Friday, February 20, 2009

Tray 1 load plain letter, Error message

According to HP, when the requested paper size from a print document does not match the size that the printer is sensing, the printer will prompt you to load the requested size paper in the upper, multipurpose Tray 1.

If the HP LaserJet 4000, 4050, 4100, 5000 or 5100 series printer displays the message "Tray 1 Load Plain Letter " or if the paper is being pulled from an unexpected paper tray, try the following steps

Follow these steps to check that the paper guides in the trays are correctly configured.
1. Remove the tray in question from the printer, take out all of the paper, and verify that the rear paper guide and the side paper guides are aligned with the "Letter " guide slot and not the "A4" guide slot.
2. On some paper trays, there is a dial on the right of the tray, along the outside area, where the paper is loaded toward the front. Follow these steps if the tray has the dial:
a. Pull the tray out of the printer.
b. Look at the blue paper-size-adjustment-dial and verify that the correct paper size is selected
In addition to HP’s solution to this error I have discovered another cause for this error message. Look at the right side of the tray from the outside and see tabs that activate switches inside the printer. These tabs are activated by sliding the blue plastic backstop which adjusts for paper size. This blue adjustable backstop moves a white spring loaded plastic bar that pushes on the tabs. On one printer I recently repaired the white plastic bar was behind the blue adjustable backstop. This restricted the forward movement of the white strip preventing it from activating the tab.
Without the tab activated the printer could not recognize the letter size paper in Tray 2 and called for Tray 1. To repair this I disconnected the plate the paper sits on and moved the white bar to be totally in front of the blue backstop. The white bar activated the tabs which made the switches allowing the printer to use letter paper in Tray 2.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

HP’s newest rip off ‘starter cartridge’

All printer manufactures are stuck with the dilemma of supplying cartridges with a printer. If they don’t supply the cartridge the consumer will see how expensive they are and may not purchase the printer. If they supply a full cartridge with the printer it will take too long a time before the consumer purchases another cartridge. However, the profit is in the cartridges, not the printer.

Enter the ‘starter cartridge’, a low capacity cartridge to get the consumer started and back to the store quickly to purchase cartridges. One problem for the consumer is they often replace the old starter cartridge with another starter cartridge. The printer companies love that.

Typical examples taken from Office Depot’s web for HP include the cartridges for the Laser Jet 4000. The starter 27A rated at 6,000 pages selling for $110.00 or 1.8 cents per page. The 27X is rated at 10,000 pages and sells for $144 or 1.4 cents per page. The Laser Jet 4250 starts with a 42A rated for 10,000 pages selling for $ 167 or 1.7 cents per page. The same printer also takes a 20,000 page 42X costing $248 or 1.2 cents per page.

The cost per page disparity is even more pronounced with the inkjet cartridges. The HP #88 starter cartridge is rated at 820 pages costing $24 or 2.9 cents per page. The full capacity #88XL costs $41 and is rated to print 2350 pages or 1.7 cents per page. That is significant.

The most egregious example is the HP #74 starter cartridge rated at 200 pages costing $15 or a whopping 7.5 cents per page. It can be replaced with the #74XL costing $35 and rated at 750 pages or 4.7 cents per page, which is still not very impressive.

The lesson to all printer purchasers is: “Before buying a printer, check out what the ink will cost”.