mad anthony

Rants, politics, and thoughts on politics, technology, life,
and stuff from a generally politically conservative Baltimoron.

Friday, December 28, 2007

HP hates your goofball processor...

Sorry for the headline, I've been bored at my parent's house and have been spending too much time reading the consumerist blog.

While I'm visiting the parents, they mentioned that the feed tray on their 10 year old HP Deskjet 720 is no longer picking paper up properly. They want me to go with them to Staples to help them pick out a new inkjet printer. I tell them that I don't really know much about what's available in the inkjet market - I use a laser printer at home (a Samsung ML-1740) and when I buy printers for work, I buy laser printers, because they usually last longer and are cheaper per-page.

So they think about it, and decide that they don't really need to print anything in color, and that they are going to go laser. I look at the Staples website, and notice that they have the HP Laserjet p2015 - a printer I regularly buy for work - for $250 after a $100 easy rebate. I write down the info, and Dad goes to Staples and buys it, plus an overpriced gold-plated USB cable (their other printer was parallel-only).

So they ask me to hook it up for them. I pop the CD in their machine to install the driver while I'm peeling away the layers of orange tape from the printer.

Now, let me step aside to explain something about their machine. It's one I built a few years ago from parts I got, for the most part, free after rebate. The motherboard is a Syntax, with an included Via C3 processor I got for $5 after rebate from Tiger Direct a few years back. The machine isn't fast, but it's decent enough for web browsing, and does have 512mb RAM and XP Pro.

So after I've got it set up, I look at the PC, and it's got a message saying that the machine doesn't meet the requirements - it mentions that while the processor can run at 800mhz, it's only running at 233, and that it requires a 500mhz Pentium 3, K6-3, Athlon, or Transmetta processor. It will not let me continue, only cancel, and it advises that I "install the printer on a machine with a faster processor".

So I try another route - I download the PCL6 driver from HP, and simply plug the USB cable in, and Windows installs the printer automatically. I print a test page, and it prints out fine, and I print a few PDF's of rebate forms without a problem.

So I was able to get it to work. Now, I'll admit, my parent's machine is an oddball - there are very few machines out their with VIA C3 processors. Still, the processor is fast enough to run a freakin' print driver, and I'm annoyed that I had to back-door installation of it. I'm not sure why it failed. I'm guessing that VIA's version of speedstep had it running at 1/3 power (ie 233mhz) because it wasn't doing anything processor intensive, and HP's driver decided it was too slow. I guess it could also be that the driver checks against a list of processors, and the VIA wasn't on the list. Either way, it seems stupid to block the user from doing something on a machine that should be able to handle it.


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