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How To Know If Cheap Printer Ink Will Really Cost You


Is it cheaper to rely on printer ink or refill kits? Although many printers are sold cheaply, the ink cartridges are expensive. Since ink is a consumable product, the manufacturer makes repeat sales. As a counter-reaction to this forced consumption, third party companies have created cheap printer ink.

The original equipment manufacturers, known as OEMs, say that their ink is more expensive because it offers the best quality, creating crisper text and portraying more accurate images. Third-party suppliers argue that the OEMs are pulling a fast one on the consumer and that their cheaper ink is just as good. Hewlett Packard, for example, charges $18 for a black ink cartridge for the Photosmart C5180, but a remanufactured cartridge by a third party costs a shade about half, selling for $8.75.

Who can be trusted to deliver the goods? In an attempt to find out, the Rochester Institute of Technology, working in partnership with PC World, decided to run some tests. Rochester Institute of Technology is a research university with an excellent reputation for testing products related to printing images and PC World is a highly reputable magazine for the computer industry. The laboratory tested brand names like Lexmark, Kodak, Hewlett-Packard, Epson, and Canon against the top third-party ink suppliers. They ran two tests: one to compare the quality of images and how long it took for the ink to fade and one to see how many pages each cartridge could print before running dry.

When it came to ink quality, especially in relation to images, OEM manufacturers performed better. The images were crisper and the ink lasted longer. However, when it came to how many pages could be printed, the third-quality inks performed much better. Since only the leading OEM and third-party inks were tested, the conclusion is a generalization. There are many printers that were not tested and there were many OEM and third-party suppliers who were not included.

In deciding which is the best way to go, the person printing has to decide on what is being printed and how much quality is necessary. A professional company that needs high quality graphics will benefit from the higher quality of OEM inks. For example, an advertising company will impress clients with high resolution images. On the other hand, a prolific document printer who merely needs pages that are legible, will get many more pages printed at a lower price using third-party ink or refill kits. For example, an author who needs many rough drafts would not benefit from more expensive cartridges.

In the final analysis, the most economical way to go depends on the work being done.

Logos and brand names of manufacturers such as HP, Canon, Epson, Xerox, Samsung, Apple, Brother, Dell, IBM and others are registered trademarks of their respective owners. All references to brands are solely made for the purpose of illustrating compatibility of toner and ink cartridges. Their use on does not imply endorsement or association by respective owners.