Printer ink cartridges: why you’re paying more but getting a lot less

Printer ink cartridges: why you’re paying more but getting a lot less

The sky-high price of printer ink – measure for measure more expensive than vintage champagne – has been well documented. Less well-known is the fact that the amount of ink in the average cartridge has shrunk dramatically. “Newer cartridges contain a fraction of the ink a similar product contained a decade ago,” Dyckhoff says. “The amount can be minuscule.”

For example, the Epson T032 colour cartridge (released in 2002) is the same size as the Epson colour T089 (released in 2008). But the T032 contains 16ml of ink and the T089 contains just 3.5ml of ink. It’s a similar story with Hewlett Packard (HP) cartridges. A decade ago, the best-selling HP cartridge had 42ml of ink and sold for about £20. Today, the standard printer cartridges made by HP may contain as little as 5ml of ink but sell for about £13.

Consider using refilled or remanufactured ink cartridges for lower cost and better page yield. Better yet – if you can live without color prints – consider buying a B/W laser printer. They print faster than inkjet printers and the toner they use has a much better page yield than inkjet cartridges.

For example, to replace our aging Samsung SCX-4500W that broke down after 4 years of heavy usage, we recently bought a new HP LaserJet Pro M1217nfw Multifunction Printer. It uses an HP 85A toner cartridge with a typical yield of 1600 pages and an average cost of 50 to 70 euros. More importantly, you can buy a refill kit or a remanufactured toner cartridge for as low as 12 euros – which I intend to do when the included “starter” toner runs out.

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