printer troubleWhen we went on the web for a solution to fix our neighbor’s printer, we discovered a whole slew of complaints about the HP Photosmart series. Our own experience hasn’t been good either.

Our neighbor Ida’s problem started when her brand new black ink cartridge failed. She bought another one. That didn’t work either. Ida is in her mid-90s so we called HP Tech support for her. The HP tech guy had us run numerous tests – the usual stuff. Then he asked us to hand wash the cartridge. Never heard that one before; didn’t work anyway. So he advised Ida to buy a new printer, and before we could stop him, began delivering a non-stop pitch for the latest model. Forget about it, we finally got to say.  Ida agreed. She had already bought and junked two HP printers in two years.

Not until sitting down to write this column did we find a solution that has worked in some cases. Take the faulty ink cartridge out, close the lid, and let the printer reset itself. (It will give you a message about the missing cartridge.) Make sure there are no bits of tape adhering to it, shake it up, then replace it and see if it works.

Ida was too happy with her new printer to even bother with that. We had recommended she get a $100 Brother laser printer, it’s cheap and a workhorse. It comes with a starter toner (black only), enough for a couple of weeks of heavy use. A replacement toner is $31, which isn’t much different from a replacement HP inkjet cartridge, and it will print 1200 pages before running out – about ten year’s worth for Ida. Our only gripe here was that during setup this “wireless” printer asked to be temporarily connected to the computer with a cable, but they didn’t supply the cable. Because of all the equipment we test, we have lots of cables, but we don’t know what she would have done without us.

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