Ivor O’Connor

January 4, 2009

Ubuntu & The HP Officejet Pro L7780 All-in-One, REVISITED

Now that I’ve been using the HP Officejet Pro L7780 extensively and feel like I know the printer inside-out my feelings have solidified since writing

Ubuntu & The HP Officejet Pro L7780 All-in-One

The L7780 All-in-One is the best you can buy for a Linux machine. However it is not good enough. It’s a good first attempt at a workable All-in-One solution for us Linux users. Hopefully the next generation will be useable…

Scanning. The document feeder does not handle double sided pages well. If you are patient, don’t mind starting a 10 page scan multiple times, clearing out paper jambs, then perhaps this printer will be good enough for you. You’ll also have documents that are often askew since the feeder does a poor job of keeping them aligned. If time is money for you then get a M$ solution using paperport and the Brother MFC 8660DN All-in-One for scanning. It’s like comparing an old beat up 60 year old vehicle with a new car. If you want to get across the country and not make it a three month experience you’ll want the new vehicle.

Sending Faxes. The L7780 fax works fine. However it does not give you a confirmation with the picture of the first page. This makes the confirmation virtually useless. And without a confirmation why bother sending a fax involving money? In other words the fax on the L7780, though it works, is useless in a business environment.
2009.03.16 UPDATE: Receiving Faxes. I was getting four or so junk fax receipts to every good fax. A junk fax receipt is where somebody attempts to send you something but the L7780 prints a page saying the line quality or the sending fax machine is not up-to-par and so the L7780 was not able to receive the fax. Instead it simply says a fax was missed. GRRRRR. I don’t get this problem with my Brother MFC 8660DN. Every time the fax line rings a good fax is printed. Regardless of poor line quality or an out-of-date fax machine on the other end. As a result I unplugged the fax line from the HP machine and now use the MFC machine exclusively. I can’t be losing money due to missed faxes!

Printing. The print quality is good enough. It’s nice to print out pictures from a digital camera. I understand there are much better printers for this but this is acceptable for me. The speed is not so great. It chugs and pauses and chugs and pauses and chugs away and pauses some more before each page is printed. And if it is double sided then you have to wait while it holds the page waiting for the ink to dry. I’m not too keen on the chugging. The entire desk shakes. The printer is going to wear itself out in a few years the way it bangs about.
2009.03.16 UPDATE: I bought a new box of paper from CostCo and the printer does not seem to like it. The paper I got says “Advantage Multi-System Paper, NOW Brighter! 92 Brightness, 20 weight (lb) 10 reams 5000 total sheets quantity, Letter”. The first 4 sheets of paper I printed the same thing on hoping it would get better. Each time the printer would spend a few minutes shaking and twittering doing self-diagnostics. Each time parts of the standard black lines would be faded or missing. On the fourth try it got everything right. I had turned off the machine on a couple of those tests hoping that would reset things. Well this morning it’s back to not printing out correctly. There are no error messages. Nothing needing refilling. It’s just not printing right. Not sure what to do about this. I don’t want to waste another hour fiddling with it. Why can’t it simply just work?
2009.03.17 UPDATE: Sometime during the day the printer decided to start printing correctly. It probably took 20 or so pages before the fading stopped and the print outs started looking normal.

Document Feeder. It seems to be made of small plastic melting gears driven by a malnourished hampster. As you listen to it get on with a big document you can’t help but cross your fingers as the gears sound as if they are getting worse and worse. They make grinding sounds and random clicks. The tiny motor seems too under-powered as it slows from time-to-time. And the paper-jambs are ever-present…

Ink. The old L7780 I sent back dribbled through two yellow cartridges. I think perhaps it was defective. The new L7780 has not wasted any ink yet. I hope it stays that way. Ink costs are not that high. They seem comparable with the toner cartridges on a laser printer. They cost significantly less but are used up much more frequently. Of course I’d rather have an option to use large bottles of ink so the price could be dramatically decreased. It might even be cheaper than toners. (Don’t buy from HP. Instead buy the long lasting cartridges that have double or triple the capacity at a third the price dropping the cost by almost a magnitude.)
2009.03.01 UPDATE: The ink cartridges will not stay in the machine! I changed a cartridge, closed the door, and the printer spits not only the one I changed out but the one next to it! I spent half an hour trying to get the cartridges to stay in with no luck. Apparently they are spring loaded and are suppose to catch on something but they are not. Finally out of desperation I put some packing foam between the cheap plastic door and the ink cartridges to keep them from popping out. The door looks like it will break at some point but this solution has worked now for more than two weeks. This printer reminds me of the toys found in the bottom of cereal boxes.

Conclusion. It’s a toy attempting to offer everything. If you only have a Linux computer then you have no choice and must buy this All-in-One from HP. However if you have business needs then you’ve got to dump it and move to M$ and more heavy duty solutions…

2009.03.16 UPDATE: HP has a new printer out. It’s supposedly for business. About $100 more than this one. The “HP Officejet Pro 8500 Premier” is priced in the low $400s. Basically half a grand with shipping and such. I’m very dubious since it looks similar to the L7780. It does not even hold a ream of paper. Shouldn’t a business printer hold two or three reams? Hmmm. Ok, what about the digital filing capabilities? Did they clean it up so the PDF pages are automatically straightened before they are saved away? Probably not. HP certainly has the name. Too bad they don’t pay attention to the final details the way Apple does inorder to make insanely great products…

2009.03.16 UPDATE: I’m at the point where I’m thinking a single function color laser printer from HP would be the way to go. Surely HP does a decent job on a single function printer? However this HP Officejet Pro L7780 All-in-One, except for the unaligned cattywompus scanning of single sided pages into PDFs on a linux machine, is not a workable solution. It’s as if it is an alpha version of a demo. It’s a shame HP does not take pride in making complete working solutions. I can’t recommend the L7780 as a productive useful ready for business product. Perhaps it’s suited for kids and students who have the time to fiddle endlessly with it.

2009.04.13 UPDATE: Over the weekend I scanned in over 600 documents using the digital filing feature. That’s the feature making HPs unique. They leave a PDF image on my Ubuntu machine in the directory I specified. I noticed that every 100 or so documents the feed mechanism would get confused and leave the last sheet still in the mechanism. At first I would turn off and on the machine hoping it’s power on check would spit the sheet out. When that did not work after consistently I tried just reading in the next document as if there were no documents stuck in the machine. This worked. I’d get some sort of error but the new document would not be read in and the sheet stuck in the machine would be spit out.

2009.04.13 UPDATE: I got a new type of paper-jam today. Usually the paper-jams, 99% of them, are due to the poor quality document feeder. This one was in the print mechanism. I had to split the printer apart at the joint under the big keypad and remove the paper there. It wasn’t too bad. However it was the last thing I thought of checking and I already had the thing apart on the floor…

2009.04.15 UPDATE: While changing the ink cartridges the old problem of them popping out as soon as I closed the lid resurfaced. Basically the cartridges pop out as soon as the print heads pass by them. This only happens after you close the cartridge lid and the printer does it’s thing to recognize them. My old solution of padding the interior with foam packing was no longer working. Or it would work for a few minutes. This time I fixed the problem by noticing the interior of the ink cartridge area has some holes on the side that would hold a reinforcing bar. That bar, or dowel, would then snuggly keep pressure on the backs of all four ink cartridges. I looked around for something I could use and settled on a writing pen. I cut it down to the right length, stuck it in, and voila. Perfect fit. It keeps a slight but solid pressure from behind on all the ink cartridges. The lid can be closed so it’s not noticed. And if I ever send the printer back my HP warranty will still be good. What a pain in the neck though. Why does HP make its customers go through this crap?

2009.04.16 UPDATE: I used the chat facility on HPs website to ask if there were an equivalent of the L7780 using laser instead of ink. Yes, the lowest cost LaserJet solution is $2,499.99! It is their new HP Color LaserJet CM3530 MFP. Despite this costing two grand more it still does not have a fax machine. That version of the model goes for three grand. And yet the fax machine still does not print an image of the first page with the status of the transmission. The person said none of the HP faxes have this functionality. So basically you need to use another company if faxes are important. This printer has the equivalent of “Digital Filing” but they call it something else. I did not ask if it worked with Linux and Ubuntu in particular. I assume it does and they probably wouldn’t know anyways. There are no wireless options. It is still maringal in that it only accepts 500 sheets of paper if you buy the optional paper tray. (Why can’t they just make the standard paper tray hold 1500 sheets of paper?) If possible, that is if I see one on craigs list for under $800 which is what the product should really be selling for, I’ll buy one. As it is there is no way I’d spend nearly $3000 dollars on a printer with lousy specs. What are they thinking? I wonder what they use for their HP-UX computers?



  1. I just bought an all-in-one from Lexmark and it doesn’t work at all with Ubuntu hardy heron. Look like I’m going to have to return it and stick with the plain printer for awhile. Sucks.

    Comment by PRCalDude — April 10, 2009 @ 11:19 pm

    • It should work with Ubuntu Hardy Heron. I’ve been scanning in PDFs and printing all day with that version. Both the wireless and wired lan work fine. Probably you need to download the drivers which do not come via synaptic. You must visit the HP website and install them manually.

      Uh, or perhaps I misread. The HP Officejet Pro L7780 All-in-One works fine with Ubuntu Hardy Heron.

      Comment by ioconnor — April 10, 2009 @ 11:26 pm

  2. I think I just need to buy an HP and try it. HP seems to be more supportive of the linux community. There were hardly any drivers for the Lexmark machines.

    If I were a printer manufacturer, I’d get on board with linux because most of us are so sick of Microsoft we’re not going back to it.

    Comment by PRCalDude — April 14, 2009 @ 3:22 pm

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