Where Have All the Epsons Gone?

On August 29, 2005, in Features, by John Nemerovski

Apple retail stores no longer sell or promote Epson printers, from my personal observation. Instead, HP and Canon are stocked. This change took place in May, I think, and was a wise, quiet decision by Apple.

Epsons print beautifully most of the time, but their print heads clog more swiftly and frequently than do HPs or Canons. I have a LOT of experience in this area, both personal and professional. I used to recommend Epson to my tutorial clients and Tucson MUG members, but I now also urge people to buy HP or Canon.

Professionals and people who use their printers on a daily basis can work with Epson printers without much concern, because their ink flow remains active enough to avoid the problems encountered with less frequent usage. Typical consumers won’t be so lucky, especially after vacations or other absences from printing.

If you own an Epson printer and its print heads are problematic, run the head cleaning utility as many times as you can, and with some luck you will revive your printer. The Internet contains suggestions for other methods of resuscitation that are often more trouble than they are worth.

When your Epson becomes inoperative or more bothersome than you can stand, donate it to a charity that will fix it and send it to a good school or home or office. Then buy the least expensive HP or Canon printer that meets your requirements. Most consumer printers do a darn good job printing text and images, so long as you use the manufacturers’ branded ink and not cheapo off-brand ink. I have a LOT of experience here also.

Reputable small and large companies sell decent-quality (but not premium) private label ink. I have used Tyler Martin <http://www.tylermartin.com> for many years, and they are fine people with exceptional prices. But how much is your time and agony worth when crucial or routine printing is delayed or suspended due to dried-up print heads?

When you buy a printer you are agreeing tacitly to relinquish hundreds of dollars more for ink during its lifetime than the printer costs. In return, the manufacturer agrees to give you customer support and service during the warranty period, which is usually worth extending for a modest extra expense.

Apple and many resellers often bundle free or inexpensive printers with computer purchases, which is a sweetheart deal for everyone, you might think. Epson is no longer part of that romance at Apple’s company stores, and online vendors are beginning to shift their promotional offers from all-Epson to options between Epson, HP, and (ugh) Lexmark. “Get the HP,” says Nemo, without hesitation.

I welcome your supporting comments or rebuttals.

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