All-in-One Printers – a review

I feel compelled to write about all-in-one printers.  I have been using these multifunctions printers for some 20 years now, and always an HP.  After all, HP invented the market.  The multifunction printer does it all, fax, scan, copy, and of course, print your computer documents.  If you get a network ready model, you can print through your wireless network, and run one all-in-one printer for all the computers in your home or small business.

These printers last four or five years before they go out of alignment, a belt slips, or the paper feed messes up.  When your printer died, it use to be a no-brainer.  You go out and buy the latest HP.

But after my six year old HP died, I wanted to rethink that logic.  Since I end up doing the maintenance on the printer, I knew the HP printer well.  I only ever owned an HP, so I was use to their quirks, but I was dissatisfied.  What didn't I like about the HP.  The HP seems to be built with ill fitted plastic parts.  It feels and looks like plastic, and what I wanted was something that looked like a high-quality printer, think Lexus versus Chevy.  The HP ink cartridges are the highest priced on the market.  Everyone knows HP makes money on the ink cartridges, not the printer.  I never liked having to pay for cartridges that seem to run out of ink just when you had an important job to print.

And finally, the final straw was the software.  HP software ranks low in my eyes, right alongside Symantec software.  (Don't get me started.)  It's not the drivers themselves, it's the way the software application works: how it installs, how the network installs, how sometimes the driver just disappears and needs to be reinstalled, the scanner never worked properly, and still doesn't to this day.  These quirks were exasperated with the change to Vista.  Generally, HP software is a pain to install and use.  It makes you work to get your printer up and running, and in the end, I got tired of it.  It has trouble installing on a wireless network.  My thought was maybe there is a better printer than HP on the market.

I looked, and started reading the reviews.  I almost bought a Kodak.  The plus was the low price of its ink cartridges.  Yep, $12 versus the HP's $35.  The reviews said you needed special photo paper to print high-quality color, a minus, which brought me to Canon.
The Canon MX850 had the highest Amazon ranking of all network all-in-one printers on the market, 4.5 stars from 145 reviews, wow.  The HPJ4580 only made 4 stars with 14 reviews.  I took a chance, gave up my HP problems, blew all my HP software off my computers, and went with the Canon, and I'm glad I did.

I finished installing and setting up the Canon MX850, and I am gushing over the Canon.  It's print quality is superb, it's color quality is superb, it handles 17-28 lb paper.  The HP sometimes struggled with lighter copy paper.  It's parts go together precisely, like Lexus, not loosely like the HP.  It looks and feels well engineered.  I get smooth noise on print, not clunky noise with the HP.  The ink cartridges go in smoothly with a click and a light to signify proper install, not a plastic catch that forces the cartridge, like the HP.  The ink cartridges cost about $20, not bad, compared to $35.  The printer is easy to use.  The menus make sense and are logical laid out.  And finally, which prompted this article, the software is a joy.  It installs easily.  it takes care of a lot of things behind the scenes.  it installs quickly.  The HP seemed like it took forever to find the printer on the network.  The Canon found the printer quickly and just said finished with the install.

Right now, I'm a happy camper.  I wish I had gone with Canon six years ago.  Of course, I don't think they were available back then.  It looks to me like Canon built a better mousetrap in the interim.

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