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Printer ink cartridge prices: A rip-off or what?


Printer ink cartridge prices: A rip-off or what?

First I'd like to apologize if this comes off as a rant, but this has been bugging me for quite some time. Recently I went to the local giant retailer to buy some replacement ink cartridges. The colors and black cartridges needed replacing, and in total the four cartridges would cost me more than $60 dollars. While looking at the cartridges I couldn't help but notice that some of the HP inkjet printers on the shelves cost less than my four replacement cartridges. And for $10 dollars more I could just buy a brand-new printer similar to mine with fresh ink and all. I was quite baffled and I struggled to understand this logic. For a while I stood there debating whether I should just buy a newer printer instead of replacement ink, but then I thought what a waste it would be, as my printer at home works perfectly fine.

I just don't understand the logic here; why are ink cartridges so darn expensive? My four cartridges cost as much as a brand-new printer. Why wouldn't you just buy new printers every time the ink ran out? Long story short, I ended buying the cartridges, but I felt cheated knowing that the cartridges cost more if not the same as a new printer. Surely I can't be the only one who feels this way. Are there alternatives to buying those expensive cartridges or am I stuck having to go through this debate again several months down the line? How does everyone else deal with it? Opinions welcome. Thank you in advance.

--Submitted by Marilyn M.

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Ink refill kit

Frankly, I've been using SimplyInk's refill kits for my HP cartridges, and I'm very pleased. You soon get enough practice to refill in a flash, even without gloves.

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Cartridges also may not work after a certain date

At least on some of their printers, and HP and maybe other manufacturers will have an expiry date printed on the cartridge box. This is not a suggested "best before" date. The printer actually gets the date from the computer and checks against the date on a chip in the cartridge, and will not work with that cartridge after that date. Changing the date on your computer can fool this check, but messes up anything to do with dates on your computer, so not a recommended solution. <span id="INSERTION_MARKER"> <span id="INSERTION_MARKER">

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Cartridges stop working after 3 months irrespective of use

I have a HP Photosmart Printer which seemed to be a good buy at around $ 120 since the guy told me that it's ink never dries. However, the software ensures that the printer ink shown diminishes with time, irrespective of whether the printer was used or not. I sparsely print (6-10 prints a month) and what I took for convenience has turned out to be very inconvenient. Two and a half years after I took the printer, the head clogged and failed and the replacement for this small plastic piece is around 1/3rd of the original the price. The cartridges are around $40-50 for the four cartridges. If I had been a teenager, i would have said HP sucks (India).

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I ditched the ink

Totally agreeing with your troubles with expensive cartridges. I personally don't print a lot, and my ink would always dry out before it was actually empty, this wasting more money. Being hired to be a printer technician I ended up learning of the best alternative for this problem. Laser printers. I learned how they worked, and came to the conclusion that they are superior in almost every way.
Toner cartridges may be more expensive vs ink cartridges, but they print many times more than a single cartridge could ever do. No ink to deal with, so no drying out and wasting half empty cartridges either. I would say once your current ink runs out, shop around and you can get a decent laser printer on sale somewhere, and lose the headache of that ink printer.

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This is a good strategy

I did the same, laser monochrome printer and Epson 5 colour and black inkjet for the colour photos and very occasional need for colour text, though you can achieve most of the highlighting necessary on the mono laser with italics and bold or different fonts.

A few thoughts, though. Many laser printers also now come with "starter load" cartridges and so the buy a new printer every time doesn't work so well! Lasers, though, are always cheaper per page than inkjets, even the colour lasers, though I don't think the laser photo quality is as good (personal view). I would suggest not buying spare cartridges too far in advance, the toner can settle (shake before installing) but on some printers you can tend to get a black line where the toner has settled in the exit slot, which can take a few hundred pages to clear (personal experience!).

For inkjets, my printer has separate colour cartridges, which I recommend, on three colour systems you always seem to exhaust yellow first, so just replace that one and on 5 colour systems, it's the light cyan that goes first (I guess three colour systems use yellow to lighten the cyan and magenta).

I've had some success with refilling cartridges - you can refill twice before the quality degrades but you do need to get hold of a chip resetter for some printer brand cartridges, otherwise, once the chip says the cartridge is empty, no amount of refilling will persuade it otherwise (my resetter cost $15 from a friendly local cartridge refill store). You can buy cartridges from such stores - take your old ones in, they remanufacture them. Cost is usually one third to one half of OEM. I've used CartridgeWorld, which I believe is international but there are many others. And from specialist ink suppliers, you can buy an attachment for some printers (I've seen Epson and Brother) that have an adaptor that fits in the printer where the cartridges would normally go and have a feed unit for bulk ink bottles. The ink is still expensive but at least not the price of Dior perfume!

One last thought, Phaser used to make solid ink printers, they used ink sticks, which the printer melted as needed and they then worked like an inkjet. I've no idea if these printers are still available but they were cheaper to run than pure inkjets, as I recall.

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Another laser convert

I bought a color laser on sale a few years ago and still haven't bought a toner cartridge. I know the photos are supposed to be inferior, but I can't see the difference unless it's from a professional grade ink photo printer.

Xerox bought out Phaser yeas ago. They still sell the solid ink printers as Xerox printers with Phaser as the model name. They sell color lasers under that model name as well.

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I used to use a solid ink printer years ago..

under the Tektronix label, and they were awesome! But they were extremely expensive back then! I've been watching the brand name you are using, and figured they were a winner; but I still want to print to DVD occasionally. So I'm stuck with ink jet technology for now.

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Your right about the starter toner cartridges..

But I bought a Brother 5 years ago, and am still using the starter cartridge!!! I don't print very often, but when I do I only usually need black and white. None the less, I bet I've printed over 5000 pages and no end it sight yet! I must admit, though - I'd like to print color inkjet to DVD soon. I think I'll start with Brother. I used to use Canon for ordinary printing, and they were the bomb for inkjet color printing. However, I got tired of paying 50 dollars every other month for ink. I tried every after market source I could find, including well rated ones, and it just really didn't work.

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Two points about your post

In the five colour systems, instead of printing the missing light cyan or magenta, the regular cyan or magenta was used, but left with more white space to make the print look lighter. The reason for the light coloured inks is to avoid the extra white space as it sometimes didn't look as smooth as they can be with the lighter inks.

The Phaser "ink" sticks were actually just coloured wax. When you wanted to print, the wax was heated to its melting point and then worked just as inkjets do. Keeping them in the melted state would lose volume (and therefore $) due to evaporation, so it had to cool to a solid between printing sessions. This continued melting and solidifying also wasted ink, what proportion of the original volume depended on how much you printed at an average session. The more you printed, the less wastage as the ink was remelted less often between refills.

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Forgot another point

Since the Phaser printers use melted wax, the prints were easily damaged by scratching or if the sheets rubbed too hard against each other. The wax was also very vulnerable at folds in the paper. The wax would actually crack at the fold line, which wasn't pretty. Many print shops used the Phaser for printing proofs, but would use other more expensive systems to print the final result (and at those prices, mostly for runs in the many hundreds if not thousands of copies). The Phasers were OK for one-offs as well, but you did have to be careful how you handled the prints. Leaving them in the car on a hot day was a recipe for disaster, with the ink on the pages running, and stacked pages sticking together.

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I ditched the ink - New!

I found I was having to buy new ink cartridges for my color HP inkjet when I did very little color printing, even if only printing in B&W mode. I found out through the web that ink cartridges also had a use by date built into them & the printer would just shut down as it was supposed to affect the print heads. A few years ago I looked for a B&W inkjet to no avail & as the price of laser printers had come down I bought a B&W laser printer & have had no problems with it as medaele has already noted above.

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There is a website for that...

I remember reading that you could reset the chip for that problem with many brand names, but I don't have the URL - sorry!

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Not for the HP date issue

You could reset the chips that to fool printers that the cartridge hasn't been refilled, but to my knowledge not the HP date deadlines. They may have come out with that since I last looked into it, so I may be wrong about that, but if you want to buy an HP printer with the intention of refilling the cartridges, make sure you will be able to do so before you buy the printer.

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What about dye sublimation? Is that a good substitute for wax, or is it the same technology?

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Dye sub good for some things

Dye sublimation printers use wax pellets, similar to a crayon. The print head is pulsed and the heat creates droplets of liquid wax that is left on the paper. These printers produce brilliant color that are publication ready quality. However, this comes at a price. The paper is specially coated to hold the wax droplets properly and the paper is too expensive for every day printing.
If you need to produce camera ready, or publishing ready photos and graphics, then a dye sublimation printer may be a good choice, especially if you have a monochrome laser or secondary ink jet for regular printing.
Hope this helps.

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Thanks sparker55!

I'm sure others here appreciate your post as well! Happy

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I ditched the ink - response

So where do buy your toner and how much do you pay and do you stick with OEM brand? I have a Samsung ML-1865 with the OEM toner costing about $65 regardless where I buy it - ending up at Fry's. I've tried some discount brands and found they either short you some toner or have not good quality print so I'm sticking with OEM. I use the Samsung for daily B & W printing and switch over to a Brother MFC-J430W ink jet all in one printer/fax/scanner etc. when I need color. Each unit I got for under $100. new.

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I am probably number 3 or 4 hp printer I have found that when the printer indicates it needs ink - do not replace the cartridge - you can still print several more pages on the cartridge - in fact I print until I get black streaks on the paper then I know the cartridge is empty

I buy my ink online from walmart - found they have the best prices - have a friend that bought a Kodak printer that had individual print cartridges but don't think they are being made anymore - he said the ink was cheap. I would love a laser printer - had them at work - we could print off thousands of sheets of paper without running out of ink - printed legal documents so went thru lots of pages

I don't know what the solution is - I would not recommend the refill kits because a friend used one and it leaked into printer ruining the printer

I don't buy a lot of ink and try to use sparingly

I think the printer/ink manufacturers need to come up with a solution for the ink - sure they sell a lot of printers and computers

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There is new technology in refill tech now.

And the ink isn't poisonous. I keep up with the news, but I don't always save the URL to these developments.

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Kodak printer - cheap ink - terrible printer

I have a Kodak printer and I hate it. The cartridges are a bit cheaper but if you use it only occasionally, as I do, then the cartridges dry up and are useless. I tried keeping them in a plastic bag with a small piece of wet cotton wool - that didn't work. The printer inks can be put in brand new and the printer will say I'm out of ink. At the moment it will only print in dark blue. It's not an old printer. I'm sick of the whole printer business. I wonder if there are any decent printers out there or whether to start hand writing everything again!

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I had better luck..

with Canon for ink that would last during inactive periods. I was still unsatisfied with the cost. I think I'll try Brother next time, for inkjet printing. Maybe third party ink will work for those.

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OEM lazer, AM inkjet

I'm with you. I found the OEM Lazer superior, and since I occasionally write checks, I want the best "ink" you can put on paper. Had a Samsung, 7+ years and replaced it with a Brother lazer. I like both machines. For Inkjet I went aftermarket cartridges, then to filling my own for my Brother MFC, until it finally clogged 3 years later. Now I have an HP, "expensive" cartridge inkjet printer. The color is superior to my old MFC Brother, but it cost 3 times as much, so it should. It uses the "chip" cartridge. My question is: Somewhere while reading, an aftermarket company suggested their ink is superior because it is a pigmented ink, as oppose to an alcohol based ink. Any truth in this? Is there a quality difference? How about how it sticks to the paper?

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Since I really only print in Black and White, can I use/replace just the black cartridge?
I have a Canon MX300. Nice little printer, scanner fax but same story with the expensive inks drying out from little usage. I wouldn't mind replacing only the black if it would work.
Thanks, Bob O'Brien

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You just can't win either way!

Once I did use ink cartridges but most of the time, I found the print quality unsatisfactory. I have been using laser printers for years now. BW Toner cartridges are pretty expensive but they last a while and I print a lot. The cost of the toner cartridges for the color are through the roof as you need 4 cartridges (at least mine does). Fortunately, I don't use the color printer as much.

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At any give time...

brand names will offer cheap color refills; but this changes over time. So brand loyalty doesn't count anymore. The user reviews on consumer sites pretty much tell the story.

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kind of hard

to print photos on a laser printer.

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True - but..

If you use a laser for black & white every day printing and switch to solid ink or ink jet for everything else - I've found the pocket book loves me! Cool

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Re: print photos on a laser printer

Do it all the time, on photo paper. Prints amazingly well.

Ink-jet is yesterday's tech... that cheap printer has a lot of hidden expenses!
So, if you print photos, get a photo printer.
If you print a LOT (of B&W), get a laser printer: you can get them cheap on ebay and computer shows (@ $75) and the cartridge will last forever. Happy

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I also get dry ink problems

I keep replacing my ink cartridges for the same reason. Not because I run out, but because I have a B&W laser printer and don't print color for a couple months and so they dry out.

It costs lots of money to replace all the "full" ink cartridges just so I can print that next page. Makes me furious to cost so much for just one page. I tried soaking in water trick and it doesn't work either on the new cartridges.

I'm trying to occasionally print a color page say every month, but I forget.

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Another vote for laser

I print only rarely, so I was having to buy ink every time I needed to print. My cost per page was outrageous. I suspect that with most of those cartridges I ended up spending more than $1/page.

I've had my laser for about five years, now. The starter cartridges lasted me more than a year. The replacements were more than the printer, but I expect them to last for several years. I suspect I've already more than broken even on my cost per page.

And, it is *such* a relief to not have to make a trip somewhere for cartridges in order to print something. It Just Works.

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