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Hell in a handcart Media Technology

Don’t buy an HP wireless printer for your Mac

I recently wrote a thing about tech annoyances, the sheer frustration of trying to make something simple work. The example I used was configuring a Samsung wireless printer, but it turns out there’s an even worse culprit: installing an HP wireless printer.

If you’re considering buying an HP 3050A wireless printer and you’re (a) using a Mac and (b) using a Virgin Media superhub, my advice is simple: don’t. The printer software doesn’t work on Lion or Mountain Lion, and the one-button connection that’s supposed to work with routers doesn’t work with the superhub in either PIN or push-button mode. HP’s support website is a bloody disaster area, and while you can download Lion-compatible software it doesn’t work properly either.

After hours – literally hours – I managed to get the printer to work by doing the obvious thing and, er, extending the router’s DHCP lease time. Having to do that with any printer is a nonsense, but on a printer specifically designed for for home use it’s unforgivable.

What’s particularly galling about it is that the HP printer has a screen and buttons that you can use to configure key settings, but some bright spark at HP decided that key settings on a wireless printer don’t include the wireless networking. They’ve assumed that (a) your network has PIN or push-button connectivity and (b) that works.

I’m all in favour of keeping things simple, but HP’s taken it too far and ended up making a very easy task – connecting to Wi-Fi, which merely involves picking an available wireless network and entering the key, if it needs one – a massive and time-consuming pain in the arse.