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back to article Yes, HP will still sue you if you make cartridges for its inkjet printers

HP is trumpeting new victories in its longstanding war against makers of ink cartridges that work in its inkjet printers, having scored recent legal wins in Germany and Poland. The dead-tree-coloring king said on Tuesday that it had closed two separate lawsuits with German firm BestUse, which failed to mount any kind of defense …

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Very well, HP... I will boycott your products on behalf of everyone I influence. I can't stand a bully... after market ink cartridges are perfectly valid and if it wasn't for that asshole American patent system and them trying to cooerce the whole world into adopting it (If you want to trade with the U.S., you have to abide by their whims) commodities wouldn't be as expensive as they are.

I have a lot of customers that buy after market ink cartridges, and when I tell them what HP is doing they'll avoid those creeps like Jack the Ripper. They are probably the most prominently marketed brand of a lot of devices here, but not the only.

I can't stand the layers of bloated shitware consumers have to pollute their computers with to interface with HP products anyway. It's particularly distasteful when someone with an older computer buys an HP printer as a replacement. It shouldn't take all of a computer's resources just to operate a printer.

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Anonymous Coward

In many cases it is possible to buy a printer use the enclosed print ink, discard the printer, buy a new printer use the enclosed print ink, discard the printer, buy a new....

Printers are as cheap as chips, the rip off is having to buy mor cartridges.

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Maybe it's time for an EU Commission to step in and rap HP over the knuckles for price fixing (the printer cartridges), for inhibiting free trade....

Oh I forgot, HP are the official suppliers to the EU...

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I've not bought anything from HP since they decided not to support a scanner on XP (I'd bought it in the days of Win95).

Can't see me changing my mind any time soon.

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Ever thought that perhaps the printers are subsidised by the cost of the consumables?

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Re: In many cases it is possible to buy a printer...

This was very easy with printers (pre-circa 2004?) which didn't have unique id's that Windows recognised (ie. Windows trusted the configuration it had been given). The problem with modern printers (eg. HP) is that Windows (since XP) reads the new printer's id, determines it is different to that it has associated with the existing printer driver and hence insists it is different to the previous totally identical printer and so has to install new drivers...

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DJO
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If only it were that simple.

"it is possible to buy a printer use the enclosed print ink, discard the printer, buy a new printer use the enclosed print ink"

You do know that the cartridges that come with new printers typically hold no more than 25% to 50% of a replacement cartridge so replacing the printer to get the supplied ink is not even slightly cost effective. The printer manufacturers may be evil but they're not stupid.

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Anonymous Coward

Of course they are and everyone here knows it.

But just because they decide on a business model that requires them to act like scum it doesn't mean people have to respect it.

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WTF?

Oh yeh?

In which case, the printers should be free of charge...

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IT Angle

HP installs so much bloatware with their printer drivers that I haven't bought an HP printer for years.

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"Ever thought that perhaps the printers are subsidised by the cost of the consumables?"

Tough shit on HP then. They set the prices stupidly.

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Not really, Xerox is the official one.

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FAIL

Fuck off HP!!!!

"Ever thought that perhaps the printers are subsidised by the cost of the consumables?"

So? That's their business proposition is it? That's fine by me, but what they are up to now is NOT fine by me.

I had an excellent HP 1210 All-in-one printer. Worked beautifully. I took it to UK with me. Sadly it broke down, so based on my experience with them I bought another on, this time a wireless one.

Although it prints fine and scans OK, it is the biggest heap of shit I have ever come across. Not only does the software not allow you to change the default page size to something that works in 90% (guess) of the world (A4). Correction, it will allow you to change it, but if you go into one of their other icons(?) to say, print a picture, when you return to 'Ordinary, everyday printing' (who thinks up these things), you have to reset the default to A4. When one complains to HP Service desk (an oxymoron if ever I saw one) they tell you that Letter is the same as A4, and all they will tell you is to reinstall the software - over and over and over. The robots don't read anything that is in your emails, just insisting that they are 'pleased to be of assistance' and to kindly reinstall the software - or switch it off and switch it on again. Doesn't do my blood pressure any good I can tell you.

Not only that, but having returned to New Zealand I find that I can't just go out and buy a cartridge to fit, even an HP cartridge, as I did with my old one one in England. The fuckers have actually regionalised the printers!!! They are getting as bad as the big studios. I can't just buy a cartridge (even proper HP ones) off the shelf as they won't work. Oh no! I've got to waste my time calling HP to have the 'region' changed.

I spent over an hour pissing about with a service desk agent while nothing they suggested worked. In the end they said they would replace the printer, which on the face of it, sounds fine, except they insisted that I had to give my existing (working) printer to the courier. I told 'em that they will get the old printer back when, and only when, I have the new one installed and working properly. Bad grace but they accepted it. What else could they do. I told the courier the same thing. They came back the next day to collect the old one.

As of now HP, I will never buy another HP product ever again. To stoop to regionalising printers so that each country can charge their own price for consumables is despicable. Incidentally, one of their agents admitted that's why it was done. Quote "We have to protect our resellers' unquote.

. Sad really, as it was a damn good printer.

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Considering that inkjets have a "out of ink" counter which triggers after just some 40-50 pages, that'll still be quite expensive printing.

Go laser instead.

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Re: Oh yeh?

I'm sure that they were tempted to give away the printers, but there are some strange trade laws. I don't remember the exact details, but a printer with the cartridge installed has a different customs tariff than one with the cartridges NOT installed. I imagine that there would be dumping law violations if HP imported printers and gave them away as standard.

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IANAL

If I buy an HP ink cartridge, the patent for that cartridge has been paid for. If someone refills it with ink and sells it, the patent is still paid for. The concept is called patent exhaustion. The idea is that when a component manufacturer pays a license fee, the product manufacturer, distributor, retailer and customer _should_ be safe from prosecution for that patent. AFAIK, the law is abundantly clear, but the cost of defending against a patent bully is prohibitive.

If HP want to sell their printers below cost, then is their choice. If HP wants to feel unhappy that people are selling refilled ink cartridges then they are welcome to go into the corner and cry. This sort of granny bashing is not going to earn them any friends.

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Re: IANAL

@Flocke Kroes

While I don't disagree with you, I believe the particular cases mentioned involve companies making entirely new cartridges, rather than refilling old ones. I believe that was the point of contention around them being called 'remanufactured'.

If the cartridges themselves contain patented technology and the third-party versions copy that technology (however vaguely you define it) then the claim is sound unless the patent is invalidated.

I think that's the case, but don't approve of it - they're going backwards. Deliberately. The right way to do things is to make the disposable part as cheap and simple as possible. No plastic box filled with ink should be so complex as to justify a patent so what they do is integrate more functionality inside this component. In the process, they make that component more expensive for the consumer - win-win!!

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Re: IANAL

Indeed, the problem is that "the disposable part" in the case of lots of HP printers includes the print head. Those nozzles are where the engineering and patent worthy stuff really lies, and is also why most HP cartridges cost more than most Epson,Kodak etc cartridges.

Having the print head be easily replaceable is a great idea, as it is the common cause of death for inkjet printers, however having it as a separate insert in the carriage is a much better design, which a small number of HP and many Kodak printers use.

Also I've had to bin a huge number of Epson printers because the nozzles have become completely useless and cannot be replaced due to being integrated into the carriage.

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Re: IANAL

I have an old HP Officejet Pro (K550) which has two replaceable heads, which in the entire life of the printer has only happened once for each, despite me using this thing fairly actively as it still beats the living daylights out of the other printers I've bought since (it's stupidly fast printing normal text). I have no idea what triggers the printer to ask for a new head, but it's clearly a very rare event. However, the printer must be at least 6 years old (if not more) and this is where I start having a problem with HP's never expiring patents.

Shops only stock what they sell, which is logical, nobody wants to tie up funds in unmoving stock. That does, however, mean I have to rely more and more on online and replacement providers because the original "88" cartridges become hard to obtain. In other words, I am pushed towards the replacement providers because HP's original cartridges become hard to obtain - and refillable cartridges with extra ink work out at about 25% of the original printing costs (and it's now actually easy to do as suppliers have been bringing out cartridges that are especially aimed at being refilled).

What amuses me most is the threat of losing warranty for not using original ink - apart from this not having been tested in any EU court AFAIK (it is debatable if this can be considered a universal excuse to avoid warranty repairs), there is also the tiny matter of economics. Given the fairly massive savings made by using non-original cartridges, it takes less than 10 cartridge refills by replacements to have earned the cost of the printer back, so the (alleged) "risk" is worth it.

If HP wants to address the problems of replacement cartridges properly, it has but to do what the MPAA has discovered as the most effective measure to fight piracy: lower prices. I know that means less expensive lunches for the executives, but if you don't listen to what a market is telling you, maybe you *deserve* less profit. HP makes good kit, and that's the reason I buy it. But it has to stay economically viable or any client will do the sums.

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Re: IANAL

Having the print head be easily replaceable is a great idea, as it is the common cause of death for inkjet printers, however having it as a separate insert in the carriage is a much better design, which a small number of HP and many Kodak printers use.

It's a nice idea in principle but if they're only needed once in a blue moon they soon get regarded as "spares" instead of "consumables" - you lose the widespread distribution and pricing goes up even further. Laser toner fuser units have a finite life expectancy and so did dot matrix print heads. Both are/were designed to be easily replaceable but in practice that rarely happens. If a fuser unit goes the savings are so small over a new printer that going for the completely new device is generally a no-brainer over fixing a printer with 100,000 pages on the clock. Dot matrix heads, even while they were still in their prime, were almost as pricey even if you did somehow manage to track down a supplier.

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Re: IANAL

>Having the print head be easily replaceable is a great idea, ....

>

> It's a nice idea in principle but if they're only needed once in a blue moon

> they soon get regarded as "spares" instead of "consumables"

A few years back I had a conversation with HP support and they regarded print heads as being "parts" and hence part of the printer and covered by the printer's extended warranty. So they would replace them free (!!!) if they had failed within warranty; naturally you had to confirm you had only used HP inks...

Yes replacement print heads are generally not stocked by high street and consumer focused suppliers and yes they do tend to be relatively expensive (for my printer equivalent to one complete set of HP ink cartridges); but if the printer you are using is relatively expensive the cost isn't so bad.

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Stop

Very easy solution: NEVER purchase anything made by HP. Before purchasing any printer I always check the availability of alternative firmware so chip-less cartridges may be used.

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I've never heard of that before, sounds interesting. Care to elaborate, or at least point in the right direction?

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re: NEVER purchase anything made by HP

Whilst I have many issues with more recent HP printers and their associated software, I would be cautious about dismissing them. They are one of the few printer vendors that don't (yet) go to excessive lengths to make it very difficult to use refilled and/or re-manufactured cartridges. (Although in saying that I'm really disappointed that they have seemingly stopped selling printers such as the Officejet 8000/8500 series which could be readily adapted to use a continuous ink system.)

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Re: re: NEVER purchase anything made by HP

Kodak? Good luck on that one. If you see one, it's old stock.

http://www.pcadvisor.co.uk/news/printing/3401145/kodak-stop-making-selling-printers/

http://www.pcworld.com/article/2011054/kodak-printers-are-gone-but-the-ink-sells-on.html

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quote: "Before purchasing any printer I always check the availability of alternative firmware so chip-less cartridges may be used."

Just be careful you are not inadvertently breaking the law; the deliberate circumvention of technical protection mechanisms has been deemed an offense in certain jurisdictions, and it could be argued that firmware that checks for "legitimate" cartridges is a technical protection mechanism, and thus replacing said firmware is a deliberate circumvention.

Not that I don't agree with you, but vaguely worded legislation that is zealously applied by big corporations can be exceedingly painful if it is decided that someone has infringed :(

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I think he means bulk ink printing etc. We have an epson 2400, epson 1900 and epson 360 all on bulk ink tanks. We use a flash program to reset the counters on the printers so that you can keep printing when the printer thinks it is supposed to be dead (we have external waste bottles too so the pad doesnt get used).

I never could find a reliable HP method that would work as well as the bulk ink tanks.

We have an old canon IP4000 that has easily refillable cartridges (it has an optical sensor shining into each cartridge, not a chip) and the head carriage can be replaced.

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Re: re: NEVER purchase anything made by HP

@Rolad6

The Officejet 8000/8500 series . . .

Never, in my life, have I been filled with such IT rage as the first time I dealt with one of those abominations. Unless it was the second (and subsequent) times I have been forced to configure, reconfigure, uninstall, clean, reinstall (thrice sequentially) and wrangle that truly hateful software package.

As a printer, it seemed to be acceptable and certainly as a value proposition on paper it appeared quite handsomely appointed and a good fit for small offices. But, as a package, it was, well, less handsome.

That it takes 300MB of software to enable network scanning is annoying. That that software takes three quarters of an hour to install (and about as long to uninstall) is insane. That the software is buggy and requires re-installation every other week seals that printer as worst I have ever seen.

That said, those printers were a good little earner for my company (one 'fix' took over 3 hours of uninstalls, updated downloads and re-installs) but the resulting TCO* meant that, even for an office of just 3 people, a rental agreement on a 'proper' machine was a much better option.

God I hated those printers! (Hourly-rates not withstanding : )

* - Bingo!

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Re: re: NEVER purchase anything made by HP @dan1980

Yes the 8500/8000 was a wake up call - having not had to buy a printer for many years due to the reliability of my old HP All-in-1 and printers.

Fortunately HP did it will extended support, so after several returns and some firmware updates all settled down and it has been a stable device for some years now (we've got 8 of them currently on the network). The 8500 along with all the comments on HP's forum about other printers and the software (standardised across the range) certainly caused me to look more seriously at the competition.

As for the software, yes agree HP certainly took a wrong turning. trying to install drivers for 8500, 8500a and 8600 on Windows 7 and 8 requires care and attention.

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We could always call it jailbreaking... Perhaps Obama could stamp his approval on this like he did to Apple?

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Thanks HP

For reminding me why I never buy any of your products.

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I thought a recent court case went the other way

I remember reading about HP loosing a lawsuit against some third party ink supplier in Germany recently. Either my memory turns bad, or it's the typical case of HP publicising the cases where it "closes ... lawsuits" without an actual legal review to distract from a not-so-clear legal situation.

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Re: I thought a recent court case went the other way

Forget landfill Android ... landfill inkjet printers ... their current pricing model is so daft that you would be forgiven for thinking that it is indeed cheaper to throw away the whole printer and just buy a new one each time the ink runs out (as stated above). The EU, ignoring whether they give a crap about this anti-competitive behaviour, should take some note of the number of printers in HP's "recycling" program.

I wonder if you can build a house out of inkjet printers ...

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Re: I thought a recent court case went the other way

"..HP loosing a lawsuit .."

Really? and after they'd loosed the lawsuit, what was the result?

Did they lose or wiiiiiin?

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Re: I thought a recent court case went the other way

Most copyright/patent infringement lawsuits are settled out of court. It's massively expensive for both sides in attorney's fees and it's generally pretty clear cut whose going to win. Apple and Samsung may battle to the death, but they both have loads of cash (well, Apple does) and the stakes are much higher. This is why you don't see too many of these cases being advertised. Part of the agreements usually require both sides not to talk about the settlement.

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Price Comparison

Buy a set of "OFFICIAL" replacement toners for most colour lasers and you are looking at ~£250

Buy a set of "REMANUFACTURED" toners and you are looking at ~£150

Buy a set of brand new 3rd party toners (from China) and you are looking at ~£100

Buy toner powder and refill yourself - including chips (from China) and you are looking at ~£25

I have been a HP customer for many years, but crappy, bloated and badly written software installs, lack of driver updates and now this means I am looking elsewhere for my new printer.

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Re: Price Comparison

Yep - am happily running a set of remanufactured CMYK toner cartridges in my HP CLJ - supplied by a UK company ... which cost about 1/3 what a set of 'official' HP cartridges would have cost.

Other printer grumbles include HP's habit of releasing short lived variants of their printer range, which they drop support for soon after (in my case, the HP CLJ3600n...)

General HP hardware grumbles include embedded HTTP interfaces which only support older versions of Internet Explorer (eg my switch and router, which I can only manage properly from command line from Linux and Mac machines)

Lessons learned, I now avoid HP kit.

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Meh

I've had a claim 1 in 3 HP cartridges can't be refilled as they are too borderline to do so.

Anyone know if this is an UL or for real?

I'd like to know do HP license there super-duper-nothing-better-anywhere Special Sauce to anyone?

Because if they don't that's starting look like a monopoly already.

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Re: I've had a claim 1 in 3 HP cartridges can't be refilled as they are too borderline to do so.

I've seen one similar effect.

No 10 and 11 cartridges, used in bigger inkjets like 2500C, have 'empty' flag in the cartridge chip. This will be set when physical pressure inside the cartridge drops too low. Faulty pressure sensors and firmware bugs can set it, too, for the greater amusement. No official reset methods available.

If you manage to refill the cartridge before the 'empty' flag is set, then it will work. If not, it will report 'ink low' condition forever.

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WTF?

Re: I've had a claim 1 in 3 HP cartridges can't be refilled as they are too borderline to do so.

REPLACEMENT CHIPS are available (from China) and are used widely in Canada. Most of the recycling/refill shops know how to get them.

Buy a Brother printer - last for years and multiple refill sources abound!

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Re: I've had a claim 1 in 3 HP cartridges can't be refilled as they are too borderline to do so.

Hey, no reason to trip the WTF flag in this case. Of course there are replacement chips and whatnot.

JS19 just asked whether that claim has any merit. Well, it has, kind of, depending on, etc.

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Few things

1: Never buying an HP printer.

2: I need to buy a new printer soon anyway. Anyone who can give me recommendations? I'd prefer one with scanner / photocopy capabilities.

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Re: Few things

"I have been a HP customer for many years, but crappy, bloated and badly written software installs, lack of driver updates and now this means I am looking elsewhere for my new printer."

I gave up on HP printers a few years back, because the low cost printer not only had expensive ink, but also the low cost was reflected in lousy software design. Particularly the install/uninstall/update routines.

My last inkjet lost most of its 5-in-1 fuctionality when the update install failed, because it couldn't overwrite one of the files from the original install, and it couldn't be deleted either.

I'm on my second Epson inkjet now. The previous one was getting a bit worn and unreliable after several years good use. I chose a Workforce 3520, because it does the same and more than my previous Epson, and uses the same cartridges. ( so by not wasting the the ones I have spare I pretty much covered the cost of buying the printer).

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Re: Few things

I've owned a Canon MG5350 all-in-one for over a year with good results and no issues.

Compatible cartridges are cheap and easy to find.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B005I9JQRG

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Re: Few things

>2: I need to buy a new printer soon anyway

Well if you use a lot of ink, hence why the cost of ink is a concern, I would suggest you select one for which you can attach a reasonable quality continuous ink supply system (CISS) to.

Over the last few years, I've used the printers listed here (www.cityinkexpress.co.uk) to guide my shopping list and have become a satisfied customer.

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Re: Few things

My wife has a brilliant Canon ML-somethingorother, which has an integrated flatbed scanner with copy function.

It cost a fraction of what my HP CLJ did and does a very good job. I only still use the HP because I already own it, its network shared via JetDirect and prints marginally faster than the canon.

If I didn't already have the HP CLJ, I suspect we'd be perfectly happy with the Canon, as although its USB only I would simply share it from my Mac workstation over the network.

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Re: Few things

I really like the Brother brand printers. They suck at photographs, but are otherwise rock-solid. Plus, Brother is not part of the ink cartel and so ink and toner are cheaper than the rest. They are new to the ink game, but not to lasers. In my opinion, they have the best laser printers on the market. Their color laser all-in-ones are big and very heavy, but it should last a long time.

If you want to print lots of photographs then an expensive Epson printer with Epson paper is the way to go. Epson ink uses piezo crystals. I believe they are the only one that does, which is why generic photo paper does not work well with Epson printers. I would not get a lower-end Epson, only the expensive Epson photo printers. On some of the models, you can get a good deal on the ink at amazon.com.

I've been shying away from HP printers for a long time now because their quality has gone in the toilet of late. Bloated drivers with junk I do not want or need. Why does the driver included a Bing toolbar? And it seems they just stop working far too often. This just seals the deal.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Few things

Brother laser. Can't vouch for their ink jet, but their multifunction lasers are great.

- Inexpensive to purchase.

- Reasonably priced consumables.

- Great driver support.

- Reliable (in the family we have 4 that have never given problems.)

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Re: Few things

I have an Epson WF-3520. Sorry, but I hate it - especially as it keeps rejecting non-Epson cartridges and inventing other spurious and meaningless erors. Worst printer I have ever had. I'd replace it tomorrow if I knew a make that is happy with own-brand cartridges. Not HP. Not Epson. What's left?

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