Monday, October 17, 2011

HP Ink: A Thin Line Between Love and Hate

     I am willing to concede that I'm preaching to the choir on this one, and that most of these things can go unsaid because everyone already thinks them.  However, sometimes I just need to let the anger out.
     Oh HP ink, you get me every time.  Printing should be simple.  And yet somehow, each time I try to print something, I fail.  I blame HP.  Several years ago I purchased one of those handy all-in-one machines; even though I would never really need to copy or scan, it was nice to know that I could if I needed to.  And actually, I did copy things sometimes.  It's a color printer and at the time was one of the highest quality photo printers around.
     I printed a few photos, but since it's not 1984 and I am not my mother, I didn't do anything with them.  Soon, the photo tray was just a novelty.  It was something that would get in the way when trying to just print normal things.
     Ink is expensive.  I've never looked into it, but it must be made out of baby seal blood or the membrane in ostrich eggs.  Or presumably a combination of both depending on the color.  And it comes in such small quantities.
     HP has come up with some very specific ways to make sure you're always using HP ink, and that the quality of the ink is good.  For HP, this is great.  For me, who just wants to print off a crass sketch or a letter of resignation, this can be a major headache.  I don't print often.  Therefore, my ink will expire without me realizing it.  Somehow the printer knows just how old the ink is and will not allow it to be spread on the paper if it's beyond this date.  I can't imagine what could go wrong if expired ink were allowed to be used.  And I'll never be able to find out because the printer basically gives you the middle finger and just beeps at you until you replace it with a new cartridge.
     I print in color even less often than I print things in general.  The printer doesn't care.  Cyan is expired.  Cyan seems to always be expired.  I don't really care, because I'm not printing anything in Cyan.  The printer cares though.  The printer will allow no ink to be released from any of its 7 cartridges if one of them is expired.  This infuriates me.
     The idea of the printer communicating with the printer and telling me how much ink is in each cartridge is actually pretty good.  At first, I was impressed with the advanced nature of this feature.  Eventually, though, I came to resent it.  The pop-up window did offer a link to the HP website to allow for the immediate purchase of ink when the levels were "dangerously low."  At first this was uber-convenient.  Your ink was sent directly to your door!  How exciting.  But then you were buying a new ink every week, and the shipping costs were adding up.  So you decided to purchase a few of the ink multi-packs and save them.  How smart, you thought.
     But remember earlier when I talked about the expiration of ink?  It doesn't matter if it's freshly out of its packaging, that expiration date magically encoded into the ink is a hard-fucking-expiration date.  This is not a milk "it says the 12th, but it still smells fine, so I'll use it" kind of expiration date.  Apparently seal blood and ostrich placenta really seriously expire and if they excrete from that cartridge even one day after the expiration date, the printer will melt into a blob of plastic and glass, releasing evil spirits into your house that will rape your sister and murder your puppy.  HP takes that shit seriously.
     I think there should a waiver.  There should be a bypass button I can press that states "I don't have a puppy and my sister lives elsewhere.  Proceed with printing."  Especially when it's Cyan that's expired and I am not printing in Cyan.  I never print in Cyan. 

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