Sunday, December 17, 2006

The horrors of functionality restrictions

About a year ago, my girlfriend bought an Epson CX3500 printer. It caused many problems almost from day one: The ink would ran out too quickly, less expensive re-fill ink wouldn't work right, the expensive ink wouldn't work well as well and so forth.

One particularly annoying behavior was the printer's refusal to print grayscale / black & white documents when it's color cartridges are empty.

Each time I hear about this problem I just go nuts. It makes me want to throw the printer out to the street and buy another one. It's just completely incomprehensible to me that the developers/designers at Epson thought this can be considered as a reasonable behavior.

The printer's entire goal in life is to print documents. It's not an online ink shopping website. It's not an ink commercial. It should never refuse to print my documents unless it absolutely can't. It should have no problem printing b/w documents if it has Black ink.

I have an HP psc at home. I really disliked hp printers before but this one has just been great to me. This hp also has a similar problem, but it's less of a pain: it refuses to print anything if one of the cartridges is missing, but it will print a b/w document even if the color cartridge is empty.

Someone at Epson thought it's reasonable to ask users to buy color printer cartridges to print black and white documents. That someone is obviously wrong. Products should empower users, not restrict them.

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