My Epson printer develops a problem
Ever since 2009 I have had the Epson Workforce 600 at my side. It is a multi-function printer / scanner / copier / fax machine that has provided me with very satisfactory output since I got it.
The other day I was preparing a letter to my sister which included printouts of some photographs. The quality was terrible! There were lighter and darker strips throughout the pictures. I went ahead and sent the letter anyway and then went about diagnosing the problem.
A plugged nozzle
The Epson printer has a "Nozzle Check" where it prints out a pattern of vertical and horizontal lines. If there are gaps in the lines, you know the nozzle is clogged and needs to be cleaned out. So you are next instructed to do a "Head Cleaning". After that, you print out the Nozzle Check patterns again. You are told that you may need to do this several times before you no longer see gaps in the lines. On the internet, I learned that you may need to do this 6 - 10 times. Of course, even if only one of the nozzles is clogged, you can't isolate the one nozzle. All of the nozzles go through the Head Cleaning procedure. The only nozzle that I was having a problem with was the one for the red (magenta) ink.
I ran through the procedure at least six times, with no change in results. So I started doing some more research on the internet to see what else I might be able to do. One thing you learn very quickly is that this procedure uses tons and tons of ink. I was wondering where all this ink was going to. I started getting this picture in my mind of a lake of ink in the bottom of the printer. It turns out there are sponges under the nozzles that are supposed to absorb the ink. So there were suggestions on the internet of trying to soak up some of the excess ink out of the sponges. There were also suggestions of trying to use alcohol or water in the sponges or trying to get some water or alcohol to the nozzle through the cone that pokes up into the ink cartridge. Nothing made any difference.
Finally, I read that all that ink being used to unplug the nozzle can actually plug the nozzle! Furthermore, I learned that if you leave the printer on all the time, the ink is kept fluid. This is so it will flow. But it also means that the ink will clog the nozzle more easily. I left my printer on 24 / 7 for the most part. I didn't know you were supposed to turn it off when not in use to allow the ink to dry up and to prevent the nozzles from getting clogged. I don't remember ever reading this in any of the instructions from Epson.
I give up
After learning all this, I decided I wasn't doing the printer any good by running the Nozzle Check and Head Cleaning over and over. So I finally called Epson. They had me go through the procedure one more time. The end result was, it was a hardware failure, my printer is a year out of warranty, so the only solution is to take it to a repair shop to get the print head replaced or buy a new printer. And with the prices of new printers being what they are, I imagined it would probably be cheaper to just get a new printer.
I was hoping that I would be able to use the Epson for awhile longer since I'm usually printing text on a daily basis, not pictures. But this was not to be.
After printing just one page, the Epson told me I was out of red ink! Furthermore, when the Epson runs out of ink in one of the cartridges, it won't allow you to do any more printing using the remaining cartridges. No. You have to replace the empty cartridge before you can do anything else. It also showed me that it was just about out of black ink as well.
Time for a new printer
Well, I wasn't going to buy more ink for a printer that wasn't working right. So all of a sudden, I didn't have the ability to shop around. I needed a replacement printer immediately. That meant that I had to get whatever was available in the Frederick, Maryland, area where I live. It also meant that I basically needed to go to Best Buy since that is the only store in this area that has a large selection of printers.
Once I got to Best Buy, my decision as to what to get was pretty much made for me. The one thing I really wished the Epson printer had was the ability to place documents larger than letter size on the glass scanning table. If I saw more than one printer with a legal size scanning glass in the local Best Buy, I don't remember what it was. The one I brought home was the Hewlett Packard Officejet Pro 8600 Plus . Besides the legal size scanning area, it has some other nice features including a larger size paper supply tray, duplexing capability, energy saving mode, and best of all, it supports AirPrint, Apple's technology for printing wirelessly from an iDevice.
HP Officejet Pro 8600 Plus
Getting the Officejet Pro 8600 Plus up and running was, as they say, a piece of cake. Even setting up the wireless connection was accomplished with ease.
The printer comes with a CD which installs the scanning software and other stuff. Here is where I ran into problems. It installed 6 of the 15 items, and then hung. So I spent the rest of the afternoon with HP Support figuring out how to work my way out of that problem. The bottom line was that they had to provide me updated software which I needed to download to replace the software that came on the CD. I had to completely shut down and reboot my computer before it would install.
I've been very satisfied with the Officejet so far. Of course I had to get used to using the new scanning software. Putting items on the scanning glass took some getting used to because you put your item exactly on the opposite corner from where it was on the Epson. AirPrint worked like a dream. One surprise is that the scanner is not TWAIN compliant! So other applications, like GraphicConverter, that are built to be used with TWAIN compliant scanners, won't work with the Officejet.
Even though the Officejet goes into idle mode when not used for a period of time, I'm still going to turn it off every night. I don't want to clog up a nozzle with ink like I apparently did with the Epson.