One of the more aggravating things in life: consumer electronic reviews, and printers

The Eco-Tank is the line of printers. So, buy a new printer, which is an Eco-Tank.

The closest service center for them is 90 miles away, and I’m not sure what it would cost anyway for the refurb. I’d think that with shipping and service costs, it’s not going to be much less, if any, then just buying a new one.

Still think I come out way ahead on savings on ink, as the cost of ink is less than 10% that of buying cartridges.

I wonder if you could do it yourself easily? If it’s just a matter of emptying the tray it might be possible. I suppose you might also need a new sponge or sponges and they may or may not be readily available. I suppose you would also have to know how to reset the “service alert” but there would be a good chance you could find out how to do that online.

I generally like doing all my own repairs and maintenance on everything I own but I must say I would be very hesitant to do this job simply because my experience - based on having pulled inkjet printers apart previously - is that the ink is a nightmare because it is so messy to deal with. Stains everything.

That’s the big issue with the Eco-Tank. It’s almost impossible to refill the tanks without taking an ink bath.

I’m fairly mechanically inclined, so I could most likely fix it myself, if it were that easy.

That’s part of the problem. Unless you are a certified repair center, you don’t have access to such proprietary parts.

That’s the other part of the problem. You can get a program from some potentially sketchy places on the internet that want to charge you for the key. It’s not too expensive, but I don’t know that I trust third party vendors like that with either my data or my payment information.

Really? I’ve never had a problem with it at all. The refill bottles plug into the tops of the tanks securely, and I’ve not had even a drop of ink escape.

I used to refill my HP cartridges using syringes. That was a mess.

That’s true for the newer models, as I discovered to my joy with my new Epson. But the old one I had from 2016 was a total PITA. There was no handy plug-in connection, nor anything in the ink bottle to prevent it from gushing out as soon as you tipped it. I learned quickly to wear rubber gloves and to put down newspaper for any spills.

Can someone explain why printers need to install stuff on my PC?

Is it because printers suck or is it because M$ sucks?

I now have to send stuff to my phone to print because my laptop (W10) is too dumb to figure out how to print.

Well, first, the printer has to communicate with your computer in some way, so there have to be protocols and handshakes to be defined and established.

Second, the printer has to interpret the data output from the computer and translate it to the proprietary format the printer needs. This is not standardized (though of course there are some standards), so the printer drivers have to handle this conversion.

EinsteinsHund has given the straight answer i.e. that your printer and your PC need driver software to talk to one another.

The somewhat more cynical additional answer is that printer manufacturers use the need to install drivers as an excuse to install a lot of other self-serving bloatware, which is a pain. Our Epson printer isn’t so much a printer as a persistent, nagging, high-pressure ink salesman.

I don’t remember the sponges being anything too special, you may well just be able to use standard sponge cut to size.

I may have a higher tolerance for cyber-risk than you, but I would risk that site. It’s very professionally made. They take paypal so you aren’t going to have to give them your payment info. So the worst that could happen is that their software has malware built in - which a scan is likely to find. Also, a quick google does not raise any red flags about them and they seem to have been around for some time.

I’d try it - mind you I’m almost fanatical about self-repair so take that into account. I’m curious now about whether you do it and whether it works. Let me know if you try it, I love hearing success stories about this sort of thing.

XKCD commentary on product reviews:

I haven’t bought a printer in quite some time, but the inexpensive HP Laserjet 1020 I have is about 15 years old and still works fine, never jams, paper is easy to load and the toner cartridge is easy to replace, though it lasts a really long time. So I’m a fan of HP printers.

But on the general subject of product reviews, I’m totally with you. I had to buy a new washing machine a few years ago and it was frustrating as hell. Pretty much every washer had horrible reviews – apparently, they are all junk, according to reviews (see cartoon above). I finally bought a Maytag top loader. According to reviews: it’s (a) noisy, (b) makes sounds like it’s going to break down at any moment, (c) doesn’t clean, (d) ties your clothes up in knots. And this was among the best of a bad lot – most others were worse! According to the reality of my experience, it’s perfectly fine – actually a really nice machine.

Online reviews are a terrific example of how not to gather data. They:

  • are anecdotal
  • are self-selected
  • often comprise subjective judgments of those without underlying experience or expertise
  • are often from people who are biased for various reasons
  • often are not a significant sample size

It’s like someone said “hey let’s see if we can gather a dataset with the greatest number of fatal flaws possible!” and came up with this sort of review system.

That would be a valid point if other systems (my phone) couldn’t print everything I throw at it without any additional “firmware”.
As it is it seems M$ is complicit in letting printer manufacturers install what is effectively malware.

You forgot “are often utterly bogus” and “often not even for the product in question”.

Yep, yep, yep.

The husband of a friend of mine believes that ALL amazon reviews are made up lies. Even if a product has 15,000+ reviews, he doesn’t believe any of them.

I do read reviews and use my common sense. Some can be very helpful and informative.

In the last 10-15 years, I’ve found Windows to be pretty reliable at already having the correct driver, being able to get the correct driver or having a generic driver that works. Nowadays, where it seems every printer, every mouse, even every monitor all come with a CD that says 'INSTALL THIS FIRST", I don’t do that. I’ll plug the device in first and if it works and there isn’t some special feature I need that comes with the software, I’m good to go. I don’t need a bunch of HP or Logitech or Viewsonic programs running in the background, calling home, constantly updating, screwing around with privacy settings etc.
Again, if there’s something that I want that requires the software, that’s fine. But I see little point in installing it just because the directions said to, especially if it’ll run fine without it.

Yep, and if you do need the drivers, the best course is to get the bloatware exe (which is usually just an archive) off the CD, open it using 7-Zip or whatever, find the drivers and install them manually.

Generic drivers (like what The_Librarian’s phone uses) are usually all you need for basic printing but the manufacturer’s drivers often do more, like allow print head cleaning, alignment and so on. And in the case of my Epson they do have various settings that you can change for printing on high gloss photo stock which are effective and useful.

More often than not, you can just get the driver from the manufacturer’s website.
Of course, it’ll probably want you to install something to detect what hardware, OS and device you have to get the correct one, which is sometimes helpful, but generally not required.

IOW works and while at it sounds like just about every washing machine I’ve ever known?