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Printer Hardware

Is Your Printer Ripping You Off? 362

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the or-only-its-maker dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Are original inkjet cartridges really worth the high cost? Do third party refill inks do as good a job? This article looks at printers from Epson, HP, Canon and Lexmark, with a combination of original inks and the top selling third-party options, using a whole host of different papers. A panel of printer users judged the output in a blind test — the printer manufacturers may not be happy with the results!"
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Is Your Printer Ripping You Off?

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  • by EveryNickIsTaken (1054794) on Saturday April 21, 2007 @11:17AM (#18823921)

    ...and the top selling the top selling third party options
    Ok, Rainman.
  • Reliability (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MagPulse (316) on Saturday April 21, 2007 @11:20AM (#18823943)
    The worry with third-party ink is mainly that it will clog up your printer, not that the first few pages won't look good.
    • Re:Reliability (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 21, 2007 @11:26AM (#18823987)
      Yeah, but when the printer costs $50, and a new manufacturer ink cartridge costs $45, I'm willing to go with the $20 third-party cartridge and risk having to buy a new printer. That said, the 30 or so third-party cartridges I've used with my HP printer have never clogged it.

      • by Anonymous Coward
        "Yeah, but when the printer costs $50, and a new manufacturer ink cartridge costs $45, I'm willing to go with the $20 third-party cartridge and risk having to buy a new printer."

        Depends on what kind of printer you have. The higher-quality printers you wouldn't do that.* Also the all-in-one jobs you wouldn't either (too much to lose, literally) Also one reason OEMs don't like them is that warrenty claims go through the roof, even if you void their warrenty (and we had to do that to a couple people).

        *How many
      • Re:Reliability (Score:5, Insightful)

        by omeomi (675045) on Saturday April 21, 2007 @11:49AM (#18824169) Homepage
        Yeah, but when the printer costs $50, and a new manufacturer ink cartridge costs $45

        That's why I gave up on ink-jet printers and went with a laser. It's only b/w, but I've bought toner exactly once over the past three years. When I need a color print, I send it to Kinkos. It's not the most convenient thing in the world, but I print in color so infrequently that it really doesn't make any difference to me. If I needed to print in color frequently, I'd probably buy a color laser. Ink jet is just a huge ripoff as far as I'm concerned.
        • Re:Reliability (Score:5, Informative)

          by gumbi west (610122) on Saturday April 21, 2007 @12:14PM (#18824365) Journal
          I use a cannon IP 3000 with duplex. I pay under $10/ cartridge and they last for about 1.5 reams (1500 page sides). Thats 2/3 cent/page side plus the paper (I'm picky and like my paper to be bright) which adds 2/3 cent per page side. Plus, the text looks great. Only problem is that it isn't water proof. Not sure I'm getting ripped off though.

          If there was a cheap laser that was small and had duplex, I'd consider it. But last time I had one I found that the current it drew when it started was outrageous (my monitor and all my CFL's dimmed) and that it's sleep current was significantly higher than my ink jet. So, I returned it.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by zakezuke (229119)

            I use a cannon IP 3000 with duplex. I pay under $10/ cartridge and they last for about 1.5 reams (1500 page sides). Thats 2/3 cent/page side plus the paper (I'm picky and like my paper to be bright) which adds 2/3 cent per page side. Plus, the text looks great. Only problem is that it isn't water proof. Not sure I'm getting ripped off though.

            If there was a cheap laser that was small and had duplex, I'd consider it. But last time I had one I found that the current it drew when it started was outrageous (my monitor and all my CFL's dimmed) and that it's sleep current was significantly higher than my ink jet. So, I returned it.

            I have direct experence with the canon ip3000, which I upgraded to an ip5200 since as part of learning japanese I took it upon my self to label my anime discs with furigana {ruby text/pronunciation above}, and there was anotable difference between the two models. For text the ip3000 is a perfectly fine machine. I'd have to check the specs but i'm pretty sure text has not improved in at least 10 years on the canon.

            At 5% yield the black cartridge should last about 500 pages. at 1500 characters per page the

          • Re:Reliability (Score:4, Insightful)

            by CastrTroy (595695) on Saturday April 21, 2007 @07:07PM (#18827189) Homepage
            I'm sure that inkjet would be cost effective for me if only the cartridges would stop drying out. I don't print that often, and find that most of the time the ink has dried up before I have the time to use even half of it.
      • Re:Reliability (Score:5, Informative)

        by Fred_A (10934) <fred@NoSpaM.fredshome.org> on Saturday April 21, 2007 @11:55AM (#18824227) Homepage
        OTOH the HP cartridges I used with one of the early B&W deskjets (DJ500 I think, was a long time ago) most certainly clogged it.

        Now I only use a B&W laser at home since I have no real need for colour and have the few photos I want on paper printed by a lab (almost always cheaper than printing them yourself anyway). All in all I've always found the laser to be cheaper (despite the higher initial investment), more reliable and less hassle than ink jets. For B&W of course. If you actually need colour then YMMV.

        Oh and Linux compatibility is an issue for me as well. And sadly laser is often better supported nowadays.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by iminplaya (723125)
          ...I have no real need for colour and have the few photos I want on paper printed by a lab

          Just make sure there are no unpleasant surprises [dallasobserver.com].
          • by Fred_A (10934)
            Luckily I only have large format prints made of the occasional good macro or animal shot and I don't take pictures of children.
            Even here in Europe I suppose this kind of insanity could happen in pretty much any country nowadays given the current hysteria. We can't even make fun of the good old crazy US any more :-/
      • Re:Reliability (Score:5, Insightful)

        by paeanblack (191171) on Saturday April 21, 2007 @12:15PM (#18824375)
        Yeah, but when the printer costs $50, and a new manufacturer ink cartridge costs $45

        Officemax/Staples/CompUSA/etc sometimes have inkjets for $30 w/ a $30 mail-in rebate. Just buy a new printer, and when the initial cartridge runs out, toss the printer and get a new one.

        The whole industry pricing structure is insane.
        • Re:Reliability (Score:5, Interesting)

          by BoberFett (127537) on Saturday April 21, 2007 @12:33PM (#18824533)
          Keep in mind that the cartridges which come with new inkjets are almost always low capacity, about 1/3 to 1/4 the amount of ink that's in the manufacturers retail cartridges.
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by arth1 (260657)
            That depends on the manufacturer, and possibly model. While it appears to be true for HP, it doesn't appear to be true for Epson, who appears to deliver standard full cartridges with their new printers.
            On the other hand, Epson cartridges are much smaller to begin with, and you need head cleaning more often (because the print heads aren't changed with the cartridges?), so the ink runs out fast anyhow.
        • Re:Reliability (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Godji (957148) on Saturday April 21, 2007 @12:38PM (#18824561) Homepage
          "when the initial cartridge runs out, toss the printer and get a new one." So much for being friendly to the environment...
          • Re:Reliability (Score:5, Interesting)

            by pilgrim23 (716938) on Saturday April 21, 2007 @01:25PM (#18824939)
            I purchased 3 dead printers at a Goodwill outlet store: a HP laser II and 2 Apple Laserwriters. Take the logic board from one laserwriter, the frame and fuser from the other, take off ALL the rollers and soak them a while in rubbing alcohol then use just a swab of gasoline from the lawn mower to soften the hard rubber, then back in the alcohol bath. then dry for a couple of days. take the better of the 3 toner carts, and all the best parts and assemble 1 printer. Cost: 15 bucks...output: quite good. It has lasted 4 years now.... so much for feel-good recycle. I RECYCLE :)
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by pvera (250260)
        My last HP printer was on sale for less than $40. If the ink runs out before it is 90 days old, I'll exchange the whole printer. If it is more than 90 days old and the cartridge costs within 5% of the cost of a new printer, I will probably grab the new printer and hand off the used printer to somebody else and tell them "here's a free printer, try to use generic ink first, which costs half as much." If the printer breaks, it was free so my friend is only losing $20 instead of $40.

        I print so little nowadays
        • by Hadlock (143607)
          What a waste. Do you print a lot of photos? If not, a laser printer is considerably cheaper in the long term.
    • by drfuchs (599179) on Saturday April 21, 2007 @11:36AM (#18824065)
      I do infrequent, low-volume printing, and my biggest problem isn't how the output looks or the reliability of the cartridges; it's how long the under-used ink takes to evaporate from the cartridge. Brand-X cartridges seem to come up "out of ink" months and months sooner than OEM ones do.
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Zebai (979227)
        that's because ink is stored in a vacuum and the OEM seals to contain that vacuum are always the best, because they are the first (not necessarily because they are better designed, if you use tape to hold something up, and you keep replacing that tape in the exact same spot, the additional tape will never hold as good as the first one) Reman cartridges (which most off brands are) will usually leak either air or ink, mostly air, either way it wont last as long as the original usage of it.
        • by tomhudson (43916)

          "that's because ink is stored in a vacuum"

          No its not. Its sealed, but not at a vacuum.

      • by kestasjk (933987)
        If it takes months and months why not just go with OEMs?

        Personally I'm trying to wean myself off Dell's ridiculously expensive cartridges and refill them myself.
        There seems to be a chip in the cartridge that reports how many pages are left though, so even after a refill it reports the same page number. The only question is what will happen when the counter reaches zero, and how much sooner will the printer die thanks to the refills.
      • If all you need is black and white, low-end Laser printers aren't that expensive and you don't have the problem you described. At worst, you may want a dust cover and keep the printer powered down until you need it although most use very little power when in "stand-by" mode. Also, if you only need color infequently, print services can be resonable. One of the local shops charges 59 cents a sheet. We go there when we need color and use a Samsung ML-1210 for black and white prints.

        Cheers,
        Dave
      • Sounds like me (Score:5, Informative)

        by Kadin2048 (468275) <slashdot.kadin@xoxFREEBSDy.net minus bsd> on Saturday April 21, 2007 @12:38PM (#18824559) Homepage Journal
        I had a similar issue, back when I had a POS (and I don't mean "point of sale," either) Lexmark inkjet. I only really used it about once every few months, and about one in three times I'd go to use it, it would be clogged. I ended up using most of my ink printing "de-clogging" test pages, and I was burning through ink -- both OEM and remans -- at a rate that could have bought me a pile of new printers.

        Eventually I got myself an inexpensive laser (Samsung ML-1740, but there are better/cheaper ones out there now) and I've never, ever looked back. For occasional or low-volume printing it's just no contest. The toner doesn't go bad, it doesn't draw much power at idle, and it's at least as fast as my old Lexmark (feels much faster, particularly on multipage documents). It even does envelopes and sheet labels just fine (it has a "through and through" mode where it doesn't spit out on top, so it doesn't bend the labels and make them peel off).

        I recouped the cost of the laser printer and the toner cartridge (factor in a toner cart with the printer purchase since they give you underloaded "starter" carts when you buy it new) probably within a year to 18 months, certainly under two years.
        • by Khaed (544779)
          I had a similar issue, back when I had a POS (and I don't mean "point of sale," either) Lexmark inkjet.

          And in my experience, Lexmarks are the fastest to burn through or otherwise screw up their ink cartridges. I've owned more inkjets than any sane person should for a variety of reasons, and the one I was glad to be rid of the most? A Lexmark.

          Now I have a nice inexpensive Samsung laser, too, and it has been the best printer I've ever owned by miles.

    • Re:Reliability (Score:5, Informative)

      by SpeedyDX (1014595) <speedyphoenix@gmaiELIOTl.com minus poet> on Saturday April 21, 2007 @11:41AM (#18824099)
      Parent is on to something.

      The mechanisms in ink cartridges are a lot more complicated nowadays than they used to be. HP, for example, has the print heads built into the ink cartridges. There are also other features built into their ink cartridges that help prolong the life of their printers. You know when you start up your printer and it takes a while to clean the print heads? Almost all inkjets just spray ink out and wipe the print heads to get rid of any solid/dried debris. HP designed their ink cartridges to use up less ink when they clean the print heads (it takes noticably less time to start up an HP printer than another printer).

      My concern with third party ink is that, if I wanted to top of my HP cartridges with it, will it mess up the mechanisms in the print cartridge? Will that cause further damage to the printer itself? And as the parent mentioned, the first few pages might be fine, but what about later on? Will the ink clean the print heads well enough to keep them from clogging (incidentally, this has a larger impact on printers with print heads that are built in to the printer rather than the cartridges)?

      If you have a $70 printer, I guess you're not too worried about these questions. But personally, I have a relatively good quality printer that I wouldn't want to jeopardize with third party ink (cartridges).
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Embolism (703224)
        Yup. I was using 3rd party inks for about a year on my old hp 990. One day I noticed no color on output. I looked inside the printer and the color ink was smeared everywhere. Printer trashed. I now have a HP 6180 (which I cannot say enough good things about). This uses 6 ink and they are (subjectively speaking) lower cost and relatively log lasting. No more 3rd part inks for me.
      • by aero6dof (415422)
        The mechanisms in ink cartridges are a lot more complicated nowadays than they used to be. HP, for example, has the print heads built into the ink cartridges.

        Hah, that should read they're more complicated than the need to be. I bought my last HP Multi-function printer specifically because it separated the heads from the ink, thinking it would save me money. Unfortunately, HP added the "feature" of electronic date expiry to the cartridges. During a late evening print job, I found that my ink was outdated, th
    • by rucs_hack (784150)
      we have a refill shop in my town. It's cheap, and the cartridges are very reliable.

      Do it yourself kits can go very wrong I guess, but the company that runs our refill shop does a lot of trade with local business, so quality is required.
  • by rehabdoll (221029) on Saturday April 21, 2007 @11:21AM (#18823951) Homepage
    http://www.idg.se/ [www.idg.se] had an article last month or so, regarding this issue. According to the article only pure turkish heroin was more expensive than original printer-ink.

    Original article: http://www.idg.se/2.1085/1.103164 [www.idg.se] (swedish)
  • by arghileh (320728) <nassarmu@real-ti m e . c om> on Saturday April 21, 2007 @11:25AM (#18823981) Homepage
    I've had to service printers where people had used non-OEM ink and it can get ugly, at best just the printhead clogs up and needs to be replaced, at other times ink is just everywhere and inkjet ink stains everything.

    For Lasers it is not as bad, but i've found the refilled cartridges to be more leaky and I had to clean out the printers on a regular basis. Also about 1/10 refills was DoA or otherwise defective.

    On the other hand what HP charges for ink you would think they had to mine in on the moon. Canon printers with seperate printheads from ink resevoirs bring down the price of ink considerably.
    • by Val314 (219766)
      > I've had to service printers where people had used non-OEM ink and it can get ugly, at best just the printhead clogs up and needs to be replaced, at other times ink is just everywhere and inkjet ink stains everything.

      Yes, but for my Epson R200, the printer costs as much as 1,5 sets of original Ink. for that price i can get ~5-6 3rd Party ink.

      That means: even if my Printer dies after ~2-3 cheap ink sets, the price difference allows me to just buy a new printer. (and the quality is just the same)
  • Ink? What ink? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Vellmont (569020) on Saturday April 21, 2007 @11:30AM (#18824017)
    Or instead of getting ripped off by buying ink after you run out, or it dries up you could just buy a laser printer instead. Toner is inexpensive per page, doesn't dry out, and laser printers produce excellent quality.

    People think they need color for some reason. Why I'm not exactly sure. I bought a used HP LaserJet 4 several years ago off ebay, and have used the same toner cartridge since I bought it. The old HP laserjets are tanks that can spit 20,000 pages without a hitch. The components are all replaceable, and really quite easy to change the pickup rollers, etc.
    • My mother and grandmother print photos 90% of the time so they need color. Plenty of people print things other than text, at home anyway.

      • by MrP- (45616)
        color laser printers are getting cheaper now also.. although buying 4 different toners each time gets expensive.

        i like my $49 samsung b&w laser.. i bought it a year ago and im still on my first toner (which is only half a normal toner since it came with the printer).. prior to that i had an inkjet that i hadn't bought ink for in 4 years because i didnt want to spend $60 just to print some invoices when i buy stuff online.
      • Re:Ink? What ink? (Score:5, Informative)

        by cheebie (459397) on Saturday April 21, 2007 @11:50AM (#18824175)
        Then they should be using Snapfish [snapfish.com] or one of the other photo printing services. Why pay for expensive ink, a temperamental printer, and sub-par quality photo prints when you can get real photos for $0.12 each.

        Disclaimer: I am not a Snapfish or HP employee, just a happy customer.

      • If they're printing photos at home then they must be made of money anyway.

        It's quite a bit cheaper to just go down to Wal-Mart/Costco/Sam's Club with a camera card or USB stick and have the run off on a lightjet. And you get real photos (actually on photo paper, if their chemicals are okay 100-year archive life) instead of ink prints. Or wait a few days and have one of the many submit-electronically/receive-by-mail print houses do it; they're the 21st century equivalent of the old mail-in color labs.

        I guess if they can't easily get out and about then they're stuck with ink, but for the vast majority of people I don't see home photo printing as a particularly economical endeavor. It's one of those things that is a lot easier and cheaper (not to mention better quality) when it's scaled up. Unless there's some real need to product photos right the hell now, like take-home photos at a party or event, it just seems like a waste.
        • by pipatron (966506)
          Or, you know, those photos that you rather don't want anyone else to see... *ahem*
      • Yeah, but the other unseen charge here is the drivers. People that change printers like they change diapers, end up with crap sitting in HKLM\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Print\Monito rs that will keep the next printer from installing properly. Next thing you know is that they have a $100 geek(quack)squad bill to fix something that takes less time to fix than it takes to fill out the paperwork.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Dionysus (12737)
      Have to agree. After going through two ink printers, I just bought a HP LaserJet printer. No problem at all.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by garcia (6573)
      People think they need color for some reason. Why I'm not exactly sure.

      Wow, you're still using an amber or green CRT? Wicked retro man!
      • by tomhudson (43916)

        People think they need color for some reason. Why I'm not exactly sure. Wow, you're still using an amber or green CRT? Wicked retro man!

        You nouveau geek types. Everyone knows that teletype ribbons come in one color - black! Why anyone would need more than one color ... or a TV tube ...

    • Wow that's incredible. Just to inform those out there not in the know, my free (this is probably the key word; they get you on the refills later) HP printer/scanner takes $20 5mL ink cartridges. Guess how many pages 5mL is! 120. I can print at the student center at school 66% cheaper than this.
    • by AlXtreme (223728)
      Color laser printers are getting cheaper too. Bought a Samsung CLP-300N last year for the price of a few ink-cartridges (okay, maybe a bit more, 250 euros).

      The quality is quite amazing for both b/w and color/photos, and now I don't have to run to the store every few months when the printer was out of ink (always at the worst possible moment) or deal with messy refill-kits. Having said that, I'd assume color laser printers run out of black toner a bit sooner than an old Laserjet, if only because the toner ca
      • It looks great, too bad I can't buy Samsung anymore since their Linux deal with Microsoft (http://yro.slashdot.org/yro/07/04/20/1440218.shtm l).
    • by proxima (165692)

      People think they need color for some reason. Why I'm not exactly sure. I bought a used HP LaserJet 4 several years ago off ebay, and have used the same toner cartridge since I bought it.

      I myself use a LaserJet 5MP, and I'm on my third toner cartridge (the first was used) after almost 4 years. I bought it for about $75. Each gets something like 3000-4000 pages, I think, and costs about $80 directly from HP. The print quality compared to inkjet is simply fantastic, even for an older printer which does at

    • by fermion (181285)
      I think most people just want to print, and the replacement cartage is not such a big deal unless they are printing 10 pages every day. Most people want color because they have color screens, and they think the printer should reproduce what is on the screen. Or they want to print pictures every once in a while. It is not a matter of cost, and it certainly is not important enough to search ebay for a printer, not to mention most would not know enough to chooses, or do the maintenance. Then the other cons
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 21, 2007 @11:30AM (#18824021)

    click [next] to find out !

  • by guanxi (216397) on Saturday April 21, 2007 @11:32AM (#18824029)
    As they say in the article, there's also a question of how long the ink lasts before it fades (emphasis is mine):

    We've established that third-party inks can produce prints which are equally well liked to those produced using manufacturers' own inks, but this is only half of the story. All the main printer manufacturers claim that third-party inks fade far more quickly than their own.

    To test this out we are going to take the samples we obtained from this research and stick parts of them in an outside window, parts on a board on an inside wall and parts in an album in a drawer. We'll look at them again after three and six month intervals and see which samples have faded. Third-party inks and papers are not in the clear yet, but they've come through the first part of our examination with flying colours; literally.


    On one hand, saying 3rd party inks don't last a long is perfect FUD -- it's something the consumer can't judge for themselves (without extensive testing). OTOH, I know the durability if the ink is (or at least was) an issue for artists, and Epson sold a special ink that lasted 100 yrs. Also, that may be a corner that some 3rd party ink manufacturers cut to reduce their costs.
    • by bhalter80 (916317)
      This comes back to if you want more pay more, for most of my printing the ink being readable after more than a month is insignificant as the paper is likely to have been recycled by then and nobody has stated that the ink fades to being unreadable in a period.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by dghcasp (459766)

      Epson sold a special ink that lasted 100 years

      Actually, the higher end Epson inks, which are generally used in their printers that cost over $500, when used with certain Epson papers, are guaranteed for 100 years.

      If you've ever sat down and leafed through your great-great granparent's photo albums from the early 1900's, you know what a timeless treasure it is. That's why I'd never skimp on paying for ink and paper.

      For those who aren't familiar with the lifetimes of pictures, here's a brief overview,

  • by Yo Grark (465041) on Saturday April 21, 2007 @11:42AM (#18824111)
    I've done the "fill it yourself" and the "let our company fill it for you" and the "Recycled compatible".

    At the end of the day, I use new, sealed 3rd party cartridges, but you have to do your research. I've had a Canon 4200, Epson 880 and now a Brother 420cn, All using these new, sealed cartridges bought off of ebay for around 2.00 each including shipping. They come sealed, they last years (found a canon one after 4 years, working without a hitch) and are at a price I find acceptable.

    I print "photo quality" pictures often enough and they still hang on the wall behind glass and no-one knows they're printed. I think the REAL trick is to:

    1. print off at least 1 page of color/b+w a week (I setup a macro where it will print 1 test page a week whether I'm there or not).

    2. Don't use refillable cartridges, and

    3. get printers that are having good use by people using these 3rd party cartridges. (research!)

    I use the printers for business too, never a problem with print quality. And before someone says "it's because you use it all the time" those old canon and epson printers went to family (replacing lexmarks!) and they RARELY print anything, but that trick on printing a page a week does wonders.

    Good luck!

    Yo Grark
  • Contradicted here... (Score:5, Informative)

    by tkrotchko (124118) * on Saturday April 21, 2007 @11:43AM (#18824119) Homepage
    Consumer Reports doesn't come to quite the same conclusion.

    First off, they've received a lot of unusable 3rd party cartridges:
        http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/electronics-com puters/printers/printer-inks-7-06/off-brand-inks/0 607_printer-inks_off-brand-inks.htm?resultPageInde x=1&resultIndex=2&searchTerm=printer%20cartridge [consumerreports.org]

    And here, their recommendation is that the replacement inks are not quite as thrifty as they appear:

    http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/electronics-com puters/printers/printer-inks-7-06/overview/0607_pr inter-inks_ov.htm [consumerreports.org]

    My experience is that I bought cheap replacement ink for a Canon printer, and it clogged the print heads, didn't last as long, and produced poor quality color. I ended up throwing them out. Instead, I shop at the warehouse clubs where you can typically save 33-50% on name brand inks.

    I prefer Canon because it allows you to replace individual ink tanks (which can be slightly thrifter). HP tends to do all-in-ones, which is bad if they mix Black, since you'll go through black 2-3x as fast. Overall, HP's tend to be expensive to run for that reason. In fact, with HP's your best bet is to wait until the computer stores sell new HP printers for $15 after rebate, use up the ink and then throw away the printer. It feels terribly wasteful to do that, but the ink is so expensive for HP's that it's really the most economical way to own them.

    Epson is worse, mainly because the ones I've owned tended to clog their print heads if you let them sit for more than a week or two. Then you run 2-3 cleaning cycles which used up the ink even faster. Back in the day of tractor feeds and impact printers, the joke was "Epson" was a Japanese word that meant "Paper Jam". I hope they've fixed that.
    • Remember when Consumer Reports could be trusted to complete fair and unbiased research on behalf of the consumer? I sure do. Unfortunately they've simply become another corporate shill, and invariable make recommendations essentially straight out of press releases from one of the top two manufacturers of whatever they're reviewing.

      Now the only thing I would trust them for is their automotive reports, simply because I expect the car manufacturers have all provided the same amount of 'support'.

      If you go to
  • At work we have really-good printers (like the Phaser 8550 solid ink, or HP laserjet B&W) which are networked and get the brand name stuff and are the standard for high quality prints. Then for the desktops (that don't need laser) I pick up Epson Stylus 740,750, 760 etc. printers (the 740 has USB, Apple Serial and Parallel, very versatile) used and buy the $4 ink tanks (inkresq) the speed is not as fast but the cost per page is realistic and the tanks aren't chipped.

    Of the time I started doing this I
    • by Barny (103770)
      Yeah, the HP laserjet printers are a great lot, picked up an old laserjet 4 plus, with network interface and a brand new toner cart (appx 40,000 pages or so worth of toner) for around $50AU (about $35 US).

      What I generally recommend to my customers (I work at an OEM/retail) is that they get a nice little multi function, usually canon or epson (they are the best of the bad lot, meaning ink jet printers) and get a hp or Fuji/Xerox basic laser too, the laser printer will pay for itself in in an about 6-12 mths
      • What I generally recommend to my customers (I work at an OEM/retail) is that they get a nice little multi function, usually canon or epson (they are the best of the bad lot, meaning ink jet printers) and get a hp or Fuji/Xerox basic laser too, the laser printer will pay for itself in in an about 6-12 mths :)

        The only good thing about inkjet multifunction machines is that they're probably the cheapest way to get an automatic-document-feeder scanner. Since they're selling the machine at or close to a loss, hop
  • by Opportunist (166417) on Saturday April 21, 2007 @11:51AM (#18824179)
    ...but I simply can't resist.

    One should get the idea why ink is so expensive when you see the price tag on the printers. Did you see any modern printers recently that sell for more than 30 bucks? The material used alone costs many times more than that.

    The ink actually pays for the printers.

    And that kind of marketing is quite lucrative. It's a bit like the consoles that are paid for by the games rather than by the money you spend for the PS3 or X360 itself.

    And thus ink manufacturers come up with newer and better "copy protection" with every batch of their printers. That's, btw, also why they are actually patenting a nose on some cartridge or why there is a chip on them. For the customer, this only means that it gets even MORE expensive.

    Do I want to be part of that? Seriously, no. If a printer is not allowing me to use the ink I want to use by default, without me first trying to "patch" my printer, I don't want the printer. There's a copyshop around the corner that can print in really good quality for a fairly acceptable price. Keep your overpriced liquids.
  • Who would have thought that a) Inkjet cartridges are overpriced and b) refilled ones can be dodgy! My faith in humanity has been shattered...

    This is truly a YMMV situation. My Universe includes a couple of Brother 4 in 1 inkjets that use nothing but refilled cartridges and are quite happy, and an HP 990cxi that insists on only HP products if it is to behave.

    Really your only option is to try out the options with your specific machine, and your handiest supplier, and see what happens.
  • Is Your Printer Ripping You Off?

    I have one of these [superwarehouse.com] with the multi-function scanner unit, duplex, envelope feeder and extra paper trays. Cost under $300 on eBay and prints 25,000 pages on a single toner cartridge. Cost per page is $0.015-0.04 per page. I'm on my second third toner cartridge in five years. (yeah I print a lot) True, it doesn't do color but I rarely need that and have a throwaway inkjet (acquired for free) for the odd color print.

    Inkjets are the best option in certain circumstances but m

  • Canon is good to me (Score:4, Interesting)

    by jridley (9305) on Saturday April 21, 2007 @11:55AM (#18824221)
    I have had a Canon i960 for several years. It was about 3 years before I even bought a new cart. I refill myself, have never had a problem, never get any kind of clog or even have to do an ink prime cycle other than the one the printer does itself when it first starts after a cart switch.
    It has actual optical sensors so it doesn't complain about low ink until the ink is actually low.
    After a few years (probably 30 refills) the felt sponge inside got kind of clogged up (I'd probably let it run too dry too many times and it got lots of dried ink in it) so I had to start actually replacing carts. But when one color would act up, I'd replace that cart once, and then get another 30 or so refills out of it.

    I guess I can't say whether original Canon ink is better or worse, because it's been years since I had a printer full of Canon ink. I know there are some crappy ink suppliers out there, so I use one that I've had good luck with and which has special formulations for each manufacturer. I've tried putting that manufacturer's Epson ink in my Canon (I used to have an Epson and had some leftover ink) - it worked but the colors were way off. So I'd guess that any ink maker that has a "one size fits all" ink formulation is going to be universally mediocre.

    I am sad that apparently Canon has gone to putting chips in their carts. I guess I'm going to have to keep my i960 running forever.
  • HP 5550 (Score:3, Interesting)

    by hansamurai (907719) <hansamurai@gmail.com> on Saturday April 21, 2007 @12:00PM (#18824253) Homepage Journal
    I had the same printer throughout college, the HP 5550. It cost me about $120 or so back in 2002. I've literally only bought two or three black cartridges for it in the last five years and have printed thousands of pages for papers, handouts, etc. Of course, I always print in "Fast Draft" mode, so the black ink is light, but it still looks great in my opinion. Oh yeah, it's also very fast when printing in Fast Draft, so there's another plus.

    The best part is, the black cartridges cost $20, or at least they did last time I bought them. So I would guess I have spent less than $200 on my printer alone over the last five years, which sounds pretty darn good for all the printing I did in school. Best printer I will probably ever own.
  • by phillymjs (234426) <slashdot&stango,org> on Saturday April 21, 2007 @12:03PM (#18824297) Homepage Journal
    Inkjets are crap, you should always go for a laser. The initial outlay is more, but you'll buy consumables less frequently. As usual, people are idiots who only focus on the purchase price without thinking about long term TCO. If you need to do color printing often, then save your pennies and buy a decent color laser if you don't want to be running to Kinko's all the time or don't have access to a color printer at work.

    I haven't used an inkjet since the early 90s. In January 1994 I plunked down ~$1400 for an Apple LaserWriter Select 360, and that's still my printer today. I'm only on my second ~$90 toner cartridge-- it took me YEARS to use up the one that was included in the box with the printer, not like the bullshit, half-full "starter" cartridges that come with inkjets.

    In November of last year my Select 360 died, but I got my hands on another one (for free) that didn't print well and was headed to the dumpster, swapped out the mainboard and power supply from it into mine, and I'm back in business again. I'm gonna keep using this puppy until it is beyond repair.

    ~Philly
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 21, 2007 @12:03PM (#18824301)
    how the hell did they see the results?!?

    Explain this to me!

  • Damned Lexmark, they got the camels nose into the tent. Now even Epson will start making it so you can't use 3rd party cartridges in your printer.

    And in Australia HP is selling high end inkjets that you can't buy. Instead you pay as you go.
  • Why? (Score:4, Funny)

    by Kamineko (851857) on Saturday April 21, 2007 @12:04PM (#18824307)
    Why doesn't the article have a 'print' or 'printer friendly' view?
  • Is Your Printer Ripping You Off?

    No, I haven't caught it stealing yet, in fact I have it watching over my girlfriend's jewelry ... but the people that decided to sell the printers at a loss and make up the difference (and then some!) on the ink most certainly are.

    There's a reason that Lexmark tried to sue a plug-compatible cartridge maker out of existence: without the artificially-inflated price of the ink the current business practices of all printer makers just aren't sustainable.
  • Canon ? (Score:4, Informative)

    by RogerWilco (99615) on Saturday April 21, 2007 @12:14PM (#18824369) Homepage Journal
    I have a Canon Pixma 3000, and prices for ink are very reasonable (4-5 euro, 2-3 afer market). It's an awesome printer in general, if it was still on the market I would recommned it to anyone.
    - Nice colour photo printer
    - full duplexer for double sided printing
    - Can print CD's and other unfoldable items.
    - separate ink tanks for each colour.
    - Quite small, about the size of 4 stacks of paper, or 3 flat-bed scanners. I often take it woth me.
    - new price was about 100 euro, 2 years ago.

    Cheap ink and general good experience with Canon products is what made me buy this printer. But i am especially happy with the double sided printing and great colour prints.
  • It is more cost effective to buy multiple video screens and forego printing altogether.
  • The makers of the report make the grand claim that "Our panel preferred prints produced with third-party inks over those produced with manufacturer's own products."

    But also state: "A comment that was made by several of our panellists was that many of the prints were of very similar quality and quite difficult to differentiate between."

    The only printer I really care about is the HP one, for personal reasons. In looking at the charts for it the HP ink received an average score of 43.55, the CartridgeWorld ave
  • I bought a cartridge for $25 and it's lasted me for years.

    Sure it's big, slow, b&w, and 300dpi. But it serves my purposes and costs practically nothing. I have read that HP thinks they made a mistake with series II and IIIs in that they made them too reliable. I figure my HP II is at least 15 years old.

    My wife has a much newer HP laser, it's not bad either.
  • Bah. I'm still using an HP LaserJet 5p printer manufactured in 1995. I go through a toner cartridge about every 3 years or so. Prints B&W at 600dpi. Never jams paper, never fails. The occasional color print goes to a lab or Kinkos. I tried shotty inkjets, but none were as robust, reliable, or cost-effective as my good ole' Laserjet.
  • by Myrkridian42 (840659) on Saturday April 21, 2007 @04:35PM (#18826081)
    I'd say the biggest problem with most printers now is when one cartrige is out of ink, the printer won't print. Anything.

    So when you're out of magenta, you can't print out that term paper that's due in 20 minutes, even though it's only in black.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      That depends on the printer. I'd submitted quite a number of blue homeworks back at school with an HP Deskjet 610.
  • by Master of Transhuman (597628) on Saturday April 21, 2007 @06:05PM (#18826707) Homepage
    They cost maybe $6 for Epson black and $7 for color. Never had a problem with them. Compare that to $30 or so for "real" Epson cartridges. And they aren't "refills" but originally manufactured cartridges, supposedly under ISO standards.

    You'd have to be nuts to pay the kind of money for ink cartridges that the printer manufacturers want you to pay.

    Given the crap software that HP wants to install on your systems now (750MB of crap for their OfficeJet 6310! plus drivers that port scan your system!), I'd say HP is going out of business at some point.

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