back to article All-in-One Inkjet Printers

Much like the trend for mobile phones to have cameras, inkjet printers with scanners seems to be the norm these days. With all the models on test producing photo quality prints yet costing less than £150, you might think you’re getting something for nothing. Of course, along with the scanner doubling as a colour photocopier – …

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Silver badge

But what we really need to know ...

is how they run after a year. Not just fresh out of the box.

The "real life" test would run the printers with non-original cartridges, having left them unattended for a couple of weeks - so the print heads dry out. Since these printers all have wireless connectivity, it would be handy to know just how good the reception was. It would also be helpful to know how easy it is to configure the wifi connection - could my old mum do it, for example?

I appreciate that all this would take time - some weeks and that it would be difficult to persuade the suppliers to let you hang on to them that long (though not as difficult as getting permission to use non-original ink in them, though everybody does this due to the extortionate cost of the manufacturers supplies). However, these are the things that matter to normal people in the real world. Not how quickly it spits out a page of text + diagrams, or a photo, for that matter.

If you like, I'll start you off. I've just "buried" a XXXXXXXX which is the previous model to the XXXXXXX in the survey. It was crap. Unreliable, drank ink like it was lager. The head-clean function consistently failed to do what it said on the box. After going through a complete set of colour cartridges, just trying to un-gum the blue channel, I enquired about getting a replacement print head for this 6 month old printer. The cost of doing this (not covered by warranty - natch) and the cost of 2 way shipping was more than the cost of a whole new printer. Which I now have, but I'm not ever buying another XXXXXX brand product.

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Anonymous Coward

XXXXXXX

Can you let us know what XXXXXX is so we can avoid at all costs?

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Its all about the clampettes (users)

I agree, a true test is deploying the printers to the herd and see which one they complain about the most. This printer would get eliminated big brother style and get blown up in the service yard. Then just repeat the process until you have your winner :)

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Boffin

Re Pete 2's comments

Pete, thanks for sharing that with us; you told us nothing as you didn't name the printer make/model!

I for one, appreciate Linux support; I've had Epsons for years - none have broken - the supplies people stop stocking the ink modules 'the model is too old - no demand'.

The Epsons are a pain because Linux support from Epson is non-existent . Driver modules they supply have always failed to compile (I'm not alone on this) and I have to wait 12 months before the community figure out how to get scanner bit working. That said, my SX200 now prints and scans absolutely fine; drinks ink (blame my son for that). No idea how good it is under Windows as the installer on my son's PC takes ages to run; once it finds the printer one day - it has 'lost' it the next and require a driver reinstall (printer is networked)

HP do support Linux - I know because I've had two (different) models. However both printers died at 13 months old (controlling electronics just stopped working - repair shop confirmed). So though I like the sound of the HP recommended here; I'm wary of buying another

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Linux support and others

The thing is, I've never yet come across an all-in-one that was supported by Linux. That is: print,scan,fax. Yes, you can just get some of those printers to print under Linux (depending on the flavour of Linux, its vintage and the method of connectivitiy used - not just USB) provided you cost your time at £zero per hour. Yes you can just get some of them to scan using SANE if you don't mind yet more jumping through hoops and not having any sort of integration with the other functions.

However if your goal is to GET STUFF DONE then there's no substitute for just plugging in the A-I-O, installing the softs off the install CD and doing what you set out to. This, sadly is only possible with whatever software & drivers come on the CD: generally only MS and maybe Apple.

So far as naming names, I didn't do that in the original post in case the moderatrix didn't want the survey spoiled. All I will say is II'm heartily siek'o that manufacturer.

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Paris Hilton

Seiko'd.....

>>All I will say is II'm heartily siek'o that manufacturer.

LOL!!!!!

I'm with you all so far...

I have several Epson (oops) printers and scanners that run for years!

This week, an Epson CX4800 AIO has finally given up due to heads finally being blocked and after over 50 quid of ink to try and clear it AND using head cleaner cartridges it is still blocked, so it's "going away" after good service for three times the design life of the thing.

Apart from my Windowz PC's, we have a Linux (Ubuntu 8.04) netbook and it has always been a problem getting anything Epson to work properly with it.

Funny that, as a really old HP PSC1200 printer and yesterday, I just plugged it in and CUPS recognised it, auto installed the driver and it just worked!

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Canon

To answer the Linux question above: I have a Canon PIXMA 610 that works very well with ubuntu, both printing and scanning. Photoprints aren't that good though, as the Canon software does special tricks there that even bypass the windows drivers - I keep XP in a VM whenever I print photo.

(I know, no faxing - but who cares these days?)

The printer is 1+ years old and still running very well. Quality is great.

What I like most is that the papertray is closed at the bottom (cassette style), and the output tray can safely be closed - it pops open automatically when needed.

One negative point would be that it refuses to start completely when ink is empty, so you can't even scan. There is a key combo to make it ignore the empty ink but it still looks like a silly software limitation :)

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Canon +1

yes Yes YES!!!

I loved my old Canon BJC-600. It worked reliably for 6 or 7 years. Even on my Linux home system I could just plug it in and off it went. All it did was print, though. You had no chance of getting feedback or status information from it. Nor could you select different printing modes (photo paper, etc. Nor could I use the CD printer attachment that it came with. But for printing bog-standard stuff on office quaility paper, well that's just about all you can expect to get from Linux.

When it finally dies all it did was flash some lights at me. I had to plug it into an XP lappy to decipher what it was trying to say.

I was seduced by the XXXXXX it looked so sleek and black and shiney. It had a feature set that was out of this world. However like all things which are superficially gorgeous, it was completely unreliable and hugely expensive to run. Now I've learned my lesson I'm heading back for another Canon - preferably one that I can use the box full of ink carts. that I still have left over.

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Silver badge
Go

Thirsty printers

Regarding ink, I recommend those filling kits. I bought one at tesco for < £10, never bought a cartridge since. Don't print with a dry cartridge though. The elment can burn out, and filling after than won't do any good.

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Reading ...

Seriously, guys, now I have to get it off my breast:

For the third time now, I read

"And the best malfunctioning machines are..."

No idea why, though.

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Terminator

But what we really need to know...

...is are these printers as stupid as my HP?

Recently I wanted to send an urgent fax but it refused to co-operate because it had run out of yellow ink. I had to dash down to the shops to satisfy its demands before I could send a my fax.

Thanks HP!

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More for Canon

I've installed 6 Canon AIOs this last 6 months - all of them MP560. I would say that the wifi connection can be done by anyone who can read instructions and knows what OK is likely to mean (and knows what the WEP/WPA for their router is. Suprisingly many non-techie people don't !)

On macs they can scan and print wirelessly - it seems that some AIOs won't scan wirelessly, but I've not come across a Canon that can't)

My own Canon printers are still gpoing strong after many years. An A3 that is almost 10 years old and a newer (relatively) A4 that spits out full colour photos at an alarming rate.

In my consultancy work I come across all the printer makes and I find more folks throwing out Epsons than any other brand.

Have you noticed that lots of people can't say Epson. They tend to say Epsom.

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Grenade

Fax!!!

Will faxing please just die? The old phone lines are just too dodgy and fax over voip is a joke. Perhaps it's just my end as I'm the only consistent thing between three different machines in Manchester NH, Boston MA and now Orange CA. It really is just shite.

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Not fully relevant conclusions

In my experience over years with inkjet printers and all-in-ones with various clients - there are other factors which are relevant when buying and using them. For example you might be rating the Epson relatively high because it is fast - but I found inkjet Epson printers in general to be rather weaker machines then Brother and HP. They seem to develop mechanical faults easier - and their print heads just don't last very well. Also, many of the current generation all-in-one Epson's are really clunky and noisy - they just feel really cheaply built inside. Another gripe I have against Epson printers is their cartridge chipping system - which seem to go wrong so many times. Compatible or original cartridges not being recognised correctly or at all, printers of the same model, but with several different generation of cartridge chipsets - so if your printer was manufactured before a certain month, only some chipped cartridges work - while after a certain month - other generation of chips work. And we are talking about the same model here.

On the other hand - the HP might look good when comparing the price of original cartridges - and they are indeed on average sturdier printers then other inkjets. But the fact that the cartridge includes the printhead on their consumer grade inkjets - which makes it impossible to replicate by other companies - is an important factor. It means you will always be limited to original cartridges, or refills - and refills can be problematic - as the printing head can dry out, or the person who used the cartridge before you might have refilled it already several times and the printing head on the cartridge is worn out etc.

All-in-all - I found Brother inkjet printers/all-in-ones the best compromise. They seem to be stronger and last better then both Canon and Epson printers. I have used them at clients for years with compatible (brand new) cartridges without any visible side effects. Their Windows software and driver support is perfectly good. Not so good if you want to use them with Linux. I haven't managed to get any of them working with Linux yet - but there is supposed to be some support. All the current ones that I know of can scan over network - which is nice. And if you buy one of the ones which take cartridges from the LC900 (mostly discontinued), LC1000 or LC1100 series, you can easily find cheap brand new, non-original replacements for very little. The supplier I currently use (available on the internet) charges £2.99 for a full, 4 cartridge set. It will make a huge difference in running costs, specially when printing photos. And yes, you might say that my printer is going to last 3.75 years instead of 4, because I've used non-original ink - but by then, I would have saved enough money on ink to buy another 4 printers - so who's winning and who's loosing here?

And a note on the above comment(s) about HP printing and scanning software. I agree. It seems like the HP department in charge of printer/scanner software is hell bent on destroying the one which actually makes the printers. The printers are quite decent, strong, fairly well performing. On the other hand, the software is bloated, buggy, and worse of all - the updates keep on breaking working installations. So many times I had calls from clients with HP printers or scanners which either have stopped working - or entire functions have disappeared from their software. Just to discover that HP Update has done the deed. I always uninstall HP Update as soon as I install an HP printer or scanner. Then you will be ok.

There you go - that should round up nicely that review.

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Just wanted to add

I will echo that comment about Epson noise - I had one client who was given one - obviously it was built down to a price and the noise it made confirmed that. After 10 minutes of using it , he was ready to throw it out of the window!.

With regard to Brother, they appear to be very reliable machines, and reasonably priced - but my clients will not buy them because they look so ugly.

And yes, who needs fax anymore? My fax sytem went about 4 years ago and no-one has complained that they can't fax me or i can't fax them.

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