LaserJet 1200: Adios, faithful friend

This week, after 10 years of loyal service, I reluctantly decided to retire my HP LaserJet 1200 printer. She has been such a reliable friend. Where will I ever find another?

The machine arrived in my home office in the spring of 2002, and as printers go it wasn't exactly pretty. The beige case was about the size of a breadbox, and the gracefully curved sides gave her bit of a bulging, overweight look. But she supported both PCS and PostScript, which I needed at the time. And man, could that machine crank out the copy.

Since hitting my doorstep the old gal has reliably cranked out 47,677 pages. Over the years she suffered an internal paper jam just 32 times, according to the firmware, which logs such events. 

Thirty two paper jams in 10 years of service. Not bad.

HP LaserJet 1200 printer

This black and white HP LaserJet 1200 series printer had just 8 MB of RAM (upgradeable to 64MB) but delivered 15 pages per minute at 1200 x 1200 dpi resolution. After more than a decade the 1200's specs still hold up well when compared with current models. But do they still build 'em like they used to?

What's more, all of the accoutrements -- the paper tray, tray cover, and hinged doors and so on -- still work like new. The 1200 had none of the kind of cheap plastic parts you see today that can snap off when someone bumps into the unit or is a little rough with the paper tray.

It outlived them all

Of all of the equipment that was in my office on the day I unboxed that LaserJet 1200, not one thing remains. Six personal computers and laptops came and went. I've worn out a few keyboards, and countless mice. I'm on my fourth monitor. I've had so many wireless routers malfunction that I've lost count.

My chair broke. Twice. My daughter left for college.

My LaserJet 1200 even outlived my dog.

Now the 1200 is starting to creak and complain under the stress of the 500 to 1,000 pages per month I ask of it. Sometimes it groans and grinds the gears before starting a job. It's almost as though the 1200 has let the clutch slip a bit on purpose, before she can get up the energy to faithfully push out those pages. And she can still do it, by gosh.

But she's tired. There's arthritis in those gears, and we both know what's coming. So she's going on the reserve list.

Irreplaceable?

The question is, what would possibly replace her?

I need a workhorse that will kick out hundreds of pages of Word documents, PDFs, and other types of documents in black and white at the lowest possible cost per page, day and and day out. Given how long I tend to keep a machine, consumables costs are far more important in my TCO equation than the initial cost of the printer.

I don't need color, although it would be nice for (very) occasional use. And on the one or two occasions a month when I need to copy or fax a document I'd rather not make a special trip to Staples to get the job done. So this time around I am looking for multifunction printer.

I have had good luck with HP, so I am considering at two options that might fit the bill: The LaserJet M1212nf and the OfficeJet Pro 8600. It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

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