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HP Deskjet D1560 - A Low Running Cost Budget Inkjet
Amongst the HP Deskjet series of inkjet printers the D1560 and D1460 are popular models. In fact the D1560 it is one of the few available printers that gets over 4 stars in Amazon customer reviews and is frequently out of stock. I decided to find out why, and bought one for myself!
The inkjet printer market is plagued with printers that do everything but print. What most customers find after they buy the printer is that after a while the printer stops printing and starts moaning about lack of ink and non-genuine cartridges. If it is an all-in-one printer sometimes even the scanning functions do not work if the ink is dry or a cartridge is missing. What has scanning to do with ink you ask? Well the whole idea behind these inkjet printers is to sell the customers as much genuine (i.e. prohibitively expensive) ink as possible. And the printer manufacturers are succeeding at it by making printers that simply reject cartridges which have been used in the machine before or have been refilled. Most require that the machine have all cartridges installed and full to capacity even if you are printing a simple black and white email. No doubts customers are unhappy and most printer reviews are bad, but what can customers do, there is no good way of knowing the real running cost of a printer unless you own one, and when you switch to another manufacturer they might turn out to be just as bad.
This is where the D1650 becomes popular. Though not among the latest or quietest models out there, the machine is small and does the job, it prints! The D1650 is not an all-in-one, it’s just a printer and so it just does one thing. HP seems to have been designed it in the days where printers were about printing stuff and not about using genuine ink. It takes two cartridges, one black HP No 21 and one tri-colour HP No 22. The genuine HP 21-5ml costs £12 and yields 190 plain pages (i.e. 6.3p per page) and the genuine HP 22 costs £15 and yields 165 plain pages. However the good news is that there are non-genuine higher capacity (15ml) versions of these cartridges as well and they work just fine in the printer. These help in driving printing costs down giving upto 400 pages for about £9 (i.e. 2.25p per page). No moaning about non-genuine ink. The ink cartridges can also be re-filled and the infamous low-ink level warnings reset or ignored. The printer dutifully continues to print if you tell it that it is ok. Now here is the real deal, the printer even continues to function if one of the cartridge is unavailable. If colour is removed this good little printer prints in black and white only and if black is removed, it uses the colour cartridge to create grey text. How we wish all new printers were this clever and yielding.
The D1560 is about 17 inches long and 12.5 inches wide. It has a simple USB port for connecting it to your computer. No Bluetooth, wireless or memory card support. The sheet feeder can hold upto 80 sheets of plain paper or 10 envelopes. Popular supported paper sizes are A4, A5, A6, 5 x 7 inch photos and 8 x 10 inch photos. Borderless photo printing is supported. Fast draft black and white mode will get you 18ppm. Maximum dpi is 1200 x 1200 dpi. The printer comes with a power supply cable and two sample cartridges, one black and one colour. No USB cable is supplied and you must buy one separately. You can get the full specification here.
The software shipped with the printer is excellent. Installing it on 64-bit Vista was a no brainier. It automatically connects to HP and downloads the latest driver during setup. Annoyingly the yahoo toolbar and some HP online offers software is included in the bundle which will get installed if you are not careful to select ‘Advanced Options’ and unpick these useless options during setup. The printer will perform head-alignment immediately after setup which is fairly simple and requires printing some patterns on plain paper and telling it which looks best. Then you are done and it is ready to use. The software also provides helpful defaults including an ‘Economy Mode’ which prints in draft mode to save ink. Hey it’s actually trying to save ink, and the draft mode is pretty good for most basic printing tasks. If you want to print lots of colour photographs then you will be a bit disappointed with the output. The print quality is average here unless you max out the DPI settings.
I suspect the D1560 is a dying breed. What manufacturer wants to sell an inkjet that saves ink and allows non-genuine cartridges? Its older cousin the D1450 is already been pulled out of the market. So grab one while you still can.
NOTE: The successor to this model is the D1660 which uses a completely different ink cartridge. So this review will not apply to it.