Monday, December 27, 2010

Why not just give us the damn printer for free?

Windows Vista Recycle Bin when it contains files.

Image via Wikipedia

My old piece of crap disposable Lexmark ($35 or so) died after about 5 or 6 cartridge pairs, and its demise matched the Christmas rush specials at Amazon. The end result was that Amazon was all too happy to ship to my door a Canon PIXMA MP495 wireless Printer/Scanner/Copier combo for $53, of which $3.95 was the upgrade to next-day for Amazon Prime. Last time I had shopped for a printer combo was only a couple years ago and it was hard to score one for less than $100, so either things are really rough for Canon or maybe I got too lucky with this particular Amazon sale.

The printer was a pain in the ass to install. It boasts that it is fully compatible with Windows 7, yet its installer doesn’t understand the administrator permissions in Widows 7-64. I had to download everything, which meant half hour of finding each separate package needed, instead of letting me download one installer with everything needed for, say, Windows. It gets worse: the same CD had the Mac installer, which worked fine, but even if all drivers were installed, it only turned it on as a scanner, I had to go back to tell it that it was also a printer. The driver recognized it fine.

Another pain in the ass was the networking. The morons that wrote the documentation for this printer call the USB cable the “wireless setup cable” which is just idiotic. I don’t know how a person that is not technically savvy can install this kind of thing without having to call tech support. This has been the hardest printer install I have had to do.

The good news is that all of this happened in the course of one hour. I was able to configure two Windows 7-64 laptops, and one Mac OS 10.5.x Intel iMac with no issues. The printer is very fast, even in color, even over wireless. Too bad that the setup is so terrible. And I already know that a full refill is about $37, so I am wondering how long before Canon, Lexmark and HP stop charging for those printers and simply send them to us as long as we buy ink from them.

Update: the setup utility in Windows screwed up the opposite of the Mac installer: it installed itself as a printer, but didn’t enable the scanner function. Again, fixing this was dead simple: I told Windows 7 to scan for new devices and it immediately recognized it. I was able to scan from the built-in Scan/Fax utility with no issues.