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Fix your broken printer by troubleshooting these printing issues

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  • Printer issues are universal headaches — the ink is expensive, the paper gets jammed, and the Wifi doesn’t work. 
  • In fact, according to Consumer Reports, 75% of home printers are thrown away within a few years of purchase.
  • We spoke to printer whiz Tercius Bufete, who’s an associate editor at Consumer Reports. He has some ideas that should relieve our printer woes.

Following is a transcript of the video.

Manny Ocbazghi: We’ve all been there. You’ve just finished your essay, class is about to start, and now it’s time to print. But wait, the printer says there’s no paper. Fine, you go to open the paper tray, but the paper is incredibly real and existent. You touch it and feel it to make sure you’re not crazy. Congratulations, you’re not.

You’re not alone. People everywhere have problems with their printers. 75% of printers are thrown away within a few years of purchase. The ink is expensive. The Wi-Fi sucks. Why?

Tercius Bufete: It’s funny when people talk about how much they hate their printers because it really doesn’t do anything sexy or fun.

Manny: Tercius Bufete is an associate editor at Consumer Reports. He’s reviewed hundreds of printers and believes there’s a few things we can do to solve our problems. Let’s start with the most annoying one. Why is ink so expensive? It’s because of what’s called the razor and blades model.

Bufete: Some companies will give you a product for cheap, or for free.

Manny: The razor or printer in this case.

Bufete: And then they expect you to buy things in the future to keep up the cost.

Manny: The blades or the ink.

Bufete: There’s a lot of technology within a cartridge that costs a lot of money.

Manny: This causes us to buy third-party printer ink because it’s cheaper, but that’s probably not a good idea. Often times using third-party ink cartridges voids your printer’s warranty, meaning you can’t send it in for repairs. Also some brands can recognize when the ink isn’t their own and give you an error message. Don’t worry, there are cheaper and simpler alternatives. For example, you could buy an EcoTank or reservoir-type printer. Instead of expensive ink cartridges they use small refillable ink bottles. These bottles cost about $12 each and can last up to two years. In the meantime, make sure you’re printing at least a couple pages a week. This ensures that your ink cartridges won’t dry up. What about Wi-Fi? Why does there always seem to be an issue connecting to your printer?

Bufete: Printers aren’t sexy or fun. They’re these giant black monstrosities that kind of remind us of our old desktops. So what they tend to do is they put them in closets. They tend to hide them under things. And that creates connectivity issues with your router.

Manny: For a stronger connection put your printer closer to your router. Another common issue: paper jams. The weight and texture of your printer paper is often what causes these jams. So be sure to check which paper your printer uses in the manual.

But let’s say you don’t even have a printer or you’re looking to buy a new one. How do you know which one is right for you?

Bufete: So there are two major types of printers. And when you have to choose between them, you really have to think about your needs. Inkjets are kind of really versatile. You can print photos. You can do your documents. They’ll often be all-in-one, so you can scan and fax and copy. Lasers are a little bit more geared towards small businesses, so they really are great about texting cheap pages, but they kind of struggle when you wanna print photos

Manny: It might be easy to say your printer sucks, but if you’re careful and you pay attention to detail, you could solve a lot of those problems.

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