LOS ANGELES — If you buy Shaquille O’Neal’s story, he ran out of ink one night, went to Staples, found an Epson printer with refillable ink and fell in love.
O’Neal, the former basketball great who promotes many different products, happens to represent Staples. And Tuesday, he announced another new affiliation, this time with printing giant Epson, to plug a new line of EcoTank printers that don’t require buying new cartridges, but instead refillable bottles that replace the cartridges.
“I have four college degrees,” he said at a press conference here. “But would someone tell me what a Magenta is?” referring to one of the colors usually required for color printer ink refills.
The EcoTank Super Tank printers, launched in 2015, released new models Tuesday, available online and in stores. The new ones have new designs, and usability improvements, says Epson.
The EcoTank line isn’t as cheap as the traditional $100 and under printers, which rely on sales of $75 ink cartridge packs to refill. Instead consumers buy refillable bottles, which last 15 times longer, Epson says. The bottles cost around $60 as a group.
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O’Neal, an admitted tech geek, says he personally bought 20 of the Epson printers to have at his home. “If one breaks, I don’t want to have to call these guys for help.”
After the press conference, O’Neal sat down with USA TODAY to talk a little tech:
—Phones: O’Neal told us in 2014 that he owned 50 iPhones. Today, it’s just five of them, the XS models. He had wanted to add a Samsung Fold to the collection, until production problems arose and he changed his mind.
—Apps: “I spend $1,000 a week on apps,” he claims, saying gaming add-ons and subscriptions make up the bulk of the fees. “I love zombie killing games.” The most recent app he bought was the “Faces” photo app, which is free, but has in-app purchases.
—Cars: He owns five of them, and is thinking about buying a Tesla. But how does the 7-foot-1 guy fit into the front seat of cars? “I do it homeboy style,” he says. “I look at the backseat. If there’s room to go back, I put new holes in the floor and pull it back.” His favorite of the 5 cars is the Ford F-150.
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As for his new post-basketball career as a pitchman, O’Neal was asked to name all the companies he works with, and to give us a total number. “I don’t know,” he says.
“I’m not a pitchman, I’m a partner,” he says. “I only work with companies I admire.”
Click the link below to listen to the Talking Tech podcast interview.
Follow USA TODAY’s Jefferson Graham (@jeffersongraham) on Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.