No, Mr. Bond. I Expect You To Print

Printers suck. You know this. I know this. It is a universal truth. Aside from paper jams and managing setups that are complicated, the modern printers are even worse than that. Long ago companies went to a 'razor blade' sales model to sell the printer cheap and make money on the ink. HP has taken this cat and mouse game to the next level. Its CEO declared that ink must be a subscription and it can only be HP's ink. Scharon Harding at Ars Technica has more.

HP CEO Enrique Lores addressed the company's controversial practice of bricking printers when users load them with third-party ink. Speaking to CNBC Television, he said, "We have seen that you can embed viruses in the cartridges. Through the cartridge, [the virus can] go to the printer, [and then] from the printer, go to the network."

That frightening scenario could help explain why HP, which was hit this month with another lawsuit over its Dynamic Security system, insists on deploying it to printers.

Dynamic Security stops HP printers from functioning if an ink cartridge without an HP chip or HP electronic circuitry is installed. HP has issued firmware updates that block printers with such ink cartridges from printing, leading to the above lawsuit (PDF), which is seeking class-action certification. The suit alleges that HP printer customers were not made aware that printer firmware updates issued in late 2022 and early 2023 could result in printer features not working. The lawsuit seeks monetary damages and an injunction preventing HP from issuing printer updates that block ink cartridges without an HP chip.

Ars Technica

Harding goes deeper with their reporting in the linked article, but I'll sum it up: this 'hacking' danger does not exist and there is no evidence it could happen.

What all this means is something simple: HP wants you to use HP ink in its HP printers and buy that ink directly from HP. They want to "control the whole stack" in order to maintain control and squeeze profits from every link in the chain. Its funny how a chip shortage in 2022 put a kink in that chain.

But you don't need to fall victim to this nonsense. First, ink printers suck and they're finicky. Just don't buy them unless you need to print color more than once a year. Because if you get a laser printer, you're already far ahead of the game. Laser printer toner costs a bit more than ink but it lasts for years, compared to ink printers that maybe last months before drying out?

Nearly a year ago The Verge made things dead simple: buy this Brother printer and be done. And I agree. Just get that printer, don't give any money to HP, and enjoy reliable (as reliable as a printer can be) printing without any BS.

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