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

Question:

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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Comments
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been there, done that!

Early on, that is what we did. When we ran out of ink it was cheaper to buy a new printer and throw the old out since the cartridges were so expensive. Finally I found the IP1500 Canon that uses cheaper cartridges, about $20 total for a black and color. I found I could buy comptatible cartridges much cheaper, especially on ebay. It costs a.bout $3 total for a set. They have discontinued .this model some time ago which was $50 new before. Now you can find it for varying prices. Usually around $150.00 online. I have paid that much and later just bought a new print head online for $50 which always seems to fix it. We do a lot of printing so this is our best solution still today. It even prints pretty good picture. You can search ebay and amazon for what is available. Hope this helps.

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Also been there, done that

I too, think that inkjet cartridges are too expensive. My problem was that I seldom printed things, so even if I printed stuff from my inkjet (I have owned several) for a week or so, and then nothing for awhile - they would totally dry out and become useless. I had a B/W laser that I used for most things and I never replaced the toner cartridge once in 3 years. I finally bought a color laser, replaced those starter cartridges after two years and couldn't be happier. If I have a photo I want to print - I test it on the laser, and if it appears to be everything I want, I send the file to London Drugs for a pittance to get that one great print.

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

I have a Canon MS series printer that also uses cartridges that cost more than the printer did. In defense of this practice it should be noted that the engineering of a cartridge is nothing short of amazing. When you look at a full color 8 X 10 photograph, it is hard to believe it came from a $29.00 printer. The printer without the cartridge is just a paper transfer device.The cartridge is a marvel of engineering able to print thousands of dots per inch in four colors. It seems like the decision to separate the cartridge technology from the printer was wasteful but created a way to make money.through consumption. I don't know about HP, but Canon gives free photo paper to you if you buy online. With two cartridges I got 50 sheets of 4 X 5 glossy and 20 sheets of 8.5 by 11.

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Cartridge Magic?

I do believe that it is the print head and operational software that makes such 'awesome' prints possible, not the ink cartridge.

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Third Party Ink Saves Money

I've been using no-brand ink from Amazon in my Canon IP4200 for 3 years with no more problem than the occasional non-functioning cartridge. Three sets of 5 cartridges for less than $10, not as much as one Canon. Makes throwing one or two away easy! Quality of print looks good to me, but I'm not terribly critical.

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Printers are Cheap/Ink is Expensive

They can give away the printers because they make their money on the ink. 70% of HP's profits are in consumables.And speaking of HP, all their cartridges are filled to 51% and you are buying a printhead every time you buy a cartridge. HP is the most expensive way to print in inkjets. On the other hand, Epson uses a permanent printhead and so you buy only the "tank". And there are a huge # of aftermarket suppliers of Epson cartridges. Look for purveyors of a system using replaceable "tanks" that fit in a "shell" that contains the "chip" and resets the chip automatically. I pay no more than $3.00 per cartridge. For volume printing, I have a Epson WP series printer that takes huge cartridges. I buy replacement cartridges that allow me to refill with bulk ink. In other words, these are "permanent" cartridges. Do a search on the internet and you will find numerous alternatives.

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Had to replace my 20 y.o. HP4L laser

We only used HP toner. Toner would last for, I guess, 3 to 4000 pages. HP stopped selling the toner a year or two ago. When the last HP cartridge died last month, tried a no-name. Didn't work. Print was all blotchy.
Bought a Brother laser for $99 at OD. The wifi printing is a great option and even used the duplex printing once. Then I discovered that the large quantity cartridges are about $65 and are only rated at 2600 pages. ($43 at Amazon). What is more, you have to buy a new "drum" every 12000 copies. Price fm. Brother and OD - $106! Don't know Amazon's price. (With the HP you didn't need a separate drum.)
Since we only print about 5000 sheets a year, won't have to deal with this for a couple years. I would gladly pay double for a super capacity cartridge/drum combo just so I wouldn't have to deal with replacement often.

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Just Replace Your Brother Laser

When the time comes to replace the drum just uy a new printer

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I share your rant!

Though I've repeatedly tried refilled cartridges, I find they ALL seem to malfunction before long (I'm suspicious HP has built in some means of causing them to do so) - and I never seem to get to use even half a refilled cartridge. Store brand cartridges at Staples or Office Max or Depot save a few dollars but the difference is hardly large enough to be worth it. I remember reading that Kodak printers had the least expensive ink, but look where they are now: bankrupt and no longer making printers. Even the printer refills from my beloved Costco don't seem to function long in my HP inkjet, nor did they in the one before it.

Here are three means of potential savings: 1. Try the cartridge refills. They do them at my beloved Costco, some of the office supply chains, Fry's Electronics and various other places for a cost of roughly $11 for my HP 901 black cartridge and I think $16 color. They haven't worked well for ME, but it's worth a try. 2. If you don't NEED to print color, go back to black: an inexpensive laser printer will save you a fortune. The individual toner cartridges may run about as much as 2 or 3 inkjet cartridges, but they LAST. The printed word by itself just doesn't take that much ink and there are compact, inexpensive laser printers from Brother and Samsung right at $100, and I got my Brother HL-4200(?) at a black Friday sale 2 or 3 years ago for $50 new, not refurbished. It continues to work flawlessly, and I believe I get at least 1500 pages per cartridge, though my memory and calculations may be flawed, I know it's a substantial overall saving. #3. Computer expert & blogger Bob Rankin published an article some months ago titled "The Truth About Discount Ink Cartridges" - which your question reminded me of. I had intended to try some of his recommended suppliers but have not yet done so. You can read the whole article at: http://askbobrankin.com/the_truth_about_discount_ink_cartridges.html I still intend to try some of his recommended ones. Good luck!

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Ink-jet cartridges

Mentionned earlier in this discussion is the fact that the amount of ink in ink-jet cartridges varies. "Starter" cartridges are sold with some printers, "standard" cartridges and "high-capacity" cartridges are sold as replacements as well as "refills". Refills can be purchased or some cartridges can be refilled by the end user.

All of this "refill" business sounds like a great way to save money, but you need to be aware that almost all ink cartridges have a built-in timer. The timer has two settings. The first one is "x" months or weeks from installation in the printer. The second timer is "y" months or weeks from date of manufacture.

I have had customers purchase ink cartridges in bulk at substantial savings, only to find out months later that every time they went to print a document that they got an "Ink cartridge expired" message. In most cases, the printer would still print the document but could only print the document one page at a time. This is especially frustrating if the cartridge has plenty of ink remaining, but the "y" limit has been reached before the "x" limit. One customer received this message immediately upon installation of the cartridge(s) he purchased in bulk.

Laser printers are a much better choice for high-volume black and white and color printing needs. Years ago, I often recommended Epson's 1500 laser because it could print graphics with software that required an Epson FX dot-matrix printer but could also be used with software that required an HP LaserJet. After Epson discontinued manufacture, I purchased a used one for $150. Its toner cartridge had printed over 7000 pages of the estimated 8000 pages for which it was designed. A replacement toner cartridge cost me $158.

The point of my comments is that you need to purchase printers and their cartridges based upon the amount and type of printing you plan to do. For example, an ink-jet is a cost-effective solution for occasional printing. If you plan to print numerous documents, photos or color graphics then a laser is a much wiser choice..

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Ink-jet cartridges - New!

Well, I used HP printers, Canon printers and Brother (the one I am using now) and it is indeed all the same. Replacement cartridges are a rip-off. So I use generic cartridges as a rule, they are very good and cost about half the price. Never had any problem with them. I never tried refills.

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Printer Ink at Amazon

Depending on printer model, you can get some excellent deals on Amazon.com. I have a Canon MG5320 and I can buy 10 cartridges (two of each color) for approx $10.00 total. They last forever and no problems. They come with low ink chip too. Here is the headline:


All offers for
10 (2 each) Pack Non-OEM Ink for PGI-225 CLI-226 Pixma ip4820 iP4920 MG5120 MG5220 MG5320 MG6120 MG6220 MG8120 MG8220 MX882 Printer
by Inkjetcorner
4.4 out of 5 stars See all reviews
(54 customer reviews)

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inkjet ink

Has anyone tried the kits that have bulk tanks, and feer the printheads via a tube ?

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Printer cartridges

Hi Marilyn: if you are willing to buy online you can save $$ and often get a good product (possibly from China but returns are allowed). There are several vendors that advertise regularly and usually have good sale prices around holidays (if you can wait). Sometimes free shipping is included.

Happy Hunting

Bob

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CISS

I do a lot of photo printing although just an amateur photographer. The best solution for me was a Continuous Ink System. I found a company called Rihac in Australia that makes a good quality system and am very happy with them. They may cost a little more then a lot of the Chinese stuff out there but I have a good printer and I want to take care of it.
If you print a lot, a CISS is the only way to go, buying ink in large bottles that make it easy to refill yourself and you never have to open the printer again after the first time installing the system.
Always buy good quality ink and you will save thousands of dollars not buying ink.

Hope that helps.
Bill

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Ink cartridge rip offs!!!

Good morning, Marilyn,
Good morning to all forum members,

I purposely purchased a Canon PIXMA MP500 because I thought that having the 5 separate ink cartridges would save me money. HA!!!!. Boy was I naive, dumb, foolish man, call it what you will. I found out, real fast, that even buying the cartridges separately, it can still run into hundreds of dollars over a short period of time. Even as a casual user, that got to be ridiculous.

I started looking around and found a deal on Amazon.com. I get 3 complete sets (2 black + the 3 color) and I get 3 extra (purchased separately of course) of the larger black cartridges since that's the one that seems to go the quickest. All of these cost me less than $20 US. They even have the "chip" that allows the printer to monitor the ink status. Much cheaper!

I too was skeptical about the quality, however, let me remind you here, I am but a casual user and very rarely print photos. My major printing jobs are either grocery coupons (which work fine at the stores that accept them) and letters. As for the occasional photos: when printed on photo paper they come out quite well. Perhaps not professional quality, but good enough for my wife and me.

I've had the printer for about 5 years or more (I lost track a couple of years ago) and to this day I still get good quality prints and the copy function performs as expected as does the scan. I have not had any issues with the ink leaking or doing any damage to my printer since I started using the "off brand" cartridges at least 3 or 4 years ago.

So I would definitely recommend the replacement cartridges from Amazon.

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Of COURSE they're a ripoff!

Don't you ever wonder why these magnificent all-in-one printers/scanners/copiers/fax machines can be had so cheap, sometimes even under $50? I mean, these are impressive, complex machines, all metal and glass and rubber with all these gears and electronics and everything, and sometimes the ink to replace the cartridges that that comes with these printers when new, when purchased later at your local office supply store, is more expensive than you paid for the whole new printer with the half-volume starter ink cartridges pre-installed.

It's like what you pay for your smartphone -- the price you pay for the device, sometimes even a freebie, is heavily subsidized by the services you pay for later when you use it. In the case of smartphones, it is the monthly and data charges. In printers, it's the ink you you subsequently buy.

Buying refilled cartridges only partially lightens the blow because the companies that make them are also in it to make money, and they relate their charges to a percentage you would've paid for real manufacturer's cartridges, but you get fewer pages per cartridge often at lower quality so it is a trade-off.

You can, however, shop for price, and can sometimes get significant discounts at internet retailers.

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

Try looking into InkTec. They give you a kit with everything you need to refill your HP cartridges at a very cheap price. I usually get 3-4 refills before the printer doesn't want to accept the cartridge, for reasons I don't completely understand. The only downside is your ink status indicator doesn't seem to want to reflect an accurate reading once the same cartridge is replaced with more ink. So if you wish the price of HP cartridges was half to a third the price, this works. If you have kids in school who need to turn in multi media papers, this will save you a bundle.

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Longtime user of refills.

Yes, Amazon is a good source. For years now, I have found Printpal.com to be very useful and reliable as well. Also regarding ink jet printing, other than a very reliable Epson I owned, most ink printers have problems more often than they should. As mentioned by an earlier responder, I also have used a laser printer for all "non-color" prints. (Toner cartridges are very reasonable via Amazon.) But for color and photos, my experience is that the inkjets are best. (Cost and color vs color laser.) While we often can get our vehicles repaired and save versus trading in, it is frustrating even more that one cannot find repairs for printers but always the offer is to 'buy new' and they add "for less". How did we get to be a 'throw away society"? [View online "Pyramids of Waste"video that addresses printer repair and the origin of lighting as it is both amazing and true....and pertinent to our subject of ink cartridges with Brand names. ]

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Some other alternatives

Ink cartridges are expensive because that is where the companies that produce the printers make their money. They practically give away the printers in order to insure themselves a steady stream of repeat customers down the road when the ink cartridges need replacing.

I own 2 Canon color printers and I buy my replacement ink tanks online at LD Products. I buy LD generic equivalents and they work just fine. They cost about a third of the price I would pay for "genuine" Canon ink tanks. The company is located is Southern California and they guarantee their products. I have been buying from them for years and highly recommend them and their products.

Another alternative to consider is having your cartridges refilled. Places like Office Max, Office Depot, Staples, etc. often offer this service. It costs less to refill than it does to replace.

Finally I would offer this idea. If you don't need to use a color printer all the time, consider buying an inexpensive black and white only laser printer to go along with your color printer. I have a Canon LBP6000 that I purchased on Amazon for around $70.00. It is fast and it is inexpensive to use. Best of all it will print 1200 to 1500 copies before I need to replace the cartridge which I can buy at LD for about $30.00.

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The problem with that is...

I thought that too, that I would just use the inkjet when I wanted to print something special - but the problem is if you only use you inkjet for "special" prints, your expensive inkjet cartridges dry out and become useless. We used a B/W laser for most prints and then a poor quality color laser - and when we found something that should be printed on the inkjet - it was too late, the cartridges had dried out and would not print at all. You have to use a color inkjet at least once a day or a few times a week or they will render themselves useless.

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Buying a new printer would be false economy...

When I used to have a Lexmark many years ago I used to think the same that buying a new printer was cheaper than buying a set of cartridges for it.

However it is false economy because the "free" cartridges supplied with printers are only part filled, so when buying a new printer you really aren't getting four full cartridges, more like four cartridges with very little ink in them.

Some printers do actually make mention of this by stating that the cartridges supplied are only meant for initial setup.

The entire printer ink scam though is a real big scam.

The price of a cartridge varies widely depending on which model and make of printer you have. The main cost comes from the printer head.

Some printers (like Lexmark, HP, new Canon's, etc), have their printer head attached to the cartridge. A printer head however can last a lot more printing than a cartridge can produce, and printer heads are reasonably expensive (I used to have an old Canon with a separate print head and that cost me £40 to replace).

Some have a separate print head (like Brother's, old Canon's, Epson's, etc). These are a lot more cheaper to buy cartridges for as all your replacing is a piece of plastic full of ink rather than an expensive print head microchip mechanism.

Then as well as the cartridges with the replacement heads you also have the different prices for genuine, non-genuine and re-fills. You can use re-fill or non-genuine cartridges in most printers, however there is a high risk that should anything go wrong whilst using these your warranty on the printer will be invalid. This partly makes sense as printer manufacturers don't want to be repairing a printer that was damaged by someone using a cartridge that has leaked all over the printer, but there are some decent non-genuine cartridge manufacturers out there that can be trusted (like Jet Tec, and most of the supermarket clone cartridges).

Some printers also have either CIS (Continous Ink System) add-ons available for them (normally not something a manufacturer would ever supply) or cartridges with stoppers in them that can be re-filled easily with just a syringe. This is one of the most cheapest, but can be the most messiest, ways to keep your printer in ink, but you must make sure you follow the instructions exactly or else you may find yourself with a printer full of ink, and ink everywhere. CIS systems are very good as you just connect ink bottles to the printer and you get about 10 cartridges per bottle, and each bottle cost about £10, so that's just £1 per cartridge.

I currently have a re-fillable stopper based cartridge system for my Brother MFC-465CN and it costs me very little per cartridge as I just grab the ink bottle, remove the stopper and refill the cartridge when it's empty.

Printer manufacturers at times are worse though than car manufacturers - when you buy a car you have to use the original car manufacturers parts, servicing, oil, etc to keep your warranty on the vehicle, even though there is a guy down the road who can do all that for a quarter of the price of the car dealer, and has been doing it a lot more longer than the car dealer, and printer manufacturers hold you to ransom when it comes to consumables in the printer, like ink, some even go as far as trying to tell you what paper to use.

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You ever hear about the magnums on Moss warranty act?

Obviously not! It is against the law for manufacturers to void your warranty for using non-OEM inks. If the printer uses cartridges with print heads then the ink never ever touches the printer. Go to a local shop that refills cartridges by hand and save a ton of cash and also recycles your cartridge saving the landfills from tons of plastic and precious metal waste.

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Be thankful the printer is cheap!!

You get a printer for very little, and if you use it infrequently, I would not complain about the expensive ink.

As mentioned, Laser printers (another technology Steven Jobs revolutionized) are a great alternative, offering lower cost per page and lower maintenance then Ink (even if they cost more to buy, still cheaper).

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color laser printer

Several people have suggested monochrome laser printers, but color laser printers are also a great alternative.

A few years ago, I bought a decent Xerox color laser printer for $209, brand new. I buy after-market toner cartridges (from Media Sciences). They're expensive, at nearly $100 for a set of four, but the cost per page is very low, four cents per page for color and only one cent per page for black and white. That's more than an order of magnitude cheaper than inkjet. It's actually cheaper for me to print out extra copies than to copy them on a copy machine.

Color laser prints are not photo quality, but still pretty good, about as good as you'd see in a magazine. You can still keep the inkjet handy when you need a really good quality print. On the other hand, just go to Costco and get true photo-quality prints, any size, cheaper than you can print them yourself on your inkjet.

Last, not all inkjet printers cost the same to operate. Google something like "which inkjet printers have the lowest cost per page" to find the best choices.

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Rip-off

Ink jet printers are designed to recover their low cost via high-priced ink replacements. Dump inkjets, and buy color laser jet. If you need to print photos, send them to Snapfish or Wal-Mart Digital Photo Center.

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The High Cost of Printing

I know it has been mentioned a zillion times that this business model resembles the Razor and Razor blade business of selling us the product for cheap and nailing us on the consumables that we need to purchase to keep it going. But if you really take a look at it and calculate out exactly how much ink you are getting in those little cartridges, you would find that they are charging between $3000 and $6000 per gallon for ink. Wow! How do I get in on this?
The idea of simply purchasing a new cheap printer whenever you run out of ink sounds like a good plan but most manufacturers only include starter cartridges that only have a small amount of ink in them with a new printer. So you will be running out for ink within a few days anyway.

Sorting through the world of printing is very complex and what makes sense for one person may not make a whole lot of sense for someone else. You must take into account many factors:

1. How many pages do you print per month?
2. How many pages of those are color vs. Black and White?
3. Do you really need color pages or could you get away with printing more in Black and White?
4. What kind of Color pages are you printing? Are you just printing web pages and spec sheets or full color photographs?
5. Are you willing to put up with the mess of trying to refill your own cartridges?
6. Do you mind ordering off-brand or refilled cartridges and toners online?
The bottom line is if you only print a few pages per week or you find that you are only needing to replace ink cartridges once or twice per year, then you probably should just stick with what you have now. But if on the other hand if you are replacing cartridges once a month or more often, you may want re-evaluate what you are doing.

Bold Statements
I have read a lot of bold and blatant statements such as simply "Get a laser". This may be a good solution for some, but not for others. And then there is the question of which one. For those of you that print a lot of photos, the Photo quality of a color laser is not even close to that of an Inkjet or some other technologies. And low cost color laser printers typically cost more per page than even the Inkjet printers. A full set of toners cartridges for a color laser printer can cost $350 to $400 and then there may be drum replacement costs too.

I found this out the hard way a few years ago. Having found, in the old days, that I saved a bundle going to a Monochrome laser from a Black & White Inkjet. I assumed that I would save a bundle and went out and purchased a $400 Minolta color laser printer to print my invoices (with color logo and some other spot color) only to find that I had to replace the 4 toner cartridges about twice per year at a cost of $89 each. That was over $700 per year plus the original cost of the printer. The printer started having problems after about 3 years so I finally went out and purchased a $100 inkjet printer and my cost has dropped to about $300 per year in ink.

Times have changed
Laser printers have changed over the years and what were once very cost effective for Monochrome printing have shifted the other way, especially for low end and color laser printers. The early black and white laser printers such as the HP Laserjet II, III and 4 printers as well as the higher end office printers had the Toner and Drum contained in the same unit so that when you replaced the Toner you were replacing the Drum as well. Many of today's printers especially the lower cost lasers have separated the drum from the toner and so not only do you have the cost to replace the toner but you also find that after a while you need to also replace the drum resulting in a not so nice surprise cost. This did lower the cost to manufacture the cartridge but the savings did not seem to be passed onto the consumer.

Inkjet printers have also gone through some similar changes. Many of the early Inkjet printers (especially HP) had the ink and the Print head together in one unit. This had the advantage of getting a new print head every time you installed new ink. This was especially useful for the person who did not print very often or the college student that would store the printer during the summer and the print head would dry out and clog. As soon as you replaced the ink, you were off and printing again. Epson and others that had a separate print head that would clog under light use or during storage and you would have to replace the printer or send it out to have the print head replaced. Today, most of the inkjet printers have done away with building the print head into the ink tank. Again, this has reduced the cost to the manufacturers but they did not seem to pass ALL of the savings on to the end user?

Pay more for the printer and less for the ink????
In many cases, if you purchase a higher end printer, especially a business grade printer, the cost per page will usually go down. But for some this may not make sense especially if you do not print that many pages. This article in PCworld does a nice job of explaining this scenario.
http://www.pcworld.com/article/254899/ink_onomics_can_you_save_money_by_spending_more_on_your_printer_.html

How to Reduce your Printing Cost
In the end if you find that you are replacing ink cartridges all the time and simply spending too much on printing, there are many alternatives or methods you can use to help reduce your printing costs. Here are just a few examples:

Research before your buy - A good starting place is to do a little research and pick a printer with a lower cost per page. They don't make it easy because the information is not readily available and it is not like they print it on the spec sheet or on the side of the box. Here are a few links to some comparison charts on printers that may help you a little:

PCmag 2013 - http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2373165,00.asp
This next one is biased toward Kodak but on page 5 it gives a nice chart of cost-per-page for many other printer models.
http://www.qualitylogic.com/tuneup/uploads/docfiles/QualityLogic-Cost-of-Ink-Per-Page-Analysis_US_1-Jun-2012.pdf

Refill your own ink - I have a few clients that do a lot of printing and refill their own ink and they swear by the process and the massive savings they realize. But, this can be a real messy process. However, if you decide to go this route, try to get a printer where the ink can be refilled the easiest. Some models have timers and other chips built into the cartridges to discourage or prevent this practice. I have been told that HP cartridges seem to be the most difficult and Canon the easiest, but that is not based on any personal experience I have. Note: You might find it helpful to Invest in a box of disposable gloves before you take on this process.

Purchase Discount Ink and toner online - There are hundreds of places online that are selling refilled/refurbished or 3rd party off brand ink and toner that can be 1/3 the price of the original manufacturer's ink. This is a great way to save money but if photos are your main concern, you may find the colors are off a little or the prints may not last as long as the manufacturer's ink. You may also run into the occasional bad cartridge and in some cases bad ink can clog your print head. But if you are starting with a $100 printer, then the saving may be well worth the risk. Many users have great success with these 3rd party inks. NOTE: Using these inks may void your printer manufacturer's warranty.

Print in Black and White - Printing in Black and White is cheaper than printing in color on pretty much any printer. You can change the printer settings to use Black only for the majority of your printing and then switch to color only when you really need it.

Print Quality Settings - Most printers will have a print quality setting in the printer preferences menu. If you change this to "Draft Mode" quality for your default setting and only use the higher quality settings when you really need it, you can cut back on ink usage. Depending on what types of things you typically print, many people will not even notice the difference.

Multiple Printers - This is the method that I use personally. I have an older monochrome HP Laserjet 2100M and a Laserjet 4m that I use for the majority of my day to day printing and then I have several Injet printers that I use for Color when I need it. I stopped using my Color Laser printer a few years ago. But this may only make sense for people that really do a fair amount of printing.

Stop Printing Photos - Printing photos on your own inkjet printer is expensive. The most economical way to print photos and usually the best quality too, is to send them out or have them printed online. It is far cheaper to have your photos printed at Walmart or online at Shutterfly or Snapfish then printing them yourself. You can get 100 photos printed for under $10.

Ink Saving Software - I cannot vouch for this personally, but I have seen special software that claims to reduce the amount of ink used when you print. If anyone has any personal experience with any of these programs, I would love to hear about it.

Stop Printing - This one is obvious but if you simply stop printing everything under the sun, you will reduce your printing cost. This may be a little silly, but, I have found that people tend to print less when you give them a larger monitor or even dual screens. I guess if your view of the website or document is better, your tendency to hit the print button may be reduced. Who knows? Maybe moving the printer to the basement so that everyone has to get up and go downstairs will discourage printing so much.

Whatever happened to the idea that we would all be paperless by now?

Dana
Wayland Computer

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Stop Printing Everything

I concur with the idea of stop printing everything. In Windows 7, you can print to *.pdf. This is the default on my web browser. I usually pay bills online. Instead of printing every receipt, I print to pdf and save it in a folder called "bills". (Real Creative there, isn't it?) I also print to pdf when I do any purchases online. When I need to re-purchase something, I can go to the folder where I store those things and find out where, when and how much I spent. It has certainly freed up my work area not having to deal with just the cost of ink, but of paper, as well. I used to buy a case of copy paper several times a year. Now I can go over a year with the purchase of just one case. That works fine for me, too.

I have also gone to two printers. I have a color laser, but that is just when I really need color. I use a mono for a default of anything else. (I just replaced my HP4 after years of very dependable service.) The cost of one cartridge for the mono over four for the color was reason enough for the change there. Now I'm having to deal with the repair of my color laser. Do I want to spend that money or just invest in another printer? Time will tell.

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Wrong about HP being difficult to refill

I do a LOT of printing, both simple documents and color photos. If all I need is black and white, I use a cheap HP inkjet printer. For top quality color photos and CD disk faces, I use a monster professional Epson inkjet. I don't bother to refill the Epson printer because I have found an excellent online source for compatible cartridges that are 1/5 the cost of genuine Epson and seem to last forever. It took a while to find this online source, however - I tried three or four other companies with poor results.

The reason I picked HP for my day-to-day simple black ink documents is because they are so easy to refill. There is a hole on the top of the HP cartridge that is found by peeling back the label. You simply stick a syringe full of ink in this hole and fill gently until the hole begins to overflow. There are many sources online for ink refill syringes and for bottles of quality black ink. I do not find it at all messy and it is very, very easy. It takes about 5 minutes to refill a black cartridge and I can usually refill a cartridge 20-30 times before the contact points on the cartridge finally go bad. I estimate that a refilled cartridge costs me less than 10 cents in ink.

I have also found that there are many good sources online for compatible HP cartridges that cost very, very little. So when I finally do need a new cartridge, I buy a cheap compatible . . . . and these are just as easy to refill.

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Business class volume lasers

Like Waytron posted, I dumped ink a few years ago and bought a business class color laser (HP 3600 series). It replaced my daily inkjet and photo printer (Costco now for photos). My toner cartridges last 4K-6K pages each and cost per page is $.025 black, $.037 color MSRP. 3rd party toners bring it down to under $.01 in many cases. Oh, and the original printer with full volume cartridges was just over $200. Except for the shelf life even that could've been disposable. (Will also try to print to PDF more after reading all these replies)

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