Saturday, February 9, 2008

EasyShare - ImpossibleSetup

Posting has been - and will continue to be (for now) - light, because my limited PC time is being eaten up by a new printer.

I just bought a Kodak Easyshare 5100. I had been meaning to pick up a new printer for a while. I have a couple of old printers kicking around, but new ink cartridges for them would cost more than simply replacing them, and I love Kodak's new business model: make a little money on the printer, make a little money on the ink (instead of the industry standard exorbitant markups), leverage price advantage to dominate the market. Or force others to play the same ink-pricing game, which benefits consumers too.

Anyway, I had decided a couple of weeks back that I wanted one, so when one of the big electronics chains put them on special this week, it was a no-brainer.

Unfortunately, the Easyshare hasn't been the least bit easy to get working. I have 2 PCs in regular use. I first tried hooking the new printer to the old one, which for various reasons of household politics, is the one I usually use. My first impression on trying to set it up was that the installer software was quite ingenious. I loved that it offered, during installation from the bundled CD, to check Kodak's website for a newer version and install that instead.

That was my last good impression. The installer crashed every time, at various points, giving different indecipherable error codes each time. Searching any of the error codes on Kodak's knowledge base just kicked back that I needed to uninstall and reinstall the software. Plus, it won't uninstall cleanly on its own - a clean removal requires downloading a special app from Kodak. That doesn't make me happy at all. If your program doesn't remove all traces of itself when I use the Control Panel's Add/Remove Programs app, then I call shenanigans. If my OS can't cleanly uninstall it, based on how it installed itself, what else are you hiding on / doing to my PC?

I tried installing from both the CD and the website, with nothing but a growing collection of crash error codes to show for it. Then I tried going to Kodak's website and downloading the installer fresh (i.e., as though I didn't have the CD at all). In an infuriating twist, the "installer" that I downloaded was tiny, and just launched another online installation. What if I was on dial-up, or trying to install somewhere where I didn't have net access (for instance, if I'd burned the "installer" onto a CD-ROM)?

Plus, the various Kodak installers and uninstallers kept obnoxiously filling up my C drive, despite having been told it was off limits. I run a very tight C drive - pretty much just the OS, with almost all other apps installed to another partition. Being told that installation cannot proceed because my C drive is full, when I've already told the installer to use D, does not please me.

Anyway, I finally got the software to install. I have no idea why it worked this one time, but I was willing to take the victory and run with it. However, at no point was I asked to connect the printer, which uses a USB interface. According to the instructions, I should have been, and plugging the printer in before being asked is supposedly a big no-no.

Since the software was all installed, including (according to Kodak) the driver, I decided to forge ahead and plug the printer in anyway. No go. Windows spit back that a USB device attached to the PC was malfunctioning, and helpfully suggested that if unplugging it and trying again didn't fix it, I should throw it out and buy a new one. I tested the USB cable and port by plugging another device into it, and the other device worked fine. I also tried plugging the printer into a different USB port that I know for certain works, with the same failure each time.

Enough. I went to the new PC.

On this one, the software installed smoothly. I was even asked to plug the printer in when the instructions said I should be. It detected, and all seemed good. Hooray!


During installation, I was asked if I wanted to upgrade the printer's firmware. Sure, why not? The upgrade failed. No other info was provided - just that the upgrade failed.

I also can't print. The PC sees the printer, and I can view its status and all kinds of info about it from the Kodak software - it just won't print anything. With one exception: I can print a calibration page from the Kodak tools. I can also print things that are on the glass using the Copy function, so I know the print head and ink cartridges work. However, printing anything other than a calibration sheet from the PC just hangs. I've tried test pages and documents; as I type this, a 128KB, 468X371 JPG has been "printing" for over an hour without the printer showing any signs of actual activity other than a blinking LED (green, not an error alert) indicating that it's busy.

I've restarted the PC, I've restarted the printer, I've turned print spooling on and off - nothing's helping yet. The firmware upgrade failure may have given me a large paperweight, but I'm not leaping to that conclusion just yet. I think I'll leave it for tonight, and try a fresh uninstall / reinstall of the software tomorrow (or whenever I next get a chance). Hopefully I'll have better news later on.

Kodak, I'm unimpressed. I've worked in IT, and installed and serviced many, many printers over the years. If I'm having this much trouble, then Joe Average is simply not going to be able to use this printer. It doesn't matter how low your ink prices are if the blasted thing doesn't work.

Enough rambling. Here's a picture of a Desktop Tower Defense juggling layout I tried. It didn't get me through the 100-level challenge.

1 comment:

Alex said...

I installed a Kodak Easyshare 5300 on a friends computer and it couldn't have went any better. The driver and software installed as promised and when I was prompted to plug in the USB cable, it picked the printer up. I then printed the calibration page and that was it. They were printing photos before I went home. I hope you have better luck on your next attempt.