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Dell Takes the Low Road Regarding Ink Cartridges

chrisd posted about 11 years ago | from the rev-engineering-to-take-about-five-minutes dept.

HP 430

Anonymous Coward writes "Dell released a line of printers today, manufactured by Lexmark. As covered by by Yahoo they '..contain a chip that disables the cartridge if it is refilled and replaced in a Dell printer..' and 'The cartridges are different sizes than cartridges from other printer vendors, including Lexmark, the spokesperson said. This will limit the amount of knockoff cartridges available, but only until someone figures out how to reverse engineer Dell's cartridges.'" In the interest of full disclosure, note that the poster sells knockoff carts.

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The Low Road? (4, Insightful)

Drunken Coward (574991) | about 11 years ago | (#5612032)

Saying that Dell taking the low road by preventing the sale of third party ink cartriges would be akin to saying the same of Microsoft and the X-Box. Dell sells printers at close to cost, making up for it because of package deals and the extra sales of their proprietary cartridges. Don't knock them for trying to make their money back.

Re:The Low Road? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#5612045)

Yeah, yeah. And it isn't even *slightly* deceptive to drop the cost of the lead in product and then force the purchase of specific stuff later. Not at ALL. Its not necessarily a 'low road', but anyone who calls it even remotely 'high road-ish' is talking out of their distended ass.

Re:The Low Road? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#5612094)

fsck, it's not even "slightly high road-like"

Re:The Low Road? (4, Insightful)

galaxy300 (111408) | about 11 years ago | (#5612213)

I agree. Ever buy a razor and wonder why you got such a nice deal on that fancy Gillete Mach 12? Buy a Nintendo Game Cube for $129? It's because they make their money on the products that work with and for the products they sell at cost or below. This is nothing new and it you're not wise enough to the game by now (100 years after they started doing it) you deserve to lose the $$ you spend on the razor blades.

Re:The Low Road? (4, Insightful)

Hard_Code (49548) | about 11 years ago | (#5612091)

Then maybe they should just sell their printers for more, and market standardization as a "feature". Unless of course they want to force people to upgrade printers whenever they feel like...no that's couldn't be it...

Re:The Low Road? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#5612149)

because all laptops use standardised components

Re:The Low Road? (5, Interesting)

rodgerd (402) | about 11 years ago | (#5612273)

Actually, Canon printers are somewhat more expensive that their Epson equivalents, but have much cheaper running costs due to lower cartridge prices. So some manufacturers are taking the higher inital cost/lower long term cost route.

Re:The Low Road? (2, Interesting)

oogoliegoogolie (635356) | about 11 years ago | (#5612187)

I knock them (and Lexmark, and many other inkjet manufacturers) for trying to rip people off! They sell printers at below cost and consumers think "Mmmm...what a great deal I am getting", until they find out they have to buy $5 worth of ink for $40.

That's like buying a toaster and later finding out only Black and Decker bread fits in it, which is $10 a loaf. Or like buying a KIA car, then finding out oil it uses costs $20 a litre.

Hmm...this kinda sounds like some software company that everyone complains about that sells their OS for $199 but it only costs them $40 to make.

Re:The Low Road? (1)

Squareball (523165) | about 11 years ago | (#5612272)

Oh come on... who would willingly buy a KIA ;)

Isn't this kinda like what the phone companies in the early days got slapped down for? Didn't the phone company used to make you use their phone in order to use their phone service?

Re:The Low Road? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#5612210)

I damn straight will knock them for trying to make their money back at the cost of infringing on free markets. Corporate whoring is bad enough at the government level--they get tax breaks, special breaks on zoning laws, etc.; now it's become that such corporate benefits are not enough, they are using legal leverage, which in turn costs the government and hence nation a vibrant, changing, improving marketplace.

The DMCA is being used to restrict product usage and as a barrier to entry of competitors. You are so ready to assert that Dell has the right to make their money back. Guess what? No one said they couldn't. What you miss is that they are preventing others from making money too. What about them? Oh, you forgot. Golly gee. You are quick to point out that Dell sells printers at closet to cost. Know what? So what! That's THEIR decision to. I don't have a problem with them deciding on their prices. No one said they couldn't.

Hell, if they want to epoxy their ink cartridges to their printers I don't care. I care when there is a law that says I can't take a Dremel to the epoxy and get more use out of it (which, thankfully the DMCA doesn't not cover).

Don't cry to the customers or voters if their loss leader costs the company. Consumers are not there to bail you out of your sorry ass decisions. I would gladly purchase a printer for $500 if I had a choice of reasonably priced brand name as well as alternative ink sources--oh, wait, I did--it's called a laser printer. Yeah, I bypassed the problem that is inkjets.

Dell leveraging stupid, overly broad laws (it's a DMCA violation, as Lexmark has already tested in court, and there is at least another case law example you can use re the DMCA and this sort of technology involving, of all things, garage doors) and changing the business fight (in this case, based on evolving technologies) to a legal one. If you honestly believe Dell has the right to be in the marketplace, drop all the other crap and make it a business slugfest.

Oh, btw, I do say the same thing of MS and the Xbox. MS knew full well that crypto'ing their code they were not only getting protection by crypto but also legal protection via the DMCA protection. (Note that I did not say copyright protection, because the key provents flat out code usage, including user rolled applications--so much for a company that "innovates" and puts out DRM crap->they can't even tell the difference between pirated copies and apache). MS bleeds on Xbox, and I'm glad they do. I don't buy from Xbox, and now I won't be buying from Dell (I used to buy about $2,000 of equipment through their accessory store).

Next... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#5612035)

New cars' gas tanks will not be able to be refilled. If you need new gas, you will have to buy a new gas tank from Ford, GM, etc. This will ensure you get the highest quality feul that will ensure the maximum life of your car. A smart chip will prevent manual refilling.

Someone hack it please? (1)

dethl (626353) | about 11 years ago | (#5612036)

Isn't there someone out there that can hack this prevention technology? It would be nice to make a chip to solder onto the printers mainboard to send a "full" signal regardless of the condition of the ink cartridge.

Then again...would it be possible to do a hack via the means of software?

Re:Someone hack it please? (1)

certron (57841) | about 11 years ago | (#5612134)

Well, what would you like?

Here is for my epson printer...

http://www.eddiem.com/photo/printer/chipreset/re se tchip.html
http://www.eddiem.com/photo/CIS/inkchi p/chip.html
also http://www.ampoule.ru/epson/en/index.html
and http://www.ssclg.com/epsone.shtml

Have fun!

Re:Someone hack it please? (1)

patric91 (656709) | about 11 years ago | (#5612157)

Lexmark has already sued one company for doing exactly that. According to Lexmark, it's a violation of the DMCA. Go figure.

Inkjet printers suck! (0, Flamebait)

Dr. Bent (533421) | about 11 years ago | (#5612040)

Biggest scam ever! They get more and more useless every day...."Oh, I printed half a page, time to buy a new $50 ink cartridge".

Printer technology peaked with the laserjet printer and everything since then has been a ugly and annoying attempt by printer manufacturers at a constant revenue stream. Blegh!

Rant Over.

Re:Inkjet printers suck! (2, Insightful)

Billly Gates (198444) | about 11 years ago | (#5612060)

I agree. I bought an hp laserjet 1000 the low end version which I assume was shitty. It rocks.

Even the lowest end laser printers are so much more reliable and faster then the highest end ink jet.

Only 1 paper jam ever with my HP.

My epson ink jet cost only $50 but I blew over $150 over the years for ink.

I still use my original ink cartridge on my laser printer because it can do over 2.5k copies!

The quality of the ink is better as well and the images are sharper.

Re:Inkjet printers suck! (3, Insightful)

JudgeFurious (455868) | about 11 years ago | (#5612141)

Ditto on the lasers blowing the inks out of the water. I've got two lasers at home I picked up on my local county online auction. I picked up an Apple 12/640 for $40 and a Lexmark Optra Lxn+ for $68. Both of them are still on the toner cartridge that was sitting in them when I bought them and print flawlessly. The Apple printer had 6800 pages on it and the Lexmark had 32,000 and they sold them for small change. I felt like a thief picking them up from the county warehouse.

Last inkjet printer I bought sits in the closet waiting for it's next set of cartridges. Every time I think I need to print something in color I price the carts and say "nevermind". That's what cheap printers with expensive ink create. A customer who you make nothing (or next to nothing) off of when you sell him the printer and who never can bring himself to pay for the expensive refills.

Re:Inkjet printers suck! (1)

c.emmertfoster (577356) | about 11 years ago | (#5612203)

why have a sig at all anyway? It's not required is it? oh damn! now I have one. nevermind.

Product branding, baby. Hooray for mnemonic devices!

Re:Inkjet printers suck! (2, Funny)

poisoneleven (310634) | about 11 years ago | (#5612235)

The unfortunate thing about getting printers so cheap and so un-used, is that it's your tax dollars at work!

Re:Inkjet printers suck! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#5612143)

Laser printers don't use ink cartridges, they use toner cartridges.

Re:Inkjet printers suck! (1)

Radical Rad (138892) | about 11 years ago | (#5612152)

I agree too. Not only are lasers more reliable and faster but they are MUCH cheaper and print on any kind of paper. My laser cartridge has a lifetime of 10k pages. It is still the original that has been in there for 6 years. The DJ500 I had before would print about 100 pages before the nozzles started clogging and putting streaks in the output. Inkjets printers are nothing but a way to sell ink cartidges. It's like giving a free crack pipe away with the first rock they buy.

Re:Inkjet printers suck! (2, Insightful)

DoninIN (115418) | about 11 years ago | (#5612231)

The cheaper the printer the more it costs per page. Period, it's not just a function of laser vs inkjet. A high output multi drum digital colour copier will print out what looks like shiny magazine (national geographic/cosmo) looking output for a few pennies a page, best of all a machine like that will only set you back thirty grand or so. Think of a lexmark/dell printer as a Polaroid camera(ya'll do remember polaroids, right?) and don't stress over the whole thing.

Re:Inkjet printers suck! (2, Funny)

arcite (661011) | about 11 years ago | (#5612120)

One other advantage that makes Laser printers superior.... NO SMUDGING!

I have had professors refuse to accept or mark papers handed in printed on ink jets because if they spilled their coffee on it, the text would smudge!
Picky Sadistic professors: 1
Inkjets: 0

Re:Inkjet printers suck! (1)

stefanlasiewski (63134) | about 11 years ago | (#5612150)

Very true, however I can print good color pictures on my Inkjet, for $149 + the $50 inkjet cartridge.

A decent color laserjet costs several thousand dollars at Office Depot.

But that said, I'm buying a laserjet as soon as I get a job. Their b&w letter quality can't be beat.

Re:Inkjet printers suck! (3, Informative)

craenor (623901) | about 11 years ago | (#5612216)

Umm....of the 4 printers being offered by Dell, only one is an inkjet. The other three are Laser's, and the toner cartridge is likewise - proprietary.

Dells line is too much for an ink jet (4, Interesting)

Billly Gates (198444) | about 11 years ago | (#5612042)

I bought my HP laserjet for $240. About the $289 dollar inkjet from Dell. Inkhet printers are typically $200-$100.

After switching to laser I will never go back. I do not need color for most documents and the quality and reliablity are so much better. My epson inkjet blows goatballs and always jams.

Re:Dells line is too much for an ink jet (1)

tupps (43964) | about 11 years ago | (#5612109)

$289 is for the pro quality inkjet. There is a big difference between bottom of the rung inkjet and pro quality inkjet. There bottom feeder inkjet is $139 with Scanner built in.

Got to agree with you on the Laser printer though, they are just so much better and very cheap laser printers are actually quite good quality and speed (eg 12ppm).

Re:Dells line is too much for an ink jet (1)

MBCook (132727) | about 11 years ago | (#5612163)

This really is true, ink jets are just problems waiting to happen. I always hated how if I left my printer alone for a month unused, I'd have to buy new ink cartriges because the old ones couldn't be cleaned. Epsons seem to fall apart in a year or two and just start having problem after problem (quite nice untill then though). HPs start to streak horridly within a month, at least in my expirence. The only ink jet that I have that I like is my old HP DeskWriter C that I bought when I bought my old Apple LC II. It still runs perfectly. There is alot to that old saying, "they don't make 'em like they used to". Ink is WAY overpriced (I know thats how they make their money but still). Why the hell should I pay $30 for black ink, and $40 for color. It doesn't even last that long. What's the alternative?

My HP LaserJet 2100. It wasn't $100 like most ink jets are today, but it wasn't that bad. I put in a jet direct card that I also got used. I put it on my network and other than feeding it paper (I've been meaning to buy a second paper tray to cut down on this) it's been fine. I don't have to go download some odd driver for some USB thing that's hard to install. It works on ALL OSes using standard drivers because PCL and JetDirect have become standards. When I wanted to plug in a Mac, I got a postscript DIMM and plugged it in. Now my mac works great, PDF files print FAST (because the printer can do all the rendering), and my *nix boxen have never had an easier time printing. It's sat on my network without my intervention for hundreds of days. I've printed nearly 8,000 pages (7945 by its internal count) and replaced the toner ONCE. Sure toner costs me $100 a pop, but I get so many pages out of a single toner cartridge I could probably buy a color laser printer for the ammount I've saved by now in ink.

I'm glad to see Dell selling printers. I think this might push up the quality of ink jet printers that you can buy. But I think that it won't be long before companies go back to selling ink for $20 and making most of their profit on the printer. It might not be too long before a standard ink cartridge format develops, and the days of $40 prices disapear faster than big-mouth-billy-bass ads did.

Re:Dells line is too much for an ink jet (2, Informative)

craenor (623901) | about 11 years ago | (#5612258)

That is a personal laser printer for $289.00. The only inkjet offered by Dell is the $109.00 (witb rebate) all in one.

Can I just say ... (1)

B3ryllium (571199) | about 11 years ago | (#5612046)

that I hate printers? They're clunky, they rarely work right, and the ink costs a fortune.

Dirty smelly nasty printersesses ... I hates them!

Re:Can I just say ... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#5612079)

Try laser. You can get an HP laser jet for $250 or you can go on ebay and get them for cheaper.

They are extremely reliable and the ink never smudges because its fused onto the paper. In an inkjet its sprayed on by bubbles.

Also if you can buy a used HP corporate laser pritner with networking support, you can use linux with it. The higher end department printers are real printers and not winprinters which mean Linux can communicate with them.

Re:Can I just say ... (1)

B3ryllium (571199) | about 11 years ago | (#5612201)

Yeah, my work has a really nice HP laser printer, works great - RedHat+Samba serve it up for the LAN.

My Canon BJC-610 at home is another story, though. It hasn't printed anything since early 2002 ... heheh :)

Who cares? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#5612048)

These days, print cartidges cost more then a printer. Just go buy a new printer when you run out. At $50 CDN for a decent Epson printer, you can't go wrong.

If you do that you get screwed. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#5612100)

The cartridge they bundle with new printers is only half-filled.

Reverse enginering the cartridges.. (2)

CausticWindow (632215) | about 11 years ago | (#5612050)

would be in direct violation of the DMCA.

Unless you are basing your operation in a more civiliezed part of the world, that is.

Re:Reverse enginering the cartridges.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#5612131)

Someone with a clue mod this up. I'm surprised the /. editors seem to be clueless on this.

Lexmark won the injunction last I heard re reverse engineering or bypassing their technology. Similar to the garage door opener case (yes, garage door opener's--that's how stupid this law is), the DMCA is being used to hammer competitors.

Sucks (1)

laserlights2000 (661582) | about 11 years ago | (#5612054)

I actually used one of those refill kits once, and it worked great. Isn't it illegal for a company to create a monopoly over ink?

Cheap Ink? (1)

SourceHammer (638338) | about 11 years ago | (#5612055)

So who makes printers with cheap consumables? I am going to have to travel back in time to stock up on printers that I can refill in the future. The winner in the printer wars is going to make a lot of money in ink sales - a few years from now.

Oh, Dell paper too... (5, Funny)

SourceHammer (638338) | about 11 years ago | (#5612087)

At least it doesn't require that you have to print exclusively on Dell paper. I bet someone is inventing that right now.

Re:Cheap Ink? (1)

roomisigloomis (643740) | about 11 years ago | (#5612239)

I have a Canon s800 inkjet and I use generic cartridges all the time. Canon doesn't care and I love them for it. I replaced all four cartridges last month. Total cost: US$22. Yes, four cartridges. I don't work for Canon but I have great respect for them. Check out the printer here . [cnet.com]

Useless Question (1)

samspade (75394) | about 11 years ago | (#5612056)

Anyone know how the printer "knows" that you filled it up?

First post!

Re:Useless Question (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#5612111)

it's eavesdrops on your private conversations.

Re:Useless Question (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#5612128)

Obviously by scanning your brainsignals and detecting you filling up the cartridge.

Re:Useless Question (1)

Squarewav (241189) | about 11 years ago | (#5612133)

the most simple way I can think of, is that the thing just keeps track of how much ink it uses then cuts off after a it belives the thing is empty

Re:Useless Question (1)

John_McKee (100458) | about 11 years ago | (#5612158)

Easy, the level of ink is already monitored by the printer so all you have to do is burn it into a PROM in the cartridge. If you refill it it still reads from the PROM as empty, thus doesn't work. Of course, this could easily be bypassed by reverse engineering and replac... Oh wait, that is illegal...

Does anyone know (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#5612058)

What the cheapest inkjet printer is for initial cost & cartridges? I bought an Epson for $50 and 2 cartridges set me back the same amount as the printer. I use mostly black, but the problem is if the color runs out, it won't even let me print in black.

Re:Does anyone know (1)

Qzukk (229616) | about 11 years ago | (#5612077)

I use mostly black, but the problem is if the color runs out, it won't even let me print in black.

My parents' Lexmark appears to use the color cartridge to print black. At least it can't seem to tell when a cartridge has run out, so the empty color cartridge can just sit in there while it prints black using the real black ink.

Re:Does anyone know (1)

Chronos56 (652646) | about 11 years ago | (#5612271)

Go for the 4 tank Canon printers. There is usually a reasonably priced entry level printer and with a refill kit you can refill the tanks indefinately. As for ease of refill they are considered the easiest ones to refill as well. I have a Canon BJC-3000, picked it up for $50.00 2 years ago, still prints well, I refill the tanks about 2-3 times a year. Can't beat it with a stick. There is a new generation of Canon's out now that have a ceramic head. Can't remember the model number but they go for about $150.00. Very fast and very good photo printing using the same 4 tank system in my older printer. Saving up for one now. You just can't beat these for great cost per page printing.

Rationale? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#5612062)

Dell thinks that "out-of-spec" cartridges will break the printer or what? Bad cartridges can possibly give bad print-outs, and that's a risk I'm willing to take, but they won't break the printer. Customers don't need to be babysitted on this.

Re:Rationale? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#5612119)

Breaks the business model, more like it.

And I'm not so sure about customers, some of them do need to be babysatilatitized on this.

-Note to Self: don't forget to mark "Post Anonymously" you smug bastard!


Note-to-Self Troll

That's sensational...ism! (4, Insightful)

mosch (204) | about 11 years ago | (#5612070)

My Summary:

Dell has released an extremely cheap printer. This extremely cheap printer uses ink cartridges which create a revenue stream for Dell, but also wear out and stop functioning to spec after a certain amount of time.

Some third party is upset that they cannot refill those cartridges, even though they were not designed to be refilled, and are at the end of their lives.

Consumers have a multitude of options regarding printing technology, at widely varying costs per page. Dell's decision has not eliminated any of the other suppliers or technologies.

In short, unless you manufacture inkjet refill kits, don't worry about this, it doesn't matter and it would change your life in the least.

Re:That's sensational...ism! (4, Insightful)

Fulcrum of Evil (560260) | about 11 years ago | (#5612122)

Some third party is upset that they cannot refill those cartridges, even though they were not designed to be refilled, and are at the end of their lives.

They're more pissed that they are being prevented from refilling the cartridges by technology put there for the purpose, and that they are unable to manufacture knockoffs due to the DMCA.

In short, unless you manufacture inkjet refill kits, don't worry about this, it doesn't matter and it would change your life in the least.

Unless you happen to like the idea of competition, that is. Allow this, and you will see more and more things that you buy come with strings attached regarding usage, and those strings will be backed up by legal force.

Re:That's sensational...ism! (1)

Adam9 (93947) | about 11 years ago | (#5612183)

How do copyrights restrict the manufacturing of printer cartridges?

Re:That's sensational...ism! (2, Interesting)

Fulcrum of Evil (560260) | about 11 years ago | (#5612207)

How do copyrights restrict the manufacturing of printer cartridges?

Simple: incorporate a chip in the ink cartridge that interacts with the printer. This chip is required for the cartridge to be recognized, but it uses some form of encryption, so duplicating it may violate the DMCA. HP has already used these tactics to limit or prevent sale of third party cartridges.

no change in life? I beg your pardon (4, Insightful)

lingqi (577227) | about 11 years ago | (#5612124)

I am not the only one who realizes that it's cheaper to buy a new printer than a set of replacement catridges.

So, what do you think happens to the old printer? it gets tossed; and then it gets dumped in a landfill or china - neither is a very good option.

I don't see how does that *not* impact my life.

Besides, environmental issues aside, while cheap, printers DO COST MONEY TO MAKE, and throwing them away because the manufactures decides on a fucked-up business model only drives up the cost eventually.

I really don't like this model the inkjet people has taken on. I mean, I understand it with games consoles, but the analogy don't really compare. It's like if Xbox costed less than your typical came and always came with coupon for a free game of your choosing - or a car that's so cheap you will buy it for the tank of gas that the dealer gives you. It's not a good business model anywhere else, why would the printer people get all drunk over it?

Re:no change in life? I beg your pardon (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#5612253)

And you're not the only one who doesn't understand the distinction between cost and cost per unit.

(cost of new printer) < (cost of replacement cartridge)

But divide each side by the number of pages you get out of it, and the inequality turns the other way.

In other words, the printer company gets to fuck the sheep who buys the overpriced cartridges, and gets to fuck deeper people like *you* who think they outsmarted the system. Amazing.

Re:no change in life? I beg your pardon (1)

MBCook (132727) | about 11 years ago | (#5612256)

That would be true if you still got full cartridges when you bought a new ink jet. But the last time that I bought one (and when others I know have gotten them) they now come with either 1/2 or 1/4 full ink cartridges, so you have to go out and buy new ones almost immediatly.

Re:That's sensational...ism! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#5612137)

Good lord sir, I hope that your website is a satire.

Re:That's sensational...ism! (1)

Remus (70051) | about 11 years ago | (#5612148)

In short, unless you manufacture inkjet refill kits, don't worry about this, it doesn't matter and it would change your life in the least.

Actually, if I were to buy such a printer and Dell would succeed in preventing their cartridges from being refilled, I would certainly pay a premium since Dell cartridges won't be as cheap as refills. Can you say bait and switch?


Re:That's sensational...ism! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#5612164)

how is this bait and switch? they sold you a cheap printer and that is what you got. They never said they were going to sale you cheap ink.

Re:That's sensational...ism! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#5612169)

In short, unless you manufacture inkjet refill kits, don't worry about this

And that's bullshit.

Not designed to be refilled...on purpose (1)

beavis88 (25983) | about 11 years ago | (#5612171)

By asserting that "old" cartridges may not function "to spec", Dell claims to be protecting the very consumers it is in fact gouging by forcing them to buy Official(tm) Dell(R) PrintCartridges(sm) as replacements. It's all about protecting the consumer against sub-standard output (which incidentally is about all you get on low price inkjets in my experience).

Sell me a printer, and let me put whatever the fuck kind of ink I want to in it.

Do you think it would be acceptable for the manufacturer of my car to disable the engine if I didn't put Dell brand oil in it?

Dell,, (1)

mpost4 (115369) | about 11 years ago | (#5612076)

First I hate ink jets, second it a dell, dell is the worse company to sell computer parts. See this journal [slashdot.org]
entry of mine in regards to the hell I went though with dell.

Well they are almost correctly name

Windows (1)

Nocode (175478) | about 11 years ago | (#5612080)

Dell thinks the software included with the printers sets them apart from the competition, said Tim Peter, vice president and general manager of Dell's imaging and printing group. Users receive prompts to replace cartridges when the ink level falls below a certain mark and a link to Dell's Web site where replacement black and color cartridges can be ordered appears on the user's screen.

Great. Lets just add some more junk to load up in Windows startup. If you buy a Dell with 256 RAM, the average home user (like my mom) will have a total of 2 megs left after all the crap in these name brand PC's load up. This just copies Lexmark anyway. Last Lexmark printer I installed for someone had about 5 new command lines for programs added to start-up, with 4 of them not even needed to operate the printer. Great. So after the the other 42 programs in your start up load up, you get this addi

This sounds a bit silly. (1)

ewhenn (647989) | about 11 years ago | (#5612084)

This reminds me of a mod chip in reverse. People are not trying to steal anything here, which is what the mod chip is mainly used for. I am a bit peeved at the idea of a complany attempting to stop someone from modifying what they legelly own (IE. print cartridge).

Refills suck (1)

DoninIN (115418) | about 11 years ago | (#5612093)

Honestly, the quality of refilled printer cartridges is uneven, and that's putting it nicely. A great many consumers don't know much about PCs, and less about printers, many of them plan on printing about a hundred pictures and then getting bored with the whole "computer" thing anyway. Those cheap lexmark printer are awesome, cheap and print high quality for next to nothing. Sure price per page sucks, but does your great aunt really want a colour laser printer so she can print pictures of her gawd awful great grandbabies?

I wish the market would work here, but sadly... (4, Interesting)

tizzyD (577098) | about 11 years ago | (#5612107)

I don't think it will.

As long as most people blindly accept the pap they get from Dell, they will buy printers like this one as well. The end result? Dell sells printers and ties them to the cartidges. They're just looking to capitalize on their place in the market . . . appealing to the ignorant buyers in households who know no better options.

Real markets depend upon easy access of producers and consumers, and an informed consumer on the products of the market. In this case, we have neither; ergo, we have no market. We have another Windoze in the making.

It's situations like this one that make me doubt the "free market."

Re:I wish the market would work here, but sadly... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#5612249)

Our system has already admitted that a truly free market doesn't work. That is why we have laws regulating monopolies and anti-trust laws. Anyone who believes in a truly free market would think those laws completely unnecessary.

Dot matrix (2, Interesting)

Wee (17189) | about 11 years ago | (#5612117)

Screw all this inkjet/laser nonsense. I want a dot matrix printer. It doesn't even have to be a 24 pin either. As long as it can do long, long sheets out of a whole friggin' box of alternating green and white lined fanfold tractor paper, then I'd be on it like white on rice. All I ever print is basically 7-bit ASCII anyway. And I could redirect STDOUT to it in a pinch (or syslogd even).

The only printer I have working now is the old receipt thermal printer from my former cash register [27.org]. It's blazingingly fast, but only does 60 columns. And it's really small text. Great for grocery lists, for code not so much. And I only have two rolls of the free Service Merchandise paper left.

Anyway, there's my random thought for the day. Thought I'd share. I think now I'll head over to ebay.


Fair enough, I guess. (2, Interesting)

capologist (310783) | about 11 years ago | (#5612142)

This sort of thing only bothers me when the manufacturer takes action to restrict the customer's ability to use the product as the customer desires, and the customer doesn't realize this until he gets it home.

As long as the customer is made aware of the artificially engineered restrictions, then I figure it's cool. Customers who don't want to accept those restrictions don't have to buy the product. It's not like DeLL has a monopoly on printers.

Re:Fair enough, I guess. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#5612196)

As long as the customer is made aware of the artificially engineered restrictions

Yeah, I noticed Dell advertising this restriction. They just want the public to know about how their printers disable consumers alternatives in ink catrtridge.

So? (1)

nuggz (69912) | about 11 years ago | (#5612147)

Well if it is so great to make printers that easily accept third party cartridges, why doesn't someone sell one, advertise it as such.

Then they could make the money on the printer, rather then these high priced cartridges.

That being said, my experience is that the third party refills or cartridges suck and you're better off with the OEM ink.

Re:So? (1)

BrainInAJar (584756) | about 11 years ago | (#5612208)


Their printers are kinna pricy, but the ink is dirt cheap ($15/cart as opposed to HP's $70/cart (!!!!) )

Re:So? (1)

Squarewav (241189) | about 11 years ago | (#5612218)

well when joe user goes into best buy looking for a printer they are not thinking about how much the ink costs they just want the fastest one for the cheapest price, which is why thoes crappy 50$ lexmark printers sell as much as they do. my first printer was a lexmark 1000, after having to deal with poor quality and lack of good drivers (not to mention no linux support) I no longer buy printers under 200$ even the expensive printers still have to use thoes shitty 30$ ink carts but they last a lot longer

Not a big deal... (1)

grungebox (578982) | about 11 years ago | (#5612153)

First of all, only a certain set of Dell cartridges have these chips according to the article. You can choose to buy the standard cartridges rather than the chip-laden "use and return" cartridges. The only barrier to buying the standard cartridges from anyone but Dell is the size mismatch issue, but that'll be solved by third-parties in a matter of 6 months, tops. And, sure, you have to buy "Use and Return" cartridges only from Dell, but that's why they're cheaper in the first place.
So, why is anyone complaining about this? Because there are evil "chips" in the cheaper cartridges? Because only a certain set of their cartridges (once again, the cheaper "Use and Return" kind) have these "chips"? Good gravy, chill out. Dell's just doing smart business. They aren't invading your privacy or anything.

The low road has yet to come (1)

dmeranda (120061) | about 11 years ago | (#5612154)

Designing in explicit incompatibilities and obsolesense is very annoying and a greedy ripoff, but there is nothing leagally wrong with it (except in the EU), as long as reverse engineering is permitted. However as soon as something like the DMCA is invoked by Dell (which Lexmark has already done [slashdot.org]), then the real low road will have been discovered.

Imagine what might happen in the future, say with some new kind of organic ink. Well if that ink contains some sort of DNA strand, and you got that patented, and you found a cheap way to put DNA testing chips in the catridges there would be another low milestone.

For me, I'd be glad to pay higher prices for a printer if the cost and hassle of ink/toner replacement were easier. The situation where every new model of printer must have a new unique and incompatible cartidge is beyond silly. This kind of thing happens in other industries too from time to time. Consider battery packs for digital cameras. It seems that the usual way for these things to be sorted back to a reasonable reality is either for the government to step in (say #2 pencils, shoe sizes, gas peddle on the right, etc.) or for the industry to totally collapse or come under the control of a single monopoly.


ftg888 (564878) | about 11 years ago | (#5612173)

1) Went to Staples in Burnaby, BC, Can-na-DUH 2) Bought a LEXMARK Z23 3) Gave them 34 dollars cDN or 3 bucks US 4) Came home plugged it in , noticed black cart. 5) Went back to Staples, noticed BW CART was $53 6) Bought 6 more printers... Problem Solved.. I will donate them to old people, and old farts homes before i use all the ink up.. Laser is the only cheap way to go.. K.

Canon Printers (1)

frovingslosh (582462) | about 11 years ago | (#5612190)

Just my 2 cents worth: I considered this issue when I bought my last printer, got a Canon printer with individual ink tanks. Very easy to refill (drill a small hole in the side above the ink line, fill and seal) and there is no chip counting drops of ink used or stopping you from removing the print haed assembly for cleaning, transporting, storage or other reasons. I'm extremely happy with it.

Re:Canon Printers (1)

DeathPenguin (449875) | about 11 years ago | (#5612225)

I currently own an old Canon printer and have been very happy with it, but am looking for a new printer to replace it (It busted just a couple days ago). I've ruled out another Canon as a possibility because the LinuxPrinting.org vendor report card [linuxprinting.org] gives Canon a C-. What printer do you have, which driver does it use, and does it work well under Linux?

Re:Canon Printers (1)

frovingslosh (582462) | about 11 years ago | (#5612264)

I'm using the BJC-3000, although there are other ink tank based printers that I like even better (and I'm not sure the 3000 is still available). But I can't give you Linux feedback, sorry.

5000 dollar bullets (1)

tekunokurato (531385) | about 11 years ago | (#5612194)

It strikes me that trying to make carts really expensive in today's fluid markets is like Chris Rock's super-expensive bullets- it's hilarious, because you just can't control other manufacturers. As complicated as you can make a cart, it's still pretty damn easy to reverse engineer, and they're consistently broken within months. I think the printer manufacturing industry ought to work hard to cooperate and raise the price of printers (not illegal collusion, just establish some price leadership like the airlines) so they can stop relying so heavily on cart sales and get their cash up front.

I suppose this used to kind of be the case, and it was likely dell who broke it. Ahh, well...

a thought... (5, Insightful)

NOLAChief (646613) | about 11 years ago | (#5612199)

My dad ran a laser printer cartridge recharge/refurbish business for a while several years ago. IIRC, a lot of printer manufacturers would also collect these old cartridges to do the same and resell them as used. What's preventing Dell/Lexmark/whoever from doing something like this? There's obviously a market for it, they'd save on manufacturing costs and empty cartridges would stay out of the landfills for a while.

"Chipped" Ink Carts (5, Informative)

bigdoof (566322) | about 11 years ago | (#5612206)

This "feature" in Dell printers reminds me of what Epson does to its entire line of ink jets. Personally, I own an Epson Photo 1290 that I use very regularly in my studio to print photos to be framed for sale. Buying loads upon loads of Epson OEM ink is certainly not very economical. So instead, I bought a continuous inking system. Basically, several large bottles of ink are piped directly into a modified ink cartridge, essentially providing a cartridge with mega-capacity. It's economical, it's more convenient, and most of all, it's more versitile. Instead of standard Epson ink, I can choose from inks with different characteristics and color gamuts. You haven't seen beauty until you've seen 4-tone black and white photos from a fairly-standard ink jet printer!

Unfortunately, the chipped Epson cartridges poses a problem. Not only will the chips tell the printer when the cartridges run out of ink, it will also disable the printer until it is replaced. Moreover, the chips don't even check the level of ink remaining. Instead, it counts the number and size of pages printed, and guesses when the ink is gone. With a continuous inking system and it's near-infinite capacity, this is not ideal.

As a result, several groups have developed workarounds. Some have made write-protected chips that are "reset" when the printer is turned off. Others have made devices to alter the ink-level information stored on the chip. And last I heard, there was work being done on a software workaround. Certainly, there are bypasses, and they have already been used for other printer manufacturers.

If anyone is interested in printer-mods, check out CIS [nomorecarts.com] and Chip Resetter [epsonchipresetter.com].

If these workarounds were not available, I would certainly have no bought an Epson printer. But at the same time, I can understand the manufacturers' position on third-party carts. Ink cartridges, not printers, are where the money's made!

Diffrent business models are scary... (3, Insightful)

John_McKee (100458) | about 11 years ago | (#5612224)

Everyone please come down, this is self-regulating capitalism in action. It is well known fact that there are little to no margins in printers themselves. The way Dell is going to make up what is more than likely a loss on the printer itself is to sell printer cartridges. Think of it as a loan, they sell you the printer at or below cost so the consumer does not have to bite the bullet and pay for the full cost of the printer (And the manufactures profit). Consumers like it that way! People like a cheap upfront cost!

It is the exact same way with cellphones, look at the cost of a unlocked (gsm) cellphone compared to the cost of getting the same phone under contract with a cellphone provider that locks you into the use of that one provider. Granted, some people do go for the unlocked phones, but the vast majority are fine with a locked phone from the provider because it is the same phone but much cheaper. Same with DirecTV who eat a loss of somewhere around $200 for each reciever they sell. Oh, and it only works with DirecTV.

If there was a market for printers that used some sort of universal cartrage, someone would make it thanks to capitalism. If you want something close get a laser, there is much less focus on consumables in that market, but of course you are going to pay a much higher upfront cost. (I have a laser and personally I wouldn't use anything else)

If you don't like it don't buy an ink jet printer, and/or make the market known for a inkjet printer that is not subsidised and uses an open design for cartriges, but frankly gripping at length at how Dell is trying to screw the consumer with a perfectly legitiment business model (And one that most consumers like) is not productive and gets quite tiresome.

Distorting customer perception... (2, Insightful)

Kjella (173770) | about 11 years ago | (#5612233)

You know as well as I do that many people look at the printer price, not some complex calculation of cost per page, pages per cartridge, cartridge price and # of pages over printer lifetime, at least not when this big red sign "SALE: Only XX.99$" is beaming towards you.

Personally, I would consider "ink" as a commodity product. Just like I expect my car to run on gas from any petrol station (assuming right octane at least :p), or my printer to accept paper of any color, and not only paper with a hidden "printer" watermark.

I don't have a problem with the business model though as long as it is clearly labeled. "Can only be used with [brand] ink cartridges. Third-party cartridges or ink refill is not possible. Attempts to circumvent this is illegal under the DMCA and punishable by [whatever it is]." in red. That should kill sales pretty quick...


This isn't anything new for Dell (1)

Cerlyn (202990) | about 11 years ago | (#5612238)

This isn't anything new for Dell. They have played this game before. Anyone remember their standard yet non-standard "ATX" power supplies [google.com]?

Out of fairness, newer Macintoshes also have standard yet non-standard power supplies. And back in the days of 286's, lots of manufactuers had their own connectors for everything from keyboards to memory.

Epson already does this (1)

acomj (20611) | about 11 years ago | (#5612246)

I have an epson 1270 printer. There is a chip in the cartridge that will prevent printing when its out of ink. I think there already are ways to work around this problem for 3rd party ink vedors.

The only problem I have is that when the 5 color ink cartridge is "out" is still seems to have alot of ink left.

My next printer will have induhvidual (sic) ink cartridges.

Dell's never seen the High Road (2, Informative)

Desolation Row (550944) | about 11 years ago | (#5612257)

Since the days (20 years ago) when scammer Mikey Dell placed a dozen two-page spread ads (unpaid for) in PC Magazine pretending to be 12 different Texas companies, he's pretty much decided it's more comfortable down there.

In other words, DON'T BUY THESE PRINTERS (2, Interesting)

leereyno (32197) | about 11 years ago | (#5612259)

There is no reason to buy one of these Dell printers when you can buy another brand that doesn't have this "feature." Depending upon what you're printing and how much, it may be worthwhile to invest in a decent laser printer. The price per-page on laser printers is far less than that of inkjet printers. If you print a lot, a laser printer will eventually pay for itself. You do have to be careful of course in what you buy since not all are made the same. I couldn't tell you what to buy right now, but I bought a Lexmark 12ppm laser printer three years ago and I've yet to run out of toner for it. The price was $499 on clearance. When I do need to replace the toner cartridge I can buy 3rd party and refilled cartridges very cheaply. If I want to add more memory to the printer I can do that very cheaply as well because it works with standard 72-pin EDO simms.

Here is a little bit of printer tivia for you. The printer division of HP makes derives 75% of its profits from the sale of ink and toner cartridges. Remember that the next time some company tries to lock you in to buying cartridges from them.


RE:!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#5612269)

RE>>.contain a chip that disables the cartridge if it is refilled and replaced in a Dell printer.>>>

this is a load of horseshit, i hope Dell loses their ass in this deal, same for ALL those printing companys that charge outragous prices for their printer cartrages...
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