back to article HP to hike upfront price of printer hardware as ink biz growth runs dry

HP is overturning a print sales model that helped it amass billions in profits over the decades but is now challenged by rival supplies makers luring customers with cheaper ink and toner cartridges. Traditionally, printers were sold at a loss and the profit was generated by consumables over the lifetime of the device, in much …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Neverstop*

    * an estimated two years' worth of ink or toner

    1. Uncle Slacky Silver badge

      Re: Neverstop*

      *for suitably small values of "never".

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Neverstop*

        Don't worry, there will definitely be a never and a stop.

        Once it stops it will never be refilled. TIme? There's no mention of time

        1. J. Cook Silver badge
          Coat

          Re: Neverstop*

          Yep. As in "when it runs out of ink, throw it in the E-waste pile and buy a new one, as that model is now longer in production/support/fashion and buy the latest and greatest shiny."

          Mines the one with the LaserJet 4 field tech manual in the pocket...

          1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

            Re: Neverstop*

            To be fair, after two years it will probably have broken anyway.

            Unlike my 27-year-old LaserJet 4MP.

  2. whitepines Silver badge
    Alert

    97 per cent of alternative supplies end up in landfills

    Erm...what percentage of HP's supplies end up in landfills? I'd wager not much different, it's not like people see the HP logo and suddenly want to recycle responsibly.

    "100% of criminals use dihydrogen monoxide as they commit their heinous crimes!". Let's ban it, OK?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Actually, ironically, probably less HP cartridges end in landfill as they have value being repurposed for the secondary market by these nefarious suppliers. At least they used to, not sure nowadays whether their chips have a function taht completely disables them when empty.

      Without the secondary market they would all have ended up landfill.

      1. rjsmall

        In fairness to HP if you use their InstantInk subscription service they provide a postage paid reply envelope to send the used ink cartridges back to them where they are presumably refilled or disposed of in an appropriate manner.

        1. Roland6 Silver badge

          > they provide a postage paid reply envelope to send the used ink cartridges back

          I think the prepaid envelope shouldn't be lightly dismissed.

          It is definitely easier to send back used cartridges, if the prepaid envelopes are provided or you have a stack of envelopes. Particularly if you buy your ink online and don't drop by a shop/school with a used cartridge collection bin.

          1. Ogi

            Indeed, although when I had a HP printer, even the third party ink manufacturers would provide me with a pre-paid envelope to return my used ink cartridges to them.

            This is because, unlike most other printer manufacturers, the HP ink cartridges actually had the print heads built into them. This is one of the reasons HPs never had persistent "clogged head" problems due to lack of use like others (e.g. Epson) did. If due to 6 months of no use the head was clogged beyond repair, on a HP you just bought new cartridges and you're good to go.

            I suspect the third party providers, not having the technology to manufacture their own integrated print heads in a cartridge, would clean the used ink cartridges, refill them and resell, so they had as much incentive as HP (if not more) to get your used cartridges back.

            When I switched to Epson the third party providers never bothered with the pre-paid return envelope, as those were just moulded plastic containers. Likewise, original Epson ink cartridges didn't bother with a pre-paid return envelope either, instructing me to just pop the used cartridges in recycling.

            So I suspect HP did it less for the environment, and more to remove a source of refillable ink cartridges from third parties.

            The large number of "third party" ink cartridges in landfills that HP allude to is probably because after a few refills, the print heads become too worn to be usable (the print heads were not designed to last much longer than one cartridge lifetime, being in essence disposable), and the cartridges are discarded. Original HP cartridges still have print heads with life in them, so they are refilled and re-branded. Hence you rarely see "HP branded" cartridges in a landfill.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              HP does it differently now.

              Recent HP ink cartridges no longer include the print head, so the main thing keeping them from reuse is the DRM "ink level" chip HP puts in them. If you use non-HP cartridges, but fail to turn off "auto-update printer firmware", your cartridges stand a good chance of failing to work after the next "security" update.

              The security update generally includes "disable usage of known 3rd-party cartridge chips".

              Yes, HP breaks your printer in a misguided attempt to sell you ink at higher than "Chanel Number 5" prices.

              They call it "Dynamic Security", as if being unable to use 3rd-party ink was a feature.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Good on them providing a return envelope, however is that due to the environmental concerns or, as I suspect, to limit the secondhand market? I may be cynical but I have a feeling it is the later, while appearing to be for the former.

          1. Speltier

            Brother provides a post paid box to take back toner cartridges. I don't think Brother has a major issue with an imploding business model like HP is developing.

            1. J. Cook Silver badge

              HP *used* to put a UPS shipping label in their boxes of toner- the idea was you bag up the empty toner, put it back in the box, tape it shut, slap the label on and hand it to a UPS driver or pick up point.

              Apparently, they've stopped doing that. :(

              1. Raphael

                The HP Toner I bought this week has a shipping label for recycling in the box....BUT it's only good in the USA, so pretty useless here in New Zealand

                1. Gotno iShit Wantno iShit

                  In the UK you go online, fill out a short form and print a return label good for up to 4 toner cartridges.

            2. Dave K Silver badge

              Maybe not yet, but give it time.

              My main issues with this kind of model isn't just that ink/toner is f**king expensive, it's also that it is in the printer manufacturer's interests to ensure that you replace your cartridges as often as possible. I have a Brother laser printer and in 2013 it stopped printing and the "Toner out" light came on. By sticking a piece of gaffer tape over the little plastic viewing window on the cartridge (to fool the sensor), I managed to get SIX YEARS longer out the toner (replaced it earlier this year).

              Now granted I don't do masses of printing, maybe 200 pages a year? Either way though, this little personal printer managed over 1,000 more pages from a supposedly "empty" toner before it actually began to run out.

              HP printers are no better. They print for a while then stop - claiming the toner has run out. Yet if you enable overrides (which are increasingly difficult to enable), you usually find that the toner cartridge has tons of life left in it.

              After this kind of dishonesty and wastage, a pre-paid returns envelope is a bit of a laugh if you ask me!

              1. Gotno iShit Wantno iShit

                HP printers are no better. They print for a while then stop - claiming the toner has run out.

                Not all HPs do that, e.g. CP5225DN:

                Once it can no longer accurately measure the toner level then on the supplies status you no longer get xx% and a pages estimate, it just says 'empty'. However, there's no forecast of doom if you don't replace it, quite the reverse. It says in black and white on the printed status page that you can go on using the cartridge until the print quality degrades to an unacceptable level. I ordered a new black black toner as soon as it reached 'empty' and it sat around getting in the way in my office for almost a year before gaps appeared in the printouts.

              2. Any other name

                I have a Brother laser printer and in 2013 it stopped printing and the "Toner out" light came on. By sticking a piece of gaffer tape over the little plastic viewing window on the cartridge (to fool the sensor), I managed to get SIX YEARS longer out the toner (replaced it earlier this year).

                There may have been no need to resort to surgery.

                At least my 5-year-old Brother DCP printer lets me manually reset the toner-out indicator from one of the maintenance menus (See https://www.inksaver.co.za/blog/how-to-reset-the-toner-life-end-message-on-your-brother-toner-printer, which gives reset procedures for many Brother models). You do usually get a few hundred to over a thousand pages extra, but the print quality does start to deteriorate as the printer literally scraps the bottom ofthe barrel for the toner.

      2. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

        At least they used to, not sure nowadays whether their chips have a function taht completely disables them when empty.

        I don't think they get disabled - a local charity collects ink cartridges on the condition that they are (a) genuine form printer manufacturer, (b) chip is still present

        Apparently they make about 3 or 4 quid off each one

    2. Any other name

      Dihydrogen monoxide

      "100% of criminals use dihydrogen monoxide as they commit their heinous crimes!"

      You forgot to include the link to that invaluable source of information on the risks and dangers associated with dihydrogen monoxide, http://dhmo.org/. I am happy to correct that unfortunate oversight.

      1. Korev Silver badge
        Pint

        Re: Dihydrogen monoxide

        Well done; I'd buy you a beer, but it's ~95% pure DHMO :-O

        1. Blank Reg

          Re: Dihydrogen monoxide

          I typically stick with beers in the 90-92% DHMO range in order to reduce the risks slightly. I have tried going as low as 86% but I've not found any to my liking that are below 89%.

          1. katrinab Silver badge
            Windows

            Re: Dihydrogen monoxide

            My vodka is only 40% DHMO

    3. Rich 2

      Built-in-obsolescence

      As for "Neverstop" printers - what happens when they run out of ink? End up in landfill?

      I bought my last HP (and Epson - they're just as bad) printer about 20 years ago. Since then, I've not touched them - they're shite. Actually, in my experience, Epson were marginally worse.

      A Brother (or similar) laser printer is FAR more reliable (mine's been running for donkey's) and costs much less over time.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Built-in-obsolescence

        I am finding Epson Workpros to be pretty good, and third party ink works without problems.

        1. Updraft102 Silver badge

          Re: Built-in-obsolescence

          I print so infrequently at home that the ink has usually dried up and left the cartridge hopelessly clogged by the time I want to print again. Cleaning, home reinking, and professional paid reinking have all failed to restore the cartridge once it dried out. So I would buy a new cartridge, use it once, then repeat the same thing again months later. The cost per page was ridiculous. It wasn't any one make or model of printer... it happened with all of the big name inkjet makers. That was it for me with inkjets.

          I bought a scanner/ laser printer (just a black and white model, as I essentially never printed anything in color where grayscale would not have worked just as well), and it still works great after six years or so, with the original toner cartridge. I have taken it (toner cartridge) out and given it a shake every couple of years as the manufacturer suggests, but that's it. The cost was on par with color inkjet scanner/printer all in ones, and I wish I had gone that way from the start.

          1. usbac

            Re: Built-in-obsolescence

            I did the same thing years ago too. I went to buy a pack of two cartridges for my HP inkjet (black and color) and found that the pack was $69!! We live in a very dry climate, and they just dry out in about 2-3 months here.

            I bought a Dell color laser for $209 shipping included. That was about 7 years ago, and I'm still on the original toners. And, since the printer is 7 years old now, aftermarket toners are available cheap. I just bought a full set of four at about $11 each!

            At a former employer, we in the IT department went on a crusade to get rid of inkjet printers. It seemed that many employees would go out and buy some cheap piece of crap inkjet (with their own money) for their office since walking the 15 feet to get to the shared departmental laser printer was too much effort. They would then put in purchase orders for the cartridges. We got tired of all of the trouble tickets for problems with all of these crap printers we had nothing to do with purchasing.

            So, we went to the purchasing director and made our case about the costs for all of these cartridges when much more economical laser printers were quite convenient to users. He put a stop to all of the inkjet cartridge purchases. We sent out an email saying that on a certain date, we are going to go around and collect any inkjet printer we see, and send them out for disposal.

            There was a lot of backlash from users, but the purchasing director backed us up, and he had a lot of clout. It also won us some good favor with the purchasing director for saving the company money. We had a little less trouble with equipment approvals after that.

          2. eldakka Silver badge

            Re: Built-in-obsolescence

            I buy old office/workgroup printers from local auctions every ~5 years.

            These beasties, when new, often cost $5k-8k, and typically use 15k-25k page toner cartridges. But at auction I can get a 5ish year old one, with 50% to sometimes 90% toner left in the ~15k-25k page cartridge for around $400.

            Even though at this point its 5 years old, it's still far superior in capabilities to any current model new 'consumer' laser printer in the $400-$1k price range.

            When the toner cartridge it came with runs out, usually in the ~5 years or so range with my printing needs, dispose of it and buy a new (well, old) one from another auction.

            Even if I do decide to buy toner for it if the drum etc. are still in good condition, being an 'office' high volume printer, their toner tends to be much cheaper on a per-page basis than consumer printers. Often a consumer printer toner cartridge will be $100 for 2.5k-4k or so pages, whereas these office printers tend to be $200 for 15k-20k page cartridges, enough for several years at my need level.

            The downside is they are usually physically large, so you aren't - generally - going to sit one on the corner of your computer desk. But they all come with standard LAN connectivity, so they can be put anywhere convenient you can run a LAN cable to.

            I once bought for a friend an A3 floor-standing laser colour printer/photocopier/scanner, with 50-70% in all the 10k-page colour cartridges and the 20k black cartridge and a stapler finisher for $500 (I would have snaffled it for myself, but the damn thing weighed 120kg and I lived in an apartment up a flight of stairs) at an ex-government equipment auction.

      2. OldSoCalCoder

        Re: Built-in-obsolescence

        I bought an HP 6110 from Costco some 17+ years ago and it ran forever, chewing through anything. Fast forward to about 2015 and I found myself with five one year old HP printers ranging from the $69 basic to a $300+ model, all in various states of won't-print or prints-like-shit. All, of course, had brand new HP labelled ink cartridges installed, some with duplicate brand-new cartridges in standby. I remember distinctly watching the ink level of one of these printer cartridges drop by 1/4 as it puked out the third shittily smeared and streaked color print test page. I remember distinctly waiting for hours through their driver loads that installed a ton of useless software, muttering 'c'mon, all I want to do is print a fucking word doc. No, I don't want software to Organize My Pictures, nor Track My Lovely Moments.' Never Again, HP, never again. I hope the whole HP printer team goes to a very special place in hell.

        1. david 12 Silver badge

          Re: Built-in-obsolescence

          We bought a HP A3 printer (which wasn't cheap) and never did get it or the replacement to work. It's not just the money, it's the hours of flappy around before you finally decide to just bin it and buy from some other company.

  3. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

    Landfill

    If I could pour ink directly into the printer the only waste would be the bottle which could have a much higher capacity than the printer. As a bonus, the printer would not need regular malware updates to detect the most recent third party ink.

    I buy printers based on upfront cost + price of third party ink + open source driver (so the printer does not become landfill when the manufacturer stops releasing binary drivers). If the next generation of HP printers comes with two years supply it will be at least that long before I know the price of the ink. I hope they are expecting this to be a long term investment.

    1. Lazlo Woodbine

      Re: Landfill

      Isn't this what you can do with many Epson printers fitted with a continuous ink supply?

      1. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: Landfill

        And not just Epson, there are CISS systems for HP printers...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Landfill

      "I buy printers based on upfront cost + price of third party ink + open source driver (so the printer does not become landfill when the manufacturer stops releasing binary drivers)"

      Alternative to open source driver requirement: supports Apple AirPrint (which is supported under Ubuntu, so printers become actually plug-and-play - at that point, printing under Linux is easier than under Windows!)

      1. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: Landfill

        Understand the sentiments, however the Mopria alliance now have a (near) universal printer app for Android and Windows (7 and later). MS first bundled it with the W10 October 2018 Update..

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Landfill

          "near" is the killer word there. I didn't find my Laserjet 3020 on the Mopria site. I'm not sure if it's not there or whether their website simply couldn't find it in a long list. I got the impression, however, that the website was simply cycling through the same list of Laserjet Pro, Laserjet Enterprise etc. The site wouldn't encourage me to use their drivers.

          1. Roland6 Silver badge

            Re: Landfill

            Basically, if the printer supports Network print using IPP/Bonjour etc. it will work and Mopria seems to do a better formatting job than iOS airprint.

            Obviously, for some printers (both enterprise grade and consumer) that only support USB connectivity, the only solution is a third-party app/gismo such as HP's JetDirect or Collobos Presto (£ subscription) that puts an IPP/Bonjour interface on top of the existing print driver on a print server.

            >The site wouldn't encourage me to use their drivers.

            I'm finding that an increasingly common problem with many websites...

            My kids school website has been redesigned, yes it looks pretty, but actually getting information out of it with anything other than a desktop with 4K screen connected using 20Mbps+ Internet...

        2. LeahroyNake Silver badge

          Re: Landfill

          The Mopria app is quite good and gets a Thumbs up from me.

          The only other print app worth mention is the Ricoh device connector. Only works with ricoh devices but is the same on android and iPhone & ipad. Well worth a look if you have a Ricoh MFD in the office! Print from local storage, Dropbox, g drive etc and scan to all of the above.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Landfill

      "If the next generation of HP printers comes with two years supply it will be at least that long before I know the price of the ink. I hope they are expecting this to be a long term investment."

      I suspect it will be for the rest of HP's life as a major printer and ink manufacturer.

      How long is long? I find 10 minutes walk to the shop is long if it's pouring with rain...

  4. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "Traditionally, printers were sold at a loss and the profit was generated by consumables over the lifetime of the device, in much the same way as the razor industry operates."

    Just how old is this tradition? I doubt that printers were being sold at a loss when I first bought an HP printer. I suspect that somewhere along the line someone in what HP became decided that they could play this trick on customers provided they overcharged on cartridges. AFAICS there are a few of flaws with this.

    The main one was that once third party makers realised they could make and sell cartridges profitably at much less than HP's price HP should have realised that that game was up. Cartridges had become a commodity and they should have readjusted then. Another is that if the disparity was great enough they could lose overall by customers replacing cheap printers before they'd bought enough cartridges to make back the upfront loss. Also, looking at the racks of different HP cartridge types in office supply shops I wonder if the cost of spreading cartridge sales across all that variety is cutting profits at that end of the chain.

    1. Wellyboot Silver badge

      I think the change came when HPs started sticking their badge on tat instead of decent kit.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        The tattiness may be part of their problem. If they sell a low quality printer at a loss it might never last long enough to eat enough HP cartridges to give an overall profit before it joins the empty cartridges in land-fill.

      2. thondwe

        Ink Needed?

        Have I missed something - Why do they need Ink? I thought these complex engineering marvels were designed for the sole purpose of folding paper into intricate random designs?

        1. VonDutch

          Re: Ink Needed?

          It's the ultimate in document security. Prints and shreds in one motion.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Ink Needed?

          The ink is to stain your hands and clothes when you extract the origami from the printer.

    2. LDS Silver badge

      I believe the tradition of selling overpriced supplies is old enough, but it became crazy not long ago, when printers started to be sold at a price less than a full ink/toner replacement. Many people started to be tempted to replace the whole printer (and fill landfills with them...).

      You're right that designing almost a new cartridge for every model just increase distribution costs - but I believe it was thought as a way for "planned obsolescence" - make them hard to find and people will buy a new printer also. Thwarted again by third-party supplier.

      Actually I believe lower supplies prices would have made people print more, and using "original" ones. They created their own problems driving people to third party cartridges with far lower prices.

      Now I don't understand if they are going to make printers more expensive with lower supplies price, or just the first option. If so, they won't solve anything - people will switch to third party supplies sooner, even before the warranty period has expired.

      Gillette model worked, but the razor stick is quite irrelevant to the user, what matter are the blades, and many people are quite forced to shave. Anyway, they change the "mount" far more rarely, so they have not to sell subsidized razors often, no matter how cheap they are today.

      For a counter example, Kodak attempts to lure people into proprietary film formats and related cameras always failed. Most people preferred the ubiquitous 135 (and, to a less extent 120) "universal" formats even when it meant to buy more expensive cameras - they knew anyway they would have lasted longer and didn't became doorstops just because the proprietary format was no longer available.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        I believe it was thought as a way for "planned obsolescence"

        No doubt, but it doesn't work with the make money on cartridges problem; that works best if the cartridge design has a large installed base of printers to fit. If it only fits those you sold last week and maybe the week before it's not going to recoup its costs let alone those of the printer. I think HP's problem was too many ideas for screwing customers colliding with each other even without third party interventions.

        1. TechnicalBen Silver badge

          What costs?

          It probably costs them nothing to change the shape of a plastic tag or tub or fitting on the ink cartridge. Everything else can stay the same. :(

          1. Public Citizen

            Re: What costs?

            Even a simple change to a mold for plastics costs $10K or more for the new mold to be manufactured.

            Takes a lot of cartridges to amortize that cost without a substantial increase in the cost of the product contained in that new design container.

            Gillette was successful with the model because the blades they manufactured were the same over ~decades~ of time, they didn't try to bring out a "new and improved" blade every six months to a year.

            1. Antonius_Prime

              Re: What costs?

              In fairness, this does seem related.

              It seems to line up (in my memory, at least) that when HP et al started bringing out a different cartridge a week that Gillette started seeing just how many blades they could stick on a razor...

              (Mach 3 etc.)

              Perhaps the two designers in each company were related...

            2. TechnicalBen Silver badge

              Re: What costs?

              10k of their development budget? I don't think that's much. You'll probably find individual stores that do that in the ink alone!

      2. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

        Printer cheaper than ink

        This 'problem' was solved by selling subsidised printers with nearly empty ink cartridges.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Printer cheaper than ink

          Or what marketing call "starter" cartridges, commonly only filled to 20-30% of capacity.

          1. Woodnag

            Re: Printer cheaper than ink

            If the user filled up the cartridge completely before powering up a new printer first time, would the DRM accept that?

            1. No Yb

              Re: Printer cheaper than ink

              Nope. The cartridge's DRM chip doesn't actually know how much ink is in the cartridge. It estimates when it is empty, and stops the printer from using the cartridge once the "number of dot equivalents remaining" counter decrements to 0.

              There are no sensors on the newer cartridges to tell how much ink is actually left in the cart.

              Thanks to HP's over-reliance on DRM to sell expensive supplies, I only buy 3rd party ink.

      3. Benson's Cycle

        IIRC what Kodak did was introduce a 120 format film with a smaller core to reduce the overall size, called 620.

        Of course curling the film up tight played havoc with film flatness so the results were a bit dire and it never caught on outside the US (see also V8 cars the size of tanks). Kodak box cameras were so big any space saving was nugatory.

        By the time the "disc" cameras hove into view the writing was thoroughly on the wall for Kodak anyway, whereas HP profited from its 96% gross margin ink for a long time.*

        The "good" Kodak branded cameras, Retina and Retinette, used 135 like everybody else.

        *The HP manager was a bit drunk when he came out with this, take it or leave it.

      4. Kernel Silver badge

        "Gillette model worked, but the razor stick is quite irrelevant to the user, what matter are the blades"

        Off topic, but as a long time user of double edged Gillette-style blades for shaving I can assure you that the "razor stick" does matter to most of us - although it's all down to personal preference, the heft of the handle needs to be just right for you if you're going to get the best results and it's not unusual to try out several handles before that 'just right' one is found (and carefully hidden away from the missus).

      5. MJB7 Silver badge

        Re: Many people are forced to shave

        I last shaved just over 42 years ago.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "Just how old is this tradition?"

      It has been a tradition in the copier market for decades and the copier market/high end enterprise started merging around 2000.

      On the consumer side, ink was the predominant cost in printers from at least the mid-90's with multi-tank colour being an "enterprise" feature" until colour lasers started to appear.

      I suspect your printer may have been considered an "enterprise" printer and so attracted the associated premium. Colour laser by any chance?

      1. Updraft102 Silver badge

        I did a ton of printing with my Seikosha SP-1000VC 9-pin dot matrix printer during my Commodore years, and even more in my introductory PC years with my Panasonic KX-P1124 24-pin dot matrix printer for my uni years. I printed miles of fanfold pin-drive pages, and that original ribbon (in both printers) just kept going and going. Both of those old printers were still in working order when I put them in storage in favor of newer, "better" replacements. Inkjets were far faster and quieter, but there was no contest in reliability, durability, or cost per page.

        1. Ian 55

          Ooh, the person I worked for had one of the Panasonics. Cost as much as the 8MHz Zenith XT clone.

    4. J. Cook Silver badge
      Boffin

      "Traditionally, printers were sold at a loss and the profit was generated by consumables over the lifetime of the device, in much the same way as the razor industry operates."

      Just how old is this tradition?

      For consumer-grade printers, mid-1990s. Blame Lexmark, if anyone- they started it with their $50 inkjet that used a set of carts that ran $60 for the full set. That spilled over to the corporate and enterrpise arena about ten-fifteen years larger.

      I doubt that printers were being sold at a loss when I first bought an HP printer. I suspect that somewhere along the line someone in what HP became decided that they could play this trick on customers provided they overcharged on cartridges.

      They had to drop their price because everyone else dropped their price, for the large part. The operative phrase is 'race to the bottom'. Once you've got the unlucky end user hooked on the printer, you can largely charge anything you want for ink, because few people factor that into the cost of the printer.

      The main one was that once third party makers realised they could make and sell cartridges profitably at much less than HP's price HP should have realised that that game was up. Cartridges had become a commodity and they should have readjusted then.

      HP's response was also (sadly) in line with how Lexmark handled the situation- use the DMCA to go after the third-party ink companies and refillers claiming copyright and Intellectual Property violations. We saw how well that worked out for Lexmark- they left the inkjet field in 2012, and sold off theose assets two years later. I've no experience with their current laser offerings, but if they are anything like the Optra S I had, good riddence. (fantastic speed and quality, but bog help you if you had to replace rollers on it- Seriously, I have to tear it down to the main gear train to get to the main feed roller?!?!)

      Also, looking at the racks of different HP cartridge types in office supply shops I wonder if the cost of spreading cartridge sales across all that variety is cutting profits at that end of the chain.

      Forced obsolescence. I have an old, old Photosmart printer that would probably still be in use if I could find any 58 photo carts. the 56 and 57s are pretty much gone as well...

    5. kmedcalf

      I found that it was cheaper to throw out the printer and buy another one than to buy new ink cartridges ...

  5. DrXym Silver badge

    Gave up on HP years ago

    I don't mind paying the face value for a printer up front if it means I'm free to use cartridges from wherever I choose from then on. My current printer / scanner happily manages to tell if a cartridge has ink in it by shining a light through a clear section of it - mind crushingly difficult.

    I deeply resent printer companies that put chips on their printer heads and/or cartridges to lock consumers into their own consumable content. I hate printers where the "drivers" include 300Mb of crapware when all I want is print stuff. HP was the absolute worst of the lot in this regard which is why I haven't even thought of buying one of their printers in years. Literally I erase HP from consideration even before researching any further. Same goes for Epson.

    If that resentment is common and their sales are suffering then they only have themselves to blame.

    1. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge

      Re: Gave up on HP years ago

      Interestingly, I did just have to buy a new printer for SOHO use and I ended up going for one of the Epson TS8000 range. I agree the disk it came with did come with tons of crapware on it, but at least it clearly gave me the option of choosing to just install the driver.

      Like you however, I deliberately didn't even look at any of HPs range of printers.

    2. Lazlo Woodbine

      Re: Gave up on HP years ago

      I downloaded the HP drivers for a printer at work the other day and it unpacked to just short of a gigabyte.

      So I tried the "basic" driver, that unpacked to about 700 meg.

      Just what are they installing with the driver, because my old Epson functioned perfectly well with a floppy disc based driver...

    3. Chris G Silver badge

      Re: Gave up on HP years ago

      Epson drivers are malware, they are full of crap and when you uninstall them , they reinstall.

      I haven't been able to tell if they phone home as the laptop they were on died, caught fire andsank into a swamp.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Gave up on HP years ago

        Chris G,

        ".. the laptop they were on died, caught fire andsank into a swamp."

        Strange that !!!???

        Happens all the time .... doesn't it ..... especially to phones, just when the new upgrade come out. !!!

        :) ;)

        P.S. Yes .... Sales/Marketing Dept, I *do* mean you !!!!

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Gave up on HP years ago

        "died, caught fire andsank into a swamp."

        You're not going to leave it there are you? Enquiring minds need details.

        1. whitepines Silver badge
          Holmes

          Re: Gave up on HP years ago

          Hardware (battery?) failure, flames, then illegal un-eco disposal out a moving car into a bog?

      3. Aussie Doc
        Mushroom

        Re: Gave up on HP years ago

        "...the laptop they were on died, caught fire and sank into a swamp."

        So just another Windows 10 Tuesday update, then.

  6. A K Stiles
    Coat

    And the existing printers supplies

    are going to come down from their current eye-watering, pocket*-reaming price to just a merely horrendous markup over actual costs are they? Or is that only really going to work for the new, expensive hardware which unfortunately can't handle backward-compatible supplies...

  7. Ivan Headache

    Eye-watering!

    I recently had to replace an Epson printer for a domestic client.

    He specified that he wanted one that used the same inks as his defunct model as he had already a stack of expensive cartridges in a drawer.

    After a little searching I found a suitable model at a decent price (£45.00) in PCW.

    As I collected it I thought I would just check the cost of his expensive cartridges.

    An eye-watering £93.00 for a full set!

    1. Wellyboot Silver badge

      Re: Eye-watering!

      It is mad.

      A few months ago I bought a set of Lexmark colour lasers (old stock found in the back of a warehouse somewhere) for a mere £75 each just for the toner they came with, the complete spares package (printer) was just a bonus.

      1. Peter2 Silver badge

        Re: Eye-watering!

        I had a user at work come to me about basically this situation. His partner was printing newsletters out on his, probably something like 500 sheets a month which I think of as being a very low level of printing.

        He was using two cartridges per month at an utterly extortionate cost. I suggested that buying the same type of network printer that we used in the office second hand on eBay would cost less than his monthly toner cost, and the cartridge would be likely to last for 25x the time, whilst being a quarter of the price.

        He bought the printer, had it delivered to work and I did a quick clean before he installed it at home as a public relations exercise with the users. He's had it for two years and he's still on the original cartridge it came with. He actually bought a spare toner cartridge from our store because he couldn't get his head around the fact that the toner cartridge does like 15k sheets per cartridge rather than a few hundred sheets.

        He likes it because it never jams being a network grade printer it just spits out screwed up paper if you put it in at a 45degree angle, doesn't smudge being a laser and prints at 35ppm rather than the 3ppm, minus jam clearance time of the inkjet.

        I honestly have no idea why people buy inkjets.

        1. BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

          Re: Eye-watering!

          The photo quality in inkjets is a lot higher than laser if you use decent ink and decent paper.

          For anything else, laser wins.

  8. Wellyboot Silver badge

    Deskjet - sold for $1,000, and not subsidised.

    Any near silent alternatives at that price point in the early 80s?

    Deskjet USP was the lack of noise, you could talk normally 3 feet away from one.

    1. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

      Re: Deskjet - sold for $1,000, and not subsidised.

      If memory serves, inkjet printers were in their infancy back in the 80s. At that time, the main printer technology was dot-matrix, with 24 pin dot-matrix being the expensive pinnacle of the technology.

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: Deskjet - sold for $1,000, and not subsidised.

        Furthermore, like with typewriters using fabric ribbons, it's a bit tricky to gauge when the impact ribbon was running dry, especially given the limited amount of communication a printer could do then.

      2. Headley_Grange Silver badge

        Re: Deskjet - sold for $1,000, and not subsidised.

        Remember the "Near Letter Quality" drivers that you could get for dot matrix printers? We had one that took so long to print anything that some of the words had gone out of the dictionary by the time it finished.

        1. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

          Re: Deskjet - sold for $1,000, and not subsidised.

          For true "letter quality" you couldn't beat a daisy-wheel...although you had to budget for a sound-deadening enclosure to put over the printer, find a separate room to put it in, and still put up with complaints from staff about the noise.

          1. Benson's Cycle

            Re: Deskjet - sold for $1,000, and not subsidised.

            I'm sorry, I couldn't hear that over the noise from this printer.

            A firm of solicitors of my acquaintance were conned induced into buying a Wang system. When it was realised that the noise of the printers meant nobody could think, someone had the idea of overnight printing. Great till you came in in the morning and had to deal with the jams.

            So the printers were relegated, with long cables, to the end of a long dark corridor which had racks with the old files on either side of it.

            You can imagine how the mostly young, female secretarial staff enjoyed walking down the long dark corridor with the recesses where rapists might lurk in order to retrieve (if they were lucky) their print jobs, or fix the jam and wait around.

            It was destructive of productivity to say the least, and when the senior partner retired the firm broke up, to nobody's great surprise.

          2. Ian 55

            Re: Deskjet - sold for $1,000, and not subsidised.

            Daisy wheel? Noise? You never had a line printer.

            I SAID YOU NEVER HAD A LINE PRINTER!!

            1. dave 81

              Another nail in the coffin

              Saw one once when I was a kid. Dad took me to the print room at his work. Loud, but fast for the time. Beat the hell out of the 8 pin dot matrix we had at home.

          3. Old Used Programmer

            Re: Deskjet - sold for $1,000, and not subsidised.

            Heh... Ever stand near an IBM 1403N1 running at the full 1100lpm?

      3. Aussie Doc
        Pint

        Re: Deskjet - sold for $1,000, and not subsidised.

        At one stage, way back when, I had a nice sideline using my woodwork skills to sell nice 'soundproof' boxes to house many a dot matrix printer in an office.

        Fun days, especially all the nefarious ways you could coax more use out of a ribbon lol

    2. crayon

      Re: Deskjet - sold for $1,000, and not subsidised.

      I bought a Deskjet 500 back around the early '90s, couldn't remember the cost, probably around £400. I was able to print in "full" colour by: filling used cartridges with coloured ink (C/M/Y), running an Amiga program that created colour separated files, then printing onto the same piece of paper 4 times (changing out the cartridge for the appropriate colour each time).

      1. Ian 55

        Re: Deskjet - sold for $1,000, and not subsidised.

        Get lost - the registration errors on the DJ500 were a minimum of 5mn each time.

        1. crayon

          Re: Deskjet - sold for $1,000, and not subsidised.

          Either you had a very crappy machine or I had a very good one. For a good period of time I used the DJ500 to print onto pre-printed "forms" where any registration errors of more than 0.5 - 1.0mm would render the output pretty much useless, after printing hundreds of these only a few turned out to be useless.

          My current printer is a Brother MFC-L2740DW, which has auto duplex, which usually has a registration error of about 1mm and sometimes up to 2mm. The ADF of the scanner part is even worse - the paper is sitting straight in the feed, the guides are tucked in tight against the paper but once it gets into the machine it's often skewed by 5-10°. The single sheet feed slot is also a bit crap. I mainly use that to print onto cheques (saves me the hassle of writing them out by hand), when the mechanism manages to feed it in straight they come out perfect. Unfortunately more often than not they go in slightly skewed making the output wonky, not good but so far the bank accepts them.

  9. Charles 9 Silver badge

    I think it's a good thing for us that HP ended up on the losing end of a couple lawsuits related to this Planned Obsolescence. After one nailed them for OVER-reporting ink levels (saying it still had ink when it didn't, spoiling print jobs) and another for UNDER-reporting them (locking out supposedly-empty cartridges when they still had ink), HP was forced to include an override in their printers and others had to follow suit to avoid an encore.

    1. DugEBug
      Flame

      Region coding

      There's another lawsuit going on concerning region coding. I had (past tense) an HP printer for which I bought some genuine HP replacement inks from a reputable retailer (Amazon). Turns out, those cartridges were region coded for the EU. No problem - my printer continued to function happily until my next resupply. These ones were region coded for the US. Switching regions twice apparently triggered some firmware that bricked the printer. After hours on the phone with HP support, and after installing new firmware and entering numerous magic codes into the front panel, the printer remained bricked. The support person said I'd have to buy a new printer.

      I did, and it wasn't (and never will be) an HP.

      Two years later, my new Brother MFC printer is working great and I'm only on my second set of (significantly lower priced) cartridges.

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: Region coding

        I will admit I use HP inkjet printers once in a long while. I keep a PhotoSmart printer for on the go photos (hey, it was secondhand and cheap, and the carts aren't very hard or expensive to come by for the occasional work I put into it), but that's my limit as far as HP inkjet printers go.

  10. Bertieboy

    Just bought a cheap HP - slapped it onto my linux desktop and let the OS deal with it - no problems. Haven't used a crappy driver disc for many many years!

  11. MAF

    Of course, it could result in people not buying HP at all

    Posit:

    Used to be expensive well-built printers with expensive consumables but cheap 3rd party ink/toner available & usable with ignorable nag-ware about

    used/'counterfeit' consumables

    Move to cheap nasty inexpensive hardware with expensive consumables with 'chips' to stop 3rd-party (until subverted by 3rd parties)

    Now move to pricier cheap-to-make hardware with expensive consumables with another lock-out

    Do they really believe that we just exist to transfer money from our wallets to theirs regardless?

  12. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

    I have had too many issues with crapjets (epson, hp et al) that I now totally avoid crapjets of any make, model, manufacturer etc.

    I prefer a laser printer. Sure, may be more expensive, but it works just as well, and it can idle for long periods of time (not in use) without the head getting all dried up and clogged up.

    The old HP inkjet printerers was fine kit, nowadays the kit you get is so flimsy and feel like it's going to fall apart at the first fart.

    Started off with an Epson LX400, fine dot-matrix printer. NLQ was just a waste of time and ribbon, tend to print in draft most of the time, was quicker and readable as well. Ah, those were the days.

    1. Belperite

      This. I print infrequently and got fed up with inkjets drying up so I shelled out for a Xerox colour laser with 2k colour & 3k black page toner starter cartridges which will last me many years. Might have annoyed the office supply company I got it from though as they expected to supply toner a bit more frequently than that ;)

      1. KLane

        Xerox 6027

        I have had very good results with this one, and it has no problem with alternate toner cartridges, other than a 'non-genuine toner' message displayed only on power-up. The advanced settings also make it easy to get the best quality on photo prints as well.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: Xerox 6027

          Well, for me, while HP inkjet printers only see extremely limited use in my demesnes, I have little to complain about the Color LaserJet I use much more often. Better, it doesn't complain nearly so much when you use aftermarket toner kits (in case you're wondering, I bought it secondhand).

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      The old HP inkjet printerers was fine kit, nowadays the kit you get is so flimsy and feel like it's going to fall apart at the first fart.

      I used to write factory service manuals for low-end HP laser printers and MFPs. I would not recommend farting near them either.

      (NDA is expired by now, but anon just in case....)

    3. JohnG

      Yes - when I bought inkjet printers, I wasn't using them often enough to stop the ink drying up and blocking the print heads. I had a secondhand HP laser printer for about 10 years but have had a Xerox MFP for about 5 years now. As long as the printer prints, there isn't any point in changing it - I don't need any more resolution, speed or new functions.

  13. CAPS LOCK Silver badge

    At the risk of topic drift, can I ask for a recommendation for a mono laser...

    ... to replace my old (16 years!) Samsung?

    1. Mephistro Silver badge

      Re: At the risk of topic drift, can I ask for a recommendation for a mono laser...

      Brother laser printers are inexpensive (compared with HP ones they're almost a gift 8^) and, in my experience at least, have few issues. I've been recommending them to customers for years.

      1. Joe W Silver badge

        Re: At the risk of topic drift, can I ask for a recommendation for a mono laser...

        There are Linux drivers provided by Brother, they are not difficult to install (howto on their homepage) and work well - even the scanner driver for those multi function thingys. Not sure about the fax function, but I have never used that anyway, they are not even connected to the phone line anyway.

        1. fidodogbreath Silver badge

          Re: At the risk of topic drift, can I ask for a recommendation for a mono laser...

          Ubuntu auto-discovered my Brother MFP on the network and set it up with no intervention from me.

        2. D_awesome_beast

          Re: At the risk of topic drift, can I ask for a recommendation for a mono laser...

          Also they have a great Android app that connects and allows me to print and scan to/from my Wifi Brother Laser direct from Office 365 from my phone.

        3. Marco van de Voort

          Re: At the risk of topic drift, can I ask for a recommendation for a mono laser...

          Note that Samsung and Bother low end printers are pretty much the same.

      2. Roopee
        Thumb Up

        Re: At the risk of topic drift, can I ask for a recommendation for a mono laser...

        I'll second that; I acquired a Brother mono duplex networked laser that a business client was throwing out as it was "constantly jamming". I looked where it was jamming, the toner cartridge, installed a new one for £10, now it works perfectly. Very fast start from sleep, no fuss, and it has two paper drawers for the icing on the cake. It had only had 5 toners, so plenty of life left in the critical/expensive consumables. It now saves wear and tear on my ageing colour laser.

        In case you're wondering, the client had already bought a replacement before calling me in, they just wanted me to install the new one, so I just offered to dispose of the old one on the off chance that it was salvageable.

        1. katrinab Silver badge

          Re: At the risk of topic drift, can I ask for a recommendation for a mono laser...

          I bought a Canon Scanner / Colour Laser Printer just under three years ago in the black friday sale for £200. I still have 90% remaining on the colour toners and 70% remaining on the black toner. I guess when the black toner runs out in 7 years time, I'll replace the printer; or possibly before then if drivers become an issue. My 14 y/o Canon IP8500 photo printer is still working fine and just as good/fast as a modern photo printer. The only problems are the fact that i/o is a choice between USB1 & USB2, and it takes a bit of prodding to get Windows 10 and Server 2019 to install XP 64bit drivers. But it works.

      3. Benson's Cycle

        Re: At the risk of topic drift, can I ask for a recommendation for a mono laser...

        I think I recall having to put a stake through the heart of one and burying it at a crossroads because it chugged along but the drum was on the way out and the print quality was poor, and a new drum cost more than a new printer.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: At the risk of topic drift, can I ask for a recommendation for a mono laser...

          Old printer plus new drum might still have been a better combo than the new printer.

      4. Goobertee

        Re: At the risk of topic drift, can I ask for a recommendation for a mono laser...

        Brother lasers for the last several years (maybe 2012?) can be used with a "generic" PCL5e driver, including double-sided if the printer has it. That's what I use on Linux. Cartridges and drums (separate on Brother) are available from various sources and I've had good luck with most of the second-source items I've used. I'm using a Brother HL2270DW (double-side, wireless) probably vintage 2011 and it's still going strong. Wish I could comment on newer printers, but I'm happy with what I have and can't think of a reason to replace it.

        There are always negative reviews in the ratings and it's hard to say whether they're shills or genuinely bad items that got by quality control.

        1. WolfFan Silver badge

          Re: At the risk of topic drift, can I ask for a recommendation for a mono laser...

          I had Brother HL2070Ns at the office for years. We got them in 2005, they started dying around 2014. The last one expired earlier this year. They had all printed on the order of a million (that's 1,000,000) pages, and were mechanically shot, mostly the rollers and the gears. We used 3rd-party toner cartridges and drums in all of them, with never a complaint. All the HL2070s were replaced by newer Brothers, some of which used the same cartridges as the HL2070s.

        2. julian.smith
          Thumb Up

          Re: Brother HL2270DW (double-side, wireless)

          I've had one for years - it just keeps printing in fine quality.

          There are instructions on the interwebs for resetting page counts, etc

          Good Linux drivers

          Works fine with aftermarket consumables

      5. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: At the risk of topic drift, can I ask for a recommendation for a mono laser...

        +1 on the Brothers. I bought a MFC-L2730DW a while back. Installation under Linux was painless (just run the .deb file to get the scanner to work), and yielded around 1,000 pages on the starter cartridge (which got replaced with the high-capacity option when it ran out). Output quality is fine, but not outstanding.

    2. Wellyboot Silver badge

      Re: At the risk of topic drift, can I ask for a recommendation for a mono laser...

      I can recommend the HP4100, (mine is a 18year old dn model)

      There is a market selling refurbs and all the bits are available from HP & others.

      avoid the jetdirect-610n interface, they had a high failure rate, get a 620n instead.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: At the risk of topic drift, can I ask for a recommendation for a mono laser...

        LaserJet 4200 - rescued from scrapheap along with a fuser, a few rollers and a couple of toners.

        I remember that whenever I had a faulty JetDirect card, I would swap it out and leave it on a shelf. After a few weeks I would plug it into another printer and it will be working. Never had to buy a replacement card, just leave the faulty one resting for a bit!

        1. J. Cook Silver badge

          Re: At the risk of topic drift, can I ask for a recommendation for a mono laser...

          The monochrome 4000-4300 series (with their 4X50 varients) were all good, solid enterprise and business class printers- [RedactedCo] had a 4250 that had some 2 million on the counter when I started in 2006- the printer was about two-three years old IIRC. the department that used it ran it pretty much at the very end of it's duty cycle, eating a maintenance kit every other month. A very good successor to the venerable 4 series.

        2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: At the risk of topic drift, can I ask for a recommendation for a mono laser...

          "just leave the faulty one resting for a bit!"

          The service fairies - first cousins to the tooth fairies. I had the same with valves in an old PA amp. Periodically it would go seriously awry with one valve running its anode red hot and the other about as cold as an 807 (IIRC) can get. Swap in the resting valve for one of them and carry on for a few months.

      2. whitepines Silver badge

        Re: At the risk of topic drift, can I ask for a recommendation for a mono laser...

        I still use a fully loaded (duplex, multiple trays, JetDirect, etc.) 4100. Works out of the box with every Linux I've used and zero problems except the time I moved and forgot to take the toner cartridge out *first*. Still, after cleaning the toner out of places I didn't know it could be, and running a couple dozen "cleaning" print runs through, it's back on its feet and chugging away.

        One of the nice things about enterprise HP stuff from back when is that the toner cartridge has the drum. New toner cartridge equals new drum, and no more wondering what the black (or coloured) specks on every printout are.

        The department printer one floor down from me is a 5550. Another solid indestructible printer that will probably be running until we can't get replacement supplies from the generic cartridge vendors. That's the one with five trays loaded with various paper sizes for the engineers and legal teams that tend not to print on standard A4.

    3. Old Used Programmer

      Re: At the risk of topic drift, can I ask for a recommendation for a mono laser...

      I have an HP2015 that I had a network card added to a couple of years ago, and an HP2055dn. Because I can set the IP address in the HP2055dn I'm seriously thinking of getting a second one (they go for less than $200 on the used/reconditioned market). Both of those are real workhorses.

  14. The Bionic Man

    How Cn you build a financial model based on consumables when it's cheaper to replace the hardware than buy new ink?

    1. Wellyboot Silver badge

      Because far too many people buy on the headline price and can't even spell TCO.

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Depends on your usage patterns. The new printer rarely comes with ink tanks more than about 1/3rd full, especially cheap consumer grade ones.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Simple answer to HP's problem.

    Sell the Printers at a *reasonable cost*.

    Price the Consumables at the same as the 3rd Party supplies. (Volume costs should be lower for HP than 3rd Parties!!!)

    Gradually, over time the customers will *BUY* HP because there is no gain from 3rd parties & HP will guarantee that the Printer/Toner or Ink will work optimally with no loss of warranty.

    The only reason for HP having a problem is *Pure Greed*

    P.S. I also have purchased a Printer because it is cheaper than all the spare parts + Toner combined, in fact cheaper than *just* 1 toner set (Colour Laser).

    1. Joe W Silver badge

      Re: Simple answer to HP's problem.

      I always wonder: those cartridges in the printers when you buy them: are they full / the same size as the ones you buy later on? I don't think so....

      1. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

        Re: Simple answer to HP's problem.

        I always wonder: those cartridges in the printers when you buy them: are they full / the same size as the ones you buy later on?

        From personal experience with Canon printers, the answer is no. Sufficient ink to get started with a few test prints, including a handful of A4 high-quality photos, but still falls short of what a full cartridge can do.

      2. Roopee

        Re: Simple answer to HP's problem.

        The last Epson I installed for a client was already showing 'low ink' by the end of the installation process, not kidding!

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Simple answer to HP's problem.

        "those cartridges in the printers when you buy them: are they full / the same size as the ones you buy later on?"

        Many affordable-looking SoHo printers are clearly identified as being supplied with "setup cartridges", if you know to look beyond the headline price. When you look at the real running cost e.g. cost of proper replacement cartridges it's more than the printer cost up front. Sometimes much more. Not just HP but others too. Including at least one Brother on special offer recently.

        As others have noted, there's more to ongoing cost than just the cost to buy. HP Instant Ink deals may soften some of the blows but I had a nightmare getting signed up for mine, and the HP print/copy/scan software for Windows seems to be a bit of a nightmare at times too, for reasons I can't yet understand. Instant Ink also appears to be deliberately designed to lock out the 3rd party ink suppliers.

        My DeskJet 970Cxi was a delight by comparison. But also rather expensive by comparison. Many HP Deskjets that followed the 970 were less impressive, to the extent that it was a decade or so before I bought or recommended another HP printer.

        In the meantime I've used some low end Canon stuff but during that time the Canon range has got far too confusing; it looks like it might be Brother's turn next.

  16. cantankerous swineherd Silver badge

    track, verify cartridges from our factories through our multi-tier distribution channel and to our end customer

    how does that work then? the printer phones home?

  17. adam payne Silver badge

    He discussed ways HP is attempting to safeguard its supplies revenues by shifting to Smart Tank and Neverstop printers that come fully loaded with an estimated two years' worth of ink or toner.

    I'll stick with my LJ4 thanks.

    ...including analytics, to "help us track, verify cartridges from our factories through our multi-tier distribution channel and to our end customer".

    Also to help slurp data and sell that on, got to make a profit somewhere.

    1. Sam not the Viking

      "help us track, verify cartridges from our factories through our multi-tier distribution channel and to our end customer"

      It's difficult to see what makes the cartridge prices so high. I wonder if the distribution channels needs a few more layers to get the cost to consumer down?

  18. Roopee
    Headmaster

    Buying Advice

    I've been advising clients for years that the way to choose a printer is to start with a list of requirements (which I help them with, including things like 'at least 4 inks, not Lexmark or HP', draw up a shortlist without looking at the printer price, then look up the price/availability of cartridges from 3rd party sellers (my favourite is prink.co.uk) and choose the cheapest. This will often be a Canon or Brother because of their simple large tanks that are cheap to clone.

    Basically TCO of course, but that concept seems completely alien to a lot of people, judging by the surprise exhibited at my 'cleverness'! Or maybe I just happen to have a relatively stupid client base.

  19. James 51 Silver badge

    They are far from prefect but I'm on my second Espon eco-tank, saved an absolute fortune (easily three or four times the cost of the printers) over the last six years or so.

  20. sbt Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Classic FUD; meanwhile, the world's most expensive liquid used as a cleaning agent

    The claims, made with a straight face, about the benefits of "genuine" cartridges included

    ... security, in that hackers can exploit a "vulnerability where the supply chip meets the printer"

    How about you don't put any fancy-pants code in the cartridge interface, cretins?

    Inkjets are no good now that I print so little. Constant head cleaning wastes too much.

    Colour laser or bust. Sure it's a more per page, but it doesn't care if there's months between print jobs. And there's no bleed.

    1. usbac

      Re: Classic FUD; meanwhile, the world's most expensive liquid used as a cleaning agent

      Are you sure color laser costs more per page than inkjet? I have found that inkjet is more expensive every time I research it... Even without considering the cartridges that just dry out without printing a single page!

      1. sbt Silver badge
        Boffin

        Costs per page vary by volume

        Sorry that was confusing, yes when I calculated last time the PP cost is higher due to higher printer and toner cartridge costs, with lower volumes to amortise the unit costs over. The TCO was lower for my use case because the wastage is less than with IJ. There's some variance depending on page coverage, but it's not that huge. Page volume has a bigger influence. The upfront unit costs on colour lasers have come down to the point where the payback period is not too bad. If it helps, I print less than 10 pages a month, on average.

        I could do IJ cheaper if I went the third party tank units, but didn't really need the volumes or want the mess and hassle. I've heard reliability is a problem with these things.

        I haven't looked at IJ costs that recently, and it wouldn't surprise me if that changed. It may also depend on which country you're in.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Costs per page vary by volume

          "If it helps, I print less than 10 pages a month, on average."

          I got a colour laser & now I find I'm printing a batch of colour handouts every week for SWMO's patchwork class.

          OT she asked a local pub to send her a copy of their newly printed Christmas menu for another of her groups. Sending the PDF that went to their printer would have been too complicated so they sent a poor mobile phone photo of one and I had to retype it. I noticed a typo on it. They now have 500 copies of their 2019 menu dated 2017. Oops.

          1. sbt Silver badge
            Paris Hilton

            10 pages a month. It could have been 1 if I'd gone mono.

            Yes, 90% of this volume is non-business related. Once someone sees a nice colour page, it's "ooh, can you just print this for me...?"

    2. Kiwi Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: Classic FUD; meanwhile, the world's most expensive liquid used as a cleaning agent

      The claims, made with a straight face, about the benefits of "genuine" cartridges included

      ... security, in that hackers can exploit a "vulnerability where the supply chip meets the printer"

      How about you don't put any fancy-pants code in the cartridge interface, cretins?

      I'm surprised I had to read so far down the comments to get to someone else mentioning this! Figured I wouldn't mention it as surely at least a couple of dozen people had mentioned it in the first 24 or so comments..

      Same thought.. Why put such a level of code in there that there could be a vulnerability? Just have the chip report some sort of basic ID (to catch an error of wrong colour in a certain bay, though HP are capable of doing slightly different shaped cartridges), ink level and that's that.

      No bloody expiry date crap, nothing that blocks a refill (don't want me refilling cartridges then make new ones competitively priced!)

      For a long time now HP have been off my buy lists due to their treatment of customers (eg their printer stuff, or $4,000+ craptops that melt down inside of 6 months because of poor cooling design+lack of decent thermal compound+rediculous lack of a simple "getting to hot powering off now" system - or even cheaper laptops that would melt the GPU off the board PDQ)

      If I ever buy another printer it'll be a 2nd-hand laser, not that I print very often, printing for me is so rare I normally go to a local library. Any one got thoughts on OKI printers? (the large office type ones I am eyeing up atm have massive Linux drivers, 80Kb for the printer and 1.2MB for the scanner/ADF!)

  21. Cuddles Silver badge

    Easy solution

    "hackers can exploit a "vulnerability where the supply chip meets the printer""

    The obvious way to prevent hackers from exploiting the DRM chip would be to not have the DRM chip.

    Aside from that, there's an interesting question to be asked about how locking down printers from using third party supplies interacts with right to repair laws. Is there anything in said laws distinguishing consumables like ink from other parts? If my printer stops working, it shouldn't matter whether that's due to a part with a known lifetime or a part that was expected to last for longer, I should be allowed to fix it using whatever third part services I like and not be locked into using only one provider. With a lot more focus on right to repair at the moment, I can't help wondering if HP can see the writing on the wall and are changing their game now before an expensive lawsuit forces them to do so.

    1. fidodogbreath Silver badge

      Re: Easy solution

      The obvious way to prevent hackers from exploiting the DRM chip would be to not have the DRM chip.

      Or the 1GB "driver" that phones home to the mother ship every 5 seconds.

  22. Speltier

    Epson Inkjet

    I had a very old Epson inkjet. Indestructible-- leave it out in the shed for a year in the heat, cold (far below freezing, with ink cartridges still installed!), humidity, bugs... drag it in, it would work. Third party cartridges, it would work. What killed it was that Epson stopped making drivers for it after Win98.

    So I replaced it with a then current model Epson. Ran through one cartridge set, and failed with an Epson new cartridge, needed new head, and it had not even resided in the shed yet. Sent to landfill, first replaced with a Kodak (yes, I fell for the marketdroid slobber). Well... that didn't work out any better than the 2nd Epson did. Eventually replaced with a Brother laser black and white. Which has worked well now for ages, through several toner cartridges. No HPs, no Epsons, no Kodaks. Cost per unit page is less too, but then it is black and white not color.

  23. Dr_N Silver badge

    Game Over

    Well that's my method (when the toner runs out you bin the printer and buy whichever older model is on offer with a bundled cartridge) dead and buried then. Ho hum.

  24. Ian 55

    Yellow dots

    Do they still print yellow dots on the page to identify what printer did any particular page?

    1. J. Cook Silver badge

      Re: Yellow dots

      The color ones IIRC do, because it was mandated by the US department of Treasury in a (poor) attempt to foil counterfeiters. I imagine other governments have similar dictates in place as well.

  25. chivo243 Silver badge
    Holmes

    We ditched about 90% of our HP printers for other MFPs and couldn't be happier about it. If we are an average group, I can see why HPs printer division is hurting.

  26. Ken Hagan Gold badge

    Dodgy analogies

    "This is like buying an unlocked cellphone, and then choosing your own wireless carrier."

    Depends what you mean by unlocked. I take unlocked to mean you can choose your carrier but you are still paying for it, whereas locked means you can't choose your carrier but are still paying for it. (I think that's now illegal in Europe. Carriers have to unlock on request.) Scenarios where you have as-much-as-you-can-eat calls and data but tied to a carrier's monthly rental agreement until you have paid for the phone are more like hire-purchase agreements. I've never seen one of those that didn't look eye-wateringly exhorbitant, but "your mileage may vary".

    And having sleepwalked into one car analogy, another is if you could buy a car and the manufacturer pays for all fuel and servicing over the lifetime of the product. I dread to think what that would do to car prices, but it seems quite close to what HP are talking about, so I'm wondering just how far upwards HP intend to push their prices. Perhaps they are contemplating the return of the £1000 bottom-of-the-range printer, but I doubt it.

  27. IGnatius T Foobar !

    Old Is Gold!

    My trusty HP LaserJet 5 is still running strong, having been built during an era when quality meant something, and you paid HP prices for HP quality. And since I can still get a toner cartridge for $25, I intend to keep this old workhorse running forever!

  28. nekomoto

    My HP Cartridges and Printer certainly ended up in Landfill.

    We had a nice HP network-tethered scanner/printer/fax, and always used HP branded ink. I was quite happy with it. It was even well supported under Linux.

    Then we moved hemispheres. Genuine HP ink purchased in Switzerland refused to work in a Genuine HP printer bought in Australia.

    Sadly, both ink and printer were junked, but happily I have never since bought another HP product.

    1. DugEBug
      Unhappy

      Re: My HP Cartridges and Printer certainly ended up in Landfill.

      Similar problem here - only I didn't move. Same result though (see 'region coding' post in this forum).

  29. Schultz
    Boffin

    "We rebalance the system profitability by monetising ..."

    That language nicely captures HP's problem: I, as a consumer do not desire to be "monetised". I want a decent product for a decent price and then I want to get on with my life without worrying about the shenanigans they play to maximize their profit margin.

    I use a HP printer and slowly work my way through half-liter bottles of ink - that reduces printing costs by an order of magnitude and really reduces landfill (as if HP really cared for that last point).

    If HP started hiring engineers instead of salespeople and went back to developing better hardware, I might regain some respect for the company. Anyone wants to take a bet on that one?

  30. sanmigueelbeer Silver badge

    I've got a solution to HPs failing printer business: Lobby the White House to make a policy for all US government offices to buy nothing but HP printers and genuine inks. And slap tarrifs on non-HP-branded printers.

  31. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Unhappy

    I've never not had trouble with an HP printer

    Paper sensor f**ked

    Cartridges drying out when you need them to work.

    Cartridges report near empty when you can hear fluid sloshing around inside them.

    Just my personal experience but I had an old Cannon bubble jet that never let me down till some skel stole it.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: I've never not had trouble with an HP printer

      I keep a Pixma for printing photos on occasion. Thing is, like it seems with most inkjets, they don't mothball well. One reason I stick to aftermarket supplies.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Slight counterpoint

    Over the years I have used various brands of printers, mostly inkjets. Heck, I've been doing that from when the first consumer ones came on the market, the Canon BJ130, which was both an audible and quality relief after years of dot matrix :) ).

    I've had HP Laserjets too, and I have never really have had a problem with them. Whoever wrote the Windows drivers for Brother, however, is probably a malware author in his or her spare time - they were *dreadful* so I'm not sure if the printer was slow because of the drivers or because it had to go through so much startup prep (most tend to occasionally auto-clean if you leave them powered up). Epson's are much better, but I occasionally found their printers flimsy.

    The printers that have impressed me most over time, though, have been from HP. I had the Officejet Pro K7(something), and it was *heavy*. When you gave it work to do it quickly became evident WHY it needed that mass: it was impressively fast, but as it was a classic "moving head" printer that speed meant mass moving back and forth - this was not a printer for a wobbly table. It had two heads which occasionally wanted replacement, but that was it - it ran quite fine on replacement ink so the fact that its original cartridges became hard to get wasn't a problem. I sold that one something like 8 years on and it was *still* working.

    I just bought the second HP Pagewide Pro 477 (the first is in an office abroad :) ). The cartridges for that are eye wateringly expensive until you calculate estimated cost per page (black estimated 10k pages, colours 6k) which works out quite reasonable. I like this printer because it's (a) damn fast - at full speed it'll chew through its 500 page drawer in 10 minutes or so, (2) very smart, in that it's multifunction with all sorts of little tricks that make life easy (like having TWO scan strips so when it's scanning doublesided it can do that in one single pass). The Pagewide have a different answer to moving printheads: they have a head that is as wide as a page. I obviously don't know yet how well it will age and I have already seen imitation ink on the market for 50% of the price, but my expectation with drivers, ink and general quality of hardware suggests it won't pose a problem for a long time. That said, if HP can manage to bring out the exact same printer but with a laser engine I will probably get one too for final print work.

    Now, cartridges. Yes, I too have return envelopes, but they're a tad small for some cartridges :). My problem with the Epson eco tank system is that I have seen what happens when ink leaks. Trust me, it is vile stuff you do NOT want to have on clothes or hands because the pigmentation is so dense that you dilute it for all you want, it *will* stain. I would not want that in any office..

    Yes, HP needs to stop selling ink so expensive, that ship has sailed. However, if they can keep up the quality of their hardware it is likely I'll buy from them again, even if it gets more expensive (within limits, of course). So far, my HP "experience" (God I hate that word) has been OK.

  33. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    Thinking of the future

    A multi-$Bn company and they are betting the future on more and more people needing expensive printers as cell phones, tablets and web apps become ubiquitous

    Are they also going to start building their own Telex machines ? A must for any modern office now that Fax is going away

  34. Uncle Ron

    "Nevermore."

    Whoever offers a printer that works and allows third-party ink will get my business. Not HP. They've eaten dinner off their distribution, and lock-outs, and clever tricks and retail spiffs and give-backs to procurement people, and not their product, for YEARS. Not any more--at least not for me. Just look at Sam's and Best Buy and all the rest and see the shelf space given to HP by devoted, loving buyers in their home offices. Build a long-lasting printer with quality ink at a REASONABLE price. The clever tricks they have used to disable third-party ink--with NO value-add for the customer--stink, and I will scour the earth to find vendors who use a decent business model.

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