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HP & Staples Collude On $8,000/Gallon Ink? 442

I Don't Believe in Imaginary Property writes "HP and Staples are facing an anti-trust lawsuit over replacement printer cartridges. According to the lawsuit, HP paid Staples $100 million to refuse to stock competing ink cartridges. HP could make that back in short order when you consider that printer ink can cost $8,000 per gallon and certain printers deceive users to waste as much as 64% of their ink."
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HP & Staples Collude On $8,000/Gallon Ink?

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  • by Jack Malmostoso ( 899729 ) on Wednesday December 19, 2007 @09:12AM (#21750440)
    Prices of various liquids per mL:
    http://eatliver.com/i.php?n=2648 [eatliver.com]
    As Jeremy Clarkson noted in Top Gear: the fact that oil companies extract oil, refine it, distribute it all for a few cents a liter is actually amazing. Gasoline is extremely cheap!
  • by bigsexyjoe ( 581721 ) on Wednesday December 19, 2007 @09:25AM (#21750524)
    Go to Cartridge World, or even Walgreens now. They will refill your ink very cheaply. You need to print a couple of pages to get the ink to come out, but after that, it is as good as new.
  • by tylersoze ( 789256 ) on Wednesday December 19, 2007 @09:28AM (#21750542)
    Wow, I think I last used a personal printer around the same time I last used a floppy, 1998 maybe? :) I remember buying a cheapo ($10, couldn't pass it up) inkjet a couple of years ago just to have one and never once used the darn thing. Now I have used the one at work a couple of times to print airline boarding passes but that's about it.
  • by mobybeaver ( 860261 ) on Wednesday December 19, 2007 @09:38AM (#21750620)
    If HP paying Staples $100 million to not carry competitors' products is collusion, shouldn't we consider the HD-DVD camp paying Paramount and Dreamworks $150 million to not release Blu-ray titles collusion?
  • Old news (Score:5, Informative)

    by ledow ( 319597 ) on Wednesday December 19, 2007 @09:41AM (#21750640) Homepage
    Haven't personally used an inkjet for about six years. Laser all the way. You can get colour networked laser for home use for about £300, with reasonable sized toners. I even have a Samsung that have a refillable combined toner/drum that's only on it's second actual toner/drum and has been refilled dozens and dozens of times from a £10 toner bottle. Perfect prints every time, used every single day.

    The amount of time you need colour is pitiful, and for home use (business should not be using inkjet, no excuse) it's virtually all for photos - that's the only real time a laser can't cut it, when you want a small glossy. Then, taking your photos on a card down to the local supermarket works out much, much, much cheaper. My brother bought a load of second-hand HP Laserjet 4MV's on eBay - all ex-business, all done about 100,000 pages minimum, all still going strong five years later and toner is dirt cheap and easy to come by. This is a person who prints out 50 copies of 100-page brochures every week.
  • by moosesocks ( 264553 ) on Wednesday December 19, 2007 @10:07AM (#21750884) Homepage

    It makes sense if you think about it. If your printer is a replacement, you already have a USB cable so there's no sense in you having another. Having gone through a fair few printers (They just die from use) since USB became the standard connection, I'm kinda glad. There are only so many uses for USB A-B cables.

    Inkjets do indeed tend to break easily, especially cheap ones. (Some of HP's expensive ones have a rather strong proclivity to die early as well.)

    Old Laser printers, on the other hand, tend to last forever. I've had the same HP Laserjet 5P since 1995, and even with heavy daily use, it's showing no signs of breaking or becoming obsolete. As an added bonus, the toner cartridges can last for years on end depending upon how much you print.

    It was a rather expensive printer in its day, but it's undoubtedly paid for itself many times over.
  • Re:So How Long (Score:4, Informative)

    by Yvan256 ( 722131 ) on Wednesday December 19, 2007 @10:35AM (#21751146) Homepage Journal
    You don't really need a new printer. What you need is a Continuous Flow Systems [inksupply.com]. Never used one myself, but it does fit your description and is available today for a lot of printer models.
  • by FuzzyDaddy ( 584528 ) on Wednesday December 19, 2007 @10:53AM (#21751322) Journal
    I got a brother HL2040 when my wife entered graduate school. The lights flicker when it's printing, but it's been going strong for a year and I've only just swapped out the partially filled toner cartridge that came with the printer with a full one. And I spent less than $200, including a new, full toner cartridge.

    I don't know why the laser printer manufacturers haven't started playing the same games as the inkjet people. Is it a historic fluke, or is there some technical or legal reason why toner isn't $8000 a pound?

  • WARNING (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 19, 2007 @12:35PM (#21752544)
    WARNING: That Tinyurl link goes to a url that was being warned about yesterday. Luckily, I had the Tinyurl Preview [tinyurl.com] feature turned on. You should too.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 19, 2007 @12:54PM (#21752852)
    ...You _could_ be damaging your printer by doing this.

    Full disclosure : I work for Staples (albeit an overseas division, not the USA/Corperate). Hence the reason I'm not logged in - I don't want this causing me problems at work. That said, I'm probably not high enough level for that anyway. :P

    Inkjet printers (mostly) stop working when a cartridge is empty or near empty to stop air getting into the lines and heads. If air gets into them, remnants can dry up inside, effectively blocking the machine on that colour stream. The problem is more likely to occur on newer machines - the reason bieng that the higher resolutions available today require narrower heads that are easier to block.

    The problem from the manufacturers point of view is that a customer won't care _why_ their printer has 'broken', they'll just care that it has. Result? Manufacturers rely on technological measures to try and prevent the end-user from damaging the machine in the first place.

    This is also the reason that a machine will run a cleaning cycle every two or three days of it's own accord. People complain that it wastes ink - but it's the machine trying to protect itself.

    Best advice I can give you if you're looking at printers is to consider your needs. Unless you're printing photos, or onto specialist papers regularly enough to an warrant an inkjet, a laser is almost always a better alternative in the long term. A laser based machine cannot print to textured paper (it will scar the imaging drums and leave marks/lines in subsequent prints), and you need to be careful when buying photo paper - inkjet papers normally aren't heat treated, and will collapse when they go through a laser printers fuser.

    That said, laser printers are cheaper to run, lower maintenance (paper dust doesn't screw them up as badly), quieter, faster, and dont give bleedthrough on the cheap papers (ie, better prints).

    If you have to stick with an inkjet, don't buy cheap because the cheap ones are always subsidised on the inks. Certain manufacturers don't chip the cartridges (allowing you to use refills without having to modify the firmware or software environment), and Brother go so far as to tell you how to refill their cartridges in the manual.

    Integrated heads (Epson, Brother, Canon, and some newer HP printers) won't require recalibration when you change cartridges, and are less likely to give banding artifacts, but normally require a techician to replace if they go bad or reach the end of their service life.

    Replaceable heads (Most Hp printers, Lexmark, and Canon (they have integrated heads that can be user-replaced when they wear out)) require calibration on change, and are generally less suited to high-quality photo prints and the likes, but if you're printing to very rough papers, or in high dust environments, or very infrequently, will be a lot less hassle than the integrated solutions.

    Basically, use your head and you'll be fine.

    Wow that was long. :/
  • Re:$100 million, eh? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Firethorn ( 177587 ) on Wednesday December 19, 2007 @12:56PM (#21752874) Homepage Journal
    Having worked with soda machines a bit, I don't think that I've ever seen a propriatary connector. There are different connectors for different kinds of mixes, depending on the mixing equipment and the volume expected.

    The biggest problem with switching between the two would be purging the lines of the old beverage.

  • by cheros ( 223479 ) on Thursday December 20, 2007 @06:43AM (#21762822)
    I tend to stick my printers on a USB print server, all systems using it as TCP and one using it as remote USB to manage it occasionally (presently using a Hp Officejet Pro K550).

    I liked the Canon 4500 (I think it's called Pixma or something) because it can also print CDs, but when I checked Linux compatibility it was poor. So I decided not to buy it.

    HP support for Linux is very good, and until Canon gets a clue in the direction I'm afraid HP wins the deal - I use mostly Linux, a bit of Windows and I plan to buy a Macbook next year as well. There is no way I'll buy a printer that isn't properly supported under Linux..

If I had only known, I would have been a locksmith. -- Albert Einstein