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If You’re Going to Buy a Color Inkjet Printer in This Climate, Here’s What You Need to Know


The Computer Corner

By Charles Miller

Okay! I can take a hint. Several emails that appeared in my inbox said they did not like my advice on the subject of printers that appeared here two weeks ago. The common refrain was that the writers all wanted a color printer that was trouble-free, long-lasting, and inexpensive. Well, good luck with that.

I am sticking with my advice that the most reliable and inexpensive kind to own is a black-and-white laser printer. Mine is over 20 years old and shows no sign of wearing out. Still, I understand some people want to print in color, and so, in spite of all their inbuilt problems, there are people who try making an inexpensive and inherently unreliable inkjet work. These printers will not be both inexpensive and reliable when compared to the performance of a monochrome laser printer. Fortunately, there are some things you can do to mitigate the problems you will have.

Purchased at the price you pay for those little cartridges, a gallon of inkjet printer ink would cost US$6,000—worth more than 2,000 gallons of gasoline—and the biggest waste of that precious ink is that so much is used for cleaning print heads. Under the worst circumstances, an inkjet printer can use half its ink on this routine maintenance alone. When the printer starts up, it goes through a maintenance cycle, so leave the printer powered on all the time, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, to minimize the number of times it cycles.

A much more serious problem is that liquid ink dries out over time. The high altitude and low humidity of central México is thus one of the worst places to use inkjet printers. When this sort of printer is used intermittently, its ink will dry out in all the wrong places. This necessitates repeated cleaning cycles to clean the ink nozzles, wasting a lot of ink. The best prevention is to print at least one page in color once every couple of weeks. If you are away from home for some time, you should arrange for someone to turn the printer off then back on every day while you are gone. If you are unable to do this, you should probably plan on buying a new printer when you return.

When a printer has been idle for some months and will not print, I cannot recommend buying new ink in an attempt to resurrect it. A lot of printer manufacturers sell inexpensive printers for less than the cost of building them; this is so that you will buy expensive ink refills. If your inkjet printer has been laid up long enough for the ink to dry out and clog its nozzles, be aware that buying a new printer is quite often the best and least expensive course of action.

Charles Miller is a freelance computer consultant, a frequent visitor to San Miguel since 1981, and now practically a full-time resident. He may be contacted at 044 415 101 8528 or by email at FAQ8 (at)


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