Printing is broken.

I brought home an HP OfficeJet 7310 xi last night. Slick little device: 1200 DPI output, high res scanning, copy & fax capability, plus a built in Ethernet port that would have easily cost me an extra $100 to add to an all-in-one laser (aside: why is Ethernet built in on HP’s all-in-one inkjets but not on their all-in-one monochrome lasers?). Assembly time (putting on the output trays, installing the ink, connecting the printer to a wireless adapter, verifying it got an address via DHCP) was about an hour. Unfortunately, I then spent the rest of the evening and part of the morning trying to get two of our three laptops to see the printer.

Rant: why is installing a networked printer on a modern OS so complicated? On our four to six year old LaserJet 2100M, installation was as simple as creating a TCP/IP printer pointing at the printer’s address, and maybe picking a PPD. With this OfficeJet, which includes ZeroConf (aka Bonjour, fka Rendezvous), I didn’t have to specify the IP address on Mac OS X, but I couldn’t get a job to print. Nor could I make it work manually connecting as an IP printer. On my wife’s Windows XP laptop, the installation program wanted us to shut down all firewalls so it could let ZeroConf do its thing. Problem is, on her corporate laptop there are multiple programs that are detected as firewalls by the installer, each of which is configured in a different place, and even after we shut them all off the installer still couldn’t detect the printer. At that point, I had to give up and go to the office.

I don’t really want to return the printer, but honestly, if two IT professionals can’t get the damned thing installed, there is something seriously wrong. Maybe I’ll have better luck later.