When we got back from our vacation this weekend (which we will blog about soon...) we were faced with the thought of printing out our digital pictures. I, in my eternal cost-consciousness, bought some knock-off ink cartridges for our Canon S820 printer... and it's never looked worse. It printed incredible pictures when we first got it. So, in researching OEM ink for the Canon, I found it would cost us $60 to $80 to replace them.
A quick trip to fatwallet.com produced a deal on the HP Photosmart 7260 at Office Depot for $50 after rebate (maybe as low as $30 if the second rebate works,) ink included.
I got it home and pulled out all of the packing, installed the ink cartridges and drivers and then plugged it into the iBook. I used the HP driver software to print a test page and then fired up iPhoto to print a 4x6" borderless print.
Nothing. The print monitor program that came with the printer showed the job starting... and then stopping on its own before anything printed.
I plugged and unplugged, opened and closed, and rebooted, to no avail. I went to HP's "live support" area and found out that I would have to call their toll free number because they didn't offer Macintosh support online. The iBook was not going to print.
So I got our PC, installed the drivers, plugged in the printer, and it worked. No problems. Those elephants out there may remember that we have an HP PC, so that might explain part of it.
The solution on the iBook was to go to HP's site and download new drivers. The ones that shipped with the printer only supported 10.2.x. However, there's wasn't any clear indication that the drivers needed to be downloaded for 10.3.3.
You can draw your own moral from the story: either that Apple is terrible about breaking driver support from version to version, or HP is bad about supporting OS X. Or, that this is a waste of a blog entry and I should just get about the business of printing photos (since it works with both computers now.)
Here's my take, based on my In my experience as a software tester in the Microsoft Mac Business Unit.
A major problem with HP is that their All-in-One group is separate from their printer group, and their laser printer group is in yet a third group; all three groups are located in different cities, and only God knows which one is responsible for writing the software for their printers.
Canon's problem is that they have practically zero contact with large Mac software vendors in the US. They make excellent drivers, but if a bug or conflict comes up, you have to route it through their Japanese offices to get any action.
Epson is strongly committed to working with software companies, but as I mentioned before, cost of ownership of their printers is relatively high due to the short life of their ink cartridges.
Personally, my next printer purchase will be a mid-range Canon inkjet. The next after that will be a cheap Brother laser printer, which are surprisingly good for B&W printout with Mac OS X.
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