Printers, perfection and puppy love

Claire Halliday
Claire Halliday

We need a printer?

My question to my 17-year old daughter was posed with a distinctly squeaky lilt.

The last home printer we owned was the size of a fridge and took up most of the leg-room under the desk at my home office. One of my children may have still been in nappies.

Our household had since traded its costly ink refilling needs with regular trips to our local Officeworks whenever one of the kids HAD to incorporate old-school pieces of printed paper to some aspect of their schoolwork.

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It was a relatively easy arrangement. The person behind the counter at Officeworks gave me change from a $1 coin and I tied in the short drive to my local shopping strip with a visit to the butcher and fruiterer a few doors down, to grab the ingredients for dinner.

But in Year 12, so many things are different. And for my daughter enrolled in a folio-based art subject as part of her Victorian Certificate of Education (VCE) qualification, one of those differences is her desperate need to print things. LOTS of things.

Budget-driven decision-making

The idea of choosing a printer sent a chill through my non-tech heart. Yes, I work in the online world via a laptop every day of my working life, but that doesn’t mean I understand how to decipher the specs on a printer that needs to perform on command, without fail – and, hopefully, affordably.

When the doorbell ding-donged and the delivery driver asked me to sign for the box he handed me, I hoped the HP Smart Tank 5105 would live up to my expectations.

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Usage: ICRT
Story: Printers Batch 145
Brand: HP
Model: Smart Tank 5105
CU: 14123-XXXX
ICRT#: 1487-00
Purpose: ID
Photographer: Pete Pezzella

Not being an influencer of any kind, there was no uploading of the unboxing process to TikTok.

Instead, I rather unceremoniously used a (slightly blunt) kitchen knife to slice through the tape keeping the package together and pulled out our family’s new printer.

It looked shiny and…capable.

And as I read the words on the box more carefully, a couple of things made me smile.

All-in-one it said.

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Intuitively smart, light on price it said.

My favourite bit was the blue box with neat white font that promised Up to 2 years of ink included in the box.

As someone with a firm eye on convenience and an even former eye on budget, all of those claims resonated.

At $369 it was a price that I could manage, with a promise that seemed fit for purpose too.

But for me, getting it set up easily and smoothly was the most important piece of the welcoming a new printer to our family puzzle – and for that I deferred to the daughter who prompted its arrival.

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She’s great at following instructions – and her take on it is that they were extraordinarily easy to follow.

From the time it left its box, it was making whirring noises and pushing jets of colourful ink neatly onto paper within mere minutes.

In my book, that’s success.

Reading a more experienced reviewer’s assessment of the printer made me feel that my instincts were right.

It was awarded 4.5 stars and described as “an excellent small multi-function printer, which represents exceptionally good value. If you want low-cost home printing and scanning, it’s a great choice”.

I second that sentiment.

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Convenience counts

But, really, I don’t claim to be a printer expert.

What matters to me is that my perfectionist child, who would have made me drive back to Officeworks repeatedly if she decided that her creative work she wanted to print didn’t meet her exacting standards and needed to be redone (and subsequently reprinted) can now simply direct the (wireless) process from the comfort of her room as many times as she likes.

And, next time I feel like printing out the occasional picture of a young Nick Cave, or my beloved border collies, to pin up above my work station and gaze at adoringly, I won’t have to reveal my secret loves to the people behind the Officeworks counter.

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Claire Halliday has an extensive career as a full-time writer - across book publishing, copywriting, podcasting and feature journalism - for more than 25 years. She lives in Melbourne with children, two border collies and a grumpy Burmese cat. Contact: claire.halliday[at]