[by Rob Smith]
My tale of hardware woe left off with my trying to print a simple USAirways boarding pass on my high-end color photo printer, the Epson Stylus Pro 3800. It was midnight and we had an unexpected house guest who needed some air travel ground support. My ancient, but trusty LaserJet, circa 2000, began refusing to print. Anything.
After coaxing a page of plain paper through the 3800, at that point dripping in photo ink, it was really time for bed and a new plan. I’ve been wanting a color laser printer for awhile, but most of them are in the +$1,000 range–at least the ones with the features I want. Behold the new HP LaserJet 100 Color MFP M175nw (the only parts of that I can decode are “color” and “MFP,” the latter standing for “multi-function printer.”) It does everything we think we need for our home office: print (in color), scan (especially to PDF), and copy. It does not fax, a technology I am willing to be dead and waiting for the rest of the world to understand. Like the absence of a sunroof on my car, I hate to pay for things I’ll never, ever use.
This brand new model from HP was $399, so with tax just over $400. I bought it on the sales tax holiday weekend, thinking that I’d save a little extra cash, but no, peripherals had a $250 cap to be tax free. This setback should have been a sign.
I set up the new printer. Excited about color. Excited about AirPrint for our i-devices. Curious about HP’s ePrint service. Pleased that it could function fully as a Wi-Fi printer. And even though I’ve got my fancy Epson 3800, I thought it might just be good enough to print simple photos. Early results were really disappointing. And the most disappointing issue of all: white vertical lines down the right-hand side of the whole page. Every page. And really dubious color.
After the requisite troubleshooting and a call to HP (LaserJet support is closed on Sundays, by the way), it was clear that whatever this problem was, I wasn’t going to fix it. I bundled the whole thing up and went back to OfficeDepot. Here, the story begins to brighten when they give me another one without so much as a sideways glance or the hassle of a special form, or even a lengthy interview with their on-staff geek.
The results: passable color as long as there’s not a lot of blue in the picture, which tends to look a little like a 60s-era Ektrachrome slide that hasn’t aged well. Browns, reds, greens–they all look a lot better. (I’ll have more about color printing in a future post.) The AirPrint and ePrint work exactly as advertised and without additional configuration. From my iPad, I can touch “Print” and it finds the device and spews out a copy. Even cooler, though absent a pressing need, I can send an e-mail to the device via HP’s ePrint service and it will unpack an attachment and print it out. From anywhere. I suppose that’s sort of like faxing and therefore I’m dubious I’ll ever use this feature beyond setting it up.
I have to say, in spite of the color picture issues, I really like this little printer. It’s small enough and feature rich enough for my home office and my various little hobbies. It has my recommendation.