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  PC-Net's PC News - January 2002
 
Don Watkins

HP Deskjet PSC 950 Review

By Don Watkins

 
 
 

 

January 2002--As I recounted in my strange trip article I was printer/fax/scanner challenged. My fax was thermal paper, my scanner was from the days before they had invented electricity, my copy machine was making some wheezy sounds (and was the size of a tank) and while my laser printer worked just fine it was seven years old.

New Toy

The HP 900 series really looked attractive; all those functions, save some desktop space plus direct support for digital camera memory cards and photo quality photo printing. I don't like being the first kid on the block for new gear (I don't take evaluation units from vendors) but it wasn't all that expensive and I figured it was just an extension of the 900 series so there couldn't be that many bugs. I did have concerns about two issues; USB connectivity and it apparently being a "winprinter", just don't like those devices that don't allow you to "copy disaster.log prn" from DOS, but time does march on, perhaps it was time for me to join the rest of the world.

I managed to get my hands on it literally the first day it was released to the public.

The Install

The install in Windows 2000 when just fine with only a single hitch; it didn't work. My experience with that is here if you want to dwell on the ugly details and share my two days of grief. After installing Windows XP and using the native Windows drivers the printer installed just fine.

Functionality

As a fax it works flawlessly. I miss not having a sheet feeder but the 950 has the ability to load a number of pages in memory. The largest fax I've sent was about 15 pages and it stored all that with nary a complain. However if you sent a ton of faxes I would suggest you'd want something with a sheet feeder. Life is too short to feed pages to a flatbed. In copy mode it suffers from the same limitation. Don't try and photocopy War and Peace on a flatbed.

Scanning works flawlessly as well with great image reproduction capability.

Printing was the fly in the ointment and the printer seemed to have a mind of it's own as it wants to print partial pages; three sentences on one page, four on another and so on. Sometimes rebooting the printer helped and sometimes printing individual pages of a multiple page document would work but printing shouldn't be an adventure.

Vendor Support

I finally broke down and called on the printing issue. I got a friendly tech that seemed to have a pretty good handle on things and after asking a few questions about my system he instructed me to configure the printer to bypass the spooler and print directly to the printer. Bingo, that solved the printing problem.

The tech also told me that HP expects to have their "Director" software which will open up more options, available for XP in April.

Bottom Line

I've liked HP printers since the original LaserJet and I've recommended them many times over the years, but given the problems I had with installing this guy using HP's drivers in Windows 2000 I wonder if this is a good one to recommend. Of course had I called HP support when I had the Win 2k problem there's a good possibility that they could have fixed it as quickly as they did the the printing problem, but since it was on two machines I still have reservations.

Even so I have to say this is a great step up from thermal fax and my 15 year old photocopier!

Until next time best in computing.

 

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