I work on one of the most-watched shows on TV. This is no small operation. Just like any other big, legitimately successful enterprise, we operate under a budget, but we also try to buy products that are going to be reliable. You know, as it’s said, “You get what you pay for.” But sometimes, what you pay for doesn’t turn out how you’d expect. Enter the Microboards G3 disc printer.
The G3 is the second disc printer of the same model that my employer has purchased for the office. The first one was acting funky, so a second one was purchased as a replacement. Taking a quick stroll across the internet, most distributors selling this printer have a price of just over $1,000 on them. That strikes me as pretty expensive for the luxury of printing labels on 50 CDs or DVDs in succession. That’s really the extent of what it does.
The printer does make life a little easier, when it works properly, but the problem is that it’s finicky on a daily basis. “The printer cartridge is unable to move” is the most frequent error message, which is only remedied by shutting down the printer, restarting it, then setting up the print job again. On occasion, even the restart doesn’t help because the printer cartridge is still apparently stuck. Stuck on what, I have no frickin’ clue. It sure doesn’t look stuck.
So, today, after being fed up with getting the “Hey, I’m stuck again” message, I thought I’d give the ink cartridge a little push/pull to see if it moved. The result was that something clicked… and not metaphorically. I’m talking about the “Uh oh, did I just do something bad?” kind of click. I printed a test disc, and the alignment was was off… what should have been printed in the middle of the DVD ended up being far enough to the right that the 10 characters in one line had almost printed off the disc. I could see that the cartridge physically wasn’t returning back to its usual spot after printing.
Since I am fairly savvy with electronics, and such equipment doesn’t belong in landfills, I had tucked the old, disc printer #1 away in a cabinet. I almost pulled the old unit out, until I discovered something on problematic printer #2… Underneath where the ink cartridge rests when not in use, there is a plastic, square outline. I pushed the cartridge holder straight back, and it moved without any resistance, like it’s spring-loaded. Then, sliding the ink cartridge to where it should have been situated, I pushed the plastic square back, and the ink carriage finally popped back in place. A test print was successful, as the text alignment was properly centered on the DVD again. Whew! A thousand more dollars potentially saved.
I am very confident that this debacle hasn’t totally fixed anything – the cartridge will continue to get stuck on itself, and printing will continue to be problematic. The bottom line is that this disc printer is expensive, yet unreliable. Microboards is now trying to phase out the G3 in favor of the G4. But considering how long the G3 was on the market, my expectation that reliability has improved is admittedly very low.
Have your own experience with the Microboards G3? Let me know about it in the comments section below!