Out of Ink, Out of Luck, Why Printers Get No Respect

Daniel Blackman loves gadgets. The 47-year-old chief operating officer of Howcast Media Inc., a New York Internet video company, has already replaced his iPad with an iPad 3G. He also has a Canon DSLR camera, a Sony (SNE) handicam and a high-definition home theater projector. One item that he hasn’t tried to upgrade to the newest, latest, best: a printer.

Fussy and prone to paper jams, the printer has been trying tempers in offices and homes since the dot-matrix days when paper came in perforated accordion stacks. As other gadgets, from flat-screen monitors to wireless mice, have sprinted ahead toward gasp-inducing irresistibility, one electronic has failed to thrill.

“It’s kind of like a toaster,” says Jeffery Lauria of iCorps Technologies, a Boston-based information technology provider.

The problem, sometimes, isn’t the printer. It’s the people printing, printer manufacturers say.

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