15 April 2007

The case against Hewlett-Packard

No, I am not talking about its accounting mishaps, or the ineptness of Carly Fiorina as its former CEO.

I'm talking about HP's worrisome slide in its product quality.

It used to be that HP's products were premium quality and performance, if at premium prices. Its LaserJet and DeskJet series of printers have been particularly successful. I've happily bought many HP products, especially considering that the alternatives, such as Dell, had questionable corporate policies and political activities. It didn't hurt that HP is a California company, based out of Silicon Valley.

But just a month ago, a top-of-the-line Pavilion laptop, just a year old, failed on me. And now, a DeskJet failed, even though I had hardly used it. I am also being forced to throw out a ScanJet scanner, simply because HP will no longer provide drivers for Windows Vista or MacOS. This is after a series of bad HP products, including a large-format DeskJet (which HP exchanged gladly), a Pavilion desktop, and a large-format, expensive LaserJet. And as I shopped around for a color laser printer, I've come across many negative reviews of the Color LaserJets. I've been told that they are built like Ford economy cars - all components farmed out to the lowest bidder. (And I know how reliable my now-retired Ford Contour was. NOT.)

It looks like I will have to order a low-end Xerox, as other manufacturers, including Lexmark and Brother, sell color printers with more bells and whistles than I need. The only equivalent competitor to the Xerox is Samsung, but I will never buy a Samsung product, given its labor rights record and the Koreans' interference with American democracy.