My HP Z3100 printer stopped working 2 months ago. Before you spend money on an HP Z3100 you should know that you will spend 20-30 minutes just getting to a tech who can answer your questions everytime you call HP. There is no direct line to the designjet group.
If your printer is not working as mine is - they will only give you suggestions on things to try. Everytime you call you will get a new tech who will give you random things to try without any logical step by step process.
I have been calling every 3-4 days for the last 2 months trying to get my printer repaired. They have very limited hours for support. It is a good thing I don't depend on the printer for my living.
My hospital has a top notch computer IT department and they have been more useful - but only to the point that it is clear that there is hardware failure in the printer.
HP will not send a tech out to do printer repairs - especially if it under warranty- instead after 1-2 months of calling, you may get lucky and they will send you a token circuit board just for giggles and expect you to repair it yourself.
Then when you call back they will tell you that you have to change out circuits on the circuit board they sent you - which is great if you are used to working on circuit boards - but really sucks if your skills are in photography and not computer repair.
Dr. Joel Murphy
You wrote a lot, but you didn't really include the details. What exactly is the problem with your printer? Does it turn on?, etc.
You should be able to swap out a circuit board. I was afraid to swap out a motherboard on a computer I purchased from ABS, but the tech assured me I could do it and walked me through it. Worked out great, because I gained so much confidence I built my next computer myself. I don't know how exactly how HP's tech support works, but you need to establish a relationship with ONE tech, get his phone number, and try to only deal with that one individual. Then you are working with someone who knows your situation, what has been tried, etc. ABS has such a system and it works great. I always spoke with the same tech support.
Can you still purchase the warranty that comes with on site support? I know it's pricey, but that is why they sell that for people who are intimidated by getting into their machine and swapping out parts.
Bottom line: If you take your time and follow instructions, swapping out computer parts is not a big deal for most. That may not be your problem, but the sooner you tackle that the sooner you will know for sure. At some point you will get to the point where they will send a tech out.
I completely disagree with your comment about "buggy" software upgrades. In the past, other manufacturers didn't even offer upgrades to current users of a model...they just made a new model with the "upgrades" and then they expected you to scrap your printer and buy the new model! I'm pretty impressed with HP's efforts to work out some of the minor annoyances in the z3100 with firmware / driver updates.
None of that matters to you if your printer ain't printin'. Good luck. Stay on 'em. Make careful, detailed notes every time you call tech support and exactly what you do each time you attempt a fix. Keep us posted on how it goes.