Friday, November 28, 2008

New Printer from Staples

My Canon S330 printer died recently. I turned it on one day and instead of getting a steady green light once it did all its initial stuff, the light would blink green followed by seven amber flashes. It was a print head problem. I found information online about stuff to try, tried it, and for a very short time the printer worked again. Earlier this week, though, the amber flashes were back, and the same tricks had no effect. A new print head would cost almost as much as a new printer, plus I was out of color ink (this had never caused the printer to stop printing in grayscale before). I'd had it for several years and had gotten it on sale, so I figure I got my money's worth out of it.

I went printer shopping online, and the best deal I could find for what I wanted was an HP C4480 all-in-one printer for $49.98 (half the usual price) at Staples on sale the two days after Thanksgiving. Amazon states it has been discontinued by HP, so this is obviously a clearance item.

I wanted an HP because I'd read their printer cartridges don't start indicating they're running out when the cartridge still has a whole lot of ink left, nor do they
just stop printing when the cartridge still has a lot of ink. Also, the C4480 uses fairly common ink cartridges and even the standard ones are bigger than those for the Canon S330. They cost more, but overall I think I'll be getting more ink for the buck with them. Even better, there are large-capacity cartridges available.

Staples was opening at 6 a.m. today (Friday), so I decided I'd get up early and be there.
The printer mission was successful.

I wasn't prepared for all the cars in the parking lot when I got there at around 5:45, or the line that went around the corner of the building (probably 50 people or more) and continued to grow. Staples had someone out there with tickets for certain items, probably because there weren't that many in stock. I didn't need one.

They opened the doors about three minutes early and because they'd blocked off certain areas to funnel the crowd, I found myself going right to the printer aisle where I spotted the sign with the large-type price right away, and it was for the C4480. Perhaps they had more in back because there were only two in boxes under the display model. I picked up a box and headed for the checkout. The woman at the checkout suggested buying ink cartridges. She said the supplied ones were "only one-third full." I suspect what she meant was the standard cartridges are one-third the capacity of the larger ones. At least, I hope so. One of each larger ones would've cost more ($69.98) than I was paying for the printer. Even one each of the standard cartridges would total $33.98 at Staples, or 68% of the cost of the printer. It's easy to see the profit is in the ink, not the printers. Online prices are close to half of what Staples charges, so that's probably how I'll be buying ink in the future.

The whole buying process was so fast I was out the door and headed for my car at 6:01. Staples really lived up to its motto of "That was easy." I went home and back to bed for a while before getting up to unbox and set up the printer.

I must have put a little too much paper in the input tray because my first printing attempt for a page to do an alignment test resulted in a jam. After taking out some paper, everything was fine.

The test photo print of a parrot's head closeup looks pretty decent. The 4x6 print
is cropped a bit more than I'd like, but I may have chosen a photo that was sized for 8x10. I'm not concerned as it was just a test to see what a print would look like, then what a scan of that print looks like when saved to the computer and added here.

The parrot was at the 2007 Portland Pirate Festival as part of the Pirate Parrot Show. The photo was taken with my Canon PowerShot S3 IS.

It's nice having a scanner as part of the printer because now and then it will come in handy for building Squidoo lenses. I can scan in book covers, for example. The printer also has slots for memory cards, but the LCD screen is only 1.5" so it makes more sense to put the card in the computer and work from there. But if I ever wanted a quick print and the computer was off, the slots on the printer might come in handy.

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