Thanks, Mark. I print every 3rd day, and generally more often than that, as is. The room in which the printer sits is very clean, the printer is kept covered, so I can't understand the origin of alien materials if you know what I mean. The Epson suggestion that "Use Your Printer and You'll Be Fine" isn't true in all instances. The amount of time one spends getting the machine to work, at least in our case, has been just stupid.
Scott, the mad scientist at American Inkjet Systems tells me, for what size grain of salt this is worth, that they have been besieged by desperate owners of dead-head 900 series machines since the 900 series introduction. He, Scott, ties this to Epson's inks more than to the heads, if I understood him correctly. Scott explains that Epson's elimination of a gloss optimizer forced the company to formulate an ink that would offer the appearance of GE prints, but without the GE channel. In his view, this ink formulation -coupled with the size of the small head pores - is the perfect storm. The point that American Inkjet Systems is in the business of selling 3rd party inks, not 3rd party heads, should probably no be overlooked in evaluating his claim. Still though, Jon Cone's advertising claims similar numbers of SOS calls from 900 series owners. One can't help but fear that something is not right with this design.
I ran an HPZ3200 machine for three years with exactly one head clog incident; and that clog was cleared in a 5 minute cleaning. That machine sat where the 4900 and 9900 now sit. Epson is missing some practical points, I am afraid.
Thanks for your interest.