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Inkjet printer advice needed

Anyone out there know anything about aging inkjet printers? See, I have one: specifically an Epson Stylus Color 680.

It's approaching five years old now, and for some time I've been having trouble with the black ink. Initially, every time I put in a new cartridge, the print quality would be terrible for a while, to the extent of it not really printing in black at all. No amount of cleaning the heads helped, and the only thing to do was to print through several sheets ('using up' about a quarter of the ink in the cartridge in the process - even though nothing was actually coming out onto the page) until the ink eventually 'came through' and started working properly.

Now, it has got to a stage where the black ink simply isn't coming through at all. Cleaning still doesn't help, and although the printer thinks it is printing in black, nothing is appearing on the page. Meanwhile, the colour cartridge is fine, but then obviously I've always used that much less.

What I want to know from people with more experience than me is: is this something which just 'happens' to inkjet printers after a while, i.e. has some inaccessible part just worn out? Or is there some hint or tip I could apply to sort this problem out? In other words, do I need to buy a new printer or not?

It hasn't been a problem over the last year, since I've had a perfectly good printer in my office at work, so I've just printed everything there. But it suddenly is going to become an issue in September, when I move back to Oxford and am reliant on my own equipment again for at least a month.

Thanks in advance for any help or advice!

Comments

( 17 comments — Leave a comment )
rentaghost31
Aug. 17th, 2005 09:37 am (UTC)
any epson inject printer i have ever used has had ink problems sooner or later.
strange_complex
Aug. 17th, 2005 10:30 am (UTC)
Yep, this is the picture I'm starting to build up. I found a few reviews of my current one online while I was looking for a link to show which printer it is, and a lot of them were very critical.
byrnsey_b
Aug. 17th, 2005 10:18 am (UTC)
Love the icon!!
strange_complex
Aug. 17th, 2005 10:29 am (UTC)
Hee-hee, thanks! I post quite a lot of computery-type questions, so I figured I'd need it!
webofevil
Aug. 17th, 2005 10:21 am (UTC)
I've had a Stylus Color 740 for just about as long and the exact same thing has happened to it. Oh, except it won't print colour either. Clearly it's meant to be a feature.

I'm getting a new (non-Epson) printer soon, and I can only suggest that you do the same. That might not sound terribly helpful, but there are places that do reconditioned computer gear for feasible prices.
strange_complex
Aug. 17th, 2005 10:29 am (UTC)
Ah, thanks for the info. I am actually thinking about buying a new computer fairly soon anyway, and I've noticed that there are quite a lot of deals around which include a free printer (doubtless a crummy one, but it's worth at least looking properly at what they're offering). So the odds are I probably will give up on it and get a new one. And, like you, it certainly won't be an Epson!
byrnsey_b
Aug. 17th, 2005 10:50 am (UTC)
The free printers are probably Epson...
mr_tom
Aug. 17th, 2005 11:05 am (UTC)
Is there a calibration tool included as part of the driver? That could be worth running...
strange_complex
Aug. 17th, 2005 11:39 am (UTC)
There's a head-cleaning tool, but that's all.

I just looked up their trouble-shooting page for that model, and basically they say that if cleaning the heads several times doesn't work, the printer 'may need servicing'. I guess I could look into that, but the odds are that replacing it won't be much more expensive, will be easier, and will probably mean I end up with a better printer overall anyway.
syrcleoftrees
Aug. 17th, 2005 02:26 pm (UTC)
Hiya,,(((Penny))) I was about to and am going to say it is the best route to take there,a new printer.I use Lexmark.I have black ink porbs at the moment and am needing to clean the haeds and put in new black ink.

Does the ink dry out if you have it unopened for like two years?
strange_complex
Aug. 17th, 2005 02:51 pm (UTC)
No, I think it should be fine if you haven't opened it. It would probably dry up if you left it in the printer and didn't print anything for two years, but not if it was sitting unopened in the packet.
edling
Aug. 17th, 2005 04:28 pm (UTC)
From all my experiences with them, almost any cheapish printer really isn't built to be a long-term thing, it's invariably cheaper to get a new one than it is to try to find someone that'll fix your old one.
If you're planning on getting a new computer anyway, I'd look at deals that involve a printer (you can get printer/scanner combos these days that might be good for you)- I've got some other thoughts on what sort of thing you'll probably want that I'll pass on if you want 'em too...
strange_complex
Aug. 17th, 2005 04:46 pm (UTC)
I have been planning to buy a new computer for a while, but realising that the printer issue is suddenly going to become more urgent when I lose my office facilities here has pushed computer purchasing thoughts much higher up my agenda. As you say, it does make sense to get on and buy the computer if I am planning to buy a printer anyway.

I had a look at Dell's website today, and the two most obvious choices seem to me to be this, if I want to keep the budget low, or this if I want to get a bit swankier. I experimentally clicked on the 'Customise and Buy' link for the latter, and added in software, a decent printer (not the one they're giving away free!) and other bits and bobs I thought I might want, and the total came to about £1400. That would be within my budget these days, although obviously there's no need to go throwing money away unnecessarily!

Any thoughts which you have on the matter would indeed be much appreciated, and there's no need to restrict your advice to the two models I've mentioned above, either - that's just what I came across on a fairly cursory first look into the issue. Consider me open to all help and suggestions!
qatsi
Aug. 18th, 2005 08:55 pm (UTC)
I have a six-year-old HP inkjet printer, and its colour cartridge tends to dry out with lack of use. Whenever I go to get new cartridges, I wonder whether I'm doing the right thing. After all, a decent new print/scan/copier is probably about £100 these days. It's not very green to throw the old one away if it isn't absolutely broken, but it's probably not economical to determine what the cause of the problem is.
strange_complex
Aug. 19th, 2005 09:15 am (UTC)
Yes, it's depressing having to throw something away which probably only needs a small part replaced, but that is the way things go these days, isn't it? I still haven't quite decided what to do about mine, but I'm pretty sure trying to get it serviced isn't a realistic option.
(Anonymous)
Aug. 18th, 2005 09:13 pm (UTC)
completely unrelated to printers
can you email me again - i lost your email address,

have you seen the pringles advert on tv... group of girls in the lounge spouting loads of innuendos about pringles. Isnt the blonde girl on the left who says 'For free!' Mr Carrotts daughter from our year... was it hannah or jenny i always get them mixed up.

anyways, gotta shoot and feed the buns before i go to bed. hope you are well, kate. xxxx
strange_complex
Aug. 19th, 2005 09:13 am (UTC)
Re: completely unrelated to printers
Er, is this katelee? I know a few Kates, so I'm not quite sure as you've posted anonymously. If it is, you'll be able to see my email address in this post as long as you are logged in.

I'm afraid I haven't seen the Pringles advert, by the way, so I don't know whether I would recognise anyone in it. And I can't remember Jasper Carrott's daughter's name either - are you sure she was in our year, or was it a year above or something? Sorry - I'm useless!
( 17 comments — Leave a comment )

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