To round off a week of minor disasters, my ancient HP deskjet broke on Sunday morning. The print head jammed, and when I reached around to see if anything was blocking it, a long strip of plastic came away in my hand. It seems to have been the belt that was pulling the print head along. I resolved some years ago not to buy another HP printer, since it is so hard to avoid paying their prices for ink. Besides, their printers seem to get more and more plasticky. Despite this, I did look at a replacement HP machine, since I have half a dozen cartridges spare for this one — but of course they have changed the cartridge design again; since my existing cartridges are no use, they have lost a customer for good.
But the old machine did have one feature I use all the time — it prints on both sides of the paper, without intervention. It looked as if this would be impossible to replace: try searching on duplex printer, and see where that gets you. After about an hour on the web, I suddenly realised that I had spent an hour looking at web sites about printers. This is a part of my life I will never get back. I drove into Cambridge, where there is a sleazy strip to the North East of town which pretends to be an American mall, but cramped and without any shops that might be fun to enter or cheap. Instead, there is a PC World.
I had forgotten the Dixon’s customer experience — partially shaved assistants bulging out of the lower half of their uniform shirts, who can only with difficulty and encouragement read the information printed on a box and certainly don’t have anything to add to it. After ten minutes, I left, and went to Staples which is a quiet and unglamorous barn, where office toys are piled high and sold cheap. They had a little Canon printer which said in tiny print that it did duplex. The assistant here didn’t know anything about it, but at least he knew didn’t know, and that this mattered to me. So I bought it, and despite the worst manual I have ever found on a printer got it installed in an hour. It does print duplex, and reasonably fast. It appears that all Canon photo printers do this. Why do they not make more of this useful skill in their advertising? In the meantime, I am wondering whether to change the printer for [“something faster and more glamorous”:http://www.dabs.com/productview.aspx?Quicklinx=3GW7&CategorySelectedId=11113&PageMode=1&NavigationKey=11113,41320000,50330&v=3] from the same company. The argument against is clear: it will only cause me to waste time printing photographs rather than words. But then again, I like printing photographs.
And now I have had a tiny revenge on the universe for making _me_ think about printers.
fn1. that’s to say about 20% more than online, even with postage costs.