Are there any GOOD inkjet printers?

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by fizzicist, Dec 30, 2009.

  1. fizzicist macrumors newbie


    Dec 30, 2009
    SoCal, USA
    Hi. I'm new to the forums.

    Let me first define what I mean by "GOOD":
    • The printer just works—predictably, reliably, and consistently, year in and year out.
    • It provides good quality black and white for text and realistic, balanced color for photos and graphics.
    • The printer will use any good quality ink I choose to use, even if that means I refill my own ink cartridges.
    • The manufacturer provides full support for Mac users, not support that is a patched or jerry-rigged version of what was obviously intended for Windows users.
    • The manufacturer provides support by humans who speak English and actually know more about how to troubleshoot and diagnose a problem than I do...especially with their own equipment.
    ...and finally (this one is probably the toughest):
    • The printer will print directly on CDs or DVDs.
    Maybe I'm missing something, but if there's an inkjet printer that doesn't fail to fulfill at least two or more of the above criteria, I'd surely appreciate someone tipping me off as to which printer it is.

    I've driven myself to a state of nearly total confusion—drooling, babbling, and grumbling—from reading an endless succession of "reviews" by people who give their printers 4 or 5 stars (...or eggs, or whatever) after having used them for only a couple of days. Most of them seem completely oblivious to cost-of-ownership criteria. Apparently they don't mind paying exorbitant ink costs. I have read many more 1, 2, or 3-star reviews by people who've actually taken some time to use their printers for some months. They're at best only grudgingly satisfied users.

    Based on everything I've read (and my own dismal experiences with Epson and Canon printers), I've reached the following general conclusions:
    • Printer manufacturers simply don't build their printers to last; rather, they build them for planned obsolescence.
    • The entire (inkjet) printer manufacturing business model is based on the profitability of selling ink, not on the profitability of selling good quality machines.
    • There have been no significant advances in inkjet printing technology for nearly a decade. The printers have more bells and whistles, but other than reductions in droplet size or the inclusion of multiple heads, the basic printing technology itself is the same. In other words, innovation is pretty much dead.
    • There is something odd—some form of collusion, or at least legalistic terrorism—that prevents most printer manufacturers from providing their printers with the ability to print directly on CDs and DVDs. (I'm specifically referring to Canon's disabling CD/DVD printing functionality on the printers they sell in the USA.)
    I admit that I sound like a disgruntled user, but that's because I am. I won't catalog the problems I've had with Epson (horrible) and Canon (vastly better, but still a nightmare) here. I'd just like to know if there's anyone who can tell me about a printer that meets the criteria for a "GOOD" printer a I've defined it above.

  2. Jaro65 macrumors 68040


    Mar 27, 2009
    Seattle, WA
    I have replaced my HP OfficeJet about 6 months ago with a Canon MX860. The Canon is connected through WiFi to my AEBS (Airport Extreme Base Station) router and so allows for a convenient wireless printing. I have been quite happy with it so far.
  3. MisterMe macrumors G4


    Jul 17, 2002
    That's not what I would call you. You want the impossible. It is impossible for HP, Canon, Epson, or any other manufacturer to guarantee the quality of ink that you decide to use in cartridge refills.

    Today's printer market features laser printers that cost less than inkjet printers of a few years ago and inkjet printers that cost little more than a full complement of replacement ink cartridges. In 1999, you may have been able to buy an inkjet printer that had been built like and anvil and one that made economic sense to repair if broken. In today's market, it makes no economic sense to build inkjet printers to last. It makes no sense at all to repair a broken inkjet printer.

    You claim to be a physicist. Take an economic course. You will learn that all questions do not have technical answers. As a bonus, when your professor says "derivative," you will smile as your classmates look at each other and mutter "Wh-h-a-a-a-a-a-t?"
  4. Makosuke macrumors 603

    Aug 15, 2001
    The Cool Part of CA, USA
    See comments on how dirt-cheap printers are these days, but I also note that all the Canon printers I've owned in the past ~8 years have lasted quite a while--none broke, I ended up selling them to replace with a higher-end model (all of which I got free with a new Mac). I admittedly don't print that much, but still, longevity was acceptable, and my parents print vast amounts of stuff on their Canon inkjets (my dad's a photographer, and my mom is addicted to paper), all three of which survived several years as well.

    Yes, it's called "mature technology."

    By that measure there haven't been any major innovations in rotating hard drive storage since 1990, no big changes in the internal combustion engine since the advent of EFI, and no major changes in photovoltaic panels in 30 years, either. Nobody is complaining about any of those things, and they are improving, just incrementally.

    That said, print a photo on a $100 inkjet from 2001. Now print the same photo on a $100 inkjet from 2009. The difference in quality is astounding. Heck, the difference between my IP4200 ($100 circa 2005) and the M620 I replaced it with last year ($150, but it has wireless and a scanner)--both of which look the same on the paper specs--is flat-out impressive. The IP4200 was already good enough on glossy photo paper to beat an old 1-hour photo 4x6 print at normal viewing distances, but the MX620 is noticeably better, and can do the provide nearly that quality on good plain paper.

    Seriously--once the printer can produce something of full photographic quality at normal viewing distances, what do you want them to change? There really isn't that much to improve other than speed and cost of ink. Heck, there's a reason that the only additions these days are more bells and whistles--same reason that black and white laser printers pretty much stopped changing anything but price once they hit the 600-1200 DPI range 15 years ago. The quality is limited by the media and your eyes.

    And in fact most of the improvements have been with the ink. This is, I expect, why cheaper ink just doesn't work as well. My dad, incidentally, did a very thorough quality test between off-brand ink and Canon-branded on a variety of photo papers, and while the printer worked just fine with the cheap stuff, the Canon ink was just plain better in terms of color rendition and smooth distribution. No surprise, given that we're talking about a fluid that can be sprayed in precision 1-picoliter drops here. It's a hint that Canon now makes printers that have an extra tank that lays down a clear coating on cheap paper so the ink is more evenly distributed and doesn't bleed.

    Now this is just messed up, and you'll have no disagreements from anybody, I expect. I've heard it had something to do with Epson hoarding US patents on the technology, but the fact that with 15 minutes of work I can convert a US model Canon printer to being able to print CDs than it's not supposed to be able to is just insulting.

    Now, if you want my recommendation, I'd say get a nice midrange Canon and hack it to print optical discs. That's what I did, and I've always been happy with it. Besides, if you don't buy your ink from Staples with its usurious markups, the name-brand stuff isn't that expensive, and you do get what you pay for.
  5. fizzicist thread starter macrumors newbie


    Dec 30, 2009
    SoCal, USA
    As a follow up, I actually did find a printer that provides exactly what I need. So I didn't want the impossible after all.

    The winning device is the Brother MFC-J875DW. It prints, scans, copies, faxes, has a great 3-color+black ink system, and prints on optical disks. The manufacturer's own proprietary ink cartridges are available in a high capacity format, and they sell for a reasonable price (so I don't have to screw around with refills).

    Thanks to all who provided helpful suggestions.
  6. MCAsan macrumors 601


    Jul 9, 2012
    Never had any problem with 9500II. We won a Pixma Pro 100 this spring as a door prize and it has been trouble free. For Christmas I am getting us a Pro 1. One of the current printers will be passed on to a niece.

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