Wednesday, July 05, 2006

The Cost of Ink

Anyone using an inkjet printer these days can't help but notice how their price has fallen in recent times. As we speak, you can purchase an inkjet printer from PC World for €49.99 and a photo inkjet printer for €89.99. A few years ago these would have cost up to €200 or more so they appear pretty good value. That is until you start replacing the ink.

For example, one of the printers that we use here at PC Medic is an Epson R200 photo inkjet printer, which cost about €180 a couple of years ago. This printer has 6 separate ink cartridges (magenta, light magenta, cyan, light cyan, yellow and black) and produces superb colour prints on photo glossy paper. However, the recommended replacement ink cartridges cost in the region of €18.00 each when purchased locally. That's €108 for a complete set of cartridges, or 58% of the cost of the printer. Put another way, two sets of cartridges costs more than a new printer. We will use between 4 and 5 sets of cartridges per year i.e. we could spend up to €500 per year on ink - and we don't consider ourselves heavy users of the printer!

I say we could spend up to €500 per year, but we don't anymore. The reason for this is that we have switched from using branded Epson cartridges at €108 per set to generic cartridges supplied by at a cost of €35.00 per set, a massive saving of €73.00 per set. There are ongoing debates whether using generic ink cartridges leads to poorer quality prints, prints that fade quicker, or even to damage to your printer. At this point in time we can only confirm that we notice no significant difference in print quality when printing photo quality prints. Perhaps the pictures will fade in 20 years rather than in twenty five years, but I probably won't care that much by then. As for the generic cartridges damaging the printer, the savings to be gained are so great that I can afford to buy a new printer from the money saved after using just three sets of generic cartridges. As we have only switched to generic ink cartridges 6 months ago we can't give a long term assessment of the damage it might do to the printer, but we'll keep you posted in the future of any problems we encounter.

Note that the above experience relates only to the Epson R200 printer. Your own experience may be different depending on the make and model of printer that you use. For now, PC Medic is sticking with generic ink cartridges.

1 comment:

Lisa O'Reilly said...

I have had a similar experience with printer ink cartridges. I used to buy the original ink cartridges from the high street but the price of the originals now are shocking. I am now using remanufactured ink cartridges which I was told were a lot cheaper which I am currently buying from the cartridges worked out cheaper for me in the end.