Bob and Joy
     By Bob and Joy Schwabach

Home (947 bytes)

Columns  (947 bytes)

Internuts (947 bytes)

  Bob's Bio (947 bytes)

Email (947 bytes)





 About Us





November 2000, Week 2 -- Ink Stains



   Color inkjet printers are cheap to buy, but expensive to run. I just switched to a laser printer. Color me happy.

   Last March we noted here that if you multiplied out the small amount of ink in a typical refill cartridge, it came to a stunning $5,500 a gallon. More recently, the November issue of PC Magazine looked at 25 color inkjet printers and found that annual ink costs ranged from $187 to $814 a year. That was for moderate use. The low end was for an Epson Stylus Color 980, the high end for a Lexmark Z32. Ink cost for the average printer ran around $450-$500.


   With many color inkjet printers selling for $39-$99 after company rebates, the cost of ownership runs double or triple the cost of the machine. It becomes very much a razor blade business -- the idea that you sell the razors at a loss and make money selling the blades. If a color printer is owned three years, which seems reasonable, the cost of ink reaches a highly unreasonable $1,000-$2,000.

 HP 1220C

HP 1220C


   A few weeks ago I pulled the plug on an Epson Stylus Color 670, which was using ink at a prodigious rate, and plugged in a Brother HL-1250 laser printer. As I said earlier, color me happy. Instead of the slow and noisy inkjet, I have a fast and silent laser printer. There's no color, but ... we seldom need color, and when we do we turn to our other printer, a Hewlett Packard DeskJet 1220C.

   A key feature of the Brother laser printer, and one that is true for quite a few laser printers, is that it works with either PCs or Macintosh, and will print from DOS. Many users with Windows computers, myself included, have held on to some old favorite DOS programs. But most new printers, especially the cheaper ones, will only print from Windows. Using certain routines and memory calls from Windows saves the printer manufacturer money. Unfortunately, if a printer needs Windows to run it can't be used with Linux or other operating systems.


   Official refill toner cartridges run $50-$60. They handle 3,000 to 6,000 pages, one to two cents a page; color inkjet pages cost 7-31 cents a page. The printer itself is $400 for the HL-1250 model, but the earlier HL-1240 model is only $300 and was selected as best of its type at recent trade shows. The more expensive model has higher resolution but you rarely need it.


   A nice feature of the Brother HL-1250, and one that took me completely by surprise, is the software. A small window pops up when you're ready to print and gives you the option of selecting how many pages you want on each sheet of paper. You can click to print up to 25 pages on a single sheet or expand a single page to print out on 25 sheets of paper. You can also elect to print on both sides of the paper.


   Why would anyone want to do this? Well, even though it would be extremely hard to read 25 pages on one sheet of paper, it's done for archival purposes; sometimes you need a paper copy for storage. Going in the other direction, you would expand a page to create posters.


   Phone info: 800-276-7746 or 908-704-1700 in the U.S., 800-853-6660 in Canada; web:




--  The site's slogan is a "Personal trainer for life." They offer slightly offbeat news and tips on fitness, investments, entertainment, interpretation of dreams, etc. For example, there is news of a new horror novel from Greg Kihn, a musician who used to open for the Rolling Stones.

-- Science news: the addictive nature of chocolate; antibiotics derived from insects; common birds that can transmit dangerous diseases to people; and the ever-burning question of whether long-necked dinosaurs ate from trees or were more like lawn mowers.

--  You tell them what kinds of places and activities you like, and they suggest places that are, well, like that.

-- Conservative think tank. Has interesting world map of relatively "free" and not free economies. Economist Magazine does similar listing on an irregular basis.

Two for techies:

-- Tips and tricks on how to push your computer's processors to speeds higher than the manufacturer's ratings.


-- How to get maximum performance from almost everything in the computer.


The Palm of your hand

  500 Programs for the Palm Pilot

   Data Becker Corp. has pulled together 500 small programs for the Palm handheld computer. For those of you with Palms, this should keep you from envying the kids with "Game Boy" on the airplane.

   There are over 50 business programs covering appointments, expenses, travel, calculators, etc.; more than 200 reference and information guides; 50 city guides, 100 editing tools and utilities, and 20 games. The collection is called, simply enough, "500 Essential Programs," $40 for any model Palm, the IBM WorkPad, Handspring and TRGpro handheld computers.


   If you're still not satisfied, they have another program with designs for 20,000 business cards. (Very handy for anyone with 20,000 businesses.)


   Phone info: 781-453-2340; web:




 Keep Your Computer Running Right

   "Keep Your Computer Running Right," by Elliott Stern; $10 from Shake It Books

   This is a very small book with lots of large print. If you can skip over the feeling that you're not getting much for $10, there's some very practical information here on keeping your computer running cool and happy. It is pointed entirely at beginners, so if you already know how to do most things, this is not for you.


NOTE: Readers can search more than four years of columns at the "On Computers" web site: You can e-mail Bob Schwabach at or