Sunday, July 21, 2024

HP discontinues laser printers with online-only DRM

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What just happened? HP has been resisting customer complaints for years about DRM that restricts users to the company’s expensive ink cartridges. However, HP appears to have caved to outside pressure over cheaper laser printers that were saddled with a mandatory subscription service. Current owners of all HP printers are not affected.

Laser printers tied to HP’s subscription service have begun to disappear from online marketplaces. The company’s decision to remove them comes amid years of scrutiny over its policies regarding DRM and ink cartridges.

HP told German outlet Druckerchannel that it recalled the laser printers out of concern from customers who could not keep them connected to cloud services at all times. Using the affected printers requires a subscription to the company’s online-only HP+ service, which includes an extended warranty, remote printing via cloud servers, and other benefits. Druckerchannel speculates that some companies were unable to maintain constant connections due to security concerns and that HP was responding to customer backlash over the online-only DRM.

Discontinued models include all LaserJet models with names ending in e:

  • HP Laser Printer M110we, M209dwe
  • HP LaserJet MFP M140we, M234sdne, M234sdwe
  • HP LaserJet Pro 3002dwe, 4002dne, 4002dwe
  • HP LaserJet Pro 3102fdwe, 4102dwe, 4102fdwe Multifunction Printer

HP plans to implement online functionality in later Laser Jet models, but has not revealed precise details. Those using the delisted variants will see no changes and should continue using HP+.

Additionally, the status of the company’s Ink Jet printers remains unchanged. Optional HP+ subscriptions are still available and the company intends to continue using DRM to force non-subscribers to buy HP ink cartridges.

DRM is the subject of a class-action lawsuit by plaintiffs who claim its behavior is monopolistic. The company has also been accused of disabling scanning features until users buy more HP ink, even when they don’t need to print anything. HP openly admits to using a razor-and-blade sales model to extract as much money as possible from customers, and previous complaints have forced it to pay large settlements in several countries.

Another subscription from the company, Instant Ink, automatically sends cartridges to customers when they run out of ink. However, it also limits the number of pages users can print each month and charges fees for cancellations before two years. HP removed the subscription for toner shipments for new Laser Jet owners from the list without explaining why, but concerns about brand confusion could explain the decision.


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