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.

11 thoughts on “Don’t buy an HP wireless printer for your Mac

  1. Hunnymonster says:

    Well that’s what you get for not buying an iApproved iPrinter from the iShop…

    Uncle Steve (PBUH) knows best and you know nothing.

  2. rutty says:

    We have to use some of HP’s software at work and it is shite beyond belief. Not even cheap shite.

    We ARE generally spoiled by Apple and their insistence on easy-to-use UI. Some other companies also do it well. HP? No. Useless

  3. Gary says:

    I dropped £120 on replacing a drowned phone this week. There’s only so much money I can afford to give Apple :)

  4. Squander Two says:

    I would never buy an HP printer simply because they won’t print in black-and-white when they run out of colour ink. That shows a certain contempt for their customers.

    Canon are great, I find.

  5. Squander Two says:

    Reading your roblems with reinstalling Windows, I am reminded of this experience. I bought a Macbook the next day.

    This pissed me off too — though it was amazing how many people contacted me at the time to say that my complaint was out of order and there was obviously nothing Microsoft could do about it. Odd. I wonder whether I’d get the same response these days, or if people have higher expectations now.

  6. mupwangle says:

    IMHO I don’t think that any HP software is well written. HP Jetadmin is potentially a fantastic bit of software, but will barely run on most high-end PCs. Scanner software that takes 48 hours to install if you’re connected to a corporate network. The list is quite long. Their laser printers are very good though. Usually. There are some notable exceptions.

  7. mupwangle says:

    The only thing that really annoys me about installing windows is that there are multiple types of licensing so if you can’t find the original media and you get hold of a disk then you can’t install it if it’s not the right type of license, despite the actual content being identical. There’s ways round it, but it’s a right pain in the arse. Otherwise it would be a doddle as you could just torrent a version of the disk with all the servicepacks installed, which is a lot less hassle.

  8. Gary says:

    I think the rise of tablets and the rise of Macs have both made a difference to people’s expectations. Previously the reaction was rather like the reaction to shitty summer weather: “What did we expect? We probably deserve it.”

  9. Gary says:

    The linked column wasn’t exaggerating about my windows install woes. That really happened, it’s a bloody nonsense.

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