When Ames and I got married we had two of a lot of things you should really only have one of. Two beds, two can-openers, two toothbrush holders…you get the idea. Within the first 6 months of marriage we had eliminated a lot of that extra clutter, but even after 2 years we still had our two old deskjet printers from our undergrad days. We always had (at least) two computers around, so having two high quality printers and copiers was no big deal, except when they ran out of ink. Fortunately, we never had to buy both new ink cartridges for both printers at the same time. For the last few months, one has been low on color, and one has been low on black ink, but now they’re both low on everything. Actually, I take that back. One printer still has some magenta, and the other still has some cyan. Still, that doesn’t work when Ames needs to print out homework; and if we have to print out a Google Map, magenta roads are hard on the eyes.
We were all prepared to go to Sams Club and plop down a whole lot of money for new ink when I got the idea that I could probably buy a shiny new printer with ink for what I was going to pay for 4 cartridges. After talking to Amy about it, we began our search. We scoured the Internet and the Sunday advertisements to find the best bang for our buck and we discovered that we could do a lot better than just a network printer. We decided on the Brother MFC-5440CN from Staples.
For $99 after rebate, it’s obviously not the top of the line model, but it is a huge upgrade from our previous printing, scanning, and faxing solutions. Rather than having to get a USB hub, it connects directly to the router, which means if I set up some port forwarding, I could even print things from outside the home network. It would be amazing to me if Amy could print something out at home from her iBook at school. On the iMac, I followed some advice I read online and didn’t use the CD at all since there have been some changes since Tiger came out. I just downloaded the drivers directly from Brother which allow the iMac to communicate with the unit via Bonjour. They even have a handy dashboard widget that displays the ink levels. On the PC, I’m having some trouble communicating with scanner. Everything else is working great though, and I just got a fax this morning from the eye doctor with Amy’s contact prescription…so I know that works too.
Little did we know when we decided not to buy ink cartridges that we would be getting rid of such a huge pile of electronics. It all works…but it’s all old. The scanner takes up a lot of desk space and doesn’t play well with Windows XP, the fax machine works great, but was kicked out of it’s perch by the all-in-one, and the printers of course are out of ink. I was initially going to sell it all on ebay, but a friend suggested that I donate it to the Salvation Army, which I think is a great idea.
I forgot to mention that I bought a new desk toy while I was at Staples. I tried pressing it a couple times yesterday while I was working on some complicated database code, but nothing happened. Oh well…at least my printer works again.