Thursday, September 30, 2010

Perfection Robbed By Power, Or Lack Thereof, The LaserJet 1200 Printer

The Good: Quick, Good crisply printed pages, Quiet
The Basics: Despite a disturbing design flaw that I'll continue to kvetch about until I get a new printer, an all-around wonderful printer for heavy use.

When I first wrote about my (at that time new) HP Laserjet 1200, I was still in mourning for my HP Laserjet 6P. If you have a chance, go read my raving lunatic review of that product and if you can find a refurbished one, buy it; it will be in your best advantage.

Being a novelist, it's more than a little important that I have a functional printer at my disposal, so when the old 6P's fixer bar shredded after four years of printing out manuscripts of daunting size, I was immediately out for a new printer. My search yielded the HP LaserJet 1200.

On the plus side, this printer had exactly what I was looking for: a laser printer with a bottomfeed paper feeding system; I've only had unpleasant experiences with topfeeders or backloaders, so this is important to me. Since I purchased it last year, I've not had a single paper jam and I've printed 14,446 pages. I'd say that's a good start! Having used the printer now for eight years (its eight year anniversary was two days ago, as it turns out!) and having printed 486,198 pages on the printer, I can credibly write about its durability! I get a paper jam about once in every two thousand pages now, but that is not bad after almost a decade of use!

In fact, one of the most pleasant aspects of this printer thus far is the length of life on the starter cartridge. I was amazed how long it lasted; for 4000+ pages on a starter cartridge, that's wonderful! Add to that not a single paper jam and I'm a happy camper!

Okay, I'm not a computer geek, I don't know a thing about networking or anything like that, so if you're looking for pros, the best I can tell you is it prints a LOT, it prints it very well, and it prints your pages, or mine at least, very quickly. The set up was very easy; everything was directly stated in the directions and the computer did all of the software adjusting to make the printer work, which was mighty nice of it.

Being not a computer person, perhaps I'm missing some of the novelty of progress, but the LaserJet 1200 has me seriously cheesed. It's not a huge thing, but it's big enough for me to complain about it for a while and not give this product a perfect score. I'm still baffled by the stupidity of the engineers who designed this printer and thought it was a step up the evolutionary ladder:

There is no power switch on this printer!

Of all the asinine design problems, it strikes me that someone, fairly early in the process, would have said, "Duhh, Davie, we's need us a power switch!" But alas, no one at HP considered the advantage of equipping the 1200 with a simple on/off switch. This leaves you with one of two options: you may leave it on constantly (which results in an almost indistinguishable background noise for several minutes until it goes into a power saving mode that emits no sound) or you can unplug the printer from your powerstrip.

I was tempted to take a third option; returning the printer to the store. Actually, I did return my first 1200 because it had a problem with its fixer bar (I was, apparently, cursed for a time in the printer world). I've never once had problems with my new one and I wrote it off right away as a freak problem, not indicative of the series.

However, the lack of a power switch is annoying. Not being “The Simpsons”’ satirical computer user in body type, I can say it's sufficiently annoying for thin people to have to bend down to plug in the printer every time one wishes to use it. I imagine it could be even more annoying if one was, err . . . well, a stereotypical computer programmer. Then again, hard core programmers are probably smart enough to have their powerstrips within easy reach so they don't have to bend down to do plug related stuff.

Anyway, for an idea of how very annoying this aspect of the printer is spend a week of turning your current printer on and off by plugging and unplugging it. Add to that the extra annoyance of forgetting to unplug the machine when it's in its silent powersaving mode. If anyone from HP is reading this and you've fixed this problem, I'd be mighty grateful if you'd send me a new printer.

The beauty of the HP 1200 LaserJet is that when I plug it in, the power comes on, I hit "print" on my computer and blank pieces of paper suddenly appear with writing. It's a printer for Toast's sake?! There's not much more to it. It prints. It does so reliably and for that I think this is a worthwhile product.

Outside the seriously annoying flaw of the lack of a power button, which - to a layperson - seemed like a fairly obvious problem as far as problems with making something goes, this printer is wonderful and I wouldn't trade it for anything. Well, except maybe a 6P.

For other computer equipment, please check out my reviews of:
Microsoft D66 Optical Mouse
iPad (64 GB)
iPod Nano (5th Generation)


For other computer hardware reviews, please check out my index page!

© 2010, 2002 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.

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