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Printer Hardware

InkJet Printers Lying, Or Just Wrong? 461

akkarin writes in about a study reported at Ars Technica on how accurate ink-jet printers are when they report that cartridges are empty. Not very, it turns out. Epson came out on top of the study (and Ars rightly questions how objective it was, given that Epson paid for it), but even they waste 20% of the ink if users take the printers' word for when to get a new cartridge. On average, the printers in the study wasted more than half the ink that users bought.
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InkJet Printers Lying, Or Just Wrong?

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  • by DaveCBio ( 659840 ) on Thursday June 21, 2007 @09:11AM (#19593231)
    Hearing this pisses me off. I realize it's a competitive market, but every company out there charges insane amounts for ink. Hell, even the 3rd party refills are expensive. I'd rather pay the real price for a printer and have reasonable ink prices, but I guess that would kill the 1000% markup they have on ink. Laser isn't much better, but at least it doesn't feel like virtual buggering.
    • by BobTheLawyer ( 692026 ) on Thursday June 21, 2007 @09:23AM (#19593393)
      The problem is that the printer manufacturers are now caught in this model. Nobody dares go back to charging the "real" price for the printer and the ink, as their printers would immediately seem more expensive to the average customer.

      In an ideal world the model would be unsustainable, as third party ink manufacturers would undercut the official ink packs. But the printer manufacturers have consistently abused their market position and IP law to prevent third party ink manufacturers competing on equal terms. Your average consumer doesn't even know he can get cheap alternatives, and life is increasingly difficult for even sophisticated consumers as the printer manufacturers build in IP-protected electronics into ink cartridges.

      All in all, it's clearly bad for consumers and the kind of thing the competition/anti-trust authorities should be investigating.
      • by Ucklak ( 755284 ) on Thursday June 21, 2007 @09:59AM (#19593901)
        In case there are any young ones around, a color HP printer in 1996 was $200 something. Ink was $15 for black and $15 for color so $30 and it lasted for my use over a year. Color was a novelty then too so that was impressive for the amount of waste I went through.

        Today you can get a printer for under $100 and EACH color is $15 and it lasts 3 months.
      • by jonwil ( 467024 ) on Thursday June 21, 2007 @10:01AM (#19593919)
        Thankfully lawsuits like Lexmark vs. Static Control have shown that using "IP laws" to prevent someone from making 3rd party spare parts wont fly.
        I believe that current case law basically says that it is perfectly legal to cleanroom the special circuitry from a printer cartridge in order to produce 3rd party ink cartridges and that the printer manufacturers cannot stop it. (ob IANAL disclaimer)
      • by geobeck ( 924637 ) on Thursday June 21, 2007 @11:18AM (#19595161) Homepage

        In an ideal world the model would be unsustainable...

        In an ideal world, ink cartridges would not be disposable; the manufacturer would have to take them back for refilling or disposal. Same with the printer itself. If that were the case, the quality of everything would go way up because the manufacturers would have an incentive to make them easily refurbishable. Instead, printers end up in landfills a year or less after people buy them because it's just as cheap to buy a new printer as to replace the cartridges.

        • by Bacon Bits ( 926911 ) on Thursday June 21, 2007 @01:17PM (#19596999)
          Heck, if you're going to go that far, an ideal world would not need printers at all. Save the trees, man.
          • by geobeck ( 924637 ) on Thursday June 21, 2007 @01:23PM (#19597067) Homepage

            ...an ideal world would not need printers at all. Save the trees, man.

            Save the trees by getting all of our fiber needs from hemp. No, not the kind you can smoke; the kind that grows like a weed (haha) on even the most marginal farmland, and provides not only high-quality fiber, but oil that can be used as biofuel.

      • by Kamokazi ( 1080091 ) on Thursday June 21, 2007 @11:31AM (#19595411)
        Kodak has a line of full-size inkjet printers. They charge a bit more for the printer ($150 for a pretty standard multifunction with 6 colors), but the cartridge costs are MUCH cheaper. $10 for black that is supposed to last ~300 pages of full text, and $15 for a 5-color cartridge. Or you can buy them together for $22.
    • by walt-sjc ( 145127 ) on Thursday June 21, 2007 @09:29AM (#19593495)
      Laser is significantly better at the moment. Cost per page is about 10% that of inkjet, and it's a lot faster. Photo's aren't so hot, but are about the same as an inkjet in photo draft mode - big reason is that the DPI is lower (1200 on my color laser) and it only has 4 colors instead of 6 or 8. This is why I use my little Kodak 4x6" photo printer for photos (which is thermal transfer) and an internet print shop for larger quantities / enlargements of photos.

      I'll never ever buy an inkjet ever again. With my laser, I never have banding, never have "cleaning cycles," etc. It just works.
      • by morgan_greywolf ( 835522 ) on Thursday June 21, 2007 @09:42AM (#19593665) Homepage Journal
        One of the biggest problem I have with lasers, aside from photo quality, is that paper handling isn't so good as compared to an inkjet. Inkjets can print on a variety of different media - envelopes, glossy photo paper, card stock, etc. Most inexpensive lasers have very poor paper handling in that they have an inability to print on anything thicker than thick bond or thin card stock. More expensive printers have no problem, but then they are not cost competitive with an inkjet.

        Also, cheap lasers tend to wear out quicker than inkjets, in my experience.

        • Well, yeah. You get what you pay for. If you are replacing a $200 inkjet with a $500 color laser, don't expect a whole lot better experience. Buy a $1K color laser however and you get a decent workgroup class printer with good paper handling (I have no problem printing cardstock or envelopes.) That $1K seems like a lot, but the printer with the included starter toner that can print 5K pages will cost less than an inkjet with enough replacement carts to print 5K pages.

          • by GeckoX ( 259575 ) on Thursday June 21, 2007 @10:15AM (#19594125)
            Seriously, how many people do you think spend over 1k on a printer and ink over a reasonable period of time? Say 5 years?

            That is a LOT of ink refills on an inkjet.

            That's more than most people pay for a new rig these days, including a tower, monitor AND printer.

            If you actually print that much, you already know all this and have already moved up to a more professional printing solution. If you're just a home user, that's just a total waste of money.

            Never mind that I can EASILY print over 5k pages on an inkjet with separated and refillable cartridges, WAY more than that actually.

            Look, inkjets sell as they are because they are cost effective for most people. If they weren't, they wouldn't sell. Period. Those that are a bit smarter also know that they can reduce the cost by buying a half decent inkjet with separated color cartridges, and by refilling said cartridges themselves. Not all inkjets use microchip locked cartridges you know.

            As well, more and more people ARE taking their pictures to walmart ow wherever to get their pictures printed. I know virtually no one that prints off lots of pictures at home as it does use a lot of ink, doesn't look nearly as good, and fades noticeably over short periods of time.

            At home I print what I'd deem to be a fairly average amount. My costs for operating my printer are negligible. What would be a waste of money is to throw out what works for no good reason. I'd need a VERY good reason to replace my printer, let alone drop 1k on a laser printer.

            • Seriously, how many people do you think spend over 1k on a printer and ink over a reasonable period of time? Say 5 years? That is a LOT of ink refills on an inkjet.

              And over five years you will MAKE a lot of ink refills on an inkjet. If you print a lot you will use the carts up (or as much of them as they allow you to use up, anyway.) If you don't print a lot, then you either blow out your ink cleaning the heads, or your heads crust up and you have to replace the print head, which may be integrated into the cartridge, or which may only come with ink carts (true or at least formerly true of some HP inkjets.)

              IMO it just doesn't make sense to do inkjet prints in any situation. If you're not doing enough to justify buying a color laser, send them out for printing. If you have broadband you can upload them to a website, make a CC payment, and they will mail you prints. If you don't, you can take them to a multitude of places including Kmart, Walmart, Kinkos, etc. (as you say) and not have to worry about maintaining a printer.

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by walt-sjc ( 145127 )
              That is a LOT of ink refills on an inkjet.

              It's not unusual for an OEM set of ink carts to cost $100, that only get you about 200 pages (if you are lucky.) Payback on the laser is under 1K pages. Yes, for some printers you can get refills that can drop that cost to 20%. That is still under 5K pages - the norm for starter toners.

              Refills (if you can get them) can also be messy. Print quality problems (clogged heads), speed, shit print drivers (winprinters), and special paper requirements are also huge issues.

            • by profplump ( 309017 ) <zach-slashjunk@kotlarek.com> on Thursday June 21, 2007 @11:08AM (#19594961)
              Dell/Lexmark sells a network (and USB and parallel), duplexing, 1200 DPI, 20+ PPM, greyscale laser with a flat media path (at least for manual feed) and a think-media fixing mode for $239. It's even got a separate imaging drum so you can use cheap, refurb toner cartridges.

              How many people spend $239 on printing over 5 years? At $40/6 months (whether you use it or not, that $50 printer will tell you that you need more ink in 6 months) the ink alone is $400. You might be able to beat that with refills, but only on some printers, and many people lack the knowledge to do so on any printer. And how many of those people would be glad to have (whether they know it or not) a printer that works with any PCL/PS driver and doesn't require any particular hardware interface or operating system?

              There are reasons to buy an inkjet. Printing on things that aren't shaped like paper, for example. A need for color (particularly photo-like blended colors) on a regular basis is another. But price, either per-page or overall is not terribly compelling, even for light users.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by L33tGreg ( 1034378 )
          I have found that nice laser printers can be had on ebay for cheap because of the abundance of off-business-lease printers. You can pick up a HP 4050 with duplexer and networking for $100 or less + shipping. That's a nice B/W printer. Color are still more, but much more affordable than retail price. Business class HP LaserJets are designed to last a long time, so the fact that they are used for a few years should have little bearing on the longevity they'll provide to a home user.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by alx5000 ( 896642 )
      I'll provide a simple example. You can buy a Lexmark for 25 or less here in Spain in many places. A compatible unbranded ink cartridge for it would cost more than 35. I didn't even dare to ask how much original ones were...
    • Thats why I just said, bugger it, screw you , I rather change my whole behaviour than see someone get rich for no effort or work.

      So thats why nothing is worth printing, unless its LARGE and on the wall. Everything can be digital (oh yeah, at least 5 copies on different media)

      Thoughts of an Epson Business Analysts "Now lets see... 50cents per photo, 3 per page, 100 pages = your ink will last 30 pages at most, we make $200m profit from $6m of chemicals from india"

    • by kalirion ( 728907 ) on Thursday June 21, 2007 @09:48AM (#19593753)
      Don't you see, you don't buy the ink, you license it. Once the license runs out, you have to renew, and by ignoring the "out of ink" warning you are no better than the pirates costing the industry $10000000000000000000000000.
  • Software (Score:5, Informative)

    by Mockylock ( 1087585 ) on Thursday June 21, 2007 @09:11AM (#19593235) Homepage
    There's actually a free software that's available that can be used to reset the chips in several brands of ink cartridges. I'm not sure if you need any type of hardware, but I've heard good things about it.

    It allows you to reset the numbers and use the remainder of the ink, before it makes you replace it.

    If you ask me, the feature that stops you from using a cartridge after the ink is too low, is pretty ignorant. I think it's obvious when the ink is completely out, so why not let the user decide?
    • The argument given by the printer makers is usually that air bubbles in the ink pathway may lead to ink drying and clogging up said pathway. So completely emptying a cartridge might be potentially detrimental. Still no excuse for stopping printing at 50% capacity.
      • by plover ( 150551 ) *
        That may be their argument, but it's incomplete. "Completely emptying a cartridge might be detrimental" *to whom*? An empty cartridge is just as useless as a cartridge that isn't working. I have no use for the old cartridge in either case -- it's just pre-landfill plastic once it's empty. So I don't care if I run it down to bubbles or dried ink.
    • Re:Software (Score:5, Informative)

      by christus_ae ( 985401 ) on Thursday June 21, 2007 @09:24AM (#19593401)
      Yeah, there are a few solutions out there to reset the cartridge chip so that you can refill it.

      Inksupply [inksupply.com] seems to have a few solutions.

      British company proprint [proprint.co.uk] has some pay solutions.

      Also found this [tonik.co.uk].

      I couldn't find any "free software" solutions to the chip problem, albeit I only looked for a little while.
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Mockylock ( 1087585 )
        I think this is actually the software I was talking about.

    • SSC Service Utility (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Google for 'SSC Service Utility' for Epson printers. This allows you reset ink levels on cartridges using the printer, and can also reset the 'protection counter' on Epsons, which once at a certain level prevents you from using the printer until it has been serviced.
  • In a word (Score:5, Informative)

    by morgan_greywolf ( 835522 ) on Thursday June 21, 2007 @09:12AM (#19593245) Homepage Journal

    I've found 'extra' ink in both my Epson and HP inkjet printers. I'd use refill kits, but the cartridges tend to leak over time, and refilling takes a lot of time and effort. In the meantime, for Epson printers, just go with the el cheapo compatible cartridges from places like Inkco [inkco.us]. Epson C88 cartridges are $5 a pieces, as opposed to to ~$25 for branded cartridges.

    • I bought a $15 refill kit, got it home and then quickly found out in the instructions that the cartridge for my HP was one of the most difficult to refill that was ever made. It was pretty much like trying to stand on your head and stack BB's. Long story short after spilling our more ink than I was getting into the cartridge, I finally gave up.

      I did find out recently that our local Walgreens store has a refill-while-you-wait service now that's a fraction of the cost of a new cartridge. I keep meaning to
  • Emergency (Score:2, Informative)

    Here at work we have this HP laser printer that's always complaining about low ink. It just so happens we found an "emergency" option buried in the menus that allows us to keep printing until the toner actually dies.
  • by farker haiku ( 883529 ) on Thursday June 21, 2007 @09:13AM (#19593257) Journal
    Although I heard about it from ecogeek [ecogeek.org]. It has links to the Ars Technica article also, but I really just wanted to point out the nice Office Space picture.
    • by necro81 ( 917438 )
      Even though I think it's a fax machine in the picture, not an inkjet printer, I think it is safe to say that the image pretty well represents everyone's feelings on this matter.
  • by pipatron ( 966506 ) <pipatron@gmail.com> on Thursday June 21, 2007 @09:15AM (#19593283) Homepage
    Well, at least the printer industry is losing one customer. I've been kinda wanting one of those photo-printers for some time, but I know that they are only going to rip me off. Are there any honest printer manufacturers out there, that sells the printers for a reasonable price, and then sells the cartridges for what they actually cost to produce (plus of course, a reasonable profit margin)?
    • by gameguy56 ( 796026 ) on Thursday June 21, 2007 @09:18AM (#19593315)
      Get a Color Laser then.

      Inkjets are so 1993
    • by curmudgeous ( 710771 ) on Thursday June 21, 2007 @09:23AM (#19593371)
      I've been a long time fan of Canon photo printers, in fact I just bought a Pixma Pro9000. Their ink tanks are clear so if you doubt what the printer is saying you can eyeball it for yourself. So far it's been very accurate about remaining ink level.
      • by plover ( 150551 ) *
        I second this. I bought a Pixma i6000 a few years ago specifically because it has separate ink tanks for each color, and does not have an integrated print head in the tanks (one of the giant HP/Lexmark cost factors.) And it was fairly cheap.

        While it does give me the annoying "ink low" warning dialog fairly early, I see that only as a reminder note to hit Office Depot, not to replace a half-full tank. There is a separate dialog for "out of ink" that actually means it.

      • by zakezuke ( 229119 ) on Thursday June 21, 2007 @10:37AM (#19594455)
        I've been a long time fan of Canon photo printers, in fact I just bought a Pixma Pro9000. Their ink tanks are clear so if you doubt what the printer is saying you can eyeball it for yourself. So far it's been very accurate about remaining ink level.

        It's hard to say the true accuracy of the Canon tanks, though they do seem to be reasonably accurate. They have a chip based ink couter, but he main meter seems to be the prism, when the reservoir is empty you get a low ink warning. Less experenced people might replace the cartridge, but this indicates there is 20% left in the sponge. From there you can continue printing until the printer says "ink is out", and if you are willing to disable the meter and click the "I accept the risk".

        Canons are somewhat wasteful on their cleaning cycles. Users I know tend to say a given cartridge lasts 9 to 12 months before becoming empty. Epson in my experence is worse in terms of raw volume.

    • I've had great results with the canon i865, five huge, separate ink tanks and relatively cheap inks (the black cartridge lasts about 600 pages)

      It's not a true photo printer but it comes with a number of special accessories for printing on different media (ie: cd labelling tray, photo prints tray)

      if you are using linux i suggest the turboprint drivers from http://www.turboprint.de/ [turboprint.de]
    • Ways not to get screwed: For photo printing: I gave up on printing pictures at home. Unless you have a HQ color laser printer, it's not going to be the same as a professional print. Plus with the cost of ink, it's just cheaper to head down to walmart and pay $0.19 for a picture. If you shop around you can get even cheaper. Large print jobs: head to kinko's or look in the phone book. They have laser printers so the quality is better, and chances are large print jobs are rare enough that it wont be an incon
    • Better alternative (Score:4, Informative)

      by plover ( 150551 ) * on Thursday June 21, 2007 @10:16AM (#19594135) Homepage Journal
      A better alternative for photo printing is to have prints made at a one-hour shop, like Target or Walgreens. The cost is around $0.18 - $0.22 per print, as compared to $0.35 and up for printing on your own equipment. The colors are usually very faithful. And you can go to a professional photo house for larger images, if you need to.

      I also find that I can print quantities of pictures faster by driving to Target, giving them my SD card, and coming back in an hour. At over two minutes each to print at home, it only takes about 30 or so prints to make the whole process faster. Plus I'm not cautiously stacking damp ink prints all over the desk, hand-feeding tiny glossy sheets into the printer, and watching the ink tanks run dry. It's a lot more convenient.

      The biggest advantage, though, is the images are exposed on photographic paper and chemically processed just like a film image. The reason this is an advantage is the longevity of photographic paper is well understood. When properly cared for, color photographs are expected to last 75 years or more. Inkjet is a relatively new technology (only about 20 years old), and picture durability is still fairly unknown; although recent tests are estimating properly cared-for inkjet prints will last only 25 years, maybe less. It's definitely variable by manufacturer, paper and ink.

  • These companies have a business model of selling printers close to cost, then making ridiculously high profit margins on ink refills. What motivation do they have to tell you that an ink cartridge is empty before it really is?

    Oh, yeah...
    • I wouldn't doubt if they sell the printers BELOW cost with the insane profit margins the have on ink.
  • Inkjet? INKJET!? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Yvan256 ( 722131 ) on Thursday June 21, 2007 @09:15AM (#19593289) Homepage Journal
    Get a laser printer already. Even the color models have dropped in price.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      ...I chisel all of my important documents in stone.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Zelos ( 1050172 )
      Agreed, I'd never go back to an inkjet.You'll save more than the up-front cost difference in ink pretty quickly.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Yvan256 ( 722131 )
        Not to mention the time to print.

        Inkjet vs laser is like dial-up vs DSL/Cable.

    • A used HP LaserJet 4/4+ can often be had for $50. Plus, these things are built like tanks. They last forever and are more than adequate for home office printing needs. I have had one of these for the past four years, and never regretted it. If one of the parts wear down, such as the paper roller assembly, replacing them tends to be cheap and easy, as well.
    • by MousePotato ( 124958 ) on Thursday June 21, 2007 @09:55AM (#19593825) Homepage Journal
      Wow, this has been one of those things that really piss me off for quite some time. While it is true that the laser jet printers do better than inkjets they ALSO LIE and ARE DESIGNED TO FAIL.

      For example; I bought a laser two years ago (from a company that rhymes with hell). I bought it because I needed to print letters to clients and do things like print checks. Nothing heavily graphics intensive nor really heavy duty text work either.

      So here is what I discovered with my 'efficient' laser printer; My '5000 page' toner cartridge prints about 1000 pages. Pissed, I decided to open one up as they are about $100 for a new one.

      Lo and behold it was still full of toner. Somehow, as the printer printed the quality of the prints degraded as the toner 'ran out' a little more with each print. At the time I figured this was because there was no toner but the proof was now in my hands (and all over my desk for that matter) so I decided to investigate further. It seems that these toner cartridges use chips to tell your pc that its running out each time you print.

      Now, I'm not electronics guru, so I don't have a machine I can actually read the chip with, but I am under the impression that this chip also purposefully degrades the quality of your prints as it counts down your toner level. To test that theory I ordered some refill kits off of the web.

      First thing I noticed after doing the chip replacement was that the quality of the prints immediately improved. I printed for several weeks, noticed the quality go down again, replaced the chip (no toner added in there yet...) and viola worked beautiful. When that chip said it was empty I opened the whole thing up again and took a look. This time it was indeed very low, but not empty. I poured in the new bottle of toner and put in a new chip and went back to work.

      I usually order 3 chips for each bottle of toner I purchase . Currently I get about 4000 pages per bottle of toner. My refill purchases cost me $29 for two bottles of toner and six chips (on chip comes with each bottle and I add the other four to the order) Let's see$200 vs $29 for two 'cartridges' worth of prints... hmmm.... yeah I'll refill. Add to that the fact that the purchased carts don't get the same mileage as the refilled ones with extra chips to replace the old ones.

      I guarantee I will never buy another 'rhymes with hell' printer again.

      Caveat emptor indeed.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by drinkypoo ( 153816 )

        I guarantee I will never buy another 'rhymes with hell' printer again.

        Assuming we're talking about the same company, that is probably a rebranded Lexmark printer. Lexmark is well-known as the most assholish printer manufacturer around.

      • by Chanc_Gorkon ( 94133 ) <gorkon@nosPaM.gmail.com> on Thursday June 21, 2007 @12:21PM (#19596177)
        Unless it has a separate waste container and it likely doesn't, all of that toner that is supposedly in that cart may be waste toner. We have waste containers in our big ones to catch it. I am betting most companies just dump it somewhere in the bottom of the cart. Lasers DO waste alot of toner, but not nearly as bad as inkjets.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by StikyPad ( 445176 )
          I'd never heard of waste toner -- and I've never had a problem with toner running out before expected EOL on my old Epson laser -- but I Googled and found this [computing.co.uk]. Looks like my next laser will be a Toshiba.
  • Considering inkjet printers are sold at or sometimes below cost. The only profit made is on the cartridges themselves. I don't like their solution of making people think they're on empty far before that actually happens, but in no way does this shock me.
    • Which makes me wonder, why not just sell the damn printer at a profit and then stop going so anal about the ink? People will need ink regardless of how much the printer cost.

      I'd rather pay more for a proper PS printer, than less for some junk windows printer that takes 5mL ink cartridges that run out every 100 pages.

      • It's because they want market share. Mom / grandma going into a store will more often buy price and not have a clue that the consumables will end up costing here 5 times more than the other brand of printer that is only $30 more.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Zocalo ( 252965 )

        Which makes me wonder, why not just sell the damn printer at a profit and then stop going so anal about the ink?

        Ask Gillette [wikipedia.org].

    • Makes me wonder... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by porcupine8 ( 816071 )
      I've had problems several times with buying generic ink cartridges for my HP. Either the printer thinks it's empty when the cartridge is brand-new, or one color conks out soon after it's installed. And these aren't the supercheap online dollar-bin cartridges, they're just Target or OfficeMax store brands.

      Now you've got me wondering if it's not so much a problem with the generic cartridges as some problem with the printer that makes it recognize the generics and not use them properly. *eyes printer suspici

  • Surprised? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by db32 ( 862117 ) on Thursday June 21, 2007 @09:17AM (#19593301) Journal
    Given all of the insanity surrounding refilling ink cartridges, DMCA lawsuits, "authenticity checks" on cartridges, and the give them the printer sell them the cartridges style business is anyone, anyone at all, even remotely surprised, maybe even just raised an eyebrow, that the vendors would stoop so low as to have the printer lie to you to get you to go buy another "DMCA protected authentic cartridge we are gunna sue you if you try to refill it" item that costs nearly as much as the stupid printer did in the first place as often as possible?

    I am just gunna call "well duh" on this whole thing. I have worked with HP laserjets that told me I had 200 pages left that I could print. After printing 192 pages it told me I could still print 320 pages. All said and done that day, I had printed some 500 pages and its final number was that I could still print another 250ish pages. Whether they lie, or their math is freaking horrible for figuring it out is up for debate I suppose, but given the problems we have had with that same model and HP accusing us of theft because a brand new HP cartridge out of the box was determined to be not authentic by the stupid machine...well I assume they are just out for blood. 4 hours of fighting with their technician to have them exchange the stupid cartridge.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by ivan256 ( 17499 )

      I have worked with HP laserjets that told me I had 200 pages left that I could print. After printing 192 pages it told me I could still print 320 pages. All said and done that day, I had printed some 500 pages and its final number was that I could still print another 250ish pages.

      With laser printers, what you're describing isn't all that uncommon, because the toner hopper is the width of the drum, but the sensor on most printers is at one end. If the printer isn't level, all the toner ends up at one end o

    • I buy printers with a simple translucent toner cartridge (or several for color units) that does not have any "chip" built in. True, this "workgroup" printer costs more than a SOHO printer, but it is worth it. I really don't like the "toner / drum" combo units. Look at any large office copier - do they have toner / drum combo units? No. It's ALWAYS separate. Those drums are designed to handle 5-10X the amount of usage that the amount of toner included can print. Why replace it?
    • but given the problems we have had with that same model and HP accusing us of theft because a brand new HP cartridge out of the box was determined to be not authentic by the stupid machine...well I assume they are just out for blood.

      Just want to note that it's possible you bought a counterfeit cartridge, we've had issues with these at my office -- had to change suppliers.

      Another thing that comes to mind is the issue that came up a lot a few years ago, where empty cartridges seriously screwed with inkjet pr

      • Given that HP et al lose money on the printers they sell, I woludn't be surprised if part of the early warning to buy another cartridge has to do with

        You forgot the one about selling you another ink cartridge .

        • Since we were discussing why they would give *early* notice, how is that differentiated from giving notice when the cartridge is really about to be empty?

          Yeah, yeah, you can talk about selling extra cartridges due to people tossing half-full cartridges, but given TFS and TFA, why would I bother posting something so redundant?
  • by Junior J. Junior III ( 192702 ) on Thursday June 21, 2007 @09:18AM (#19593309) Homepage
    I don't own a printer at home, and don't want one. They're too expensive to operate and maintain. I find that I can do nearly everything I want to do electronically. When I do need to print something out, I'll go to a place like Kinko's and do it there. This has the added benefit of forcing me to really think about whether I truly need a paper copy, and most often I find I can do without. The overhead of having a non-shitty printer at home that I have to take care of just isn't worth it for me.
  • by FuzzyDaddy ( 584528 ) on Thursday June 21, 2007 @09:19AM (#19593319) Journal
    I remember when I first got an inkjet printer, years and years ago, when they first came out. I had been using a dot matrix printer for a long time, and laser printers were way too expensive.

    The letter quality was amazing compared to my dot matrix, and when they started printing in color, and I could print photos, it was great.

    Somewhere along the line, the price gouging for ink came about. I had an epson 740 for a long time, and bought ink from some third party source at very reasonable prices (~$10/ cartridge). The ink was just as good as anything else I'd used, as far as I could tell.

    I had the sad wake up call about a year ago, when the epson 740 finally died. I looked and looked for a printer that would accept third party ink cartridges, and couldn't find anything reasonable. My wife's in grad school, and does a lot of printing, so I eventually went with a Brother laser printer that ran me about $150, plus $75 or so for a toner cartridge. (Although after many months, we're still using the "starter" cartridge.)

    Because my old printer hung on for so long, I was rather abruptly thrust into this brave new world of ink pricing and vendor lock in. It's sad to realize that the five year old printer I had, because of the availability of third party ink cartridges, was a far better product than anything I could buy today. I'm afraid the same thing will happen to laser printers at some point, and who knows what I'll do. Perhaps that will finally push us into the paperless lifestyle we were all promised a decade ago.

  • by pandrijeczko ( 588093 ) on Thursday June 21, 2007 @09:19AM (#19593323)
    ...as this can only explain the popularity of mobile phones & inkjet printers; both are a total 100% rip-off.

    Inkjet ink works out to be more expensive, by volume, than the most expensive Bollinger champagne which is why the money-grabbing manufacturers can virtually give the printers away but rip you off for cartridges. In some cases, it is actually cheaper to throw the printer away and buy a new one than it is to buy replacement cartridges - how *GREAT* is that for our environment.

    Grow up, people! Take your nicely-edited photos down to a printing booth or shop and get your photos printed in *MUCH BETTER QUALITY* and at a cheaper cost than what you can do on a home inkjet. Then invest in a cheap laser printer to just print letters and documents when you need to.

    And the sooner VoIP phones and wireless access kicks out the price-fixing cellular phone providers, the better...

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      I enjoy photography and I tried using the (several) inkjets I have at home.

      profiling them is a PITA (for color accuracy) and it even depends on the {ink, paper} combo to get the colors right. using different paper this time? oh, you don't have a good calibrated profile for that one? too bad ;(

      its slow, its expensive and worst of all, its KNOWN that the manufacturers are bilking the users at every opp.

      I don't print photos anymore (I just upload for online viewing); but if I did, it would be at costco (for
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by jimicus ( 737525 )
      Inkjet ink works out to be more expensive, by volume, than the most expensive Bollinger champagne

      Agreed. That's why I don't bother refilling ink cartridges with ink any more. I use vintage champagne instead.

      The results are disappointing, but I can drink anything that's left over in the "refill kit" after I've finished refilling the cartridge.
  • Ummm.... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Otter ( 3800 ) on Thursday June 21, 2007 @09:22AM (#19593359) Journal
    1) Reporting "Empty" when a single color in a multi-ink cartridge runs out is hardly "lying".

    2) It's pretty easy for Epson to have rigged the test so that multi-ink cartridges did particularly badly (although in my experience they really are that wasteful).

    3) Assuming accurate wording of the message, I'd much prefer to get a warning when the ink is low but there's time to get a replacement than to get it only at the last possible moment -- I can figure out for myself when the ink is really gone. The article claims users rush to change cartridges as soon as a message pops up, but those workers are a lot more proactive than those in any office I've ever worked in.

    • Re:Ummm.... (Score:5, Informative)

      by PHPee ( 559830 ) on Thursday June 21, 2007 @09:24AM (#19593409) Homepage

      I used to work at an outsourced call centre, supporting Epson printers and scanners. By far the biggest customer complaints we received always had to do with printers wasting ink.

      During our training, and from talking to various Epson reps, we learned that the printer doesn't actually monitor the amount of ink in each cartridge. Rather, it estimates the amount left, based on the various print settings chosen.

      The worst part is that on many printers, once it "thinks" it's out of ink, it will no longer print until you change the cartridge. In some older printers, you could simply remove the cartride and then put it back into place, tricking it into thinking you replaced it with a new cartridge. However, this would make the ink monitor even less accurate. Newer printers won't even allow this, because the circuitry on the cartridge itself will lock you out once it has reached the estimated empty level.

      There are some tools available that let you reset the "intelligent cartridges" so that they can be refilled and reused, but of course they aren't supported by Epson and may void your warranty.

      • Re:Ummm.... (Score:4, Interesting)

        by morie ( 227571 ) on Thursday June 21, 2007 @09:59AM (#19593895) Homepage
        My tool? sticky tape. Works like a charm on HP: tape of one contact, insert cartridge, tape of another, insert, then remove all tape and reinsert. It seems to have a memory of 3 cartridges.
      • by Otter ( 3800 )
        The worst part is that on many printers, once it "thinks" it's out of ink, it will no longer print until you change the cartridge.

        I'd wondered if that's what they were talking about in this study, but the article (which doesn't have a link to the study itself, so maybe it's misleading) seems to be referring to the gap between when a message pops up and when printing stops, not to users being locked out with ink still left.

    • Isn't the problem that they refuse to print more, when it's "out of ink"? Due to some made-up excuse?
  • What usually goes on in this type of situation is that they see themselves as honest and they don't go out of their way to outright lie... but on the other hand, why make a big effort to fix inaccuracies?
  • You get what? 200 sheets from a cartridge costing £20? CPP of £0.10
    Then of course, the ink dries up within a week, clogging the cartridges so you're likely to get even less than 200 sheets.

    Does anyone with a brain still use Inkjets? Particularly when colour lasers only cost about £120.

  • by brxndxn ( 461473 ) on Thursday June 21, 2007 @09:25AM (#19593415)
    I bought an HP Photosmart D7360 a few months ago.. Since then, I've printed at least a thousand 4x6 photos. I've changed the ink a bunch of times.. but I always wait until I finally see a photo print with low ink.

    However, if I use the lame HP software that starts up with my computer (and slows it down quite a bit), it flat out refuses to let me print unless I change 'empty' cartriges first. It also annoys the living hell out of me with 'low ink' popups while I'm playing video games or doing other things - like the printer is the whole fucking reason I exist.

    In Ubuntu, I just use whatever driver it found for my printer... and I can print beautiful prints with 'empty' cartriges. It pisses me off..

    But, I will admit, I really do get about 200 4x6 photos with a single set of cartriges like HP advertises.. this is the first printer I've had (besides laser of course) that actually lives up to how many prints it advertises.

    • by 140Mandak262Jamuna ( 970587 ) on Thursday June 21, 2007 @09:55AM (#19593823) Journal
      That is why they are moving the monitoring from computer into the cartridge itself. Once the "intelligent" cartridge determines that it is time to make you pay another tribute/ransom to the mother ship, it will simply lock you out. No more tricks like using Ubuntu to evade what, the printer makers believe, is their rightful claim to your wallet.
    • by Nimey ( 114278 )

      I bought an HP Photosmart D7360

      Stop. That's your mistake right there.

      1) Don't buy an inkjet unless you need color and can't afford a cheap color laser, or you really want to print photos.
      2) Don't buy an inkjet from HP. Or anyone but Canon. Canon is the only non-evil inkjet maker I'm aware of.
  • From the article:

    The second issue is a familiar one: multi-ink cartridges can be rendered "empty" when only one color runs low. Multi-ink cartridges store three to five colors in a single cartridge. Printing too many photos from the air show will kill your cartridge faster than you can say "blue skies," as dominant colors (say, "blue") are used faster than the others.

    That's interesting. I had never thought of how much ink was potentially being wasted by using a printer with a multi-color ink cartridge. I always just thought it was easier so I leaned towards printers that used a single 'color' ink cartridge. Now I know better.

  • Why do some people need to insert caps where none truly exist[1]? It's not just "inkjet" as in this article's title. I've also seen it with Firefox and the old 3dfx Voodoo video cards, and many other words which I've thankfully forgotten.

    [1] Ignoring marketroid-speak like CompuServe, which was at least the official name.
  • by multiOSfreak ( 551711 ) <culturejam&gmail,com> on Thursday June 21, 2007 @09:31AM (#19593527) Homepage Journal
    I've got a Canon S750, and it is great on reporting ink levels. It also has three separate color cartridges, which is nice. There have a been a few times when it was over zealous in reporting low ink, but all I had to do was take the cartridge out and put it back in and it ran fine until it was actually out of ink.
  • we are humans right? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by escay ( 923320 ) on Thursday June 21, 2007 @09:32AM (#19593533) Journal

    so wait - the inkjets report that cartridge needs replacement and people just do it? whatever happened to visual inspection?! We have a Dell color printer (laser, not inkjet but same argument) which starts giving out the "replace cartridge soon" message about ~1000 pages in advance. So we buy the cartridge, keep it on hand, and only replace it when we actually see that the print quality is considerably degraded. I can understand the problem if the inkjet stops printing anything at all based on its preemptive warning messages (like a software lockdown), but if it continues to work irrespective of the amount of ink then just look at the output and make your decision.

    In fact, I would rather have the machine give the warning earlier than later so I can have one ordered and ready to replace when the need comes, instead of waiting for all the ink to dry out and the printer goes out of service until the cartridges arrive.

    • At first I wanted to make the same comment, about just replace when _you_ see that the prints get bad. But I read in other posts that the current drivers not only give you a warning, but also stop printing until you replace the cartridge. That makes this a real issue.

      The Lexmark I had 5 years ago didn't have this behaviour, but it's easy to see why the printer guys have added this "feature" :). In my case, I was mostly anoyed by the cartridges drying out when not printing for a few weeks.

      OK, solved this lon
  • Suppose you run out of one color of ink, and your prints all have a yellow cast. I think in that situation it would report you were out of ink and you'd throw away the cartridge.

    On the other hand, there's no reason that should happen with black. Unless it's a photo printer doing black and whites that has part of it's gray system used.

    Things may have changed since I last bought a printer, but epson was the least evil back then. You could buy generic cartridges for the printer, you could even refill your
  • by smittyoneeach ( 243267 ) * on Thursday June 21, 2007 @09:36AM (#19593583) Homepage Journal
    They grab that tube, start at one end of the brush, and just hammer that brush, covering it to the last bristle with toothpaste.
    Is the cleanliness of the teeth proportional to the amount of paste used? No.
    Are sales driven by encouraging people to use more product? Yes.
    Why does the 'corporate we' seem so surprised when we occasionally wake up and realize that vendors are trying to cajole more sales?
  • by John3 ( 85454 ) <(moc.sllenroc) (ta) (3nhoj)> on Thursday June 21, 2007 @09:40AM (#19593641) Homepage Journal
    We use Epson inkjet receipt printers at my hardware store and we put a small piece of masking tape over the cartridge ink window. We find that we get an extra week or two of use out of a cartridge by covering the ink window. When the ink runs out (i.e. the receipt is blank) we swap the cartridge.

  • Does anyone not know this? How many printers have you kept using when it says "ink low", "ink extremely low", "go buy a new ink cartridge" and it still has ink in it? Maybe it's out on the color side, but in black and white, you can still print for a long time. If you're willing to accept 'economy mode' or slightly faded copy, you can print for a LONG time even on an "empty" black cartridge before it truly runs out and just prints a white sheet.
  • Having personally lost an Epson printer by letting a cartridge run until it was dry... and wasting time and money replacing the cartridge, running cleaning cycles, replacing the cartridge again (yes, I'm an idiot... but I've gotten bad cartridges from time to time), running more cleaning cycles, going online and trying various suggestions for homebrew ways to clean Epson nozzles... ...I have to admit I'm pretty leery about actually running the cartridge dry.

    I have another Epson now (I told you I was an idio
  • by Ancient_Hacker ( 751168 ) on Thursday June 21, 2007 @10:25AM (#19594273)
    I have unfortunate first-person experience for why printers underestimate the amount of ink:
    • They sell more expensive ink that way.
    • You'll notice your typical printing regimen uses much less yellow than the other shades, so if it's a trui-color cartridge, unless you're printing a lot of "skin tones", the yellow section will tend to still be mostly full when the other ones have run out, or at least "low".
    • Many printers try to estimate the amount of ink used, but if you remove a print cartridge or reset the printer EROM, or the cartridge contacts get intermittent, many printers when they see a "unknown but used cartridge, assume it has unknown quantity and assume the worst.
    • The printers with separate print heads and ink cartridges have a serious problem-- if the printhead runs out of ink the little teeasy tiny microscopic print head resistors blow out, requiring an expensive $40 printhead. On a HP D1xx printer, there are four of these. So the printer signals "ink low" when it's really probably still 1/3 full, just to protect the printheads.
    • The printers with separate print heads and ink cartridges can get air-bubbles in the plumbing between ink cartridge and printhead if the ink runs low, leading to poor printing and printhead blowouts, so again they thy to err on the safe side.
    Not very good reasons, but there they are...

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