Saturday, September 16, 2017

My experience with very cheap ink

In February 2016 I ordered a set of really cheap ink for our Canon Pixma printer: http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/251740970361 . That is just over €12 for four complete sets of ink. Contrast that with the official Canon price of €57.99 for a a single multi-pack of four colours: https://store.canon.ie/pixma-mg-5650-cartridges/cp928eed/

I am fully aware of the razor and blade model  that inkjet printers use and I had often bought third party ink before but I had never gone so cheap. At some stage you do get what you pay for and that ebay ink is only 1/18th the price of official Canon ink so I bought it as something of an experiment. Well here we are 19 months later and that ink is finally running out. I would like to share some of the fears I had when buying such cheap ink and my eperiences with it. 

1. It won't work at all or have some annoying incompatibilty. Nope. Ink worked perfectly and is 100% compatible. Even has a little LED on each cartridge to show its status and it reports ink levels correctly to the printer softeware. 

2. Cheap ink like this will clog the jets and damage the printer. Given a brand new printer costs no more than a single refill of ink I was willing to risk this. Happily I can report that the printer has chugged along nicely on the cheap ink and doesn't seem to have suffered at all. To be fair we aren't heavy printers but with two adults and two school going kids there is probably something printed most days.

3. The print quality will suffer. If it has I haven't noticed but we aren't printing wedding photos. We are printing graphs for school projects and tickets for the cinema. We neither know nor care if the colours are a little off.  

4. The ink will fade. Again I cannot say if it does or not. The bar code I printed a couple of months ago has long been discarded. There are some craft things my daughters printed a few  months ago and they seem to have held their colour.

5. The cheap ink cartridges won't be properly filled. This hasn't been our experience. The twenty cartridge set has lasted us over 18 months (and only two colours have actually run out so far). It seems to me that the cartidge itself complete with circuit board and LED probably costs more than the ink inside it so there isn't much of an incentive for them to skimp on the ink. 

Overall conclusion: A very sucessful experiment. Am going to order the same set again.

Aside: I bought this printer just over two years ago and I remember that it cost about €60. That is pretty much identical to the price of a single refill of official ink. The thing is that the printer came with a free set of ink cartridges. I have seen suggestions that these initial cartridges are only half full but that has not been my experience. The awful truth is that if you insist on buying own brand printer cartidges you may as well just buy a whole new printer everytime you replace the ink. 


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