I've been reading a lot about printers. Most of you know this already.

When my Epson Workforce started printing horizontal lines through photos, what they call banding, I tried the usual suggestions. Some of these, such as built-in diagnostics like head cleaning and aligning, are counterproductive because they use a lot of ink and rarely fix the problem. The fact is, over time ink jet printer heads get clogged. You might think it's a dried out ink tank, but it's the heads. For some reason I've seen the most amount of complaints about Epson, but it happens to all of them.

This means ink jet printers have an expiration date that's probably sooner than other computer products, though that's always a dicey judgment in today's world where everything is made to be disposed of as quickly as possible.

I watched YouTube videos where people have successfully cleaned the heads of their printers with alcohol using various methods. Hasn't worked for me.

Some on the internet suggest you solve this problem by printing your photos at a local pharmacy. They insist it's cheaper. I don't know, I've never tried it, but these people miss the point of owning an inkjet in the first place—the convenience of printing photos at home instead of having to get in the car and make one more trip. These people also fail to distinguish between different kinds of photos. There's a wide spectrum of uses between a professionally done photo with a high end camera, on one hand, and photos of my nephews snapped quickly with an iphone. The latter seem suited for a home printer—unless you get banding. I don't print many photos, and I don't want to drive to the pharmacy.

One choice is accepting I will have to buy an inkjet printer every few years, something I have trouble with for many reasons. Regardless, it doesn't solve the problem of what to buy right now. I still want something reliable.

I looked at color laser printers. But they are large. I use an Epson all-in-one, and the color laser all in one printers I've seen are huge. They are intended for offices, but many people have been buying them for home use because they last longer. Although laser toner is expensive, it doesn't dry out like the liquid in ink jet printers, making me consider a high volume printer for low volume printing. Things that make you go hmm. In the long run it may be cheaper. It's hard to say because there are other considerations. Someone like me with a bad back probably ought not to lift one or carry it. You need a big solid workspace to support about 50 pounds. Like copy machines, laser printers have a drum that needs to be replaced, and it's expensive. Laser printers don't print photos as well as inkjets do. If I didn't need color, I would recommend a laser printer to everyone.

Recently companies have pretended to help us by introducing ink-saving technologies. One of these is selling liquid ink instead of ink tanks. You pour the ink into the empty tank. This may save money, but I've never been good at that kind of thing. I'm one of those people who gets my hands dirty. I would probably get color ink on my clothes, the carpet, and my white Westie. I remember the days of copy machine toner. Black powder was always getting spilled even when the cartridges were sealed. Copy machines, too, used the "pour your own powder" approach. Messy.

Other changes from the unfriendly tech world have included the use of touch screens. Some printers have flip up panels with tiny 2 inch screens. For many of us, this means putting on our glasses when we want to use the all in one. As with all touch screens, they are erratic. Press, press, press. No, not that one. Back. Press, press, press. Come on. Press. Flip panels flip down when you press them. So you have to learn to hold it with the left hand hand while pressing with your right. Or you can try holding the panel with your hand and fingers while touching the screen with your thumb. Most cars have touch screens now. So dumb. I would rather use buttons on cars and printers. Why do electric cars have touch screens? Isn't that a waste of electricity?

Last but not least, if your printer driver is flaky, your wireless will be flaky, and every time you print you will get frustrated. I've seen this mentioned in reviews of Brother printers. This hasn't been a problem with my Epson drivers, which have worked nearly always on both Mac and Windows. Cumbersome to set up, but once it is, it works. I certainly don't want bad drivers or flaky wireless connections from the printer. The most difficult troubleshooting I have ever done is for wireless.

I find this whole subject mind boggling. I'm trying to find a printer that isn't worse than what I have.

This isn't progress. It's regress. Our next episode: Are emoticons hieroglyphics?