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Thread: New Printer Advice

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    New Printer Advice

    I have really had enough of my Epson Stylus C46 ink jet. I do not print things very often, but every time I need to print something, the stupid thing needs a few hours of nozzle cleaning and general messing around until I finally get a mediocre quality print out of it. I'm sure i have spent more money on ink used to clean the nozzles than i have actually printing documents etc.

    The Epson is a few years old and I cant really afford to get a laser printer, so could anyone advise whether newer ink jets suffer from this same drying out/clogging problem?

    I went in to Staples and PC World today, and found an HP Deskjet F4272 in PC World for £35 which doesn't seem too bad, and an HP Deskjet F4280 in Staples for £68 with 3 years replacement product, a new cable and a ream of paper, which also seems like quite a good deal. I don't usually sign up for extended warranties and the like, and the 3 year replacement product service usually costs about £30 in Staples, which is pretty much the same price as i could spend on just getting a new printer anyway, should that one go wrong. Is it really worth spending the extra £30 for the extras with the F4280, bearing in mind that i already have paper and a USB cable?!

    The choice out there seems a little bewildering. Some of the smaller Canon printers look quite good also, and there are a few Lexmark models which also don't seem too bad. I like the idea of the front loading paper with the HP models, but have heard reports of poor driver support. The printer will be going under the desk on a small shelf, and it was a bit of a nightmare trying to bend paper the right way to get it into the Epson's rear paper feed without it creasing.

    I think the maximum we want to spend is about £70 and the other half made a good point about the all in one jobbies being only marginally dearer that just a printer, so we may as well get an all in one as I'm sure the copying and scanning could come in useful.

    So, could you lovely Hexites please advise me on what to get and what to avoid with the above in mind? Thanks in advance for any suggestions!

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    Re: New Printer Advice

    You're not alone WRT the Epson ink issues. I too have been unable to get decent printing quality without cleaning the nozzles several times (and it never works completely), and have seen the ink levels plummet incredibly fast.

    I've only heard good things about the Canon printers. I'd suggest you give it a shot.

    Try these two:

    http://www.canon.co.uk/For_Home/Prod...4500/index.asp

    http://www.canon.co.uk/For_Home/Prod...3600/index.asp

    About the all-in-one machines, I'd say be careful. You don't want to comprimise on quality wrt the actual printer, lest you end up in the same predicament as with the Epson junk. If you don't need the all-in-one, don't bother mate.

    Good luck!
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    Re: New Printer Advice

    The only two epson printers I had were dire. Always breaking, taking forever to print and being a general noisy pain in the backside. The £29 Lexmark P706 I had was pretty good, certainly speedy and quieter, but fell down on the usual thing inkjets do, ink drying up if it wasn't used often enough, and the paper loading system not working properly (taking 5 sheets at a time). I decided I'd had enough of inkjets and bought a second hand Laserjet 4050N off ebay (the one with ethernet). I'm delighted with it. it's big, but it's quiet, fast and awesome. It is, however, black and white.
    If you want a colour scanner/all in one style, the best ones seem to be the HP Photosmart style ones. They seem pretty reliable, but beware the ink tends to be expensive for HPs (doesn't seem to apply for laser toner)

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    Re: New Printer Advice

    I have had an HP 8450 photo printer for the last few years and it produces fantastic quality prints. It was either this printer or the much more expensive(at the time) Epson R800. Since the print heads are integrated into the print cartridge for the HP 8475 there are no problems with the print head wearing out too.
    Last edited by CAT-THE-FIFTH; 31-07-2009 at 03:27 AM.


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    Re: New Printer Advice

    IIRC, Lexmarks were like that too. £15 official cartridges from WHSmith were good too. Shame it got a bit tired after 3 years, but for £30 (including a set of cartridges - think about that!), it's for nothing really.

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    Re: New Printer Advice

    Quote Originally Posted by CAT-THE-FIFTH View Post
    ..... Since the print heads are integrated into the print cartridge for the HP 8475 there are no problems with the print head wearing out too.
    There's two ways of looking at that.

    One way (the HP way) is that since you get a new head with a new cartridge, the head never wears out.

    The other way (the Epson way) is that since the cartridges are piezo-electric not thermal, they don't suffer from the thermal stresses that HP (and most Canon) cartridges do, because they are heating ink droplets up to something like 330 degrees to fire the droplets, so the nozzles don't get the wear and will last the lifetime of the printer.

    Take your pick.

    Also, a warning about cartridge prices. If running costs are an issue, be careful to look at more than the cartridge price. Check the capacity too. Which is better value .... a 7ml cartridge for £15 or a 30ml cartridge for £30? One might be halfthe price of the other, but if the more expensive one lasts four or five times as long .....???

    It's only a guide, but typically, if the printer is really cheap, cartridges will be small and ink expensive.

    So a LOT comes down to how much it'll be used, and for what. Lasers are more expensive to buy but (generally) much cheaper to run, so if it'll be used a fair bit, think about that. But if thinking about colour lasers, be aware of low capacity starter cartridges qand check out the cost of a replacement set. A cheap colour laser might look good at £130, but ifthe cartridges only last a few weeks and you then need a new set at £300-£400 for a set, it no longer looks so cheap. And some DO cost that for a set.


    As for inkjets, my advice is to print an odd page every few days. Try to ensure it uses a bit of each colour. I have a test page with a few lines of text and a small block of each colour. I rarely get problems with blocked nozzles, and that's after many years of using mainly Epson machines, and certainly, for my photo output (except for the A4 Olympus dyesub).

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    Re: New Printer Advice

    Quote Originally Posted by Saracen View Post
    There's two ways of looking at that.

    One way (the HP way) is that since you get a new head with a new cartridge, the head never wears out.

    The other way (the Epson way) is that since the cartridges are piezo-electric not thermal, they don't suffer from the thermal stresses that HP (and most Canon) cartridges do, because they are heating ink droplets up to something like 330 degrees to fire the droplets, so the nozzles don't get the wear and will last the lifetime of the printer.

    Take your pick.
    The R800 has had many issues with ink clogging according to what I have read on forums and hence I prefer the HP method TBH. This was one of the main factors which pushed me towards the 8450 in the first place as it was a right pain with my previous Canon. With the Canon I needed to keep printing pages occasionally to stop it from clogging up or waste more ink unclogging it but with the HP I do not need to do this mucking around generally.

    Also to the OP for photo printing use the manufacturer's own inks as photos tend to fade much less quicker.
    Last edited by CAT-THE-FIFTH; 31-07-2009 at 03:31 AM.


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    Re: New Printer Advice

    No matter how infrequent its use, the HP photosmart printer we have here still seems to carry on regardless, a plus point for it over the Epsons and Lexmarks - the former of which seem to block for no reason, the latter which dry up if not used for more than a few weeks. The Stylus 640 I had a while back even leaked, with every set of cartridges too! The eventual demise of the 640 was a PSU failure (368 days from new - suspicious?) and the demise of its replacement the 670 was a failed end-sensor, the head motor didn't stop when the head reached the end of the bar, so it tried to force itself off and into the end of the printer. It didn't succeed of course, but what a racket!

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    Re: New Printer Advice

    Quote Originally Posted by CAT-THE-FIFTH View Post
    The R800 has had many issues with ink clogging according to what I have read on forums and hence I prefer the HP method TBH. ....
    I've not had an R800, but I have had, oh, about 30 other Epson models. I still have, errr, four I think (well, five, but one hasn't been used for a while). Only one has EVER clogged, and suspiciously, that was about the one time I tried 3rd party inks, and shortly after I did.

    Also, I have yet to see an HP printer that does as good a job on photos as the Epson photo printers, though I haven't checked out recent models. Certainly, the gap has narrowed a LOT, but on what I have seen, Epson still have it, though you have to be looking very closely these days.

    Oh, and it's not just Epsons I've seen a lot of. I've also got a couple of Canon machines (and have had many others), and have had a lot of HPs though (other than several lasers) don't have any right now. Oh, and the current collection also includes a couple of Lexmarks and I still have and occasionally use one of my three Alps Microdry machines too. And that Olympus dyesub.

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    Re: New Printer Advice

    Given the ridiculous time and cost involved with home printing photos if I want the job done right I do it at a photo shop. If I want the job done quickly and roughly at home I use a photo printer.

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    Re: New Printer Advice

    Thanks for all the advice and suggestions so far guys, much appreciated!

    I think i'm going to have a closer look at the Canon models, they look good for the money.

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    Re: New Printer Advice

    Quote Originally Posted by Saracen View Post
    I've not had an R800, but I have had, oh, about 30 other Epson models. I still have, errr, four I think (well, five, but one hasn't been used for a while). Only one has EVER clogged, and suspiciously, that was about the one time I tried 3rd party inks, and shortly after I did.

    Also, I have yet to see an HP printer that does as good a job on photos as the Epson photo printers, though I haven't checked out recent models. Certainly, the gap has narrowed a LOT, but on what I have seen, Epson still have it, though you have to be looking very closely these days.
    It was either the HP 8450 or Epson R800 and I preferred the picture quality of the 8450. Of course there have been fanboi debates about which is better for YEARS. It just shows how good each printer is and I have to disagree with you about image quality from actual use and viewing of samples from BOTH printers. The main advantage of the R800 was the use of pigment inks which means that they dry quicker however the dye based inks of the HP meant it had a wider gamut and better reproduction of vivid colours when compared to the Epson pigment inks at the time. I have prints in the living room which have been up for three years+ and there is no fading at all!! Of course ink tech has improved in the last 4 years from all manufacturers and certainly having seen the results of higher end HP printers they are certainly as good as anything Epson has to offer. Also what paper you use also affects the prints too and I always get top end paper.

    Of course The R800 also has had issues with the heads clogging too which is more likely given the fact it is going to be used for printing pictures only.
    Last edited by CAT-THE-FIFTH; 01-08-2009 at 01:47 PM.


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    Re: New Printer Advice

    Quote Originally Posted by sammorris View Post
    Given the ridiculous time and cost involved with home printing photos if I want the job done right I do it at a photo shop. If I want the job done quickly and roughly at home I use a photo printer.
    I'm exactly the opposite - if I want it done quickly, I get it done at a print shop, If I want it done right, I do it myself.

    Of course, in getting it "right", I mean I'm getting it done how I want it, not how the tech at the shop does it. I'm fortunate in having a local place that does do hand-adjusted prints, and they're pretty good, which most places aren't. Of course, you pay for that. But even then, it's their interpretation, not mine.

    Of course, that does imply decent printers, a properly calibrated system, good quality materials and understanding them, as one good quality paper needs to be treated (and calibrated) differently to another, and knowing what you want and how to get it.

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    Re: New Printer Advice

    Quote Originally Posted by CAT-THE-FIFTH View Post
    It was either the HP 8450 or Epson R800 and I preferred the picture quality of the 8450. Of course there have been fanboi debates about which is better for YEARS. It just shows how good each printer is and I have to disagree with you about image quality from actual use and viewing of samples from BOTH printers. The main advantage of the R800 was the use of pigment inks which means that they dry quicker however the dye based inks of the HP meant it had a wider gamut and better reproduction of vivid colours when compared to the Epson pigment inks at the time. I have prints in the living room which have been up for three years+ and there is no fading at all!! Of course ink tech has improved in the last 4 years from all manufacturers and certainly having seen the results of higher end HP printers they are certainly as good as anything Epson has to offer. Also what paper you use also affects the prints too and I always get top end paper.

    Of course The R800 also has had issues with the heads clogging too which is more likely given the fact it is going to be used for printing pictures only.
    I certainly agree about choice of papers. Good quality papers is critical for top results, but it's more than that. Some papers suit some printers (or inks) much better than others, so getting the best results means choice in which media you use, and (IMHO) no one media is "best" ..... it depends what effect you're trying to achieve, and what printer you're doing it on.

    I wouldn't preclude the possibility that HP (and/or Canon) have caught up with Epson, though I stand by what I said, which is that I haven't seen results of either that match up to Epson, say to the Epson 3800. But they might.

    To judge, though, you really need to give the same set of images to several very good people, each of whom knows their hardware, and see what paper they choose, because what works best with Epson might not be the best choice for HP, and it's certainly the case that the right papers for pigment probably aren't the best papers for dye inks.

    As for gamut, well, maybe. But recent pigment inks are very close to the gamut of dyes, and in my opinion, the very marginal difference in gamut is a price worth paying given the benefits of resilience and colour longevity. Of course, as pigment inks have made improvements with micro-encapsulation (etc) to improve gamut, so have dye inks made progress with resin-coated papers to improve longe4vity, especially in relation to UV. Both technologies move forwards.

    As I said, the gap has narrowed. It's not all that many years ago that, at least in consumer and small business markets, Epson left HP and Canon, and the others, standing. You might get a different result if you went up to Fuji Pictography, etc, or higher, but for the consumer-type desktop machines, if you wanted a serious photo printer you bought Epson. Now, it's much less obvious.

    Re: the R800. As I say, I don't know it all that well. My photo printers are all A3 (other than the dye-sub Olympus). My view is that if you by a photo printer, it ought to be for printing photos, as they generally aren't the best choice for general office-type printing. So I wouldn't buy an R800 unless it was mainly for photos, and I wouldn't buy a photo printer unless I was using it a fair bit for photos. But there's a spectrum ..... how much of the usage is photos and how much non-photos.

    Oh, and I have an old Epson Stylus Photo 2000P. I hadn't used it for ages, by which I mean a couple of years at least. It was my standby. A friend wanted to buy it. I thought "hmmm .... blocked nozzles???" I got it out, plugged it in, did two cleaning cycles and it printed perfectly, not a blocked nozzle in sight.

    I know a lot of people have problems with nozzles. All I can say is that in, oh, 15 years or so of using Epson printers, I've had a nozzle problem ONCE, on an office machine that had seen heavy use and even then, only after I'd used 3rd party inks. I'm not saying those that have problems are wrong, though on several occasions, when discussing it, 3rd party inks emerge as a factor (and they vary a LOT) ... merely that it hasn't been my experience.


    Oh, and on top of using good quality papers, and the right paper for the right machine, calibration is critical for best results.

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    Re: New Printer Advice

    Quote Originally Posted by Saracen View Post
    I certainly agree about choice of papers. Good quality papers is critical for top results, but it's more than that. Some papers suit some printers (or inks) much better than others, so getting the best results means choice in which media you use, and (IMHO) no one media is "best" ..... it depends what effect you're trying to achieve, and what printer you're doing it on.

    I wouldn't preclude the possibility that HP (and/or Canon) have caught up with Epson, though I stand by what I said, which is that I haven't seen results of either that match up to Epson, say to the Epson 3800. But they might.

    To judge, though, you really need to give the same set of images to several very good people, each of whom knows their hardware, and see what paper they choose, because what works best with Epson might not be the best choice for HP, and it's certainly the case that the right papers for pigment probably aren't the best papers for dye inks.
    The thing is that before I purchase any printer I do my research and that includes looking at printed samples too(not necessarily from the manufacturer). I have also gone to several photo tech shows like Focus on Imaging too and TBH in the last 5 years I would say that many of the HP printers are as good as what Epson has to offer or in some cases even better. However what is good for one is terrible for another just like some people prefer Fuji or some other company for larger printing tech. It really depends on what you like. For instance I prefer the Kodak papers over Fuji ones but others prefer the opposite.

    I also make sure that I calibrate the screen and the printer too. Also I test quite a few different papers too using specific test images(s) too and anyone who does not is being a tad silly IMHO as results can vary hugely in my experience.

    Quote Originally Posted by Saracen View Post
    As for gamut, well, maybe. But recent pigment inks are very close to the gamut of dyes, and in my opinion, the very marginal difference in gamut is a price worth paying given the benefits of resilience and colour longevity. Of course, as pigment inks have made improvements with micro-encapsulation (etc) to improve gamut, so have dye inks made progress with resin-coated papers to improve longe4vity, especially in relation to UV. Both technologies move forwards.

    As I said, the gap has narrowed. It's not all that many years ago that, at least in consumer and small business markets, Epson left HP and Canon, and the others, standing. You might get a different result if you went up to Fuji Pictography, etc, or higher, but for the consumer-type desktop machines, if you wanted a serious photo printer you bought Epson. Now, it's much less obvious.
    I have had prints behind glass for 3+ years made using the HP 8450 and this in a living room with large bay windows in the direct path of light. No fading at all and this was unlike my previous Canon which had a maximum of 6 months. I will check back on them perhaps in another three years time too just to see.

    Also the 8450 was better for me than the R800 for black and white prints as it has dedicated grey cartridges for this purposes and the R800 didn't. The HP 8450 was probably the first A4 photo printer to challenge Epson successfully at the A4 size in my opinion.

    Regarding the inks HP have their own series of Vivera pigment inks whereas Epson have their Claria Photographic dye inks so it seems both companies are flirting with multiple inks technologies at the same time!

    Quote Originally Posted by Saracen View Post
    Re: the R800. As I say, I don't know it all that well. My photo printers are all A3 (other than the dye-sub Olympus). My view is that if you by a photo printer, it ought to be for printing photos, as they generally aren't the best choice for general office-type printing. So I wouldn't buy an R800 unless it was mainly for photos, and I wouldn't buy a photo printer unless I was using it a fair bit for photos. But there's a spectrum ..... how much of the usage is photos and how much non-photos.

    Yep, I agree with you there entirely. The inks for photo printers usually cost more and normal document printing is not meant to be what they are used for. It makes sense to go for another printer for non photo uses.

    Quote Originally Posted by Saracen View Post

    Oh, and I have an old Epson Stylus Photo 2000P. I hadn't used it for ages, by which I mean a couple of years at least. It was my standby. A friend wanted to buy it. I thought "hmmm .... blocked nozzles???" I got it out, plugged it in, did two cleaning cycles and it printed perfectly, not a blocked nozzle in sight.

    I know a lot of people have problems with nozzles. All I can say is that in, oh, 15 years or so of using Epson printers, I've had a nozzle problem ONCE, on an office machine that had seen heavy use and even then, only after I'd used 3rd party inks. I'm not saying those that have problems are wrong, though on several occasions, when discussing it, 3rd party inks emerge as a factor (and they vary a LOT) ... merely that it hasn't been my experience.


    Oh, and on top of using good quality papers, and the right paper for the right machine, calibration is critical for best results.
    Unless it has been replaced the R800 was the best A4 photo printer Epson made. It is certainly an excellent printer no doubt but the number of posts about R800 which have issues with their nozzles is a tad scary. These people were using Epson ink and using the printers quite often too. Perhaps it is just the R800 which has these issues as there seems to be less noise about their A3 printers.
    Last edited by CAT-THE-FIFTH; 01-08-2009 at 05:31 PM.


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