Apr 7 2023


It’s been years since I had a printer as part of my home computing setup. Hewlett Packard are not tempting me to go back:

It was fine until my yellow ink cartridge (allegedly) ran out, and the printer stopped printing in color. I soldiered on with the black cartridge. Until one day I tried to print a return label (in black and white!) and the printer decided it wouldn’t. Not until I replaced the yellow ink cartridge. Fine. I paid 207 goddamn dollars for replacement cartridges, put them in, and discovered that HP region-locks its printers. […] I am able to access the secret Set New Region menu. This menu — which warns it’s supposed to be used in conjunction with support — lists the printer serial number, the total page count, something called an RX code, and the nine-digit serial numbers for each of the four cartridges. It has five text input fields at the bottom, labeled 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, and 51.

It’s not that I wasn’t aware that printer firms have been trying to apply DRM to their printer supplies for a few years now. It’s just the reminder this article provides of how ineptly they’re implementing it, with entirely different systems managing the DRM in different countries and their support teams apparently being to terrible at identifying which DRM-related software was applicable to the problem. 1

Basically HP want to sell you a printer but for you to rent a supply of ink cartridges. Given that the reason I haven’t had a printer for years is that I found myself just not printing out very much stuff in an age where I could access text and images on a screen, that’s just not going to happen any time soon.

[Via Pixel Envy]

  1. In fairness to HP, I suspect a big part of the problem was that the printer was bought outside the USA and the customer support was being sought inside the USA. It’s less that their documentation isn’t translated into umpteen languages, more that I suspect that finding the right documentation for a printer purchased in the Netherlands is more challenging than everyone would like.↩︎