Thursday, May 27, 2010

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times."

I believe that quote applies very well to my Epson R1900 printer.

Because when it's good.... it's ohhh sooo goood. You put the right paper in and the results of a perfect print will make you want to treat it to an exquisitely aged red wine and the finest local artisan cheeses.

But then there is the downside.

I'm not sure if this printer is the best option for someone like me. I hate, hate, HAAATE being wasteful with just about anything. But I ESPECIALLY dislike it when it comes to the most expensive fluid on the planet: inkjet ink, combined with expensive fine art paper: Hahnemuhle Sugar Cane paper that costs a dollar a sheet for the smallest sizes and almost $3 for the larger ones.

A friend of mine who has this printer told me to print something, anything, once a week just to keep the nozzles and print heads functioning. But did I listen? Noooo. After the temper tantrum this printer has been throwing for almost 24 hours now, I will remember his advice and try to heed it from now on.

If you leave the printer off for months at a time, the print nozzles are very likely to dry out and you'll need to perform multiple nozzle checks and cleanings to make them functional again. THAT MEANS A TON OF WASTED INK! Uuuugh! I am so, so glad I stocked up on ink last year when I had the chance. Anyway... I'm getting ahead of myself.

The low ink levels here, see those? If this was your car, you'd be low on gas, but would have enough to get to a gas station and fill up (most likely).

If your car was made by Epson you would currently be stranded in the middle of the ghetto. With gas still in your tank.

So you check your Printer Status Monitor to see your ink levels. Maybe a couple of them are low, as shown above, but there is still ink in them, so you think you can perform your head cleaning and maybe even run off a print or two before it's time to replace them. But you'd be dead wrong!

Because when you tell the printer to perform the head cleaning, it'll go right ahead and begin the process (flushing your money directly down the toilet) and halfway through with ink levels like these, in the middle of the cleaning, you'll get an error message: "Could not complete cleaning."

WTF! So you get up and look at the printer and see the ink light on- meaning you have to replace an ink cartridge. You begrudgingly take out the old one, open up a brand new one, and replace it. Yay! Good as new! But the print head is probably still clogged, so now you have to go and do ANOTHER head cleaning. Wasting even MORE ink.

The worst part is, see that little graphic up there? The screenshot of the ink levels? Obviously the printer knows good and well just how much ink is in there.
It should be able to tell you whether or not you have enough ink to do a head cleaning!!! Why should it start the process when it SHOULD know it can't finish it? It would be so much easier if it just told you to replace the low ink cartridges, rather than starting to perform the head cleaning anyway and of course draining your nice full tanks of ink in addition to the ones that are already too low. But no.

Yes Epson. I see what's going on here.

And there isn't a damn thing I can do about it.

Ohhhhhhh, and another thing.
It's got a gloss optimizer cartridge for printing glossy images. From what I've heard, it's great, but the printer runs through it really fast. Whatever. I have never, ever used it because so far, all of my prints have been on matte paper. They look a lot better that way. Maybe one day I'll get into printing on canvas and want the shiny coating but for now, I always make sure I select matte paper in the print dialog so I won't use the gloss coating.

Yet... somehow... notice in the image above, the gloss optimizer (the ink that looks light gray) is NOT full. But I never use it, so it should be full up to the brim. Right? Am I crazy???
So even if you don't use it, ever, you're somehow going to run out of it.
I know, because it happened to me last year. Wouldn't you assume when it "ran out" (i.e. mysteriously vaporized), I wouldn't need to replace it since I don't ever use it??

If you had a random can of hominy in the pantry- even if you never ever eat it and don't even like hominy, so you wouldn't eat it, but it's there- and one day the can disappeared, you wouldn't need to run to the store and buy more hominy.
...Or would you?
Yes you WOULD!

And that's how this printer works, too! Even if you never, ever use the gloss, it will vanish into thin air one day and demand replacement. You will say "No, dear printer, for it is not I who ever uses the gloss and therefore you can print my prints just fine without it." So the printer will throw a tantrum like a petulant child and refuse to give you any more prints until it gets what it wants:
More gloss optimizer.

The best thing about this is that the gloss cartridge is only sold in packages of 4.
Ok, might as well stock up I guess.
That they expire. And if you try to put in an expired cartridge? I'll give you one guess as to what happens.

I got 9 perfect prints out of it yesterday after replacing 3 ink cartridges and numerous head cleanings etc. This morning I fire it up, and since everything was perfect yesterday I assume they would be today, too. But no. I do a print on my fine art paper and get all kinds of lines and crap running through it.

My advice if you have this printer:

-Don't leave it turned off for months at a time.
-Before you print on your expensive papers, at least print a test sheet and do a head cleaning if you must. Then you're just wasting ink, not ink AND paper.
-And maybe after the warranty expires, check out a continuous ink system.


Doris Sturm said...

Even though you like the results, this is waaayyyy to complicated for me. I need something a lot more userfriendly. (T'was interesting to know, though.)

I hope you will have a lovely day and a great weekend, Samantha.

Take care,
Doris :-)

Jen said...

I feel the pain Sam! I had the same problem with our HP. Although it did talk to me so it made up for its ink drying up issues.

Samantha G said...

Doris the printer is insane. I get lines all the time, all kinds of weird stuff. Yet my HP which is many years old prints perfectly 99.9999% of the time. It just doesn't have archival inks and I can't use the thicker fine art papers in it, and I can only go up to 8.5x11, which means if I want to sell bigger prints than that, I pay an arm and a leg for them anyway!

Jen which HP is that? I think mine is an old 8200. Its print quality still amazes me though. Sometimes I have a hard time telling colored-pencil-prints from the original!