This week I had to buy a new printer. I think I bought my first printer back around 1996. I can’t remember if I bought a printer first and then a scanner or the other way around. It was an Epson Stylus Photo printer and it may even have been a tabloid size printer (13×19 inch). I know that all my printers beyond the first one were that size and I think the first one was too but I’m going by memory so I’m not 100% sure. I don’t remember ever having a letter size printer (8.5×11 inches) but I guess I could have had one.

I stuck with Epson’s for years but they were all a little finicky to print on and the ink was very expensive. Finally I got tired of Epson printers and decided to get a Canon back in 2010. I usually went for the more expensive “Fine Art” photo printers and they ran me around $700. Both the Canon and the previous Epson printers were around that price. The Canon inks were expensive too.

In 2016 I decided to go a cheaper route with a new Canon printer. It was really the inks that were so expensive. Paying $700 for a new printer is one thing but it cost me around $90 every time I wanted to fill it with ink. It was around $12-$15 a cartridge (and they are small) and there were seven colors. I read somewhere around that time that printer ink was the most expensive liquid on Earth. I believe that. So this time I wanted a printer that could use knock-off inks.

Knock-off inks are not as reliable as the original manufacturer’s inks but they are a fraction of the price. I liked the Epson and Canon inks because they were archival and lasted a long time without fading but it turns out I never sold any of the art prints I made with them. So what was the point of them lasting forever? I decided I’d rather go cheaper because most of the prints I made were only temporary anyway. Lots of proof prints to make sure I got things right.

The Canon I bought back in 2016 has five color inks and a set of them will set you back $70. That’s nuts. But with this model Canon I can buy knock-off inks. The last knock-off inks I bought cost me $30 for eight sets of them. That’s right, $3.75 for a set of inks rather than $70. That’s why I went with this model of printer. Maybe the prints made with those inks won’t last forever but I don’t care.

After I got the cheap inks to go with the printer I found that it really freed me up to make prints. When it cost me $15 every time a color ran out, and one was always running out, I didn’t want to make many prints. But at $3.75 for a whole set of colors I printed away. I only had to think about if I had paper. I found some cheap fine arts paper too.

I’ve had trouble with this printer before. A couple of years ago I kept getting errors from it, tried everything I could to fix it, and ended up dropping about $100 on a new print head for it. That fixed things until now. Recently I started getting the same error message. It told me to turn off the printer, unplug it, and start it again. If that didn’t work then call my printer service center (of course I have no printer service center).

That plugging and unplugging, and sometimes having to wait a half an hour for it to cool down, worked over the last couple of months until this Thursday it didn’t. I got the error right away when the printer was still cold. I wrestled with it for a couple of hours but couldn’t get it going. I decided to try it first thing on Friday morning and if I couldn’t get it going then I’d buy a new printer.

Back that couple of years ago when I bought the print head I spent a lot of time looking at new printers. It turns out there hasn’t been a lot of forward progress in printers since 2016. The printer I already had was still the current model in that printer class. I decided to try the cheaper replacing the print head option and hoped it would work. My other choice was to buy another version of the same printer. I can’t remember the price at the time but it was around $250.

So this time I knew if I couldn’t get the printer going I didn’t want to search for another print head but would go ahead and buy a new printer. I gave a look to different printer brands and models but nothing had changed since I last looked a couple of years ago. Plus I still have a ton of ink cartridges for this model so that made my decision easy.

Friday morning I couldn’t get the printer started so I immediately ordered a new one. Same brand and same model. Nothing had changed about it since 2016. At it was still $250.

When the printer came on Saturday it was easy to set up. I removed the old one, cleaned up around it, and put the new one in its place. Thought the printer says it hooks up wirelessly over the network but I’ve always wired it in. It doesn’t even come with a USB cable but my old one was already in place. It was just plug and play from there.

I was nervous starting for the first time. I hoped I wouldn’t get that same orange warning light that I got on the old one. There is no reason I would since it’s brand new but logic didn’t stop my nervousness. But it was all okay and I printed out the stuff I was trying to print before the old one broke down. I’ll still be nervous for a while every time I turn it on but that’ll pass.

I’ll wrap up with the sentiment that I posted on Facebook when my printer broke down. I was annoyed that I was going to have to spend $250 on a new printer but happy that this was a problem that $250 could fix. And that I had the $250 to spare. I don’t think I had the money to spare a couple of years ago back in the Covid days. That’s what I went with the cheaper print head option.

Update: It’s been three weeks since I wrote this and guess what? My new printer was a lemon. It stopped feeding paper two weeks after I bought it and I had to exchange it for another new one. It’s only been one day with the second new one but it’s still running.