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HP Officejet Pro 8600 Plus e-All-in-One Printer - N911g

01/19/14

  04:22:00 pm, by The Dreamer   , 2307 words  
Categories: Networking, FreeBSD, Printers

HP Officejet Pro 8600 Plus e-All-in-One Printer - N911g

So, near the end of July, I started investigating (once again) on replacing my HP Photosmart 8450xi (which was now over 8 years old....bought it on June 30th, 2005 - Back from Vacation Tech Buying Spree?...setup on July 9th, 2005 - link

I had started looking some time before this, but was put off for a bit due to my experiences with the Brother DCP-7065DN -- link, since it seemed most of the choices out there were GDI and I'm moving to more and more heavily FreeBSD as my primary operating system.

Especially since it appears that 'box' finally called it quits on December 2nd, before I had started my journey home from Chicago TARDIS that day....and orac is inching close to its end, as the pair of ST2000DL003's which evidently only had 1 year warranties from June/September 2012 started going shortly into the new year. I was trying to use ddrescue to force sector remapping on the first drive, when the other drive has decided to vanish permanently. I had thought it was was DM's that had 1 year and DL's that had 5 years, perhaps I had it backwards....or its a question of when I purchased them, or how they were packaged.

Checking my order history, I purchased one drive on June as a bare drive and later in September as a retail kit. I haven't yet pulled the drives, so I can't look up the serial number for the vanished one, but Seagate's website says the one that is responding is out of warranty. Even if the other drive is still under warranty, not sure I want to deal with getting it exchanged for a refurb to create a solo 2TB drive. Can't think of not wanting raid given what I'll likely use it for. And, not sure I'd buy a different 2TB drive to be its mate (and it won't work with my other 2TB arrays, since its an advanced format 2TB drive...while the lraidz2 pool on zen used legacy format 2TB drives (which limits options of growing it non-destructively.)

Fortunately, I had copied one of the big volumes from it over to zen (along they way it got corrupted, so had been trying to copy it back from zen when the other drive died). And, files of the other volume (my pyTiVo store) should all be in backup, where I don't have space on zen to restore them yet.... I have pyTiVo on zen, but the content under it is different...and larger, so much that it is currently not being backed up. I haven't gotten made much progress on building the second backup server....guess I'll need to look at this sooner than later.

And, now it seems the other 2TB RAID-1 array on orac is dying. I just went ahead and failed the drive that was giving it issues. Not sure what to do with it...suppose I could try ddrescue on it and see what happens. The big volume on it had also been copied over to zen, so guess I'll update my HSTi's to point to zen instead of orac for their content. Another used to be for Time Machine backups, but I had moved that over to zen when I set up the new work laptop to do Time Machine backups on my home network. I was using that space as overflow from pyTiVo. And, another was for backups of various things, which I had stopped adding to as new backups are going to zen now. Its things like regular backups of my websites at dreamhost and 1and1, my router configs, serial console servers, and some other backups. I was also replicating some directories on zen to orac as backup (left over from when zen was a Windows 7 PC....which saved me from losing everything when it scrambled itself.)

But, back to my printer quest.

So, sometime last July, I managed to get "CUPS cloud print" to build and run on FreeBSD, and its pretty good. I started working on making it into a proper port, but got stuck so eventually I tossed it into my github repository so that maybe somebody else can finish it.

There were also some new printers and sales that raised the possibility of getting a new printer then....

At that time, some of the printers I had bookmarked, so were probably ones I was considering were: Canon Pixma MX922, Epson Expression Photo XP-850, Epson WorkForce WF-3540, Epson WorkForce WF-7520, Epson Expression Premium XP-800, HP Officejet 6700 Premium e-All-in-One, Ricoh Aficio SG 3110SFNw.

Don't recall if they all met my criteria or not, where the 3 main ones were native Google Cloud Print (since leaving a browser running on box so I could cloud print was odd, and now that its dead....), Duplex ADF, and direct CD printing (since I have a spindle of of inkjet CD-Rs and nothing to print with....years ago I had an Epson Stylus 600, which was an amazing printer for printing photos, though it didn't like not being used regularly and I was burning through ink cartridges like crazy when it was down to only being used once or twice a year. This was due to acquiring an HP Deskjet 970cxi for my day to day printing, the duplex printing was really handy for that. And, its color output wasn't too shabby for general stuff, so that meant the Epson got really little use. Eventually I had enough with it and tossed.

When the 970cxi packed it in (seemed to started going downhill once I started using refilled cartridges in it.), I upgraded to an HP Photosmart 8450xi. And, vowed to always using genuine HP cartridges in it. And, it had served me well, though these things do wear out. It helped get more life out of it by switching up from the default of 'fast draft' printing to.

There was also another factor in the selection....ideally I wanted the new printer to be as close to $100, though I was willing to go to about $200. Also a given was native ethernet support, and Linux/FreeBSD.... But, something came up and I paused the search on July 26th.

Then a little while later, on August 4th, somebody posted to lopsa-discuss asking about home-office all-in-printers, criteria Linux/Mac friendly, ethernet, duplex printing, good running costs, compact footprint, easy to replace cartridges. Pluses for android printing, CD printing, individual color ink cartridges. Didn't care for memory card printing or Pictbridge. Among the common printer brands and 75 pounds UK (about $115 US).

Right away the first suggestion was for a HP Officejet Pro 8600 N911a. Next response was for Canon Pixma. Then Brother was mentioned, but the poster didn't know about Linux and Mac friendliness. Then some talk of laserjets. Eventualy, it seemed most of the printers I had on my shortlist were also mentioned. I had eliminated Brother from my list, since I had a Brother laser printer, and since all their inkjets that fit my criteria were GDI, I wanted to avoid them . Even though a number of the printers on my shortlist, particularly the Canon Pixma, were likely to be GDI.

Oh, there was also the question of whether these printers were head on cartridge or head separate from ink....though it seems that head on cartridge is no more, especially if you want separate cartridges in color. Though some printers seemed to have replaceable heads. I eventually joined the discussion with a bit of my history and desires....

Then a mixed review of HP Officejet Pro 8600 Plus N911g came up....but more discussion on the HP Officejet Pro 8600 carried on.

N911a - MSRP $199.99 - on sale $149.99

N911g (Plus) - MSRP $299.99 - on sale $249.99

Differences, g had 4.3" touch screen panel (vs 2.65"), did 20ppm mono (vs 18ppm), had a 50 page duplexing ADF (vs 35 page non-duplexing ADF), scan or route fax to e-mail w/o a PC?.

N911n (Premium) - MSRP $399.99 - not on sale.

Bundled the second 250-sheet tray, a set of regular cartridges, and 50 sheets of glossy brochure paper.

Online prices for the second tray were $79.99, and a set of regular cartridges were $26.99 + 3x$19.99 = $86.96, didn't look up the paper. But, since the sum of the first two was more than then $150 difference from sale price N911g to non-sale price of N911n, it was still a bargain if one were to go this way.

I pretty much decided if I were to go this way, I would probably go N911g...though it was over my threshold. I also added some unique features of other printers I had come across in my research.

Then the discussion of GDI vs PCL/PS printers was reiterated.....I did stumble across a site selling "Open Box" N911g's for $115.79, or N911a's for $73.68, or N911n's for $146.32...though I was really keen on trying an "Open Box" printer...though I had bought other "Open Box" items in the past that were reasonably successful (though I had unsuccessful experiences in the past when it came to printers.) So, I posted a note about that, in case anybody on the list was more daring.

So, at that point I had largely set my sites on an HP OfficeJet Pro 8600 Plus....though maybe Premium is what I should've really been looking to.

The discussion pretty much ended there....on August 9th. Other things happened in my life and it was forgotten.

Until I came back from Chicago TARDIS, and started browsing the CyberMonday (CyberWeek) deals...and spotted the N911g on Amazon.com for $199 (it can be had for less now though). So, I went for it. Bought it Dec 2nd, received it Dec 6th. Was having trouble getting UPS to show up during the 4 hour delivery window they kept giving me, so I paid to pin them to a 2 hour window, where they showed up right at the end of it.

I didn't get around to setting it up until December 12th....

Among the things I did during that time was start playing with HP Connected. Where I eventually discovered a big annoyance, it only prints single sided. This made me think that I should get a second tray, so that I can fill one tray with the printed sheets so it'll print on the other side later. And, configure cups to use the tray with blank paper for normal duplex printing.

So, I ordered a second tray on Dec 16th, from a Marketplace seller. Which was kind of risky since I needed to get it by Dec 20th, otherwise it would defer to after the new year from settings I had entered with UPS MyChoice. I didn't need to be that long for my vacation plans, but I wasn't planning on needing to go out much (let along open my front door) during the time before and after the trip.

Fortunately it arrived on December 19th.

Though I didn't get around to setting it up until after the new year. One of the other issues was I needed a new printer stand to put it on, and I had intended to delay getting one until after I got back from my trip...instead I got one on woot.com just before I left. I had hoped it would take sufficiently long enough to ship, but instead they were really quick with this order and it arrived on Dec 26th by FedEx. FedEx left it outside my door for me to find when I got back late on the 28th. Kind of annoying, because I had also entered vacation settings in FedEx Delivery Manager.... UPS has also been known to deliver/leave packages despite me setting a vacation window in UPS MyChoice. There was one time where the post office attempted delivery during a delivery hold window, and recorded it as delivered. But, it wasn't left anywhere that I could find and wasn't among my mail when the hold expired. Trying to do a redelivery request on it, yielded nothing. Eventually had to declare it as lost, where the shipper was able to send me the item again (which was surprising, since it was another one of those one day sale sites...)

I had intended that I would assemble the new stand (actually a small computer desk) by New Year's Day...but ended up not getting around to it until Jan 5th.

The computer desk has an overhead shelf...with the added height of the second tray, it barely fits. But, at least its much more stable than the mobile cart I had been using. Things kind of work better with HP Connected output now....at least it isn't as wasteful, though not convenient. And, so far printing has been tolerable. I have scaled back my use of HP Connected. May eventually stop it altogether, despite the occasional interesting/useful article. Since its interference to my ability to use the printer is a problem. Though there are other aspects of the printer that are really lacking, likely from my lack of having a Windows centric home environment (not sure how Mac fits with it, maybe I'll find out when I finally get one.) Though I have found that it is pretty decent on what it can do in a standalone. Like it can scan without computer control, and store the results into a Samba share (or email), same with receiving faxes...though not sure if I'm going to set up that feature now.

I had intended to get try using my Obi110 and a GoogleVoice account, but Google is going to discontinue its support of XMPP, which means the end of ObiHai devices and Google Voice, though it is a capable ATA, though I probably won't purchase a BYOD VoIP service just for this. Though I'll probably see about some kind of dial tone for it, just in case I come to that once in a blue moon need to send a traditional fax....

Wonder how many years from now will it be before I look for my next printer.

Though I should probably start looking for ink beyond the install cartridges (and apparently they're required as part of starting use with a new head...)

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Now instead of subjecting some poor random forum to a long rambling thought, I will try to consolidate those things into this blog where they can be more easily ignored profess to be collected thoughts from my mind.

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