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The real cost of purchasing your printer. (Important issues when purchasing a printer)

By: Johnny Weis & Cathy Jones


Ink-jet printers are probably the most common printers today. They are much cheaper than the laser ones and can produce high-level quality prints comparable to laser prints. Most ink-jet printers provide a 300dpi resolution which is more than enough for personal use, they are, of course, slower than laser ones, but again, this is not really an issue if you’re using the printer for personal reasons.

The only real problem with ink-jet printers seems to be the cartridges: they’re to expensive. Especially the original ones! Ink-jet printers use a special kind of ionized ink which is sprayed on the sheet of paper through a set of magnetic plates in the cartridge which guide the jet to the desired location on the page.

 So what do you do when you find yourself running low on ink on your printer? You have several options.

You can buy a new original cartridge but you will find yourself spending between $20 and $50 for one cartridge of ink, depending on the type and model of your printer. There are also printers who require more than one cartridge, from 2 to 4 cartridges – either one for black and one for the colors (cyan, magenta and yellow), either one for black and three for the colors. Making some calculations you’ll see that adds up to quite a lot.

Another option, however, is buying generic ink cartridges. They are, of course, a lot cheaper than the original ones and tend to be just as good – if not even better as many compatible manufactures include even more ink than the original manufacturers do (which translates in even more savings for the consumer). The only issue you have to consider before purchasing generic cartridges is the compatibility between them and your printer. You should really check your printer manual for compatible model numbers – for the cartridge as well as the ink.

And the third way to solve your ink problem is to purchase a refill kit. Although this might not seem as a very appealing solution at first the business has grown over the years and these kits have grown more and more reliable. This option is especially interesting if you are using your printer a lot as the prices are very low. For example, for 4 refills for the HP Inkjet 300 you will pay $18 while a new cartridge costs between $25 and $35. The process is rather simple but don’t expect it to go smoothly from the very first time. Usually, refilling a cartridge takes up to 10 minutes. However, it can get rather messy, especially the first time. But again, once you get the hang of it, it should go smoothly. Cartridges can be refilled up to ten times and you don’t need any technical knowledge to master the process. There are a few rules if you choose this option: don’t ever let your cartridge dry out; do not touch the copper plate on the head (for print head cartridges); cartridges must be refilled immediately after they run out of ink.

Now it’s time to make your decision. Think about your needs and choose accordingly. However, keep in mind that you have several options and that buying a original ink cartridge is probably not the best of them.


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