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Lexmark To Exit Inkjet Printer Market 228

Barence writes "Lexmark has announced it will stop making inkjet printers and cut 1,700 jobs as part of a cost-cutting restructuring move. Lexmark will stop all inkjet development worldwide by 2013, and close its Philippines-based inkjet supplies manufacturing plant by 2015. This will provide annual savings of $85 million, rising to $95 million by 2015. The total restructuring cost before tax is expected to be $160 million. The company is also looking into the possible sale of its inkjet-related technology." I know there are some purposes for which inkjets are good (modern home photo printing can be insanely good, and we've featured a lot of cool projects which use inkjets to print sensors, solar cells, antennae, and more), but I get just a little queasy whenever I see an inkjet printer purchased by an innocent friend or family member who doesn't realize quite how much it will end up costing them in the long run.
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Lexmark To Exit Inkjet Printer Market

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  • by Hazel Bergeron ( 2015538 ) on Tuesday August 28, 2012 @10:17AM (#41148443) Journal

    Executive: "restructuring cost before tax"

    English: "way to create a paper loss to avoid tax".

    • Executive: "restructuring cost before tax"

      English: "way to create a paper loss to avoid tax".

      No. It is common to cite financial performance before taxes and other things. Hence the common use of acronyms like EBITDA, earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization. These things muddy the water when trying to determine income, comparing one year to another, one company to another, etc.

      Think of it like reporting your salary rather than the adjusted gross income (AGI) from your tax return.

      Also, what makes you think there is a paper loss. Shutting down a plant does have costs. Tha

      • by Uberbah ( 647458 )

        No. It is common to cite financial performance before taxes and other things.

        Yes, it's common Executive Speak, which was the point.

        Think of it like reporting your salary rather than the adjusted gross income (AGI) from your tax return.

        I think that would be a great comparison if you were able to write off all your living expenses AND your consumer purchases from your tax returns the way businesses do. Everything from the food on your table to the TV in your den to the pontoon boat you use for fishing on the

        • No. It is common to cite financial performance before taxes and other things.

          Yes, it's common Executive Speak, which was the point.

          Actually the point of the original post was humor and to gain some karma.

          If you thought the original post was serious then its point would have been to translate "executive speak" and it did so erroneously.

    • by Kjella ( 173770 ) on Tuesday August 28, 2012 @11:56AM (#41150135) Homepage

      Long story short if you get a tax on your profits you should also get a tax break on your losses, otherwise say you made $100m one year and lose $100m the next year, the government would take a big profit tax while you in net haven't actually made any profit. This is actually true for people too, at least here in Norway. If I had a just terrible year, realized huge losses in the stock market so I should in theory get a tax refund but it exceeds my actual taxes then I don't get a check, I only get zero taxes and a deductible loss I can use next year.

      The same is true for companies, which is often a problem for a company posting huge losses and going out of business. The government "owes" them a tax break but since companies disappear when they go bankrupt if you don't handle it right the government never has to honor it. There's nothing wrong with this, it's just making sure that the company going out of business gets the same tax breaks as a company managing to stay in business would have had. And no, you still don't make money by losing money...

  • Good (Score:4, Insightful)

    by alispguru ( 72689 ) <bane&gst,com> on Tuesday August 28, 2012 @10:18AM (#41148471) Journal

    Just wondering, has anyone else ever had a good experience with a Lexmark printer on a non-Windows machine?

    Or had a Lexmark printer do, say, ten pages in a row without smudging or jamming?

    Or is it just me?

    • by Adriax ( 746043 )

      I dunno about the quality of prints, I've never used them and forgot they even existed...

    • Re:Good (Score:4, Insightful)

      by oobayly ( 1056050 ) on Tuesday August 28, 2012 @10:23AM (#41148535)


      Just wondering, has anyone else ever had a good experience with a Lexmark printer?

      • by mccalli ( 323026 )
        Yes, I certainly have. My old Lexmark Optra SC 1275 EN networked colour laser did absolutely great for years. Eventually, and by 'eventually' I mean after around ten years, I had a motor issue that was too expensive to economically repair, but for a decade that thing sat in my room reliably churning out good quality print.

        • by alispguru ( 72689 ) <bane&gst,com> on Tuesday August 28, 2012 @10:42AM (#41148863) Journal

          I have no experience with laser printers by Lexmark. My inkjet experience with them has been uniformly bad.

          • by mccalli ( 323026 ) on Tuesday August 28, 2012 @10:46AM (#41148945) Homepage
            With the exception of an original Stylewriter (which, I seem to remember, shared a lot of components with a Canon in the PC universe at the time), I have never had any form of good experience with an inkjet by any manufacturer. It's actually why I ended up with the Lexmark laser in the first place.

            For their time, when your alternative was dot matrix or a third mortgage, inkjet printers were astonishing. That time has gone for a while now I think, time to dump the lot and concentrate on low-end colour lasers.

            • The early Stylewriters and the Canon Bubblejets they were based on, were great printers. They usually worked right, and the ink wasn't expensive. A friend used a Canon BJ-200e for years until they needed to print in color.
              • by xs650 ( 741277 )
                I had a Canon BJ-200 and the only thing good about it was that it had BJ in it's name. Paper jammed, printing was unreliable and messy.
            • by Zcar ( 756484 )

              My best experience with an inkjet is a Hewlett Packard. I bought an HP DeskJet+ in the summer of 1990 and it's still going strong 22 years later.

              • You can still get ink for it?

                Locally, I had one shop refuse to refill a cartridge for a 680C claiming it was "too old"

            • I agree completely; I've never had a good experience with an inkjet, and I rely on laser printers now. They're dirt cheap when you get used business models on Ebay, and the cartridges are dirt cheap when you get the remanufactured kinds, and last for many thousands of pages for only about $25.

          • by jimicus ( 737525 )

            The quality's okay (it works, but don't expect spectacular build quality) but Lexmark's firmware has been shaky for as long as I can remember.

        • I concur. Lexmark lasers are awsome. I would take a Lexmark laser over an equivalent HP any day. They're the low-end of industrial, and are built like it. I've gotten millions of pages out of some.
          I should also point out that I repair printers, and would rather repair a Lexmark T6xx series over just about any other printer on the market. Pretty easy to work on, the parts are affordable & readily available, and they just last forever. I had one at an Office Depot copy center that had over 2 millio
      • I had some good experiences with their lasers, especially in big government departments.

        Of course, I was the contracted Lexmark service agent, so my good experiences were in being paid to work on them. ;-)

        (To be fair, they were a decent workhorse. That said, they were all equipped with PostScript, so I didn't have to deal with driver issues.)
    • Just you? My Lexmark Ink-jet has very cheap black ink, prints plenty, and I have never had a smudge or a jam until I tried to scan in a 100 page document with the ADF and it backed-up.
    • About ten years ago, Lexmark was my favorite brand for cheap printers that just worked. Nowadays... not so much.

    • by Tx ( 96709 )

      I used to print very little, it could be several weeks between prints, and pretty much every time I tried to print with the Lexmark inkjet I had, I would have to mess around trying to get the dried up nozzles to work, before usually bowing to the inevitable and using a new cartridge. If I had left it with the feed open, the slightest amount of dust seemed to mess up the feed rollers, so that it would feed multiple sheets instead of one, and it was hard to clean that shit out. Of course I might have the same

      • by dgatwood ( 11270 )

        I've had the same ink clogging problems with Epson and Canon inkjet printers for the same reason. The problem there is not Lexmark. The problem is that inkjet technology is a fundamentally unreliable design except for moderately high-volume printing, and is way too expensive to use for high-volume printing.

        They could solve the problem of course. They'd need a water or alcohol tank to flush the nozzles when the printer has been sitting there for more than a few hours, and a waste tank to hold the resulti

    • I have heard they make reasonable Laser printers.
      However their inkjets are cheap to buy very expensive to run and not that reliable, and do not as memory serves support Linux in any way, I think it is different with the laser printers.

      On the positive side the extinction of Lexmark inkjet's is coming non too soon. It may improve the situation with Dell Printers which I believe were rebadged Lexmarks.

      It should be one less barrier to the adoption of Linux, for the average joe. A dual boot option is much more

      • However their inkjets are cheap to buy very expensive to run

        Can't say anything about the rest because I haven't printed anything in years, but Lexmarks and, I think, HPs (I might be wrong on the second brand, but I'm sure there was at least another one) were among the very few brands that had the heads built in the cartridges. This increased the prices of the cartridges and made them awfully expensive to run... if you didn't recharge the cartridges yourself. If you did, they had the significant advantage that a blockage resulting from dried-up low-quality ink inside

    • by jimbo ( 1370 )

      I had an IBM/Lexmark 4019 laser printer for 10 years. A solid workhorse that produced tens of thousands of pages without any problems. Worked well with Windows, OS/2 and Linux.

      Finally replaced with a cheap multifunction device as my printing requirements dropped and I needed scanner/fax more and occasionally color print.

      I miss the 4019 though, it was spectacular. Do modern printers even have Postscript anymore?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 28, 2012 @10:21AM (#41148507)

    Finally, after years of complaints and consumer demand, Lexmark bows to the will of the customer and does what everyone so desperately wanted, leave.

    • Finally, after years of complaints and consumer demand, Lexmark bows to the will of the customer and does what everyone so desperately wanted, leave.

      Yep. When Lexmark was part of IBM, their printers were allegedly pretty decent, but I already had a printer, so I never got a Lexmark.

      By the time I went shopping again, though, Lexmark had done their slimy DMCA thing. I swore I'd never buy a printer from a company that did that.

      There might not be all that many players in the printer market, but there's enough that I could use the Invisible Hand and give them the Finger.

      So I did.

      • by irving47 ( 73147 ) on Tuesday August 28, 2012 @11:12AM (#41149405) Homepage

        Came to say this. For those that don't know the DMCA reference, Lexmark filed lawsuits under the DMCA to prevent ink refill manufacturers from putting out products for their printers. They argued since the code in their printer/carts was copyrighted, the act of circumventing it by putting more ink in was illegal.
        Yeah, they made a lot of friends with that one.

        Good riddance.

  • Yes, ink-jet costs are ludicrous when you know the technology behind them, but the precision for price is so much better than the old days. Besides, we all finally dumped our LPT: cabled dot-matrix and ASCII printers, so there's not much choice. Laser just doesn't justify at home, and color laser is much higher.
    • If you don't need color, a laser is DEFINITELY the way to go, even for home. I bought one for $70 five years ago (Brother HL-2040). My parents have gone through two inkjet printers in that time and a cartridge or two, and they probably only print a few times a year. A laser printer is going to be a lot more durable than an ink jet, and the toner is so much cheaper. Replace the cartridges twice over the entire life of the printer and you probably would have saved money buying a laser printer...unless you jus

      • by kat_skan ( 5219 )

        I've got a HL-4070CDW I got around the same time and I wholeheartedly second this endorsement. Brother just makes solid, no-bullshit printers. I stuck it on my network and haven't had to mess with it since. The toner cartridges are about $50 each, and each color is independently replaceable, as is the drum unit. I think I've replaced them two or maybe three times. The drivers (assuming the OS doesn't have one already—it speaks PostScript and PCL) are 3MB, and there's versions that go all the way back

    • by Geeky ( 90998 )

      Laser printing is a lot cheaper than it used to be - even colour is cost effective at home. They probably aren't much good for photos - that's where the multiple shades of inks in higher end inkjets come into their own - but otherwise they're a reasonable home option now.

      For photos, getting them printed online is cheaper and almost always better than using an inkjet anyway, unless you want to mess about with colour calibration or experiment with textured papers.

      • Since half of my color printing at home is photos, color lasers are not cost effective at home, for me.

        And I suspect many of us.

        I will probably get a B&W laser soon, reteach the wife how to choose her printer, and put up with the 'PRINTRR"S NOT WORKING' screams, but it is no worse than now. After severl HPs and one Epson, I ahve a Canon MP620 that is not cheap to run, but is reliable and never fades or sputters ink. It's just a major PITA to get networked.

        And I won't be buying an office style laser -

  • by QilessQi ( 2044624 ) on Tuesday August 28, 2012 @10:26AM (#41148583) follow suit, and wean consumers off the "cheap inkjet printer" crack pipe. I have a full-color (4 cartridge) laser printer that I virtually never need to change the toner on, and when I do it's invariably the black cartridge. My significant other, meanwhile, goes through inkjet cartridges like I go through socks. And I *love* socks.

    • What model, been looking to replace our inkjet.

    • And I *love* socks.

      Please tell us more.

    • I have a full-color (4 cartridge) laser printer that I virtually never need to change the toner on, and when I do it's invariably the black cartridge.

      I have an HP Color LaserJet 2600n and it's been brilliant. Except that after not using it for a couple of months, all three color toner cartridges mysteriously ran dry at the exact same time and had to be replaced before I could print a greyscale document. I was glad to find half-price 3rd party refills online; I just hope they don't turn out to suck.

    • by fm6 ( 162816 )

      If you do a lot of high-volume printing, then I guess laser printers make sense. But some of us print only a few pages a month on average. The higher cost of lasers just doesn't make sense for us.

      • That's why a used Laser is a good idea. Ever check the prices on the old HP LaserJet 4series? They're still in demand because they're tanks.

        • by fm6 ( 162816 )

          It's as big as a tank too. OK, if you only need black and white printing, you need a high-volume printer, and you have the room for it, I'm sure it makes sense to spend $85 for a used LJ4.

          But none of those applies to me. I have a tiny inkjet that lives on a shelf above my desk, prints color, and only cost me $35 brand new. It does the occasional letter, printed form, and photograph quite well, and that's all I need it to do. I buy maybe one cartridge a year, so cartridge costs are not an issue.

    • by 6Yankee ( 597075 )

      I have a full-color (4 cartridge) laser printer that I virtually never need to change the toner on

      I have one like that! So annoying when the secretary goes on holiday and I have to change the toner myself... ;)

    • You know - I picked up a handful of lighter weight wool socks (lightweight hiking socks) two years back or so. Never gonna turn back. They keep my feet drier than cotton, don't have near the smell, look decent enough to go with dress shoes, and they still have that "new sock" feel when I take them out of the wash. They're pretty spendy up front, but they last way longer. I've slowly replaced just about all of my cotton socks with wool and have yet to toss a pair of the new ones.
  • by kryliss ( 72493 )

    No more will I have to hear, "Can you help me get this Lexmark printer working?", "Yep, here's the box I'll help you pack it back up."

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Unicorn have now been declared endangered, cutting of the supply of Unicorn blood for the ink cartridges.

  • Refill Your Own (Score:5, Informative)

    by Bitsy Boffin ( 110334 ) on Tuesday August 28, 2012 @10:34AM (#41148739) Homepage

    Refilling your own cartridges is super easy if you pick the right printer.

    Brother printers particularly are good, the cartridges (at least all the ones I've seen) are just ink receptacles, they have no electronics, just put more ink in job done.

    Ink can be purchased on ebay etc in 100ml bottles or more, for a fraction of the cost of buying cartridges.

    Even better, it's pretty easy to find good inkjets for a buck or two second hand, I've bought lots of them, most with empty cartridges, often complete with power and USB. Refill the carts, run a few cleaning cycles, and they work really well.

    • Frankly I've never had any luck refilling ink cartridges. In theory it's a good idea; in practice those ink refills gum up the print heads in no time flat.

      The best decision I ever made was to replace my inkjet with a monochrome laser printer. What I lost in color I more than gained in reliability.

    • by Nimey ( 114278 )

      Brother carts are /slightly/ more complex than that. The ones I've seen have a gear on it that gets moved slightly every time you print, and when it reaches a certain position the printer knows the cart's about out of toner.

      IIRC with a proper refill kit you get toner plus a new gear or some way to reset it without breaking it.

    • by dkf ( 304284 )

      Brother printers particularly are good, the cartridges (at least all the ones I've seen) are just ink receptacles, they have no electronics, just put more ink in job done.

      I've had good experiences with Canon (or at least with the model of Canon I've got, an i560x). The ink cartridges are just ink tanks (with a bit of sponge to control the ink flow); the level detection is done with a little prism built into the wall of the cartridge, and I believe that it depends on measuring how much light is absorbed by the ink due to evanescent waves, or perhaps due to the difference in refractive index between air and ink. Clever use of physics, cheap solution, and the ink is readily ava

  • by macbeth66 ( 204889 ) on Tuesday August 28, 2012 @10:35AM (#41148751)

    In Mid-2004 their stock was around $90. Now it hovers around $22.

    It warms my heart to see the scum of the printer industry slowly die. Whenever I was asked about which printer to get, my answer was almost always, "Anything but Lexmark."

    • by jimicus ( 737525 )

      Not sure that means much. Most company's stock value has taken a battering in the last five years.

  • by rossdee ( 243626 ) on Tuesday August 28, 2012 @10:36AM (#41148769)

    So what are they going to do if they stop making inkjet printers? I can't recall any other product that Lexmark made.

    Anyway who is going to pay for the disposal of all those useless printers that you won't be able to get ink for now?
    (Of course most people just threw them in the garbage when the cartridge ran out anyway - it was cheaper to buy a new printer.

  • by dtjohnson ( 102237 ) on Tuesday August 28, 2012 @10:43AM (#41148875)

    Inkjet printers have a lot of advantages. They do a much nicer job on color than laser printers do. They're smaller, lighter, and use a lot less power. Moreover, the power they use while they are sleeping (which is most of the time for home printers) is a lot less than a laser printer. The only thing that makes them expensive are the cartridges which cost $15 to $40 a pop and don't last nearly as long as a laser toner pack. That's a shame because one of the inkjet makers (Lexmark, Canon, HP, Epson) could/should have stepped forward and started selling a refillable ink cartridge which would have had a simple refill valve or cap or something on top where you could take the $6 a quart ink and squirt it in to top it off. One quart would last for about 150 refills. That would make inkjet printers cheaper by far than laser printers. Why don't inkjet makers do that? The answer is that they could never get past the razor/razor blade idea where they make all of their money from the ink cartridges and the printer is just the 'razor' that people buy so that they will be locked in as a customer of the ink cartridge 'razorblades.' In this case, though, that way of thinking like an MBA is killing a very nice technology.

    • Refillable cartridges just as you describe are readily available aftermarket items for many printers, just search Ebay

    • I seem to recall hearing that most inkjet companies sell the printers themselves at a loss -- the ink is so expensive because that's where they're actually making money. If they started charging more realistic prices for these things, the ink would be cheaper, but the printers would be comparable in price to lasers -- and I suspect many people would choose to go with a laser printer in that case. I mean the biggest complaint I hear about refilling inkjet cartridges is that it's an extremely messy process. W

    • Ink jet technology isn't dying its just the end of the worst inkjets ever.

      There are decent Inkjet printers around although pretty much all have the ink tax, It might not be too long before critical patents will expire allowing more companies to enter the market and supply the Ink-jets we want to buy.

      Personally my printing needs are met by a mono laser and a multifunction hp psc2175 inkjet both networked to an iomega Iconnect Nas running debian (the Iconnect is superb value once you have debian installed it

    • by k31bang ( 672440 )

      They do a much nicer job on color than laser printers do.

      You should say "than most laser printers do". Many minilabs (photo) use lasers to print on photo paper. The Fuji Frontier minilab being a good example.

      Let the giclee (inkjet ) vs laser religious war begin.

  • Lexmark has long been the one of the leading banes of the inkjet printer business. Leading the charge with DRM built into inkjet cartridges that required you to buy /their/ ink. They were on of the worst vendors for lock in and lawsuits, getting lawyer happy and suing people who dared to try to bypass their DRM lock in.

    They are an evil company and I have had great pleasure over the years steering many, many an IT purchase /away/ from Lexmark and towards other vendors that did not play their games. I would h

  • by RoverDaddy ( 869116 ) on Tuesday August 28, 2012 @11:02AM (#41149233) Homepage
    I probably print less than 100 pages a year. Maybe even less than 50. Yet when I need to print something, I really need to print something so having a printer at home is essential. And while I usually print b/w, I do sometimes need color. With this kind of low-low use and an occasional color requirement, a compact, dirt-cheap inkjet makes much more sense than a laser, even after high-priced ink cartridges are considered. And the fact that the same unit is a page scanner is a great bonus.
  • I think the subject says it all.
  • First, I've never had one good experience with Lexmark inkjets. Bad drivers, expensive ink, shoddy engineering...

    About that latter two: I was once doing a presentation on Apple products at a major educational customer. The Lexmark rep was on before me. In response to questions about the cost of ink cartridges, he recommended to the school district they simply buy many, many, new printers and discard them as the cartridges emptied. Seems a set of cartridges cost more than a new printer, and the printers were

  • by Baby Duck ( 176251 ) on Tuesday August 28, 2012 @01:29PM (#41151869) Homepage
    I "exited" owning my own printer 8 years ago. I print so infrequently, the ink dries up too much between my last use. I have an account at my local printing/mailing/business shop. Even with the price of gasoline for the round trip, it's much cheaper in the long run.
  • Wow. My whole extended family uses Brother inkjets, and we buy the LC-61 ink carts for those for under $1 a cartridge, and even with 4 of them each being used by a lot of kids printing like crazy...we spend maybe $30 on ink for all four for a year. Its dirt cheap.

    I mucked around with color lasers for a while, but while you could get them cheap with starter toner carts, the regular replacements cost more than I paid for four printers and a couple of years worth of ink!

  • Sometimes we need a reminder that all computer users are not programmers. Many are in business, some are in education, many are home users while others (me) do graphic arts... These people frequently need color and often they need quality color. A simple black only laser printer is not an answer. A color laser prints ugly pages that stick and peel and fade and reflect light unevenly.

    If printers were designed with only programmers in mind, there would be a large outcry from the real world. It's nice to know what meets your personal needs, or doesn't; but that is of little interest to Lexmark or other manufacturers who cater to a larger audience.

The party adjourned to a hot tub, yes. Fully clothed, I might add. -- IBM employee, testifying in California State Supreme Court