After Halloween dose: Vampire IT products, part one

Congratulations. You probably think you got a bargain scoring that “free” printer from Apple when you bought your last computer. After all, they gave you a $99 MIR with the purchase– what could be wrong with that?

Well, first off, if you know me, you know that I think that printers are nothing but a money pit to begin with. I don't have a good report with printers, in both my personal and professional lives. Paper jams, junk faxes, dried ink, toner lines, network problems are only the beginning.

This little baby, the HP PSC 1610 All-In-One has a nasty little secret. The elephant sized power brick adapter it comes with has an appetite for AC power. After I got a Kill-A-Watt for my birthday, I've not been able to resist testing equipment around the house. I've always suspected this brick chewed power, even when it was off because of the dog-ear-curdling high-pitched tone it gave off and because it was warm (note: heat = power usage). So I plugged it in.

First off, what you are seeing is the printer amp usage while the printer is “off” (I use quotes here because obviously the printer isn't off, it's waiting for me to press the on button which should be relabeled wake up). While 0.12 A isn't a lot, imagine how many of these have been produced and purchased. How many of these are happily drawing their 0.12 A all over the world. That adds up to a lot of power and ultimately carbon emissions.

To be fair, I also tested it's power consumption while “on” but idle, not printing, just “ready.”

Yup, you guessed it. Consumption is the same if it's “on” or “off” and plugged in– a little counter-intuitive. So what does it consume while printing you ask?

Interesting, it draws double the standby power while printing (making a B&W copy, which coincidently revealed the black ink had dried up, see previous disdain for printers above).

The moral of the story is, don't believe your IT equipment when it claims to be off, it ain't. And there's never truly anything free.

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