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InkJet Printers Lying, Or Just Wrong?

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the running-on-empty dept.

Printer 461

akkarin writes in about a study reported at Ars Technica on how accurate ink-jet printers are when they report that cartridges are empty. Not very, it turns out. Epson came out on top of the study (and Ars rightly questions how objective it was, given that Epson paid for it), but even they waste 20% of the ink if users take the printers' word for when to get a new cartridge. On average, the printers in the study wasted more than half the ink that users bought.

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Considering how expensive ink is (3, Interesting)

DaveCBio (659840) | more than 7 years ago | (#19593231)

Hearing this pisses me off. I realize it's a competitive market, but every company out there charges insane amounts for ink. Hell, even the 3rd party refills are expensive. I'd rather pay the real price for a printer and have reasonable ink prices, but I guess that would kill the 1000% markup they have on ink. Laser isn't much better, but at least it doesn't feel like virtual buggering.

Re:Considering how expensive ink is (5, Interesting)

BobTheLawyer (692026) | more than 7 years ago | (#19593393)

The problem is that the printer manufacturers are now caught in this model. Nobody dares go back to charging the "real" price for the printer and the ink, as their printers would immediately seem more expensive to the average customer.

In an ideal world the model would be unsustainable, as third party ink manufacturers would undercut the official ink packs. But the printer manufacturers have consistently abused their market position and IP law to prevent third party ink manufacturers competing on equal terms. Your average consumer doesn't even know he can get cheap alternatives, and life is increasingly difficult for even sophisticated consumers as the printer manufacturers build in IP-protected electronics into ink cartridges.

All in all, it's clearly bad for consumers and the kind of thing the competition/anti-trust authorities should be investigating.

Re:Considering how expensive ink is (4, Informative)

Ucklak (755284) | more than 7 years ago | (#19593901)

In case there are any young ones around, a color HP printer in 1996 was $200 something. Ink was $15 for black and $15 for color so $30 and it lasted for my use over a year. Color was a novelty then too so that was impressive for the amount of waste I went through.

Today you can get a printer for under $100 and EACH color is $15 and it lasts 3 months.

Re:Considering how expensive ink is (4, Interesting)

jonwil (467024) | more than 7 years ago | (#19593919)

Thankfully lawsuits like Lexmark vs. Static Control have shown that using "IP laws" to prevent someone from making 3rd party spare parts wont fly.
I believe that current case law basically says that it is perfectly legal to cleanroom the special circuitry from a printer cartridge in order to produce 3rd party ink cartridges and that the printer manufacturers cannot stop it. (ob IANAL disclaimer)

Re:Considering how expensive ink is (1)

darjen (879890) | more than 7 years ago | (#19593423)

I'd rather pay the real price for a printer and have reasonable ink prices
Are you sure about that? How much do you print? Would you rather pay as much for printing as someone who prints twice as much than you?

Re:Considering how expensive ink is (5, Insightful)

walt-sjc (145127) | more than 7 years ago | (#19593495)

Laser is significantly better at the moment. Cost per page is about 10% that of inkjet, and it's a lot faster. Photo's aren't so hot, but are about the same as an inkjet in photo draft mode - big reason is that the DPI is lower (1200 on my color laser) and it only has 4 colors instead of 6 or 8. This is why I use my little Kodak 4x6" photo printer for photos (which is thermal transfer) and an internet print shop for larger quantities / enlargements of photos.

I'll never ever buy an inkjet ever again. With my laser, I never have banding, never have "cleaning cycles," etc. It just works.

Re:Considering how expensive ink is (5, Informative)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 7 years ago | (#19593665)

One of the biggest problem I have with lasers, aside from photo quality, is that paper handling isn't so good as compared to an inkjet. Inkjets can print on a variety of different media - envelopes, glossy photo paper, card stock, etc. Most inexpensive lasers have very poor paper handling in that they have an inability to print on anything thicker than thick bond or thin card stock. More expensive printers have no problem, but then they are not cost competitive with an inkjet.

Also, cheap lasers tend to wear out quicker than inkjets, in my experience.

Re:Considering how expensive ink is (1)

walt-sjc (145127) | more than 7 years ago | (#19593773)

Well, yeah. You get what you pay for. If you are replacing a $200 inkjet with a $500 color laser, don't expect a whole lot better experience. Buy a $1K color laser however and you get a decent workgroup class printer with good paper handling (I have no problem printing cardstock or envelopes.) That $1K seems like a lot, but the printer with the included starter toner that can print 5K pages will cost less than an inkjet with enough replacement carts to print 5K pages.

Re:Considering how expensive ink is (2, Informative)

alx5000 (896642) | more than 7 years ago | (#19593517)

I'll provide a simple example. You can buy a Lexmark for 25 or less here in Spain in many places. A compatible unbranded ink cartridge for it would cost more than 35. I didn't even dare to ask how much original ones were...

Re:Considering how expensive ink is (1)

alx5000 (896642) | more than 7 years ago | (#19593569)

Since /. doesn't seem to like my currency symbol anymore, I'd like to add those prices are in Euros.

Say FU to the paper world (1)

cheekyboy (598084) | more than 7 years ago | (#19593655)

Thats why I just said, bugger it, screw you , I rather change my whole behaviour than see someone get rich for no effort or work.

So thats why nothing is worth printing, unless its LARGE and on the wall. Everything can be digital (oh yeah, at least 5 copies on different media)

Thoughts of an Epson Business Analysts "Now lets see... 50cents per photo, 3 per page, 100 pages = your ink will last 30 pages at most, we make $200m profit from $6m of chemicals from india"

Re:Considering how expensive ink is (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19593661)

You should look at the Kodak EasyShare printers. Kodak is making a concerted effort these days to charge a little more for the printer & provide cheap ink. I talked to a Kodak rep at the Best Buy recently & that is exactly his sales pitch.

Re:Considering how expensive ink is (5, Funny)

kalirion (728907) | more than 7 years ago | (#19593753)

Don't you see, you don't buy the ink, you license it. Once the license runs out, you have to renew, and by ignoring the "out of ink" warning you are no better than the pirates costing the industry $10000000000000000000000000.

Re:Considering how expensive ink is (0, Troll)

monk.e.boy (1077985) | more than 7 years ago | (#19593879)

Oh My Fucking God. What a fucking surprise that is ripping us off.

Couldn't /. just have a big list of companies, the products they sell and then have a cron job that spews out posts about how company X rips off users with product Y?

Is this even news any more?


Software (5, Informative)

Mockylock (1087585) | more than 7 years ago | (#19593235)

There's actually a free software that's available that can be used to reset the chips in several brands of ink cartridges. I'm not sure if you need any type of hardware, but I've heard good things about it.

It allows you to reset the numbers and use the remainder of the ink, before it makes you replace it.

If you ask me, the feature that stops you from using a cartridge after the ink is too low, is pretty ignorant. I think it's obvious when the ink is completely out, so why not let the user decide?

Re:Software (1)

denominateur (194939) | more than 7 years ago | (#19593363)

The argument given by the printer makers is usually that air bubbles in the ink pathway may lead to ink drying and clogging up said pathway. So completely emptying a cartridge might be potentially detrimental. Still no excuse for stopping printing at 50% capacity.

Re:Software (1)

plover (150551) | more than 7 years ago | (#19593815)

That may be their argument, but it's incomplete. "Completely emptying a cartridge might be detrimental" *to whom*? An empty cartridge is just as useless as a cartridge that isn't working. I have no use for the old cartridge in either case -- it's just pre-landfill plastic once it's empty. So I don't care if I run it down to bubbles or dried ink.

Re:Software (5, Informative)

christus_ae (985401) | more than 7 years ago | (#19593401)

Yeah, there are a few solutions out there to reset the cartridge chip so that you can refill it.

Inksupply [] seems to have a few solutions.

British company proprint [] has some pay solutions.

Also found this [] .

I couldn't find any "free software" solutions to the chip problem, albeit I only looked for a little while.

Re:Software (3, Informative)

Mockylock (1087585) | more than 7 years ago | (#19593435)

I think this is actually the software I was talking about.

SSC Service Utility (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19593555)

Google for 'SSC Service Utility' for Epson printers. This allows you reset ink levels on cartridges using the printer, and can also reset the 'protection counter' on Epsons, which once at a certain level prevents you from using the printer until it has been serviced.

In a word (5, Informative)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 7 years ago | (#19593245)


I've found 'extra' ink in both my Epson and HP inkjet printers. I'd use refill kits, but the cartridges tend to leak over time, and refilling takes a lot of time and effort. In the meantime, for Epson printers, just go with the el cheapo compatible cartridges from places like Inkco [] . Epson C88 cartridges are $5 a pieces, as opposed to to ~$25 for branded cartridges.

Re:In a word (1)

Aqua_boy17 (962670) | more than 7 years ago | (#19593681)

I bought a $15 refill kit, got it home and then quickly found out in the instructions that the cartridge for my HP was one of the most difficult to refill that was ever made. It was pretty much like trying to stand on your head and stack BB's. Long story short after spilling our more ink than I was getting into the cartridge, I finally gave up.

I did find out recently that our local Walgreens store has a refill-while-you-wait service now that's a fraction of the cost of a new cartridge. I keep meaning to take mine in, but it's been sitting by the front door for a couple of weeks now and I just forget. But I really don't print that much stuff anymore, most everything is pretty much stored electronically somewhere so I maybe fire up the printer once every month or two now.

Re:In a word (1)

deep_creek (1001191) | more than 7 years ago | (#19593717)

Thanks for the recommendation. I use [] . Very inexpensive, especially with their by 2 get one free offers. I like my Epson printer and always run the tanks completely dry (never use the recommended replacement point/low ink warning flag).

Re:In a word (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 7 years ago | (#19593779)

BTW -- my application, Stylus Toolbox [] seems to be pretty accurate in reporting the % of ink, although it relies on information from the printer. Since I do tend to get a little extra ink in each cartridge (nowhere near the 20% suggested, maybe between 1 and 5%), I've thought about modifying the program to allow for a factoring of actual ink left. Unfortunately, once the printer decides there's no more ink left, there's nothing you can do short of refilling the cartridge, so I never saw the point.

Blatant plug: watch out for version 0.3.0, which adds a tray icon and corresponding popup menu. Coming soon.

Emergency (3, Informative)

rodrigoandrade (713371) | more than 7 years ago | (#19593251)

Here at work we have this HP laser printer that's always complaining about low ink. It just so happens we found an "emergency" option buried in the menus that allows us to keep printing until the toner actually dies.

Re:Emergency (0, Troll)

rootofevil (188401) | more than 7 years ago | (#19593553)

So you do know that laser printers dont use 'ink' and that toner is a dry powder right?

Wow, I just came here to submit this (3, Interesting)

farker haiku (883529) | more than 7 years ago | (#19593257)

Although I heard about it from ecogeek [] . It has links to the Ars Technica article also, but I really just wanted to point out the nice Office Space picture.

Re:Wow, I just came here to submit this (1)

necro81 (917438) | more than 7 years ago | (#19593721)

Even though I think it's a fax machine in the picture, not an inkjet printer, I think it is safe to say that the image pretty well represents everyone's feelings on this matter.

This comes as no surprise. (1)

christus_ae (985401) | more than 7 years ago | (#19593277)

I really can't remember the last time I heard of a company using questionable tactics to sell more of their product... It seems natural that they (the printer companies) would allow this to happen; most of the cost involved with owning a printer is buying cartridges, hence their expanded profit margins.

It's a win-win for the companies, and a lose-lose for the consumer. What's new?

Not buying a printer... (2, Interesting)

pipatron (966506) | more than 7 years ago | (#19593283)

Well, at least the printer industry is losing one customer. I've been kinda wanting one of those photo-printers for some time, but I know that they are only going to rip me off. Are there any honest printer manufacturers out there, that sells the printers for a reasonable price, and then sells the cartridges for what they actually cost to produce (plus of course, a reasonable profit margin)?

Re:Not buying a printer... (5, Funny)

gameguy56 (796026) | more than 7 years ago | (#19593315)

Get a Color Laser then.

Inkjets are so 1993

Re:Not buying a printer... (1)

morie (227571) | more than 7 years ago | (#19593843)

"... is so 1993" is so 2001.

You're getting old.

Re:Not buying a printer... (5, Informative)

curmudgeous (710771) | more than 7 years ago | (#19593371)

I've been a long time fan of Canon photo printers, in fact I just bought a Pixma Pro9000. Their ink tanks are clear so if you doubt what the printer is saying you can eyeball it for yourself. So far it's been very accurate about remaining ink level.

Re:Not buying a printer... (1)

christus_ae (985401) | more than 7 years ago | (#19593451)

Be real. What is a reasonable profit margin? It's what they can get away with charging. As long as Joe Sixpack still buys the shiny new printer with his new Dell, this model with flourish, as it has been.

Re:Not buying a printer... (1)

denominateur (194939) | more than 7 years ago | (#19593551)

I've had great results with the canon i865, five huge, separate ink tanks and relatively cheap inks (the black cartridge lasts about 600 pages)

It's not a true photo printer but it comes with a number of special accessories for printing on different media (ie: cd labelling tray, photo prints tray)

if you are using linux i suggest the turboprint drivers from []

Re:Not buying a printer... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19593581)

I gave up on color printing at home. My family would probably print less then two color things a month but I end up spending 1/2 the ink trying to get the heads cleaned because it sat so long.
I have a really old Epson Stylus Color (circa 1994) that isnt too bad and it can go at least 6 months before the ink dries but being that old, the quality is not that good. I have a newer Epson C82 and it can not go more then a month without being used. I keep a five pack of generic carts around just in case I need to print something. Maybe if I bought the real Epson ones they would not dry out?

Either way, Like others have done, I gave up on color inkjets completely.

Re:Not buying a printer... (1)

jshriverWVU (810740) | more than 7 years ago | (#19593793)

Ways not to get screwed: For photo printing: I gave up on printing pictures at home. Unless you have a HQ color laser printer, it's not going to be the same as a professional print. Plus with the cost of ink, it's just cheaper to head down to walmart and pay $0.19 for a picture. If you shop around you can get even cheaper. Large print jobs: head to kinko's or look in the phone book. They have laser printers so the quality is better, and chances are large print jobs are rare enough that it wont be an inconvenience to take it else where. ($5 in printing vs burning through an entire $25 cartridge) Home use: Pick whatever printer your computer supports and has the cheapest black ink. Then use it whenever you need to do basic printing at home, like printing an online receipt, email, or smaller documents.

My money is on lying... (1)

Schmendr1ck (658453) | more than 7 years ago | (#19593287)

These companies have a business model of selling printers close to cost, then making ridiculously high profit margins on ink refills. What motivation do they have to tell you that an ink cartridge is empty before it really is?

Oh, yeah...

Re:My money is on lying... (1)

walt-sjc (145127) | more than 7 years ago | (#19593565)

I wouldn't doubt if they sell the printers BELOW cost with the insane profit margins the have on ink.

Inkjet? INKJET!? (2, Insightful)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 7 years ago | (#19593289)

Get a laser printer already. Even the color models have dropped in price.

This is why... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19593329)

...I chisel all of my important documents in stone.

Re:Inkjet? INKJET!? (2, Interesting)

Zelos (1050172) | more than 7 years ago | (#19593377)

Agreed, I'd never go back to an inkjet.You'll save more than the up-front cost difference in ink pretty quickly.

Re:Inkjet? INKJET!? (2, Insightful)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 7 years ago | (#19593557)

Not to mention the time to print.

Inkjet vs laser is like dial-up vs DSL/Cable.

A used HP LaserJet 4/4+ still is a great deal (1)

Krischi (61667) | more than 7 years ago | (#19593609)

A used HP LaserJet 4/4+ can often be had for $50. Plus, these things are built like tanks. They last forever and are more than adequate for home office printing needs. I have had one of these for the past four years, and never regretted it. If one of the parts wear down, such as the paper roller assembly, replacing them tends to be cheap and easy, as well.

Laserjets do this too.. (5, Interesting)

MousePotato (124958) | more than 7 years ago | (#19593825)

Wow, this has been one of those things that really piss me off for quite some time. While it is true that the laser jet printers do better than inkjets they ALSO LIE and ARE DESIGNED TO FAIL.

For example; I bought a laser two years ago (from a company that rhymes with hell). I bought it because I needed to print letters to clients and do things like print checks. Nothing heavily graphics intensive nor really heavy duty text work either.

So here is what I discovered with my 'efficient' laser printer; My '5000 page' toner cartridge prints about 1000 pages. Pissed, I decided to open one up as they are about $100 for a new one.

Lo and behold it was still full of toner. Somehow, as the printer printed the quality of the prints degraded as the toner 'ran out' a little more with each print. At the time I figured this was because there was no toner but the proof was now in my hands (and all over my desk for that matter) so I decided to investigate further. It seems that these toner cartridges use chips to tell your pc that its running out each time you print.

Now, I'm not electronics guru, so I don't have a machine I can actually read the chip with, but I am under the impression that this chip also purposefully degrades the quality of your prints as it counts down your toner level. To test that theory I ordered some refill kits off of the web.

First thing I noticed after doing the chip replacement was that the quality of the prints immediately improved. I printed for several weeks, noticed the quality go down again, replaced the chip (no toner added in there yet...) and viola worked beautiful. When that chip said it was empty I opened the whole thing up again and took a look. This time it was indeed very low, but not empty. I poured in the new bottle of toner and put in a new chip and went back to work.

I usually order 3 chips for each bottle of toner I purchase . Currently I get about 4000 pages per bottle of toner. My refill purchases cost me $29 for two bottles of toner and six chips (on chip comes with each bottle and I add the other four to the order) Let's see$200 vs $29 for two 'cartridges' worth of prints... hmmm.... yeah I'll refill. Add to that the fact that the purchased carts don't get the same mileage as the refilled ones with extra chips to replace the old ones.

I guarantee I will never buy another 'rhymes with hell' printer again.

Caveat emptor indeed.

Not terribly surprising (1)

CaptainPatent (1087643) | more than 7 years ago | (#19593299)

Considering inkjet printers are sold at or sometimes below cost. The only profit made is on the cartridges themselves. I don't like their solution of making people think they're on empty far before that actually happens, but in no way does this shock me.

Re:Not terribly surprising (1)

tomstdenis (446163) | more than 7 years ago | (#19593335)

Which makes me wonder, why not just sell the damn printer at a profit and then stop going so anal about the ink? People will need ink regardless of how much the printer cost.

I'd rather pay more for a proper PS printer, than less for some junk windows printer that takes 5mL ink cartridges that run out every 100 pages.


Re:Not terribly surprising (1)

walt-sjc (145127) | more than 7 years ago | (#19593599)

It's because they want market share. Mom / grandma going into a store will more often buy price and not have a clue that the consumables will end up costing here 5 times more than the other brand of printer that is only $30 more.

Re:Not terribly surprising (2, Informative)

Zocalo (252965) | more than 7 years ago | (#19593703)

Which makes me wonder, why not just sell the damn printer at a profit and then stop going so anal about the ink?

Ask Gillette [] .

Surprised? (4, Interesting)

db32 (862117) | more than 7 years ago | (#19593301)

Given all of the insanity surrounding refilling ink cartridges, DMCA lawsuits, "authenticity checks" on cartridges, and the give them the printer sell them the cartridges style business is anyone, anyone at all, even remotely surprised, maybe even just raised an eyebrow, that the vendors would stoop so low as to have the printer lie to you to get you to go buy another "DMCA protected authentic cartridge we are gunna sue you if you try to refill it" item that costs nearly as much as the stupid printer did in the first place as often as possible?

I am just gunna call "well duh" on this whole thing. I have worked with HP laserjets that told me I had 200 pages left that I could print. After printing 192 pages it told me I could still print 320 pages. All said and done that day, I had printed some 500 pages and its final number was that I could still print another 250ish pages. Whether they lie, or their math is freaking horrible for figuring it out is up for debate I suppose, but given the problems we have had with that same model and HP accusing us of theft because a brand new HP cartridge out of the box was determined to be not authentic by the stupid machine...well I assume they are just out for blood. 4 hours of fighting with their technician to have them exchange the stupid cartridge.

Re:Surprised? (2, Informative)

ivan256 (17499) | more than 7 years ago | (#19593633)

I have worked with HP laserjets that told me I had 200 pages left that I could print. After printing 192 pages it told me I could still print 320 pages. All said and done that day, I had printed some 500 pages and its final number was that I could still print another 250ish pages.

With laser printers, what you're describing isn't all that uncommon, because the toner hopper is the width of the drum, but the sensor on most printers is at one end. If the printer isn't level, all the toner ends up at one end of the cartridge, and you get false readings. Even after the printer says you're out of toner, you can usually remove the cartridge and lightly pivot it a few times to redistribute the toner and get a few dozen/hundred more pages. That doesn't apply to printers with an independent toner hopper, but those are practically non existent in the non-pro class these days.

This isn't the same at all as what inkjets do, which is refuse to print even when the cartridge is clearly still half full, waste most of the ink cleaning the cartridge, etc...

Re:Surprised? (1)

walt-sjc (145127) | more than 7 years ago | (#19593685)

I buy printers with a simple translucent toner cartridge (or several for color units) that does not have any "chip" built in. True, this "workgroup" printer costs more than a SOHO printer, but it is worth it. I really don't like the "toner / drum" combo units. Look at any large office copier - do they have toner / drum combo units? No. It's ALWAYS separate. Those drums are designed to handle 5-10X the amount of usage that the amount of toner included can print. Why replace it?

Re:Surprised? (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 7 years ago | (#19593777)

but given the problems we have had with that same model and HP accusing us of theft because a brand new HP cartridge out of the box was determined to be not authentic by the stupid machine...well I assume they are just out for blood.
Just want to note that it's possible you bought a counterfeit cartridge, we've had issues with these at my office -- had to change suppliers.

Another thing that comes to mind is the issue that came up a lot a few years ago, where empty cartridges seriously screwed with inkjet printers -- because of the lower fluid volume, the ink was able to dry out completely, jamming the ink system in the printer. More often than not, the solution to this problem was -- you guessed it -- to buy a new printer.

Given that HP et al lose money on the printers they sell, I woludn't be surprised if part of the early warning to buy another cartridge has to do with

(1) Giving the user adequate notice to buy a new catridge, and
(2) Preventing the cartridge from drying up & killing the printer.

Is it deceptive? Yes. Should a smart consumer know to keep the replacement cartridge on hold until their cartridge actually runs low and print quality suffers? Yes, that's just common sense.

One other note -- the varying "pages left" numbers you received could have much to do with the saturation of the pages you were printing. That number will change based upon whether you're printing pages with a few lines of text or a page full of grayscale images.

Re:Surprised? (1)

Fujisawa Sensei (207127) | more than 7 years ago | (#19593865)

Given that HP et al lose money on the printers they sell, I woludn't be surprised if part of the early warning to buy another cartridge has to do with

You forgot the one about selling you another ink cartridge .

Re:Surprised? (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 7 years ago | (#19593925)

Since we were discussing why they would give *early* notice, how is that differentiated from giving notice when the cartridge is really about to be empty?

Yeah, yeah, you can talk about selling extra cartridges due to people tossing half-full cartridges, but given TFS and TFA, why would I bother posting something so redundant?

Kinda sorta Paperless since 1994 and loving it (2, Insightful)

Junior J. Junior III (192702) | more than 7 years ago | (#19593309)

I don't own a printer at home, and don't want one. They're too expensive to operate and maintain. I find that I can do nearly everything I want to do electronically. When I do need to print something out, I'll go to a place like Kinko's and do it there. This has the added benefit of forcing me to really think about whether I truly need a paper copy, and most often I find I can do without. The overhead of having a non-shitty printer at home that I have to take care of just isn't worth it for me.

Re:Kinda sorta Paperless since 1994 and loving it (1)

bakura121 (1117149) | more than 7 years ago | (#19593509)

I have been much more conscious about how much I print lately. If I need to print a web receipt, I save it to a PDF file instead. About the only thing that I do print these days are driving directions, and I plan to get a GPS navigator device for my car so I won't even have to print maps. That said, it's still nice to have a printer handy on my desk incase I need it.

Re:Kinda sorta Paperless since 1994 and loving it (1)

darjen (879890) | more than 7 years ago | (#19593561)

I am the same way too. The only way I might really use a printer for is google maps once in a while. But, I've found that writing down their directions works just fine most of the time. And if I think ahead about when I might need a map, I can usually print one at work if I really need to. And I have never really needed a printer for anything else.

The end of inkjet printers... (2, Interesting)

FuzzyDaddy (584528) | more than 7 years ago | (#19593319)

I remember when I first got an inkjet printer, years and years ago, when they first came out. I had been using a dot matrix printer for a long time, and laser printers were way too expensive.

The letter quality was amazing compared to my dot matrix, and when they started printing in color, and I could print photos, it was great.

Somewhere along the line, the price gouging for ink came about. I had an epson 740 for a long time, and bought ink from some third party source at very reasonable prices (~$10/ cartridge). The ink was just as good as anything else I'd used, as far as I could tell.

I had the sad wake up call about a year ago, when the epson 740 finally died. I looked and looked for a printer that would accept third party ink cartridges, and couldn't find anything reasonable. My wife's in grad school, and does a lot of printing, so I eventually went with a Brother laser printer that ran me about $150, plus $75 or so for a toner cartridge. (Although after many months, we're still using the "starter" cartridge.)

Because my old printer hung on for so long, I was rather abruptly thrust into this brave new world of ink pricing and vendor lock in. It's sad to realize that the five year old printer I had, because of the availability of third party ink cartridges, was a far better product than anything I could buy today. I'm afraid the same thing will happen to laser printers at some point, and who knows what I'll do. Perhaps that will finally push us into the paperless lifestyle we were all promised a decade ago.

Re:The end of inkjet printers... (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 7 years ago | (#19593503)

Third-party cartridges are still available for most Epson models from sites like []

People Have Too Much Disposable Income... (3, Insightful)

pandrijeczko (588093) | more than 7 years ago | (#19593323) this can only explain the popularity of mobile phones & inkjet printers; both are a total 100% rip-off.

Inkjet ink works out to be more expensive, by volume, than the most expensive Bollinger champagne which is why the money-grabbing manufacturers can virtually give the printers away but rip you off for cartridges. In some cases, it is actually cheaper to throw the printer away and buy a new one than it is to buy replacement cartridges - how *GREAT* is that for our environment.

Grow up, people! Take your nicely-edited photos down to a printing booth or shop and get your photos printed in *MUCH BETTER QUALITY* and at a cheaper cost than what you can do on a home inkjet. Then invest in a cheap laser printer to just print letters and documents when you need to.

And the sooner VoIP phones and wireless access kicks out the price-fixing cellular phone providers, the better...

Re:People Have Too Much Disposable Income... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19593819)

For most people this may be true but some of us have a need to use an inkjet. I have both an inkjet and a laser printer. The laser gets the "normal" printing work while I use the inkjet for printing graphics, marquees and such (I built arcade machines). A lot of the stuff I do on my inkjet would cost hundreds of dollars to get done at a shop.

However, for the most part I don't print photos on it. Sometimes (usually for other people), but not often.

My HP 7960 does say it's running low on ink way before it's out though. Depending on how much I'm printing it can keep printing for months after it says I'm dangerously low on ink (bastards).

My laser printer is the same way, I have literally run on an "empty" toner cartridge for years before it finally started printing crappy.

Wasted Ink? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19593331)

And this is supposed to surprise us?

Let's not waste any more ink discussing wasted ink...

Oh wait, this is ./

Re:Wasted Ink? (1)

Aqua_boy17 (962670) | more than 7 years ago | (#19593713)

Silly AC. All my posts are created using recycled ink.

What about laser jet printers... (3, Insightful)

muindaur (925372) | more than 7 years ago | (#19593333)

I used to work at a help desk at my college and one of the biggest annoyances was users telling us the one thing we already knew, the printer says low toner. That, we knew, was a lie a majority of the time. People could still print pages out that had no lack of toner. If it got light in some areas but was strong in others we would tilt the cartridge back and forth a couple of times and get a bunch more good prints out of it. All too often the HP laser jet that we had would report it was low on toner well before it was actually low on toner and out of toner.

Ummm.... (3, Insightful)

Otter (3800) | more than 7 years ago | (#19593359)

1) Reporting "Empty" when a single color in a multi-ink cartridge runs out is hardly "lying".

2) It's pretty easy for Epson to have rigged the test so that multi-ink cartridges did particularly badly (although in my experience they really are that wasteful).

3) Assuming accurate wording of the message, I'd much prefer to get a warning when the ink is low but there's time to get a replacement than to get it only at the last possible moment -- I can figure out for myself when the ink is really gone. The article claims users rush to change cartridges as soon as a message pops up, but those workers are a lot more proactive than those in any office I've ever worked in.

Re:Ummm.... (4, Informative)

PHPee (559830) | more than 7 years ago | (#19593409)

I used to work at an outsourced call centre, supporting Epson printers and scanners. By far the biggest customer complaints we received always had to do with printers wasting ink.

During our training, and from talking to various Epson reps, we learned that the printer doesn't actually monitor the amount of ink in each cartridge. Rather, it estimates the amount left, based on the various print settings chosen.

The worst part is that on many printers, once it "thinks" it's out of ink, it will no longer print until you change the cartridge. In some older printers, you could simply remove the cartride and then put it back into place, tricking it into thinking you replaced it with a new cartridge. However, this would make the ink monitor even less accurate. Newer printers won't even allow this, because the circuitry on the cartridge itself will lock you out once it has reached the estimated empty level.

There are some tools available that let you reset the "intelligent cartridges" so that they can be refilled and reused, but of course they aren't supported by Epson and may void your warranty.

Re:Ummm.... (3, Interesting)

morie (227571) | more than 7 years ago | (#19593895)

My tool? sticky tape. Works like a charm on HP: tape of one contact, insert cartridge, tape of another, insert, then remove all tape and reinsert. It seems to have a memory of 3 cartridges.

Re:Ummm.... (1)

pipatron (966506) | more than 7 years ago | (#19593497)

Isn't the problem that they refuse to print more, when it's "out of ink"? Due to some made-up excuse?

Both. (1)

seaturnip (1068078) | more than 7 years ago | (#19593361)

What usually goes on in this type of situation is that they see themselves as honest and they don't go out of their way to outright lie... but on the other hand, why make a big effort to fix inaccuracies?

Inkjets are for numpties (1)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 7 years ago | (#19593405)

You get what? 200 sheets from a cartridge costing £20? CPP of £0.10
Then of course, the ink dries up within a week, clogging the cartridges so you're likely to get even less than 200 sheets.

Does anyone with a brain still use Inkjets? Particularly when colour lasers only cost about £120.


Re:Inkjets are for numpties (1)

NeoTerra (986979) | more than 7 years ago | (#19593851)

Well, since you can't run down to your corner Wal-mart and pick a color laser up, most end users still choose inkjets. And since most people only seem to see immediate cost instead of the long run, they will also choose inkjets, because they're still "cheaper".

Re:Inkjets are for numpties (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19593897)

Show me a colour laser for £120 that prints A4 photos at the same quality as a £120 inkjet but also does edge to edge printing and supports PictBridge.

Fucking HP Photosmart D7360!!! (4, Interesting)

brxndxn (461473) | more than 7 years ago | (#19593415)

I bought an HP Photosmart D7360 a few months ago.. Since then, I've printed at least a thousand 4x6 photos. I've changed the ink a bunch of times.. but I always wait until I finally see a photo print with low ink.

However, if I use the lame HP software that starts up with my computer (and slows it down quite a bit), it flat out refuses to let me print unless I change 'empty' cartriges first. It also annoys the living hell out of me with 'low ink' popups while I'm playing video games or doing other things - like the printer is the whole fucking reason I exist.

In Ubuntu, I just use whatever driver it found for my printer... and I can print beautiful prints with 'empty' cartriges. It pisses me off..

But, I will admit, I really do get about 200 4x6 photos with a single set of cartriges like HP advertises.. this is the first printer I've had (besides laser of course) that actually lives up to how many prints it advertises.

Re:Fucking HP Photosmart D7360!!! (4, Insightful)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 7 years ago | (#19593823)

That is why they are moving the monitoring from computer into the cartridge itself. Once the "intelligent" cartridge determines that it is time to make you pay another tribute/ransom to the mother ship, it will simply lock you out. No more tricks like using Ubuntu to evade what, the printer makers believe, is their rightful claim to your wallet.

Multi-ink cartridges waste more (2, Informative)

bakura121 (1117149) | more than 7 years ago | (#19593421)

From the article:

The second issue is a familiar one: multi-ink cartridges can be rendered "empty" when only one color runs low. Multi-ink cartridges store three to five colors in a single cartridge. Printing too many photos from the air show will kill your cartridge faster than you can say "blue skies," as dominant colors (say, "blue") are used faster than the others.

That's interesting. I had never thought of how much ink was potentially being wasted by using a printer with a multi-color ink cartridge. I always just thought it was easier so I leaned towards printers that used a single 'color' ink cartridge. Now I know better.

So? (1)

Etgen (1044180) | more than 7 years ago | (#19593425)

My car says my gas tank is empty when it has about 2 gallons left. I don't think this is that big of an issue, just buy a new cartridge and install it once YOU notice ink is running out.

Re:So? (1)

wal9001 (1041058) | more than 7 years ago | (#19593585)

And when the tank is "empty" do you siphon the remaining 2 gallons out and pour it down the sink to replace it with fresh gas? Yeah, I thought so.

Nice attempt at an analogy. Except not. Not at all.

Re:So? (1)

Constantine XVI (880691) | more than 7 years ago | (#19593603)

Except when your printer "notices" for you and decides when you need more ink itself.

It doesn't matter (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19593463)

It doesn't matter whether the ink is actually empty when the cartridge says it is, it has already dried up and clogged long before that. Every single time I want to use my inkjet printer, I have to add a new cartridge because the old one has dried out.

Price fixing & Collusion? (1)

EveryNickIsTaken (1054794) | more than 7 years ago | (#19593475)

So when will Printer & Ink cartridge manufacturers be investigated for price fixing & collusion? I know that various RAM manufacturers were being investigated last year and this year for price fixing. If it can be proven that they're knowingly telling consumers to replace their cartridges when they're not empty, then they'd be in a world of shit. (Or at least have to pay a hefty fine)... I smell class-action.

Needless caps (1)

Nimey (114278) | more than 7 years ago | (#19593491)

Why do some people need to insert caps where none truly exist[1]? It's not just "inkjet" as in this article's title. I've also seen it with Firefox and the old 3dfx Voodoo video cards, and many other words which I've thankfully forgotten.

[1] Ignoring marketroid-speak like CompuServe, which was at least the official name.

Re:Needless caps (1)

chudnall (514856) | more than 7 years ago | (#19593719)

Why do some people need to insert caps where none truly exist?

I DoN't sEe thE ProbLem. aRe You sUrE iT's NoT aLl IN yOUr HeAD?

Re:Needless caps (1)

Nimey (114278) | more than 7 years ago | (#19593735)

I was waiting for random StUdLyCaPS, thanks.

eBay eMule iPod iPhone (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19593875)

eBay et al. have capitalization in weird places in the names. I think that Department of Homeland Security should not be acronymed as 'DHS', but rather "DoHS" to represent the 'of' in their name, and also so that at least the acronym is more accurate having "DoH" (Homer Simpson) in it.

I've had good results with Canon (4, Informative)

multiOSfreak (551711) | more than 7 years ago | (#19593527)

I've got a Canon S750, and it is great on reporting ink levels. It also has three separate color cartridges, which is nice. There have a been a few times when it was over zealous in reporting low ink, but all I had to do was take the cartridge out and put it back in and it ran fine until it was actually out of ink.

we are humans right? (3, Interesting)

escay (923320) | more than 7 years ago | (#19593533)

so wait - the inkjets report that cartridge needs replacement and people just do it? whatever happened to visual inspection?! We have a Dell color printer (laser, not inkjet but same argument) which starts giving out the "replace cartridge soon" message about ~1000 pages in advance. So we buy the cartridge, keep it on hand, and only replace it when we actually see that the print quality is considerably degraded. I can understand the problem if the inkjet stops printing anything at all based on its preemptive warning messages (like a software lockdown), but if it continues to work irrespective of the amount of ink then just look at the output and make your decision.

In fact, I would rather have the machine give the warning earlier than later so I can have one ordered and ready to replace when the need comes, instead of waiting for all the ink to dry out and the printer goes out of service until the cartridges arrive.

Re:we are humans right? (1)

brainnolo (688900) | more than 7 years ago | (#19593783)

Many of those inkjet printers actually lock you from printing if they think they are empty until you replace the cartidge. That's why I switched to laser (and B/W was enough for me).

Re:we are humans right? (1)

wwwillem (253720) | more than 7 years ago | (#19593859)

At first I wanted to make the same comment, about just replace when _you_ see that the prints get bad. But I read in other posts that the current drivers not only give you a warning, but also stop printing until you replace the cartridge. That makes this a real issue.

The Lexmark I had 5 years ago didn't have this behaviour, but it's easy to see why the printer guys have added this "feature" :). In my case, I was mostly anoyed by the cartridges drying out when not printing for a few weeks.

OK, solved this long time ago by switching to a laser printer.

How I can tell... (1)

p4rri11iz3r (1084543) | more than 7 years ago | (#19593537)

I have an old HP inkjet printer that's probably close to 6 years old (and it was't the latest and greatest when I bought it). Its held up well over the years. It doesn't have any fancy "ink is low" light on it, so I have to make due using other methods.

Color cartridge - When the colors on the pictures I print come out distorted or just plain wrong, I know that it's time to replace the color cartridge.

Black cartridge - When the text I print is unreadable, that usually means its time to replace the old black cartridge.

Just a few handy hints.

actually it's not that suprising. (1)

linuxpng (314861) | more than 7 years ago | (#19593579)

Suppose you run out of one color of ink, and your prints all have a yellow cast. I think in that situation it would report you were out of ink and you'd throw away the cartridge.

On the other hand, there's no reason that should happen with black. Unless it's a photo printer doing black and whites that has part of it's gray system used.

Things may have changed since I last bought a printer, but epson was the least evil back then. You could buy generic cartridges for the printer, you could even refill your real cartridges without them reporting empty or faulty like the HP ones do. I think what bothers me most is how HP is trying to lower prices on laserjets and hike the prices on the toner. The toner was expensive enough before that happened. Running my 2550n (I think that's it's model) cost $110 x 4 for toner.

Ever seen a toothpaste commercial? (5, Insightful)

smitty_one_each (243267) | more than 7 years ago | (#19593583)

They grab that tube, start at one end of the brush, and just hammer that brush, covering it to the last bristle with toothpaste.
Is the cleanliness of the teeth proportional to the amount of paste used? No.
Are sales driven by encouraging people to use more product? Yes.
Why does the 'corporate we' seem so surprised when we occasionally wake up and realize that vendors are trying to cajole more sales?

don't change the cartridge immediatly (1)

nomi42 (879034) | more than 7 years ago | (#19593625)

what I do with for example HP or epson when I get the empty cartridge message, is that I just remove it and put it back and it works again for alsmost the same time. Only at the second message I do change the cartridge for a new one. Works pretty well and many friends are doing the same.

We tape the cartridge... (4, Informative)

John3 (85454) | more than 7 years ago | (#19593641)

We use Epson inkjet receipt printers at my hardware store and we put a small piece of masking tape over the cartridge ink window. We find that we get an extra week or two of use out of a cartridge by covering the ink window. When the ink runs out (i.e. the receipt is blank) we swap the cartridge.


The Captain Obvious report (1)

192939495969798999 (58312) | more than 7 years ago | (#19593671)

Does anyone not know this? How many printers have you kept using when it says "ink low", "ink extremely low", "go buy a new ink cartridge" and it still has ink in it? Maybe it's out on the color side, but in black and white, you can still print for a long time. If you're willing to accept 'economy mode' or slightly faded copy, you can print for a LONG time even on an "empty" black cartridge before it truly runs out and just prints a white sheet.

I had the inverse once... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19593709)

I have had the opposite problem with my current printer. It continued to say I was full of ink despite the fact pages would not print properly and the black ink couldn't musted anything above a grey. I even performed the "clean" operation several times before finally giving in and buying new carts. The funny thing is the entire time the printer was saying the cartridges were full.

While it might be fun for conspiracy theorists to say the printers are rigged to make you buy more ink, I think it is just an issue with really bad systems. I can think of two possible ways to measure ink usage. One would be an estimated usage, which would have a high risk of inaccuracy, since it would have to determine an average ink usage for a page of paper. The other method would be to use sensors to take an actual measure of the ink contents of the cartridge. If it is the latter, then this sort of inaccuracy is really unacceptable because they should easily be able to device a system that can properly measure the ink levels.

I do not think there is some greater evil with the printer manufacturers to get you to buy more ink. The simple fact is that ink is already a scam unto itself and in some cases you might even be able to buy a new printer for less than your cartridges (if you do not mind setting up a new one every few months). I would be far more interested to see if Laser printers are more accurate in reporting of toner levels (if any do, I seem to remember most just going flaky before quitting), because while toner is expensive, I do not think there is near the cost issues when you consider the extra cost of most laser printers.

Well DUH (1)

Krojack (575051) | more than 7 years ago | (#19593731)

Thats why I have an extra cartridge and won't change it will I start seeing light streaks in my printouts. I can always reprint the page(s) that didn't come out.

non-story (0)

stratjakt (596332) | more than 7 years ago | (#19593763)

Even a non-technical person with an ounce of brain will just keep printing until ink stops actually coming out onto the paper.

Does anyone heed the software's guesstimates?


Liars and Thieves (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19593767)

I use an Epson R220 for sole purpose of printing black ink on cds. Its the only affordable printer that i can find that does so. It uses 5 separate ink cartridges each with their own IC that counts the number of times you print and tells you that the ink is empty based upon the count on the chip. Even though i ONLY print black the software slowly shows my color ink cartridges depleting.

Heres the kicker, when i run out of one color the printer WILL NOT PRINT black until i replace the color cartridge. Eventually i bought a chip reseter and it does the job perfectly. I even found that when i reset the black ink cartridge i can continue printing until it says empty 3 more times.

Epson is run by crooks and sincerely hope there is a special place in hell for those assholes.

Laserjets are just as bad... (1)

tim_darklighter (822987) | more than 7 years ago | (#19593795)

...about telling you that the toner is low. We have an HP4050 (a relatively old beast) in our lab that prints 50-100 sheets a day, and it said "toner low" for at least three months before the last replacement. I used the shaking trick the whole time before we actually saw repeatable reduction in print quality (on normal) due to low ink. If we had changed the toner when it was first "low", that would have been a real waste of money too.
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