Moving to a multi-function machine

We were in the process of putting our joint office together, and it was obvious that there just wasn’t room for two printers, two scanners, and like there was before. Not only wasn’t there room on the desk, but the nearest space where room was available wasn’t easily reachable by USB cable.

We’d been thinking about replacing our color inkjet, scanner, and black and white laser printer with a single multi-function machine, but it’s not an easy thing to do. My experience with inkjet printers is that they like to be used – leave ’em sit for too long, and you might was well throw the cartridges out and start over. On the other hand, those cartridges are expensive, so why use color for everything? Of course, having the scanner and printer in the same machine makes for a much more useful copier – the computer doesn’t have to be on to make copies. Add a card reader, and digital photos are easy to make as well. Although really, we’ve long since moved to a better source for printing photos. But they do take up a lot less space, and any new computer toy generally works a lot nicer and faster than the old one.

So the question boils down to whether the new features and convenience offset the most likely higher operating costs. I hate inkjet printers. I hate the fact that they are purely a scam to get you to buy cartridges. Cartridges that contain more ink than you’ll get to use. Cartridges that may even contain chips regulating their use to make sure you don’t get too much of your money’s worth out of them. Cartridges that usually have to be “primed” and “cleaned” to reduce the ink you can use. But, if you want color printing, you’re stuck unless you want to dump $400 or more on a color laser, which isn’t going to do photos hardly at all.

There are a ton of models out there – far more than I would think anyone could buy. I’ve had good luck with Epson, and I know they make good photos. So we ended up with their Stylus CX6600. It’s fast, quiet, and completely incompatible with the Linksys Printer Server we’d bought to enable us to put the printers on the other side of the room. So far, at least, I’ve not been able to find any way to make these two devices play together. I like Epson printers, but I really wish that instead of creating this huge special monitoring and status program, they’d just integrate things into Windows, and make something available for Linux. So at least for now, my printer server is serving only my old HP Laserjet 5l. For their part, Linksys has at least posted instructions for working with some Epson printers on their site – just not this one. I’ve emailed them, and their first response was an automated one with suggestions for how to implement file and printer sharing(?), and a few other networking tidbits. I’m guessing I misspelled the product number, and their automated system couldn’t figure out what I was asking about.

So the alternative is to leave the Epson connected via USB, and on the desktop. At least, it doesn’t jerk the desk back and forth like my old printer did, and it is quiet. I’m tempted to take the Epson back and get something that plays better with others – like a Brother. Yeah, I know, the photo printing probably isn’t as nice. We do most of our photo printing online anyway and it comes with a sheet feeder.

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