Would buying a new printer make sense?

For someone who prints at the most 20 pages in a month, does it make sense to throw out a half way reasonably working printer and buy another one? This is the question that has been nagging me for a while now, and I’ve almost nearly impulse bought one a few times in the recent past as well, so I need to answer this question.

I bought an Epson SX125 MFP a little over 4 years ago for a price I am pretty certain wasn’t a cent over 100 US Dollars. What attracted me to it back then apart from the price was Epson’s strategy to use separate cartridges for black, red, blue and yellow colours.

Over these years, I am certain I haven’t printed more than 600 pages in total and remember replacing the cartridges about 3 to 4 times. i.e. about 150 to 200 pages per change of cartridge. So, as far as the printer economy goes I am satisfied. I haven’t had to spend more than 40 USD per annum for my printing, copying and scanning costs.

However, of late I’ve had to run the “clean print heads” routine one too many times. If it hasn’t been used for more than one month (yes, that does happen from time to time) then the next time a document is queued to print it prints all the pages, as in total number of pages, all right, but significant parts thereof are barely legible. It is unable to handle horizontal lines in this state, rendering online tickets with QR codes more or less unusable. And I tend to buy my tickets just before heading out, so it has caused some pain. Cleaning the print head, I suspect, uses copious amount of precious ink – but the cost per page isn’t really pinching me in any way. Yet.

Changing the cartridges is not that easy either. In older models (of Epson MFPs) one simply had to lift the scanner bed and one had direct access to all the cartridges. Epson has Germanised, i.e. introduced unnecessary complexity where not necessary, this design in the SX-125. Now one has to lift up the scanner bed, and press a button on the printer and the SX-125 aligns the errant cartridge to a tiny opening from which only this cartridge can be extracted. Apparently the user does not know which cartridge to replace, despite them being clearly colour coded. Almost felt like my intelligence was being questioned the first time I had to change a cartridge. There was this one time about two years ago when I nearly murdered the printer for repeatedly refusing to align any of the four cartridges with this “slot” despite being out of ink. I think I learnt the limits of my frustration that day.

Touch wood, since that day I’ve only changed the cartridges a few times (one colour at a time, and I guess I have changed the black one more times than the others) since then, and haven’t had this issue again. So I am willing to let that one ugly episode fade away to a forgotten corner.

Printing wirelessly is in fashion now, and the SX-125 is from the pre-wireless era, so well – it loses on this point, right? No. Not really. In my small apartment, any printer I buy will always be placed next to the desktop – yes, I own a desktop. Hah. Ergo, wireless by association. I had to disable access point separation on my home wireless network though.

The only credible pain point – because I don’t have a suitable solution for it – is that double sided printing involves a certain amount of brain juggling combined with a liberal dose of luck or patience. But then, the printer doesn’t get used that often, so printing double sided, in this case, isn’t going to save any rainforest.

If I were to sell this printer, then no sane person would pay more than 30 USD for it. It being old and used and all that rot. So changing it would mean changing it to be purely keeping up with the Joneses.

And after this almost therapeutic session of writing, I am certain that exchanging the existing Epson SX-125 for a newer, better, shinier printer in the foreseeable near future is not the best of ideas, unless, of course, circumstances change drastically.

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