Why I don’t like HP Laserjet Printers

December 4, 2006 at 2:33 pm 3 comments

Some time back, I made a decision not to buy any more HP Laserjet Printers. There were a number of reasons for this, some of which I will try to cover in this post and which will hopefully encourage other people to think carefully about the alternatives out there. A couple of days ago, one of our users insisted that their old HP Laserjet printer (which admittedly had provided excellent service for a number of years) be replaced with a newer HP model as the printer had been jamming frequently and one of the rollers was pretty badly damaged.

The new printer arrived today and I quickly went about setting it up. The printer looked swish and as it was networkable, I would have to install drivers on a number of computers around the building. Usually, I choose to do a minimum install as I’m only interested in getting the drivers installed and the printer up and running. I’m not after all of the other bells and whistles that come along with many devices. In the end, most users don’t even use the extra tools that come with these products. All they want is a functional printer.

I inserted the CD-ROM that came with the printer and was assaulted with a tutorial on how to remove the printer from its packaging. Fair enough, maybe some people need help with this stuff. Nonetheless, when you’re in more of an enterprise environment, you don’t need to waste time with this stuff. So I finally work out how to skip the tutorial and move onto installing the software. Instantly I get a message telling me not to power on the printer or connect the USB cable until the driver has been installed. Get real! There are 10 users that I’m installing this for, distributed around the building. I’m not running backward and forward to keep powering down the printer. And the printer is networkable… I’m never going to use the USB cable (which isn’t provided anyway). So I leave the printer on and leave it networked. Not a bad idea, because it doesn’t bother the installer a jot.

I click through the licence agreement and a bunch of other Next buttons, until I can choose the install type: Minimal… 18 MB! Are HP off their heads? Its just a driver I want. Not half an operating system!!! Anyway, we’ll live with it. So off we go with the install. It takes 15 minutes on the first computer to do the install. Crikey. I remember when installing a printer just required you to right click on an INF file and click Install. It used to take less than a minute. Ah well, technology is getting more complex and sure, you need to go through a couple of configuration steps to find the printer on the network etc. I’ll live with that.

But here comes the real cracker… You need to REBOOT to finish installing the printer. No option to Cancel, or Reboot Later or anything. You have to do this now or your computer is going to explode and the Internet will corrupt and  fire will come down from heaven. And this is what really pisses me off. I usually try to time my installs and stuff for when users are not at their desks. Unfortunately, users also tend to leave open documents that they’re working on, emails that are half-composed, cataloguing entries in the database that are incomplete. Now, I’m faced with a dilemma. Do I just leave this software sitting there on someone’s computer, half installed and insisting on a Reboot, for when they return from their lunch break? Or do I make a whole bunch of assumptions about what needs to be saved and where to? Sod it, I’m just doing my job. Save everything to wherever and reboot.

Finally, the computer is up after about 20 minutes of messing around, and then I am confronted with the Register This Printer screen with a whole bunch of pretty images (that rest assured, are sitting in a bunch of uninvited files all over my users hard disks). I cancel my way out of that. Only to discover that for some reason on the first computer I install this on, the Print Spooler has crashed. I restart it and voila! we have one installation of the printer on the network, after nearly 25 minutes.

Okay, so the Print Spooler didn’t crash on every machine. But the most horrifying thing about the software is that it is far from a minimal install. Instead, each machine now has a bunch of PDF files describing how the printer works. A whole bunch of extra software, like HP Updates and Registration software. In the end, I have a collosal install of a bunch of stuff that I really didn’t want. I just wanted a driver.  I ended up installing the printer on 4 of the PCs and decided that I had wasted enough time on this project today. I’ll have to get back to it tomorrow.

Here are some reasons I don’t like HP Laserjet Printers:

  • They are frequently more expensive than competing brands
  • For some newer models it is difficult to find drivers for Linux systems
  • The software is often more bloated than it needs to be, and NO printer driver should require a system reboot (restart the Print Spooler, sure. That should do it.)
  • A full install includes a Tomcat JSP application server, and I think an Apache instance on a basic Workstation. Man, talk about overkill. Put your junky web application onto your network adapter like other manufacturers, HP. Then I can check my Printer status with software already on my computer, and save myself some CPU cycles.
  • Want to print both sides of a page? Most HP printers will require that you buy an additional component to achieve Full Duplex printing. Hey, guess what? Brother builds that functionality into nearly all of their workgroup printers, and even into some of their Desktop printers.

So to finish my rant, I’m just going to do a quick promo for Brother:

  • Brother’s pricing is not hugely competitive with HP, but they certainly make better printers. If you’ve got a really small workgroup, you could do fine with a networkable desktop like this  or this (and you’ll get Full Duplex printing built in 😉 )
  • Brother actively supports development and distribution of Linux drivers, they’re included on the Installer CDs, and they’re downloadable of their website. They also indicate Linux support for each printer on their site and on the packaging of the printer. That gives me a warm cozy feeling.
  • The software is pretty slim, and a minimal install pretty much gives you what it says! I usually manage to do an install for a Brother printer on the network in around 5 minutes.
  • Want a full run down of your printer configuration and status? You don’t need extra software for that, open up your browser and point it at the IP address that your printer has been assigned. In fact, not only that, the Web friendly interface on a Brother printer will also allow you to check the status of other printers on your network, including HP Printers. At a quick glance at the web interface on one of my Brother printers,  I can see that one of the HP Printers on the network needs a cartridge replacement.
  • And Brother Printers are energy efficient. They sleep when they have not been in use for a while. Sure, this means that when you send a print job to the printer it might take a little longer to respond. But once its going its swift as anything and you’re doing your bit for the environment (and your electricity bill).

Now HP are well respected for their printers, and I’m sure a lot of people will have a lot to say about my opinion of HP and their printer software lately, but when it comes down to it, I’m glad I’ve taken up the alternative. So check out your options before you buy.

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3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Micheal  |  February 27, 2007 at 12:47 am

    You should check out the new line of printers from Kodak, their reliable and the ink is cheap, only $10 for black ink and $15 for color ink. Check http://www.inkisit.com
    For more info

    Reply
  • 2. Discounted Printers  |  April 9, 2008 at 10:37 am

    If you don’t like HP rinters anymore the I would definately reccommend the new Canon Printer series.

    Reply
  • 3. Hp Ink Cartridge  |  October 23, 2009 at 7:04 am

    “HP 11 Color Pack – High quality Compatible ink cartridges C4836AN cyan, C4837AN magenta and C4838AN yellow. We carry the highest quality products available in the market today. all the products are backed by our180-days satisfaction uarantee or your money back.
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    Reply

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