What Inkjet Printer Should I Buy?

Number 1 Rule ... Never, Ever buy an inkjet or laser printer without checking out the cartridges BEFORE you buy it. If there are no less expensive compatible cartridges available for the model you are considering, then don't buy it.

HP & LexMark & some Canon Inkjet Printers

Should I keep mine or buy something that costs less to run?

Every day I get phone calls or e-mail from people asking for inexpensive alternatives to those expensive HP, LexMark and Canon inkjet cartridges. In many cases the cost of the first set of cartridges is more than the cost of the printer. If this is the case, then you have just fallen into the 'pay me now or pay me later' trap. Very often, as with Canon & HP in particular, the bottom end printers have the most expensive cartridges.

Keep in mind that it is the ink that is the printer manufacturer's cash cow. Something like the razor and blades story.

This article is aimed at explaining the different methods the printer manufacturers use to force you to buy their expensive cartridges. In many cases it would probably be cheaper to give your printer away to someone you don't like and get one that won't eat you out of house and home. I guess you will have to be the one to decide.

HP & LexMark Inkjet Printers

Every day we get people e-mailing us to ask about inexpensive cartridges for their HP (Hewlett Packard), LexMark or lower-end Canon inkjet printers. To be to the point, you simply will not find inexpensive compatible cartridges because most of these cartridges have printheads. In turn the printheads have patents, therefore the compatible cartridge manufacturers cannot produce inexpensive compatible cartridges to replace the original (OEM) cartridges.

You can sometimes find 'remanfactured' cartridges for those cartridges with printheads, however they are also expensive because of the expense in collecting the empties and the labour involved in remanufacturing the cartridge. We sold our remanufacturing facility back 7 years ago simply because we could not obtain enough empties consistently.

Unfortunately, most people don't find this out until they go to buy their first set of cartridges. In many cases, the replacement cartridges cost more than the printer did, particularly with the LexMark inkjet printers. Welcome to the real world of inkjet cartridge marketing. I did say "inkjet cartridge marketing"? The printer companies are not "selling" you an inkjet printer ... no, they almost give away the printer so that you are forced to pay for overpriced cartridges. That is their 'cash-cow'.

Update: In the last quarter of 2012 LexMark announced they were no longer going to produce inkjet printers. They will continue producing laser printers but not inkjet.

If you were to e-mail InkMagic International Ltd. to ask about inexpensive compatible cartridges or refill kits for your HP, LexMark or lower-end Canon inkjet printers, I would probably tell you to give it away to someone you don't like and get a printer that has inexpensive compatible cartridges available. I bet the printer salesman didn't even discuss the cost of operation when you asked what printer to buy. Most likely he/she pointed you to the promo of the day.

Rule of thumb ... if the printer is stacked a mile high in the main isle of Walmart (or some other store) and selling for $50 or less, don't buy it. The first set of cartridges will cost more than the printer.

Canon Inkjet Printers

For years we recommended the Canon inkjet printers because they were very reasonably priced, offered excellent print qualities and InkMagic International Ltd. had very inexpensive compatible cartridges without chips. Unfortunately Canon changed their marketing direction a few years back when they introduced bottom-end inkjet printers with printheads on the cartridges (just like HP and LexMark cartridges). The price of the black cartridge alone was often more expensive than the printer ... add a colour cartridge and you could pay double the cost of the printer. Give it away to someone you don't like!! Take your loss now or forever pay ridiculously high ink prices.

How do I know if the Canon cartridge has printheads as explained above? If the printer has only 2 cartridges, a black cartridges and a tri-colour cartridge (Cyan, Magenta & yellow), then the cartridges have printheads and they will be very expensive.

Next rule of thumb ... Only 2 cartridges, any inkjet printer, absolutely do not buy!!

Even the higher end Canon printers with separate cartridges for each colour (4 or more cartridges) are no longer the bargain they used to be. Canon put a chip on these cartridges back a few years ago (CLI-8, CLI-221s & CLI-226 series cartridges for example). These chips are extremely complex so it takes the compatible cartridge manufacturers six months or more to reverse engineer the chips. That gives Canon a monopoly on their cartridges for that length of time. The chips also drive the prices of the cartridges up substantially plus Canon reduces the size of the cartridges with each new model. For these reasons the higher end Canon inkjet printers can be expensive to run even if you use compatible cartridges.

Epson Inkjet Printers

We simply don't recommend Epson printers because of the chips on their cartridges. Just as the compatible cartridge manufacturers come out with a competing cartridge costing far less than the original, Epson will change the chip and force the compatible cartridge manufacturers to rework the chip. Of course, this gives Epson a monopoly for another six months.

Further to this, Epson has been fighting compatible cartridge manufacturers in the U.S. court system for years or should I say, the past decade! They lost every court case and every appeal, right up to the last one. It is unbelievable, but Epson compatible cartridges can no longer be sold in the U.S. because of a court order. Epson now has a monopoly on their cartridges in the U.S. and some parts of Europe.

Many of the smaller compatible cartridge manufactures were put out of business simply because they went bankrupt trying to defend themselves against this giant.

So, do we recommend Epson printers .. absolutely not!

What's up with these 'XL' or High Capacity Cartridges.

For years most inkjet cartridges had only one size. A FULL 'regular' sized cartridge was all you could buy. Then HP decided to sell only partly full cartridges without telling anyone. For example, 10 years ago HP used #45 black cartridges which had 42ml of ink in them. The next years' models used a HP #15 black cartridge. It was physically identical to the #45 used the previous year BUT it had only 27ml. Who knew you paid the same price for 30% less ink. You certainly couldn't tell by looking at the two cartridges side by side!

Next came lower capacity cartridges for low-end models and higher capacity cartridges for higher-end printers ... again lead by HP. eg HP #27 black cartridge had 5ml (yes 5ml) of black ink while the higher-end (more expensive) printer models used the HP #57 with about 20ml of ink. Again, physically the cartridges were identical in size. Do ya think one of those cartridges was only 1/4 full?

Back a few years ago we started to see 'XL' cartridges ... first introduced by ... yep, you guessed it ... HP. So, you could pay ridiculously high prices for a 'regular' capacity cartridge OR you could buy a 'XL' or 'High Capacity' cartridge for an even more ridiculous price. Often times both were the exact same size of cartridge physically so do you think that the 'regular' size, expensive cartridge is only half full?

Often the 'XL' cartridges are available for the mid-range to high-range (more expensive) printers. Sometimes the bottom-end models are stuck using 'regular' capacity only. Hmmmm Guess the cereal manufacturers have been selling us half full boxes for years or should I say decades. The printer companies are just a little less obvious about it.

Ever wonder why you don't see any semi-transparent cartridges like you did 10 years ago? Maybe they don't want you to see just how little ink is actually in that huge cartridge.

Sorry, got on a bit of a tangent there ... Back to what printer to buy:-)

So, what Inkjet Printers are we recommending? The Brother Multifunction Printers.

For over seven years we've been recommending the Brother multifunction printers. We've used the Brother Multifunction inkjet printers in our office for many years. If you purchase a mid-range model you can expect dependable printing for several years. The Brother line of printers have excellent quality, more than acceptable for home and small business use. If you use good quality photo paper, the photos will be more than acceptable to most people, particularly when you consider they are using only 4 colours. Photographers will probably look at photo printers with 6 or more colours.

Like any inkjet printer, you need to use it regularly to keep the ink flowing properly.

The real reason we recommend Brother inkjet printers is because of their cartridges. They are huge compared to most and they have 4 separate cartridges, one for each colour. Brother was the last company to put chips on their cartridges. InkMagic has inexpensive, new compatible cartridges which will save you 30% or more compared to the original. The cost of printing compared to some of the HP and Canon printers could save you up to 70%.

If you are paying $50 or more for a set of cartridges for your HP or Canon printer, then I would suggest buying a Brother printer. It will pay for itself with the cartridges that come with it. By the time you've bought the first set of InkMagic compatible cartridges, you're money ahead.

You will find our Brother Compatible Inkjet Cartridges for current models here:

Brother LC-203, LC-205 High Capacity Compatible Cartridges

You will find the Brother Multifunction printers here: (Brother just came out with new models of printers so we are just updating our website)

Brother Multifunction Printers sold by InkMagic

I hope you find this article to be helpful. If we've lead you here because you were inquiring about inexpensive cartridges for your HP, LexMark or Canon printers, you now know why you won't see them listed on our InkMagic websites.

This article was written by Dale R. Farrier, president of InkMagic International Ltd.

All opinions stated are those solely of Dale Farrier and are not meant to offend any company or product discussed on this page. The purpose of this article is to introduce the average inkjet printer purchaser to another way of thinking when it comes to evaluating which inkjet printer to purchase.

All material is copyright InkMagic International Ltd. and my not be copied in part or whole without explicit permission in writing from InkMagic International Ltd. All rights reserved.



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