Guy, low cost Ink-jet printers don’t necessarily suck!

A couple of weeks back Guy Searle posted a blog describing his battles with low-cost Cannon inkjet printers (Low cost Ink-jet printers suck). But just to balance the argument a bit, I thought I’d mention the printer I use whenever I need to send hate mail to my bank manager: the Apple StyleWriter II.

I bought this device some time in late 1994, early 1995 for I’m guessing about £100. It was part of the first Mac I ever owned, a PowerBook 150. I should perhaps mention that I’d used other Macs prior to that, and I very quickly discovered the PowerBook 150 was a completely terrible Macintosh by any standards. Fortunately it had the good grace to fail within weeks of purchase, so I got the chance to upgrade to the much better PowerBook 520. But I digress…

My StyleWriter II has been used more or less continuously for some 14 years. Obviously the ink has needed to be replaced periodically, but a generic inkjet cartridge refill kit does the trick nicely. Admittedly the StyleWriter II isn’t a very capable printer: it prints in black-and-white, and at the breakneck speed of about one or two pages per minute.

Now, some among you will immediately be aware of the fact the StyleWriter II doesn’t use the USB interface. While I might write my letters and essays on a MacBook Pro, I can’t send print jobs from a modern Mac to the StyleWriter. My workaround is to simply export the print job as a PDF or Word document, send the document via the network to my trusty PowerBook 3400, and print from there, via Acrobat Reader or Word 98.

If all this sounds like a lot of work, then look at it this way: All the professional writing I do needs to be submitted electronically. The only hard copies I need are for personal correspondence and the occasional set of hand-outs for students. There’s nothing to be gained by upgrading my trusty StyleWriter II, since the quality of the printed documents is more than adequate to my needs. Because my needs are light, the slow speed of the printer isn’t an issue.

If there’s a moral to this story, it’s this: Sometimes we upgrade because we need to, and sometimes because we want to. Knowing the difference is how to avoid being manipulated by clever marketing departments.

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