New Printer $12.50, Ink cartridge $19.00

kathy_January 31, 2006

No kidding! I bought a cheapo Lexmark printer on clearance at Target. It came with a color cartridge and no black one so I bought the black one.

Told a friend I could have bought every printer, given them to charity for a writeoff after taking the color cart. out of it and been ahead money wise.

Crazy - what's it cost to make those little ink holders anyway?

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steve_o

Well, there is a surprising amount of technology in those little cartridges. But inkjet printers are the latest version of goods practicing King Gillette's marketing creed: give away the razor and sell the blades. Printer prices are artificially low to schmooze you into buying one; ink cartridges are priced at pretty much what the market will bear because changing printers all the time can be a pain at the very least.

I frequent thrift stores looking for vinyl records and old camera gear; I cannot tell you how many nice printers are on those shelves because it seems to be cheaper to buy a new one than fill up the old one with ink.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2006 at 9:27AM
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gardenguy_ca

when my black runs out I just print stuff in a different colour, Why buy another cartridge until ALL the ink is gone?

    Bookmark   February 4, 2006 at 8:57PM
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lizql

I refill my ink cartridge till it can't be filled anymore. I think Lexmark is one of the most expensive ink cartridges. I have a Canon. I just found a deal on ink at Big Time Ink on the net.Only $2.95 each with no shipping or tax. You don't have to buy a whole bunch either.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2006 at 10:45AM
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chuckr30

Lexmark printers are known to be cheap and break more often than others. A few years ago there was a big lawsuit against Lexmark (owned by IBM) because their X series and Z series were breaking a lot. We had a Lexmark X series, it as a great printer, until it broke after 18 months.

I am currently using an HP printer (540c) from 1995 and love it, simply because it's dependable. It's slow but it doesn't break.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2006 at 11:09AM
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joyfulguy

If ya buy a cheap printer that's prone to break
(Thinkin' to spend the savin's on steak),
I'm warnin' ya - this ain't no joke ...
Ya might end up bein' close to broke!

If ya buy a cheap printer (that needs dear ink)
... Don't bother me now - I'm tryin to think ...
It's like a cheap razor that needs a dear blade ...
Ya may end up bein' ready to trade.

ole joyful

P.S. Trouble is - if you reduce the number of pages you print, figuring that each page costs too much ...

... the ink cartridge is prone to dry up, so you lose out in the end, anyway.

Does it happen even faster in winter, in these northern climates where the heated air in our houses is, they say, about as dry as the desert? Dry, that is, unless we humidify - which we should do, to lower the use and cost of heating, as one can tolerate cooler air if it has higher relative humidity: there is less evaporation from one's skin.

Is there a way to rejuvenate the ink (before it gets fully dried out) ... or to refill the cartridge yourself?

How about the durability of the cartridges that one gets from the places that do custom refilling?

(And if you thought that I might deal with all of these various issues poetically - well, think again)!

o j

    Bookmark   February 6, 2006 at 3:57PM
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steve_o

Does it happen even faster in winter, in these northern climates where the heated air in our houses is, they say, about as dry as the desert?

I haven't noticed that. The cartridge is supposed to be a sealed unit, so it can control the pressure used to force ink out the jets and onto the paper.

Is there a way to rejuvenate the ink (before it gets fully dried out)

Most printers have some sort of "self-cleaning" or "priming" cycle you can use to force new ink through the nozzles. It can clean up cartridges which are not too far gone -- at the expense of using additional ink.

... or to refill the cartridge yourself?

There are kits out there for the more popular or longer-running series of cartridges. They vary from excellent to "waste-of-money." They've done away with most of the mess, but it's still fiddly. Some folks who use their printers for art prints use a direct feed system which essentially is bottles of ink piped to the printer. That ink usually has special qualities making it more suitable to giclee prints or photo reproduction.

How about the durability of the cartridges that one gets from the places that do custom refilling?

Most of that depends on the cartridge. Some cartridges (HP's, for example) include the printhead with the cartridge, so that if you buy a replacement HP cartridge, you're replacing the ink and the printhead and neither one of them get really old. If you buy a third-party cartridge, you're likely getting a printhead that was not designed to go through more than one cycle (but may work just fine anyway). Other brands (Epson, Canon, and others) have separate printheads, which makes the cartridges a little simpler and less expensive, but also means you may have to replace the printhead eventually (relatively expensive because it's designed to last for many cartridges' worth of printing).

Another issue is that printer makers want to lock you into their own cartridges, so they've designed all kinds of ways to keep you from using third-party stuff. Tektronix/Xerox sells their ink (basically special crayons for wax-deposition printer) in shapes no one else can imitate legally, so you can't buy third-party wax/ink for Tektronix printers. Some manufacturers put microchips in the cartridge to report to the PC which cartridge is installed, how much ink is left, etc.; these chips are copyrighted, so third-party manufacturers either go without or have to reverse-engineer the chips' function (not worth it to them). And, of course, if the printer company can prove you used someone else's ink in their printer, any warranty you ever had is out the window. So you do go without some features to go third party. Only you can decide if the monetary savings are worth it.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2006 at 10:58AM
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kathy_

Boy I have learned a lot from this! Thanks for your expertise!
First, I don't expect the Lexmark to last too long. After buying a new computer I just could not lay out the money for a good printer and I had to do my taxes and print them out right away. That is done so I guess I got my money's worth already.
My other printer went downstairs with the old computer which is not online. It is an old Hewlett Packard and was making lots of clanking when it worked. Well I thought - I am going to junk it anyway so I gave it a good cleaning with a rag sprayed with WD-40 and sprayed all moving parts (note if you ever try this unplug the computer!). After wiping and running several papers through the printer sounds like new and it was bought in '99. When I buy something I make it last...
Kathy

    Bookmark   February 18, 2006 at 5:51PM
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cathyll

I get my Epson cartridges on eBay;they're a generic type & work just fine. Even w/shipping, I end up paying about $1.14 for the black ones. To stretch that dollar even further, I take the empties to Staples where I get a $3.00 credit;my copy paper ends up costing me $.99 a ream.
I'll take a bow, now, for being the resident tightwad.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2006 at 7:58AM
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joyfulguy

cathy,

Careful, girl - well, "lady" ...

... don't take that bow too quickly, if I may suggest so.

There's a lot of competition around here for the title of top-dog tightwad ...

... but, wait - you didn't claim to be the No. 1 - just one of an august company.

You're allowed - join the crowd.

And enjoy the ride - tightwadism is supposed to be an adventure, a game, not a drudgery.

Have you read the "Tightwad Gazette", which was a newsmagazine for a while, but was phased out some time ago?

The books, I, II and III are in a number of libraries, though - should save ou a bucket of money.

For more, and long-term saving, see my Christmas gift, offered here, on "Household Finance" in earlier years - and on "Kitchen Table" this year, I think it was (I believe in "re-gifting", you see) but that was a month and a half ago: it'll have fallen into the abyss by now, most likely, even though their current storage runs to 67 pages - they're talkative, over there.

Hope you're having a memorable weekend - in the happy sense.

ole joyful

    Bookmark   February 19, 2006 at 2:00PM
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yam2006

If you don't need color, you can save big bucks by getting a laser printer. They cost less than $100 if you shop around. The cost per page is typically two or three cents, compared with ten cents and up for most inkjets.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2006 at 2:41PM
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steve_o

Even color laser printers have come way down in price. Just $300 will buy you one. And, even with "expensive" toner cartridges ("expensive" because you buy tens of thousands of pages worth at one time), it still will be cheaper per page. The only drawback is that, at $300, you won't get the photorealistic quality you can get with a $300 inkjet. But if you take your good pictures to a photo store for printout, you don't have to pay for a good color inkjet and their expensive ink.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2006 at 9:50AM
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bry84

My first (and last) lexmark printer lasted less than 20 (decidedly NOT photo-real) prints before chewing up on the paper. When I pulled at the paper everything inside just snapped and fell out in bits. I was amazed, it was the thinest plastic I had ever seen and everything had holes in the moulded parts - no doubt because someone calculated that turning the mechanism in to something resembling swiss cheese saved a tiny amount of plastic per printer.

Saving money is good, but cheap is not. A good printer is worth spending a little money. So I did. I bought myself a black and white laser printer (second hand), and after quite a few years I'm still entirely happy with it. Fast, economical, and prints excellent text, diagrams and charts. If I want photos I can have a photo lab put 100 digital photos on to photo paper for £8.99. Gives the best results because they use good paper and a very expensive printer. I calculate it however to be less expensive per print than doing them at home. Plus I don't have to worry about refills, the thing breaking or having to clutter up my house with another printer.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2006 at 4:18PM
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wantoretire_did

My "change your color cartridge" flasher has been on since January. I don't make a lot of copies, but enough to use a substantial amount of ink. When I notice a fading of the colors, I'll install a new cartridge.

Carol

    Bookmark   May 16, 2006 at 5:57PM
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metaphysician

In 2003, a British study found that printer ink was 7 times as expensive as a 1985 Dom Perignon.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2006 at 12:24AM
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twoboysformom

I feel better about my purchase now.

About 3 years ago my expensive photo-quality printer died. I was heartbroken because I didn't want to spend over $200 for a new one at the time. But I NEEDED a printer for some church stuff asap.

I went to the local chain discount store and bought a HP for $30. Not only has it lasted me all this time, the photo quality is MUCH better than my old one. I never expected it to last this long.

I am, however, afraid of the refills. I have heard some horror stories of printers being ruined.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2006 at 12:10AM
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jrdwyer

I bought a Canon S600 color ink-jet back in Nov. 2001 for $140. All I can say is this thing works great!

After 3.5 years the print head finally failed. Canon customer service diagnosed it over the phone and had the replacement part in stock for $50. Because I bought the part, they didn't charge me for the out-of-warranty call. The customer service was even based in the USA and the tech was easy to understand. Awesome!

After 4.5 years, it still spits out the pages without problems. The new Canon brand refill cartriges are about $12. Other brands are cheaper.

Best of all, if you set the print settings to Custom with the higest possible speeds, it uses very little ink with very acceptable quality. This also allows you to print both sides of the paper without the see-through issues common to ink-jet. I estimate cost-per-page for black ink at $.03 when using the Canon cartriges and this setting.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2006 at 7:05PM
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Chemocurl zn5b/6a Indiana

Well, this tightwad (me) had her cartridges go empty maybe a year ago. I bought a refill kit on Ebay, and filled both the black and the color.

The color was an off color, so I just quit using it (color)altogether, and choose to print most all things in black quick print, thus saving ink with that too.

Needless to say, I'm not doing photos, or anything that has to have the color to make it worthwhile. I suppose if I ever do, I'll just have a friend print it for me, or get it at the library, for a few cents per copy.

Now, does that put me in the running for resident tightwad?

I get my Epson cartridges on eBay;they're a generic type & work just fine. Even w/shipping, I end up paying about $1.14 for the black ones. To stretch that dollar even further, I take the empties to Staples where I get a $3.00 credit;my copy paper ends up costing me $.99 a ream.
I'll take a bow, now, for being the resident tightwad.

Is that right? $1.14 for a black cartridge? Wow...what a bargain!

After 4.5 years, it still spits out the pages without problems. The new Canon brand refill cartriges are about $12. Other brands are cheaper.
Sounds like a terrific printer and very resonable replacement cartidges.

Hmmmm, when I am forced to buy new cartridges (can no longer fill these), I may be in the market for a newer printer, which is cheaper to 'run'.

Sue

    Bookmark   August 14, 2006 at 1:03PM
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bry84

I haven't changed a cartridge since I bought my laser printer, which is great as I don't like messy expensive cartridges that keep needing to be bought, stored and replaced. The toner drum lasts about 3000 pages of full text. For domestic use that's a vast amount of prints. If it ever does run out I can buy toner powder and refill the old drum for about £3.99 and print another 3,000 pages.

There are a lot of advantages to laser printing. I'm sure that if/when colour lasers drop in price to about the same level as colour inkjets then they will capture the whole market within a couple of years. My only question is will the printer companies give up their lucrative cartridge sales that make them more money than printer sales? I suspect there will be a catch. Perhaps they will radically reduce the toner capacity or keep the laser printers at higher prices.

As always, it pays whenever buying something that needs consumables to work out the long term costs of ownership. Low initial investment can hide a lot of expenses long term. I get so frustrated with people when they just buy something then say "wow, that's expensive to service!".

    Bookmark   August 14, 2006 at 5:02PM
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bry84

Oh, I should mention the last paragraph of my previous post isn't directed at anyone here who was surprised by the cost of cartridges, I was caught out by them once because I mistakenly assumed they wouldn't be that pricey. I'm actually thinking about a friend who has just bought a GIANT car and now moans every time he fills the thing up. It's a little self-inflicted...

    Bookmark   August 14, 2006 at 5:06PM
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Chemocurl zn5b/6a Indiana

Bry,

I thought immediately too of the huge (?) discounts the companies make on those huge gas hog 4wd trucks. I suppose they would be fine, if one was only a few miles from everything.

I'm in the boonies, and it costs me a condiderable amount (I think) regardless of where I go, other than to close neighbors, or over to the park, which is across the road.

Sue

    Bookmark   August 14, 2006 at 7:58PM
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celticmoon

I grabbed up an Epson demo laser printer couple years ago for under $200. Voiced concern that the cartridge mught be low given being used as a demo, and they threw in an extra ($100) cartridge. Swell. Printer ran for 3 years, literally thousands of crisp copies (home business) before beginning to fade. I'm now on the second cartridge and exploring how to re fill the original "starter" cartridge (smaller! capacity as it turns out).

No way will I go back to those disposable injet printers.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2006 at 11:29PM
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ntt_hou

This is the same technique with most companies nowadays. How many of you get a free cellular phone by signing a 1 or 2-year contract with the provider? They don't make much money on the phone but mostly on your monthly service.

How many of you purchased a Barbie doll for your children or someone's child? Did you see how much was the doll compared to its accessories? How many little girls you see only play with Barbie without her accessories? Yes, Ken is one of her accessory too ;o)

When I buy a printer or any tech gadget, I check how long the "must have" accessories are available before becoming obsolete. You'll be surprised what kind of reputation certain companies have with their accessories. Then again, if you find out that your ink cartridge is no longer available, go to the manufacturer website and check out if the cartridge has a new outlook and changed number. Or, even look if there's a substitute.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2006 at 4:53AM
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