloth dipped in alcohol hardly touches any dried-on ink, but distilled water will dissolve it nicely.

Ink jet printers really are designed to be used almost daily. Even if all you're doing is printing a 5% coverage test page.

My brother printer sucks. I suddenly can’t print via WiFi anymore, from any device. Also, if I switch off the printer I can’t switch it on again unless I perform some crazy dance routine involving pulling out the power plug and paper tray and holding buttons in a certain order while plugging it back in.

Also my brother printer claims the cartridge is empty even though it is half full. I get around this by putting a sticker on the little window it uses to peek into the cartridge so it thinks it is full.


My brother has been going strong for 5 years across 4 moves!

+1 For Brother laser printers. I've had mine for a few years now, and only gone through 1 cartridge of toner. It works with my Linux setup too.

Brother's latest firmware updates on newer color lasers have locked out third party toner companies pretty well. It's a cat and mouse game, but Brother is no saint. I own an 11 year old Brother B&W laser that is still cookin'. I just went searching for a color laser and I still will probably go with Brother, but it's certainly not clear cut in terms of business practices.

My Brother color laser is running the latest firmware and works just fine with knockoff Chinese toner carts that cost about 1/4 what Brother charges.

I have numerous HP laser printers. Linux wifi set up is a bit tricky, but no ink complaints. I see as an ink jet versus laser printer discussion.

This article showed up just as I am looking for a replacement for my HP 1320 which works perfectly except 3 out of 4 users in our household can no longer print to it. I’ll look up the Brother laser printer mentioned here to see if people report having better luck. Thanks

What about photos? It's been a few years, but last time I checked laser printers were still way behind ink in terms of photo quality.

I usually order good quality photo prints online. It's not immediate feedback, but I never found a need for that. Otherwise so-so quality can be produced by a color laser printer.

True, I don't even bother with colour laser, it's no good for photos, just for graphs and coloured text.

But really the rare occasion I need photos printed, I just order them.

If you're a pro or hobby photographer, you can't beat pigment inkjets like Epson's, but then the drawbacks of inkjet (like drying out) won't affect you so much because you will use it a lot.

I went with Epson inkjet. I don't know if things have changed, but at the time I bought it, Epson was significantly less evil than that HP I dumped.

I'm interested in knowing Canon's level of evil, if anyone has any information about that.

n=1 but in my experience it is brother >> canon > hp

On the rare occasion I need photos I print them at Costco. Their printers are much higher quality than what a person is likely to buy for home use and the price is very reasonable.

I use a black-and-white laser printer at home (Brother MFC-8890DW).

The price is good, but larger prints do cost quite a bit more. 4x6 is only $0.11 each, but 8x10 is $2.00 each.

I’ve had the same brother printer since college. Started in 2008. It still works great. Seconding brother as a cheap and reliable brand.

I want my brother printer to die so I can buy a new one, but he doesn't

To give a counter argument - I've embraced HPs new model.

Couple of years ago, my old printer ended up in the bin. Was a great big hulking thing with a flatbed scanner that took up too much space. For the odd things I needed printing, I just did this at work. For scanning I have a lovely Fuji SnapScan (Feed in stack of pages, scans both sides, OCRs them and gives them to Google for storage).

With lock-down, I'm working at home and maybe once a week I've found I need to print something. Shipping labels, application forms to sign etc. I missed having a printer, but didn't want to commit to having to keep a printer fed with consumables for those few times I need one.

My employer offered to pay for bits I might need at home, so picked up an HP Tango printer for the Instant Ink. I'm not going to print more than 50 pages a month, so I'm out of pocket £2 a month for any printing I need. £24 a year. I'm happy with that (plus you get a few months free, only starts charging when carts it ships with are switched out, rolls over up to 150 pages and photos printed from app are free).

In summary - it suits my needs and I suspect those of many others. If I needed to print loads of course I'd just buy a laser, but for occasional 'I need a printer' and don't want to get annoyed every time I hear it pumping though ink to clear the heads..

The bigger issue here is that HP basically did a bait-and-switch promising free printing (x number of sheets a month) for life then saying you have to pay us 99 cents a month or you can't use your printer at all.

But you can use the printer - you just swap out the instant-ink carts for regular ones (or clones). Of course if I'm wrong, I'm open to being corrected - but my understanding is that it's not the printer that's the service, it's "the magic instant ink carts and the ink in them"

I love my ScanSnap. My workflow is incoming paper -> scanner -> DevonThink -> shredder. But note that £24 is ferociously expensive in terms of ink if you're not printing more than 600 pages a year. That's probably £8 worth of laser toner. You can also get a nice Brother B/W laser printer for under 200 USD these days.

I'm a bit evangelical about the Snapscan (I somehow managed to talk about it whilst discussing printers..)

I don't see the £24 as being ferociously expensive - as I'm really buying convenience. If you're looking at cost-per-page, I agree - If it were, then I'd be buying a laser-jet or a tanked ink-jet (and that would be many multiples of £24 extra).

Not just the cost I can now put out of mind, it's the annoying stuff (like "I bet HP just made 50 cents every time I clear the heads" or "FFS I just printed 20 cards with a sky on them, so I'm out of Cyan")

(Nitpick: It's ScanSnap. It took me a while to remember the word order, too.)

That's an excellent point about the convenience, and another reason I'm a huge fan of lasers. I have a tiny special-purpose photo printer for when I really want/need the pretty brightness that inkjets can have over laser, but for sheer convenience of "I know it's going to work this time" lasers reign supreme.

Same here. Another good quality of the HP instant ink printer I have is that the print head is built into the cartridge - so no more clogged up print heads, which always seemed to be the thing that failed in the previous inkjets I’ve had.

> Shipping labels

If you have any volume, thermal printers are worth the premium. The paper is the ink, they're lightning fast, and they never die.

I kind of wish handheld inkjets were more of a thing so we could have them at mailstops/drops, scan a QR code or something and then ink that onto the package directly.

Until HP once again changes their plans and makes them more expensive.

Will they do it? We don’t know, but they absolutely can. And this article literally talks about them doing an even uglier bait and switch making something that was promised to be free, paid for.

Of course they can change their plans - and probably will, if only to add inflationary costs, changes in local tax etc.

One 'offer' they're currently providing on the monthly month package is free printing of photos (up to 10x15cm and has to be done via the app). Now that's clearly to try to get you to use your wi-fi printer with your phone as some hybrid polaroid, "won't somebody please print more stuff and learn to love their printer"

I think there's an abuse clause (please don't use it as an online print service) and might vanish any time - but if you say wanted to chuck a photo or two into your christmas cards this year, it's a handy saving/convenience.

If you don't like their subscription service, then you can just swap out your subscription carts and use regular ones.

We really need to design a Free (as in freedom) open source printer. It _is_ sort of ironic there are quite a few open source 3d printers but no open source 2d printers.

I really like the simplicity of the Creality Ender3. The controller board is an Arduino and it uses commodity stepper drivers and stepper motors. The complicated specialized parts are the hot-end, which has now been somewhat standardized.

Would an open source laser be out of reach? Maybe we could pick a cheap, readily-available toner cartridge and design a printer around it.

Literally speaking, a 3d printer becomes a 2d printer if you unplug an axis. You can get open source kits that are basically this, called plotters.

The issue is that hobbyists can't achieve the resolution necessary for printing texts or images, no matter how many axes the machine has. A $30 inkjet printer at Walmart has easily 10x or 20x the resolution of a desktop 3d printer. That kind of precision is hard to do without specialized machinery. The people with that ability are, well, printer manufacturers.

There was a big HN thread a few weeks ago on open source 2d printers. It seems the biggest bottleneck would be the nozzle designs


Oh interesting! That's why I think the "design a printer around an accessible cartridge", or starting with a laser printer would be a better approach.

The whole point of IoT is for hardware vendors to get into subscription based business models to maximize revenue.

We've seen that with thermostats that stopped working until you pay more, and we've seen that a lot with internet-ready "cloud printers" that stopped working, too.

I don't understand why people don't see this and still buy IoT hardware.

IoT, by design, implies less control (and less privacy) on the consumer side.

"DRM Kitty Litter: The Only Thing Stupider Than DRM Coffee"


I thank that article for mentioning this :)

I will be honest, I wasn't sure this wasn't satire until I went to the company's own site. I am really curious how many customers they actively maintain.

This kind of reinforces my opinion that I made the right decision by going completely paperless at home. All documents are electronic. Anything that needs signing gets signed digitally. I'll admit, it was a hard mental adjustment to make the shift and wasn't without some effort to figure out how to make it work, but now that I have, I'm happy I did. I did away with a printer more than a year ago now and every time I think of going back, I look at the price of ink cartridges and realize how much better for my wallet and the environment the switch has been.

This is great if you can pull it off. Do you have any school aged kids? I'd say 80% of our printer use is for school projects or forms that have to get printed out, signed, and physically handed back in. Not sure how we could get by without one.

With that being said, when we did buy a printer about 5 years ago we bought a monochrome Brother laser printer and it's a way better investment than inkjet printers (if you don't need to print pictures or something)

When I dealt with this in school, I would simply fill the answers in on a separate document. Make sure answers are labeled correctly. Scan in notebook drawings if needed. I haven't had a printer in decades. If I absolutely have to get something printed out, I go to the library or print shop.

I have two school age kids, and yes, that's been a constant battle. Teaching them to think about how to be able to submit projects electronically has been a learning curve for all of us.

I'm basically going down the opposite path, and am learning how to more effectively use my printer for a variety of tasks.

You can Doxygen your code into a .pdf, and then print off a reference copy of your API. Use a 2-hole punch with standard prong fasteners: and you've got a decent binding system (far superior to staples).

Just $15 for a 2-hole punch, $5 for 100x prong fasteners. From there, double-sided print from a laser-printer is pretty efficient.


A Booklet of 100 pages can hold a surprising amount of information, and practically works as a 2nd (or 3rd) monitor for your productivity.

Learning to make __books__ out of your printer, by using a basic binding system (comb binders, 2-hole punch, or 3-hole binders) is a good skill to have. It really does improve your productivity.

Why do you find print better than an electronic version of the same thing? Having never tried it, I would assume your method is worse because it lacks features like easy editing and search.

> Why do you find print better than an electronic version of the same thing?

Because it converts desk-space into "screen space", so to speak.

> easy editing

A lot of things don't really change when you're coding. For example, APIs, or "vocabulary objects" of your code. But if you really need to edit some object that's changed, pull out a pencil and write it into the margins.

Or print out the new page, and stick it into your book. No need to reprint everything. 2-hole punch + prong binder is easy to disassemble and reassemble. Comb-binder is a bit harder, but its a superior binding if you care about that.

3-hole punch is pretty much designed for easy editing: very easy to add and/or remove pages. But in all honesty, 3-hole punch is a terrible reading experience so I still prefer 2-hole punch and/or comb binders (even if they're harder to edit).

> search

You don't use the paper version to "search". (Though crude methods exist: dog-earing common pages or putting sticky notes / literal physical bookmarks into some pages).

If you need to search, search on the computer for the material. Then, open up to the page you need in the physical book. Bam, now you have a reference and can use the screen-space on your monitor for something else.


A dedicated reference page (such as OpenMP Reference Cards: https://www.openmp.org/wp-content/uploads/OpenMP-4.0-C.pdf) is of course best.

Doxygen -> Latex isn't the best at automated layout, but it does get the job done. I mention it mostly because its "low effort" to convert code into a physical paper reference copy.

If you really need a reference sheet, you should manually craft a nice reference sheet in MS Word, or HTML5, and print it out. Nothing beats hand-crafted effort, but the low-effort methodologies are still worth knowing.


> cost more than reading docs online

A 10-ream costs $35 (5000 sheets of paper). Laserjet toner is 8000-pages for $100. I think you're overestimating the costs.

> less portable

I can carry the book outside and mark it up while the sun is shining overhead. I can walk out to my deck, eat some food and read the book on my deck's table.

In contrast: I don't know of any laptop screen that has a decent amount of visibility in the open sun. Maybe you can get an e-ink reader that can read the documents, but e-ink isn't quite where I want the technology yet. (Its getting close, oh so very close... but not quite good enough to replicate paper yet).

How are you reading your documents book in the park? Or on your deck? Or in your lawn?

> harder to search

Search on your computer. Then open up to the page in your book. Page numbers exist for a reason. Its not like CTRL-F stops working because you printed a physical copy.

Our HP printer ran out of ink and we stopped printing at home. It's far easier / cost-effective to pay 19 cents at CVS in the rare event I need anything printed these days, than to mess around with paper jams, ink, a bulky printer on my desk or these ridiculous "pay as you go" printing plans.

Gotta get a laser to see the benefits.

I have a recipe binder. When I cook something new, I print it off, If I like it I put it in a plastic sleeve and into the binder.

I also like it for printing out instructions when working on my car or building stuff. Last year I replaced the intake manifold on my car with a tune up. It was so nice to have a paper instructions with check list that I could get greasy.

Finally, I sometimes print off code to take notes and edit offline, so I can get away from distractions and really think about things.

>Our kids' teachers want them to print out assignments, fill them in, and upload pictures of the completed work to Google Classroom.

Why the hell are such ludicrously byzantine solutions being employed in the first place? What happened to the dream of the paperless office?

We're sitting here having pointless discussions about the feasibility of open source printers when we should be discussing the creation of better options to avoid the need to print stuff.

Kids shouldn't be printing assignment sheets and then photographing them and uploading the photo's, that completely idiotic. The should be able to download it, fill it in, and re-upload it.

These are things we should really be discussing. We don't need better printers, we need better solutions to printing. Then we can wave goodbye to HP and the like and watch them suffocate to death under the weight of their own greed and incompetence.


I know a few teachers so I asked around.

The status quo - like in the classroom - is to still just use ___________'s and whitespace on printouts. Some teachers even print the students completed work, just because "grading is easier that way" (read: they're unaware that computer based solutions for this problem exist, or they're not very computer savvy to begin with.).

Science and math classes are a different ball game. A HS chem teacher I know wants to use all the fancy modern teaching, assignment, and grading tools, but the district disallows it. Since the student's work involves drawing chemical structures, stoichiometry , and "showing your work" it's far easier to just have students print, handwrite, and scan/photograph their work than to persuade the district to buy software to perform the task. However, several students have been using iPads and drawing tablets to avoid printing and scanning, and a few overachievers use their own science/math drawing/graphing software, even LaTeX, to produce actual graphics and formatted equations.

I can imagine the same is true for math classes, where it's a huge PITA to properly format algebra, long division tables, etc on computers without expensive proprietary software (that includes MS office!).

Most educational institutions get MS Office for free (or very cheap), and the math support in something like Word is surprisingly good. It's not available in the (free) online version though (just checked now).

Not that I think a pure paperless world isn't a great goal, but that outlook seems a little naive.

My 1st grade kid is working on handwriting, drawing, art projects, and other "pencil work". Being in a hybrid model, at home we need to do the print-work-photograph-upload dance every day. I think even if we get the rest of our life down to 0.001% paperless, there's always going to be something that needs a printer...

My daughter's art class has her using Sketchup to create 3-D buildings. She put together an entire town.

School-supplied Chromebook + Google Classroom, no paper at all!

Do you understand the benefits of drawing by hand on paper? I think you are smart and educated. Please, do your research properly, if not for you for the benefit of your kid. There are tons of research on this subject.

That's a really weird response to my statement.

I have a wall covered floor to ceiling with paper and canvas of her art: oil, acrylics, watercolor, pencil, and probably some I'm forgetting. Don't worry about my daughter, she gets ten hours a week of private art instruction.

That's unrelated to her fifth-grade art class, though. During a pandemic, it seems wise that her school is mostly eschewing requiring paper, and especially not counting on every student's home having a printer.

Sorry. I read you comment wrongly. My fault.

Even though it's possible to connect my HP printer to WiFi, I've never done it, and I am so glad. I can use super cheap 3rd party ink that lasts years at a time.

You're probably lucky that there's no built-in firmware that prevents that, because they will and probably do have protections, like a print / usage counter in the cartridge itself.

Whenever I read articles like this I wonder about the economics of behavior like this. Are the profits gained by these kinds if behaviors enough to offset the loss of customers, either directly by people swearing to never buy HP products again, or indirectly by bad word of mouth or by articles like this warning potential customers of HP's bad behavior.

Hewlett-Packard used to be a trusted brand. The HP brand seems to be losing more trust with every action like this that they take.

Hypothesis: The average printer buyer is not reading eff.org or having conversations with friends about friends' printer experiences. They go to a store and buy what the salesperson recommends. After purchase, they think of the restrictions as an annoyance, not a freedom issue to talk with their friends about.

Also, from HPs perspective, people buy a printer, use it, but then they use up the initial ink, and buy cheap knock-off ink. It's not as good, it gets clogged in the heads, or people don't want to waste ink running the cleaning, etc, so then people hate on the printer and HP.

Instant ink charges you by page, so you can run cleaning cycles as much as you want, do everything you need to do that maintains a good experience, and people just pay for what they actually use in output. I see the appeal.

As someone who just had his 4th, fancy HP inkjet printer kick the bucket, vowed to never spend another dime with HP, and brought a Brother laser jet, I think at least part of the problem is: what's the alternative? Kodak promised a printer that was going to solve the ink price problem, but that never materialized. One would think there was a golden opportunity to disrupt this ridiculous market, but color ink is apparently the most expensive resource on planet earth. It hardly matters which piece of crap printer I buy. It's going to cost $100 to refill, and it will break in less than 2 years. I mean, next, someone's going to tell me there's been collusion in this market for 30 years, and I'd be all like, pfft, come on. Really?

>Whenever I read articles like this I wonder about the economics of behavior like this.

These practices are unfortunately widespread among printer makers.

They can get away with it because and only because there's a huge void in the field of OSHW printers. I imagine a decent effort to make an OSHW laser printer would gather a lot of interest. Even if the first printer were to be slow, expensive and had poor resolution.

I'd easily recommend such a printer to everybody. It'd be a really easy sell. Everybody hates dealing with printers.

If you need a printer now, by all means, avoid the bad brands, and go for a laser, preferably monochrome, with an ethernet port, postscript support and IPP support.

HP is literally the only company that I never heard anyone praise. Facebook is hated by the internet but plenty of people offline love it. Many hate Amazon but some can't stop loving the convenience. HP, though? Everybody hates them and it's always because of their predatory practices. The company is essentially running its name into the ground for no reason.

> HP is literally the only company that I never heard anyone praise.

The part of HP that was widely considered praise-worthy is their test equipment branch. Which, naturally, isn't HP anymore but is now Keysight after HP spun them out as Agilent in the late 90s.

Heh. I've got a case open with their customer relations team right now. They've had money off me for a laptop that doesn't work.

The funny thing about the customer relations team is that they don't have an inbound phone number. If they aren't answering your emails, not only can you not get anything that way, but even if you phone the customer support team, they're internally segregated so they can't see what's going on either.

I've been trying to get a working laptop out of HP since the third week of September, and as far as I can tell that's just not something they're capable of.

Hang in there but return it if you can. I had a bad experience with my laptop purchase as well. (Issue wasn't discovered until after the return window.) Hopefully, you've already been escalated to their "real" customer support tier by now. I had to send mine in three times. One of those times they returned the laptop with a downgraded mainboard.

In the end I'm pretty happy with the laptop but I will never buy from them again.

Oh, they've got the laptop. They've acknowleged a fault, but the replacement part wasn't going to be available until January so they asked me to confirm whether a replacement unit would be ok, subject to availability. I said fine. I have had no communication in the two weeks since. I have no idea if they got the confirmation, whether they have stock to give me, whether they've ordered it and it's being delivered and I should expect it to arrive tomorrow, or whether they also can't get the new unit to me any sooner than January. And I can't get anyone to tell me, because the set of people I can speak to is disjoint from the set of people with visibility into the system that actually matters.

I'm left with the sinking realisation that the only option I've got left is to pursue a refund, hope that doesn't take an age to sort out, and start the whole process over again with either Dell or Lenovo. Then deal with whatever mess I get left with if I do get a delivery.

Ironically I went with HP because I'd heard Dell was having delivery issues and I wanted to avoid that hassle. More fool me.

> HP is literally the only company that I never heard anyone praise.

compaq bought DEC, HP bought compaq. The things "left" from those veins in the company have been praised, but they have been drying out for a long time by now.

>> HP is literally the only company that I never heard anyone praise.

The old HP made great printers. Before that, they made great test equipment, calculators, etc.

They still make pretty good servers and networking equipment, but their storage is a mixed bag.

I think the servers and networking equipment are HPE, which was spun off in 2016[1]

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hewlett_Packard_Enterprise

Test equipment was spun out as Agilent and then became Keysight. Great test equipment.

Their business printers and small offic colour, laser PSC units are pretty good. Never had an issue with them. Always been *nix friendly too.

But their consumer inkjet people are awful.

I can't vouch for their current ones, but HP printers generally have great Linux support. Anything you can do with the printer under Windows, you can do under Linux, and sometimes you have more capabilities under Linux (such as scanning over the network).

The whole "ink as a service" debacle is ridiculous, but their normal printers with normal ink cartridges work perfectly.

you "just" need to install their proprietary driver

Nope. There's an Open Source driver that works perfectly with CUPS, and a set of Open Source tools that give you things like ink level.

Not always. The list at https://developers.hp.com/hp-linux-imaging-and-printing/supp... shows which ones need the proprietary driver plugin and which ones don't.

Their business notebooks are well built, so there's that.

I can imagine HP printing to have 0 fans, though.

I have heard (and experienced) OK things about their enterprise laptops, FWIW.

And I've certainly heard good things about their Laserjets back in the day :)

The current budget consumer inkjets seem to be pretty awful; though I wonder how much that's the fault/state of entire category - I notice that whenever we talk about HP Inkjets being awful, the counter-recommendation is not e.g. Epson or Canon budget Inkjet, but a laser printer. Specifically, almost exclusively, a Brother laser :). Which is a different category.

There are professional photographers who are happy with Epson & Canon fancy Inkjets; but the loss-leader el-cheapo printers do indeed seem to be generating ill-will.

As far as I understand consumer inkjets are designed as loss leaders. They make the majority of product revenue with the ink.

Pretty much everything that people hate about them comes from this business model.

I personally print very rarely, but I found laser printers are much better for rare printing. When I had an Inkjet the Ink was always dried up when I tried to use it occasionally, so when I actually needed it it didn't work. So now I buy the cheapest laser printer that can do duplex, and that works when I need it.

Probably the only reason to have an Inkjet is if you need color printing

Yeah - I have a cheap laser printer at home for those rare times I need to print something (since if I ever needed color I'd need a really good print job and so would do it at a print center). But even with that...I intentionally avoided HP.

I have several HP products that I'm very happy with. A MicroServer, a convertable tablet/laptop and a PostScript lazer printer.

Windows 10 managed to break itself so that the tablet wouldn't boot within a couple of weeks of getting it and HP reinstalled it under warranty.

They used to make really great calculators, but that stopped basically a decade ago.

I bought an HP-branded keyboard in Best Buy a number of years ago, and it was the best small form factor bluetooth keyboard I've ever used to date. Sadly, it was lost, and they don't sell it anymore.

We detached this subthread from https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=25037310.

I have a HP OfficeJet Pro 8710 (released ~2016 or so) that has a great automatic document feeder (ADF — with duplex!) for scanning, but is too expensive for non-urgent printing.

Their older laser printers were just great, but I'm talking 20 years ago.

If Ink as service becomes mainstream, I'll drop whatever I'll be doing at the time and start printer company that doesn't do it.

Printers are synonymous with trouble. The market is saturated with shitty printers with anti-consumer products and features.

There's a huge void in the field of OSHW printers. I imagine a decent effort to make an OSHW laser printer would gather a lot of interest. Even if the first printer were to be slow, expensive and had poor resolution.

If you need a printer now, by all means, avoid the bad brands, and go for a laser, preferably monochrome, with an ethernet port, postscript support and IPP support.

We changed the URL from https://hardware.slashdot.org/story/20/11/09/0221226/hp-repl..., which points to this.

This topic had a discussion a few days ago: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=25008894. But I have a feeling this story has enough energy to demand another airing, so we won't treat the current post as a dupe.

This piece is so full of opinion-loaded words it just becomes untrustworthy. In fact, the choice of words sounds suspiciously like those corona denier articles floating around, expecting the audience to just eat up their words and copy the intended opinion. Now I believe the EFF to at least be fighting for a good cause (though its methods are sometimes criticised), but articles like these make it harder to believe.

I see that the central claim is correct (the formerly free ink plan now indeed costs $0.99 per month on HP's website). However, had they taken a more fact-based, and less opinion-based, approach to writing the article, I would actually have more than skimmed it.

EDIT: My main frustration is that I expected "us" to do better than the manipulative text that large companies continuously put out. I was disappointed.

Which parts are not factual? I think you’re talking about the style with which the article is written. I found it quite amusing and they made what could have been a very dry article engaging, but each according to their own...

I'm indeed referring to the writing style, not necessarily the content. If it was meant to be amusing: sure, to each their own, but apparently not for me. :)

Inkjets are just not great printers, especially if you print infrequently. Laser printers used to be an expensive luxury but they’ve long since become a commodity. Get a half decent laser printer and it will work fine even if you only print once a month.

Okay, I think lasers > inkjets for most people. But its dangerous to generalize.

Inkjets consistently make higher-resolution photos than lasers at the same price point. As you approach photo-quality, you can probably get very good photos from a $500 inkjet, and commercial quality photos from a $1000 inkjet.

I don't know of any laserjet that approaches that quality. Instead, laserjets main advantage is the simpler and cheaper to use toner. At the $300 price point, laser jets are just cheaper to maintain and use over ink.


Now there's a bunch of $100 to $200 ink printers (and laser printers) which have even worse attributes. Since most $100 printers seem to be inkjet, I think people rightfully give them a bad reputation.

But at higher price points, a 11-ink printer is the only way you're going to get anything near photo-quality. (Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-1000).

Agree, but I’d consider the photo quality printing to be more of an edge case for most users. If one just occasionally prints a few photos there are other inexpensive services available. But if that is the use case then yes I’d agree inkjet is better.

> Inkjets consistently make higher-resolution photos than lasers at the same price point.

But you get photos printed at <wherever> for pennies, so who wants to buy an inkjet and the fancy photo paper?

Unless your really need to print huge amounts of photos, most people would be better served by having their photos printed at a store or through an online service.

You could also buy print-jobs through an online service for forms and stuff, which is probably cheaper than buying a printer.

So why buy a printer at all? Well, because of the convenience factor primarily. Buying from a store (or online service) requires driving, and/or waiting for the mail to arrive.

When scrapbooking, or doing other projects with photos, its far more convenient to know that you have a printer that can instantly make a copy of any photo in your entire digital library. You don't necessarily know what photo you want yet, you may need to lay out a few pages in the scrap book before you know what you want.


In any case, a "community printer", ie: the local library, is probably best for people who only need a few documents a year.

I think leveraging your local library resources is a skill that any adult should know how to do as well. When your documents grow beyond the ability for your local library, that's when you get your own printer.

Except that laser printers are huge, which is very much not ideal if you live in an apartment and only print once a month.

I find InkTank Printers (where instead of cartridge you can fill Ink directly) good middle ground between exploitative inkjet cartridge vs Laser. Using from Canon Pixma without any issues.

Are we saying ink-jet printers are a problem free market economics can't solve, or actually makes worse? What class of problem does this represent? Are there other classes? I'm not an economist and only took very basic economics courses in college. We hear so much about the problems solved by free market economics but we don't hear so much about the problems not solved or even are exacerbated by free market economics. Just curious as to what these classes of problems might be.

Free market economics would solve this problem. The reason we still have this problem is that our market isn't free enough: once you buy something, it should be yours to do whatever you want with, but intellectual property laws are currently abused so that the solutions to this problem tend to be illegal.

I think that the thing that makes this problem practically unsolvable by market is that consumers most informed about deficiencies of the product are a the least affected by them. Specifically people with knowledge about tricks of printer manufacturers are likely to know how to hack DRM on cartridges and ever how to install continuous ink systems, and so are not interested in buying more expensive printers without trickery.

Another example of the same problem probably more familiar to HN audience (we have more network hackers here than printer hackers) is routers and other internet of shit: standard firmware tends to be very insecure because people who understand how bad it is tend to ignore the security of firmware in their buying decisions as they just want a hardware compatible with software they will install themself.

As there is a term "lemon market" for information asymmetry between buyers and sellers (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Market_for_Lemons ) I think we need to choose some other fruit as a term for that kind of information asymmetry between buyers that I am talking about.

The market has solved this.

But consumers are short-sighted and irrational. They'll buy the cheap HP inkjet printer rather than a laser printer because all they look at is the upfront cost.

The free market makes this worse. Ideally, HP should be sued for false advertising when they sell you something with the promise something is free for life, then take it away in less than a year.

It seems like the free-market solution is the cheap brother laser printers that keep being mentioned.

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