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December 4, 1999. I bought an HP 812c printer at my local Staples. The
comments below are based on the first few days of ownership (it was a present).
Confused (as heck) about the Printer Cable
I walked into the store knowing that it did not come with a cable to connect it to a computer. That's not even my gripe (although it certainly could be). I checked the shelves at Staples and saw they carried two types of printer cables, bi-directional (cheap) and IEEE-1284 (expensive). The expensive cables were more than twice the cost of the cheap cables. For example, a short IEEE-1284 cable from HP was $40. In contrast, a long (15 feet) bi-directional/cheap cable was $15.
Then I checked the outside of the printer box to see what it said about this required cable. It says "for best performance use IEEE-1284 compliant parallel cable". What about if you don't care for the best performance? It does not say if the cheap cable will work, which I what I wanted to know. A person who works for Staples said only the expensive cable will work based on what other prior customers have told him. It almost brought me to tears. Not knowing what to do, I bought one of each cable.
The cheap one worked fine, so I returned the expensive one.
The HP web site is likewise mute on the difference between a cheap bi-directional printer cable and an expensive IEEE 1284 cable. So too, the web site of the company that makes the cables was of no use. There seems to be a conspiracy of vagueness intended to get the user to buy the more expensive cables.
Wrote to the PBS TV show Digital Duo about this issue (on Dec. 7, 1999 more or less) but never heard back.
What's the latest version of the printer driver?
First thing I did for my new printer was download a new printer driver from the HP web site. It said the latest version was from June 1999. The printer came with a CD-ROM that had all creation dates of May 1999. So I downloaded the new driver. Lo and behold, all the files from this downloaded driver are from 4/30/99!!
Of course, you're thinking, why am I looking at dates, when I should be looking at version numbers. The CD-ROM was version 11.1 for Windows 3.1, Win95, Win98, WinNT4. Copyrighted 1999. The web site had version 11.1.3. You tell me which is newer. It must be too hard for HP to be consistent in their version numbers. If 11.1.3 is newer than 11.1, why the heck could they not have named it 11.2 or 11.3?
Two days after documenting the above, I went to verify these facts (12/6/99). On the HP
web site at http://www.hp.com/cgi-bin/cposupport/cspt/cds/dlvr.pl?lid=general&fid=shpdeskjet810484&pid=hpdeskjet810484
it said "There are currently no Drivers and Software available for this product.
Please check back at a later time". Where did they go in the last 2 days?
Installing the printer driver
As noted above, I did not use the version of the driver on the included CD-ROM, but instead downloaded it from the HP web site. It's one EXE file that when you run it extracts a bunch of files, but it neither tells you nor asks you about where they are extracted to. Turns out, it goes to the directory where the EXE was run from. Also, all the messages during the installation process mention the HP 810 series of printers. Nowhere does it mention specifically the 812c model. Maybe I have the wrong driver? Can't be sure.
There was no warranty card in the box to register the printer. Maybe there is an online registration in the included CDROM, but as I got my driver from the HP web site, I never saw an option to register it. I guessed they might have an option to register online and sure enough at www.deskjet.com, you can register.
The first document I printed was with Wordpad under Windows 95 and words were chopped off each line. The margins were set to 1.25 inches. I changed them to 1.0 inches, but it only changed where the lines are getting chopped off. I ran the HP debug software and all it said was that the margins must be greater than .25inces which they were. Then I printed same document in Wordpad on another PC running Windows NT and using another printer (an older HP DeskJet printer). Again things got chopped off on the right hand side (using same left and right margins of 1.0inches each). Print preview of course (on both machines) does not show exactly what prints.
Finally, I tried the same document in Word97 on the second (Windows NT) machine with the same margins. Works fine. Seems to be a Wordpad bug, not an HP driver bug. Nonetheless, I thought the printer was broken for a while. If you get a new printer, test it with a new document that you create, not an existing document.
If you want to try this yourself, the document I used is available by right-clicking here. In the pop-up menu there will an option called SaveLinkAs in Netscape or SaveTargetAs in Internet Explorer. Use this to download this wordpad document to your machine. Its 547K bytes.
July 18, 2004. The printer was acting up, so I downloaded the User Guide for it from HP. There are three buttons on the right side of the front panel. The middle button serves a couple functions and has an indicator light that flags assorted errors. In my case, the light was blinking and amber colored. It's trying to tell me something, but what? Beats me as the User Guide never even mentions the existence of this button at all.
Searching the HP web site, I turned up the documentation I needed: HP Deskjets - What are the front panel lights and buttons on the 800 series printers? and even better HP Deskjet - Fixing Blinking Lights on 800 Series Printers. To no good end however, the printer could not be fixed with the help of these web pages (it was making a grinding noise, did not print well and did not feed the paper well). It only lasted about three years and didn't get much use.
FYI: The home page for the HP 810C
May 14, 2000. The 810 model is the same as the 812c except for the included software. I installed a new 810 printer on a system running Windows 98.
The printer driver is not installed in the standard Windows 98 way. That is, when Windows 98 says "New Hardware Found", you are supposed to Cancel out of that window and run the HP installation program instead.
I installed the printer driver from the included CD-ROM. After the installation, a re-boot is required. I took the CD-ROM out of the computer before re-booting figuring that I was done. After the re-boot however, I got an error message about a file being missing. Unfortunately, I did not make note of the exact message. What file? Why was it trying to do anything else? The printer driver was installed just fine and the printer works as is. This message only appeared at the first re-boot after installing the printer driver. Later re-boots were normal.
HP 810 Printer is Haunted
September 12, 2000.
This HP 810 printer is haunted. It turns itself
on when there is something to be printed. I did not believe the
owner of this computer (a relative) when they told me this happened (from
Windows 98). However, a
few days later the same thing happened to me with an HP 880 printer that I own
(from Windows NT4).
See those gripes for details.
|Page last updated: July 18, 2004|