When my older low end downstairs printer needed all ink cartridges replaced at the same time, I realized that buying a new printer would actually be cheaper.
HP has been trumpeting its latest crop of ink jet printers that feature ePrint, a technology that assigns an email address to each printer and enables you to send mail via a HP web service that is supposed to print documents to your printer from anywhere in the world using email. I had a $50 BestBuy gift card and they (and HP) are selling the D110 ePrinter for $70. That was a no brainer for me.
Too bad ePrint needs constant care and feeding by the end user to actually work. Here’s my quick review:
The Good: Printer setup over 802.11n was a breeze, as the printer includes WPS. The printer immediately discovered an available firmware update and I applied the update (and had to reconfigure). I setup the ePrint mail list (which lets you restrict who can send jobs to the printer) and added the email address to my contacts. Next, I used my iPad and was easily able to discover and print a page in Safari.
The Bad: Normal TCP/IP network printing works as expected, except for buggy 64 bit drivers that need to be reinstalled after a computer restart. This has existed for at least a year and HP thinks reinstalling every restart is an acceptable solution, apparently. Many of their printer support pages all point to the same KB/FAQ so stating. Also, HP is using the Bonjour protocol on the printer, which enables the IOS functionality. (It is too bad that Apple decided to use their own proprietary protocol, but it is good news for folks like HP who hope to sell new network printers. I assume that the reason that printers connected to local computers work with the new iPxx print function is that Bonjour is installed (and required) on the host computer.
The Ugly: The real travesty is that the ePrint functionality that links the printer to the HP Web Service is badly broken and these printers lose their connection to the Web Service (but ALL other functions continue to work) and that HP has been aware of this since at least August, as evidenced by this 18 page (and growing) thread. HP interns patrolling the forum have marked “power cycle the router or the printer” as an acceptable solution, but there has been no official reply from HP tech support OR a commitment to fix this.
Update 11.29.2010: Had and email exchanges with HP Support. After they emailed their scripted response to run their proprietary network trouble shooter (for an issue that does not even require a local computer to be turned on) I asked them to escalate to someone that understood ePrint. I’ve told them it was not a LAN issue in all the emails and clearly, with bold type, characterized it as an issue between the web service in the cloud and the printer not maintaining a connection or renegotiating one. When I installed the basic driver on a second W7 x64 laptop, the first page I printed displayed the following message (these are the print cartridges included in the factory sealed box).
In Conclusion: I suspect that HP needed to release and promote a not ready for primetime function to coincide with the launch of IOS 4.2.1 which enabled printing from an iPxx device. HP’s current list of ePrint enabled printers as of 11/22/2010 includes:
•HP Officejet Pro 8500A e-All-in-One Printer series – A910 for customers worldwide
•HP Officejet 7500 Wide Format All-in-One Printer Series- E910 for customers worldwide
•HP Officejet 6500A e-All-in-One Printer – E710
•HP Photosmart D110 series for North America customers
•HP Photosmart B110 series for Asia and Europe customers
•HP Photosmart B210 series for customers worldwide
•HP Photosmart Premium C310 series for customers worldwide
•HP Photosmart C410 series for customers worldwide
•HP Photosmart Ink Advantage K510 series for Asia and Europe customers
•HP Photosmart eStation e-All-in-One Printer C510 series for North America and Europe customers
•HP Envy eAll-in-One Printer D410 series for customers world wide
Recommendations: If you need a replacement printer or especially in you want iPxxx print functionality, and can live with having to reinstall drivers on 64 bit Windows at inconvenient times, check out one of these printers. If you are looking for ePrint, it isn’t ready for prime time.
Ok, it hasn’t been a happy holiday season this year. I find myself looking for work as my entire department was eliminated. A few days before Chanuka and two weeks before Christmas. I’d been at Comcast 12+ years.
So, I found myself assessing the tools I need for job hunting (it’s been a while since I was at Comcast 12+ years). My Xerox Personal Copier (circa 1994) needed a drum/cartridge (approx $100) and my 8 year old fax machine (a $129 Brother) was sending stuff that was unreadable. True, I don’t use a fax much anymore, but there are a few non tech entities that still don’t understand email and scans. I had a scanner that went in the dumpster about 10 years ago that I never replaced. It lasted just long enough to digitize my heirloom family pictures and my own film prints and negatives.
Staples had this HP 8500 Pro 909g printer/fax/scanner/color copier which, with a printer trade in rebate, was $249.98. And there is a $50 mail in rebate on top of that. OK, $200 to replace my all dead and dying Jurassic period home office communications/imaging devices seemed like a good deal. C|Net liked this printer, too.
I had an 8 year old printer to trade, and a friend to carry equipment up and down stairs for me. I played with the printer at Staples for quite a while and liked what I saw.
Hardware setup was quick and easy. I have no complaints there. Then I installed the printer driver suite.
Imagine my displeasure when, at the end of the install, I launched IE and I noticed the Yahoo toolbar had been silently installed without my permission. And IE immediately crashed. Way to go, HP. I re-opened IE and disabled the Yahoo toolbar add-in, closed the browser and was greeted with a second “Internet Explorer has stopped working” intercept. Opened IE and found some additional HP Browser helper objects (BHO’s) in Manage Add-ons and disabled them. Closed the browser. Uninstalled the Yahoo toolbar. Back to normal.
I then decided to contact HP Support to complain about foisting this crap on unsuspecting consumers. The first email response was from a delta semi moron who told me to contact Microsoft for Internet Explorer support in uninstalling the Yahoo toolbar. I emailed my reply and heard back from a different support rep. Apparently HP has so many complaints about the crapware they install that they have a permanent FAQ that includes the language “ ..special offers at HP Deals “. The installer also PINS two icons to the Windows 7 Start menu.
OK, I’ve vented. I feel better now.
HP and Compaq Desktop PCs – Preventing Non-System Disk Errors on Computers with Seagate Drives
This information applies to HP and Compaq computers with Seagate 320GB, 500GB, 750GB and 1TB hard drives.
Seagate recently informed HP of a potential issue concerning certain Seagate SATA hard drives installed in a small number of HP computers.
If the computer is affected, after turning on the computer, the computer stops responding (hangs) and the following error (or similar) displays:
Error – Non-System disk or disk error. Replace and strike any key when ready.
If this error has already occurred and you cannot access the data on your hard drive, contact HP for service.
To prevent this error from occurring, upgrade the firmware for the hard disk drive using the following steps.
It is highly recommended that you create a system backup before performing this update.
1. Download the Seagate SATA Hard Disk Drive Firmware Update (sp40966).
2. After the file is saved on the hard drive, double-click the icon for the update.
The Firmware Update window opens.
3. Insert a blank CD in the CD/DVD drive and select Create Bootable CD. Then click OK.
Figure 1: Create bootable CD window
4. The computer writes the data to the CD and another message displays. Do not remove the CD from the drive.
5. After the disc has been created, the drive door opens and closes. If your computer has a slot drive you will need to manually insert the disc into the drive.
After the disc is inserted, a Firmware Update window opens. You might need to close a Seagate FW CD window to access the Firmware Update window.
6. Leave the disc in the drive and click Yes to restart the system.
Figure 2: Bootable CD created
7. When the computer restarts, the Firmware Update Utility screen displays. Press a key to continue.
The utility updates the firmware and displays a message, "Eject the CD", on the screen when complete.
8. Remove the BIOS update disc from the CD/DVD drive and restart the computer to finish updating the firmware.
9. When successful, a message displays in the notification area that the device driver software installed.
Figure 3: Successful install message
10. When prompted, restart the computer.
As a registered geek, I never thought I’d see the day when I didn’t want to build myself an impossible screaming desktop for personal use. My real world personal desktop was getting long in the tooth (i.e., it was Circa Windows XP hardware wise and to beef it up would require a new proc, more RAM, better video, and more HD space).
Somewhere between the list of components for a new box (not to mention a high end monitor), I gave in to temptation and started playing with an IQ504 in a local store last summer. The sleek design actually was (to me) the best of that genre and really appealed to me. And it was just, well, a lot of FUN to use.
The IQ816 was “to die for” but at least $500 more. For my purposes, the IQ506 had enough awesomeness. (And I already have two Media Center OCUR/DCT boxes connected to high res widescreen displays for HDTV goodness). At the time, I didn’t have any Blu-Ray DVDs so I was pretty happy with the specs of the IQ506.
So I ordered myself an IQ506 in early October. Before the stock market and the economy took an atomic nose dive. And I knew someone that could put the old desktop to good use, so I gifted it. I’m not sorry I spent the money even though it is going to now put a cramp in my holiday plans.
Click the image above to watch a VERY entertaining demo.
And after 5 weeks, I’m still as much in love with this computer as day one. This is a FUN machine. It’s possibly the best family oriented machine I’ve seen and unless you are a hard core pc gamer, it is a machine to seriously consider as a general purpose machine.
The touch screen interface doesn’t take long to become accustomed to (and you always have Windows Vista’s default interface available when you want it.
It’s kind of neat to drag my fingers along the bottom to bring up the various applications. And yes, you can add RSS feeds and view web sites within the interface.
Above shows how my blog appears inside the TouchSmart interface. I think it is cool that I can drag my finger up and down over the website to scroll. It’s like having the best of a tablet pc interface with all this neat HP touch functionality at the same time. Did I say it was fun?
There isn’t much not to like about the IQ506. My biggest beef was that these come with Vista x64 Home Premium and some trialware and Symantec crapware with 60 days of Live Update pain. But, I easily formatted the hard drive, installed Vista x64 Ultimate SP1 and then the apps (including TouchSmart) that I wanted from HP, plus all the drivers are on the HP support site. Sure I could have done a Windows Anytime Upgrade, but it’s much better to have Ultimate and do a complete image backup after you get your apps installed and everything running perfectly than it is to use an OEM “recovery” which puts you back to crapified whatever. Shame on Microsoft for not including this in Home Premium. Maybe with Windows 7 this will change.
Anyway, I’m having lots of fun with my IQ506. My advice is – go get yourself one of these. If you are impatient, some of the Best Buy stores have started carrying these. And start having FUN.
Full specs as supplied by HP:
|Genuine Windows Vista Home Premium 64-bit edition with Service Pack 1|
|Intel Core2 Duo Processor T5850|
|PC2-5300 DDR2 SDRAM|
|Integrated Nvidia GeForce 9300 M GS HD graphics module with 256MB dedicated video memory and support for Microsoft DirectX 10|
TV and entertainment experience
|TV Tuner: Dual-format NTSC or over-the-air ATSC high-definition TV tuner, HP Media Center remote control with IR (infrared) receiver|
|500GB 7200RPM [gigabyte is defined as 1,000,000,000 bytes, accessible capacity may vary]|
|Slot-load SuperMulti DVD Burner|
|10/100/1000 BaseT network interface; Integrated Bluetooth and 802.11b/g/n Wireless LAN with built-in WLAN antenna|
|Integrated High Definition Audio with 2.0 sound capabilities|
|High-performance 2.0 Speakers|
|667MHz Front Side Bus|
|5-in-1 memory card reader supports Secure Digital (SD, SDHC), MultiMedia Card, Memory Stick, Memory Stick Pro
1 FireWire (IEEE 1394) port (front); Headphone (front); Line-in (back); 5 USB 2.0 ports(2 front, 3 rear)(5 available); Line-out (back); Digital Audio Out (back)
Software, full versions
|HP TouchSmart Music – Create playlists with your favorite music; HP TouchSmart Video – Watch, record and upload your personal videos using touch; HP TouchSmart Photo – Share your fun and memorable moments in life with family and friends; HP TouchSmart RSS Feeds – Get the latest news right at your fingertips; HP TouchSmart Browser – Browse the web in a whole new way; HP TouchSmart Calendar – Manage your busy schedule and stay in touch with family; HP TouchSmart Notes – Quick and easy text and voice notes right at your fingertips; muvee autoProducer Basic: Automatically create professional looking home videos and burn to DVD; Cyberlink DVD Suite Deluxe: Automatically fix and edit videos and create CDs and DVDs. Edit, burn and archive data to discs; Microsoft Works 9: Includes a word processor, spreadsheet, database and calendar; Adobe Reader 8.0: Read and print PDF files; HP Total Care Advisor: Customizable desktop tool provides support, system health and shopping information|
Software, introductory versions
|Norton Internet Security 2008: Protect your PC out of the box (60 days of complimentary live updates)|
Trial Internet service
|Easy sign-up to major dial-up and broadband Internet Service Providers
High Speed Internet Services Comparison Shopping
|21″(L) x 2.6″(W) x 17.4″ (H/D)|
|One year of hardware parts and labor coverage, 90 day software toll-free phone assistance|