Ezra Dyer recently wrote a funny piece for Automobile magazine (which unfortunately I haven't been able to find online) about the perils of recommending things. He notes that when he unloads on some piece-of-crap car, it's inevitable that whoever he's talking to will own one and love it. And when he recommends something specific, his in-laws will buy one and proceed to have endless problems with it. He concludes that the only safe thing to do is to recommend the Ferrari 599 in all circumstances. As in, "What would you recommend, Mr. Dyer, an Accord, or a Camry?" "I'd definitely go with the Ferrari 599."
Which brings me to the late, not-so-great HP B9180.
Which I recommended a few years ago.
I got not one of them, but two, from my contact at HP. The first one they sent me, packaged as new, turned out to be a repack, which left HP with a touch of egg on its face. I had a lot of trouble getting HP to take it back; they basically didn't want it to be returned, but no one at HP was willing to say straight out that I could keep it, either. Somewhat amusingly, the various people I spoke to about it at HP kept referring to "what HP wants" and "what HP usually does" and so forth, as if there were some sort of all-powerful Wizard-of-Oz corporate Will running things. They kept suggesting I could "talk to HP" without seeming to realize that I was talking to HP, because they worked for HP and I was talking to them. I don't keep review items in any case (although sometimes I'm shamefully lax about getting them back), so I donated the first printer to a local college, and managed to pay HP some paltry sum for the second one.
Some time back, I decided it would be better for my blood pressure if I just disconnected the second B9180, and let it go sit on the floor in the corner of the living room. It had already paid for itself many times over, which is the only reason I'm in no danger of blowing a gasket over it. It was, shall we say, frustrating. Not always. Just most of the time.
It made very nice prints when it was working right.
It appears the experience was somewhat frustrating for HP, too, as the company has recently recently discontinued its mid-line pigment-ink pro-am printers—the B9150 and its stripped-down brother the B8850—and doesn't appear to be gearing up to put any replacements in play. Retiring from the field, in that segment of the printer market?
My contact at HP, too, has "left the company."
And may I just say, I really have no idea why people keep repeating the old platitude that to print digital, "all you have to do is press a button." What? Have those people never printed digital? That's nothing close to my experience. Printing digital badly might be easy. Printing digital really well is hard. It requires attentiveness, knowledge, investment, preparation, and a certain thoroughness of mind.
So what printer would I recommend to the serious photographer nowadays? That's easy. I suggest you go with the Ferrari 599.
Send this post to a friend
Note: Links in this post may be to our affiliates; sales through affiliate links may benefit this site. More...
Original contents copyright 2010 by Michael C. Johnston and/or the bylined author. All Rights Reserved.