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Posts from — June 2012

The Value of an 11″x17″ All-in-One Inkjet

We just received a Brother MFC-J6910DW 11″x17″ All-in-one printer/scanner/fax machine at work.  Its primary value is for electrical schematics: letter size schematics are hard to read; color ledger sized print-outs are so much easier to read.

The Brother isn’t perfect; for example, the output tray is a little cheesy (basically, there isn’t one: the paper is output on top of the #1 paper tray).  But the value is incredible; ledger-sized color lasers are well over $1,000, while the inkjets are less than $300.  Features include:

  • Semi-reasonable ink prices (based on manufacture’s claims, the MFC-6910DW is ~$0.035/page, while the WF-7520 is ~$0.06/page).  Third parties make much cheaper compatible cartridges.
  • Two 250-sheet paper trays.
  • Automatic duplex printing
  • USB and network (wired or wireless) connections
  • Automatic duplex scanning for letter size paper using the ADF
  • 11×17 scanning and copying.

I was also very impressed with the Epson WF-7520, which has similar features.  You’ll need a lot of space for either model.

I plan on doing an update after we’ve used the beast for a couple months.  If you’re designing automation equipment, and are stuck with a letter-size printer, I highly recommend taking a look.

Update 2/5/2013: the Brother was a good buy; it’s so capable we only use a subset of its features.  Here are some assorted comments:

  • The XXL ink tanks are definitely worth it; they really do last a long time.
  • The scan to USB thumb drive feature is very handy.
  • It’s not as fast as a traditional copier, but it’s faster than the HP All-in-ones we have.
  • The output “tray” is still cheesy.
  • We have to be careful loading letter paper, or it will jam frequently.  If we make sure the paper has been fanned, and place load it carefully, then the printer rarely jams.
  • Sometimes it’s difficult figuring out how to get it to do what you want, e.g. automatically scale from letter size original to ledge size copy.
  • I haven’t tried photo quality on it, and doubt I will — we have a Canon ink jet for photos.


June 28, 2012   No Comments

Europeans Need To Get Fine Points

Europeans (OK, mostly Germans) make some nice pens – except they don’t have a clue that many of us like fine tip points.  For example:

  • My Staedtler Liquid Point rollerballs claim to have a 0.3mm tip, but they’re not anywhere close to a 0.3mm gel pen; IMHO calling them medium point would be charitable.  (Yes, they’re decent pens, but they’re nothing exceptional).
  • My 0.3mm Staedtler Tri-plus Fineliners are pretty nice, but again, I’d call them medium.  I think they’re similar to Sharpie Pens, but a bit better:  they write a bit nicer, and have a wider range of colors.
  • My Yafa Italian-made cartridge rollerball pen seems pretty decent (I’m still evaluating it), but puts down a bold line.
  • I could keep on going, bringing up the Kaweco F nib, Mont-Blanc roller balls, etc.  Instead, I’d like to talk about what got this rant started:

Schneider Pens.

I was at Office Depot the other day, and saw something new: a display of Schneider pens, with demonstrators.  Of course, I had to check them out.  They’re interesting pens, but they all write fat!  I only brought home a hot pink Schneider Slider XB; if they had some finer points, I would’ve bought more.  If they’d had fine-tip Parker-compatible Viscoglide refills in all the Slider XB colors, I would’ve spent too much money…  Anyway, my Schneider impressions:

  • I was most interested in the Viscoglide ballpoints.  The Viscoglides supposedly have a new and wonderful ink technology; my first impression is that they do write nicely, but it’s not hard to make a 1.4mm ball pen write wonderfully.
  • I do like the variety of colors available for the Slider XBs; typically, ballpoint colors are limited and boring.  The main exceptions I can think of are the Zebra Surari, possibly the Jetstream, and now the Slider XB.
  • The price range for the ballpoints was ~$2-$4, with the price increasing with better ergonomics (soft grip, etc) and a refillable body (IIRC one $4 model used a Parker-compatible refill, but the color selection was limited).
  • The Schneider rollerballs were OK, roughly similar to the Staedtler Liquid Points.
  • I wasn’t impressed with the Xpress porous-point pens, but to be fair, I haven’t like any porous point pens.

As a bit of a postscript, does anyone know of a <$10 pen that can take the Schmidt 8126 refill?  As far as I can tell, the cheapest option is the Schmidt metal pen (~$30), which is more than I am going to spend right now.

June 25, 2012   No Comments