I've written before about my experiences with printing under Linux...Initial frustration, brief elation, and then final disappointment while attempting to set up my Lexmark Z42. Eventually I gave up and either printed everything at work, or from my wife's laptop.
A recent sales flyer from a local computer store, combined with some mail-in-rebate programs by the manufacturors convinced me that the time had come to try another printer. My in-laws purchased an all-in-one multifunction printer / scanner / copier last year and were very happy with it, and actually made good use of the copying functionality of the machine.
So the question was, which model would I buy? I knew for sure that I wouldn't get Lexmark after my horrible experience with the Z42 last time. My instinct was justified after reading linuxprinting.org's page on suggested printers for free software users:
There are few good free software drivers for Canon and Lexmark inkjets. Do not buy one and expect success.
The same page recommended either an Epson or HP printer, and as there was a sale on Epson printers I decided to go with Epson.
Now, which model to get? It really came down to the choice between the Epson CX4200 and the Epson CX4800. The CX4800 has the ability to put in a memory card and print directly from the card. However, since I don't expect to be printing pictures at home at all, this feature really isn't necessary for me. CX4200 it is then!
Setting up this printer was a snap in Linux. Actually even easier than setting it up in Windows, which is a nice change! I simply used the Gnome CUPS Manager to add a new printer, and selected mine from the list. I already had the Gutenprint v5 drivers installed, so I guess that's where a lot of the credit for ease of installation is due.
Setting up scanning was a bit trickier. I had to manually edit some of the sane configuration files, and there seemed to be an issue where the printer module would claim exclusive access to the usb device, preventing the scanner module from working. This is apparently fixed in later versions of the drivers, but I haven't had a chance to test it out.
The CX4200's print quality is good for what I use it for, which is mostly just printing out e-mails, directions, recipes and things of that sort which would be time consuming to copy to paper by hand. The standalone copying functionality is very handy, I've used it quite a bit so far. Almost as much as printing from my computer!
So far I'm very happy with the CX4200, and at $70 (CAD) after a mail-in-rebate, the price can't be beat.