Interesting situation with an HP photosmart printer

I have an HP Photosmart 7760 printer on my desk for the occasional color printout, or the even more occasional photo printout.  Recently, it began printing very slowly.  It was taking 15 minutes or more just to print out a test page.  I spent quite a lot of time trying to troubleshoot this.  I uninstalled and reinstalled the print driver.  I disabled spooling.  I rebooted about 800 times, with various incantations between each reboot.
Eventually, I noticed that the Windows logo that prints on the test page was kind of washed out.  The printer was reporting that the color cartridge was half full, so I started to wonder if the nozzles on the cartridge were clogged or something.
I removed the color cartrige, and the test page printed very quickly, albeit in grey scale.  Aha!  We were getting close!  I put in the photo color cartrige, and the page printed quickly, thus proving that the problem was not in the printer itself, but rather something to do with the cartridge. 
Lacking better tools, I cleaned the head of the cartridge with a paper towel and some water (which is not the correct way to clean it I’m sure!), and while the printout got a bit better, it didn’t speed up to any significant amount.
Finally, I replaced the color cartridge (goodbye $30!), and that fixed the problem.
Total time to repair – 4 hours probably.  I was almost to the point where it would have been cheaper to simply buy a new printer!
Anyway, next time your printing gets wonky, remember that it could be the ink cartridge and not Windows!
Next up, a story on printing problems caused by Windows XP itself…

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