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 user 2013-06-23 at 10:54:38 pm Views: 80
  • #2238
    generic no-name product OR a full-price retail product ?
    It's No secret: price sells. If you go to the computer store and see a generic no-name product sitting right next to a full-price retail product, you're faced with a dilemma. Do you save money on the generic product, hoping that performance or compatibility problems won't be too severe? Or do you make the safe choice and buy the full retail product for more money?

    Nowhere is the dilemma more wrenching than inkjet printer cartridges and laser toner. These consumables cost a lot of money, and the cost savings of generics or recycled cartridges equates to a real reduction in your printing costs. But unlike other consumables like CD-Rs or printer paper, inkjet and toner cartridges are exactly and carefully engineered to match the printers for which they are designed. These strict performance and compatibility requirements may make you think twice about saving money on an off-brand cartridge.

    This week, I've got a first-ever guest editorial which addresses this very issue. David Ammerman volunteered to write this week's feature article because he's on the front line of the war between generic and full retail printer cartridges. David handles marketing for ABACUS 24-7 a mail-order Web site featuring a variety of generic and recycled printer cartridge products and printer accessories. David used to work for 20-20 Consumer, a buying guide site which was one of my top buying guides of 1999.

    Naturally, David likes generic and recycled printer cartridges, or he wouldn't be selling them. Whether you agree with David's opinions or not, he answers many interesting and important questions about terminology, performance, the environment, and your printer's warranty.

    INkjet Cartridges: Performance

    Generic or new compatible inkjet cartridges are in general highly reliable and perform as well as, or nearly as well as, brand name cartridges. Latest technologies and adherence to ISO 9001 codes (internationally recognized standards for quality assurance) by most producers of generic cartridges has increased the overall reliability of these aftermarket products in relation to your typical brand cartridges. In particular, Epson and Canon new compatibles are highly reliable, as the technology required to duplicate the performance of their cartridges is minimal (with the exception of the very latest Epson cartridges with the "computer chip"). In terms of print life (how many pages they print) generics stack up pretty well – usually within plus or minus 5% of the life of your typical brand name cartridge.

    High quality photographic printing is the one area where generic cartridges are occasionally suspect. The quality of the inks used by the manufacturer play a significant role here – lower grade ink which doesn't have the same density or brilliance and consistency of color can produce inferior results in the most high-demand cases. Although most manufacturers of generics have moved away from inferior inks, we recommend you ask your online merchant about the quality of the inks used by their supplier, if you are doing this kind of high-quality photographic printing. In particular, the inks should be made in the U.S.A.. With good ink your results should be just fine.

    Remanufactured Inkjet cartridges are another subject. Primarily you will only find remanufactured Inkjet cartridges for Hewlett Packard printers, as HP has meticulously patented (and subsequently filed suit against anyone who tried to duplicate) their inkjet cartridge designs. There are no true "generics" for HP inkjet printers.

    Remanufactured cartridges are a huge cost value over new cartridges – usually over 50% less – and for every day printing work just fine. The failure rate of remanufactured cartridges is slightly higher than new product, however, and so it's important your online merchant guarantees their product to cover the occasional return. For typical printing, remanufactured inkjet cartridges can be the right choice over new ones. If you need very high quality, professional, color photographic printing results, you should bite the bullet and purchase the OEM new color cartridge.

    Laser Toner Cartridges: Performance

    As with generic or new compatible inkjet cartridges, new compatible toner cartridges are for the most part highly reliable and provide a noticeable cost savings over brand new toner cartridges. Again, ISO 9001 standards have greatly increased the consistency and reliability of the aftermarket toner product in recent years. Further, many new compatible toner manufacturers increase the volume of toner in the cartridge, providing for a longer print life. Quality new compatible cartridges will have new or replaced mag sleeves, wiper blades, and magnet tips.

    Remanufactured toner cartridges in general have a less stringent set of criteria applied to them, and as mentioned before may not contain a new toner drum. Be sure to ask your supplier. It is our humble recommendation that you go with toner cartridges that have a new aftermarket drum, as opposed to a refurbished or recycled drum. Lastly, ask if the new drum is "high density". You want that.

    Color laser new compatible toner cartridges are just coming to market, and although early feedback seems to indicate a positive outlook, an evaluation of these cartridges is premature at this time.


    In general, aftermarket generic and new compatible or remanufactured printer cartridge products are an excellent way to cut significant costs from your every day small business or personal printing expense, while maintaining quality printing results. Those who need extremely high quality printing (such as photographers and artists) can, with a little trial-and-error testing of different generic cartridge products, find a product which provides the quality results you need.

    In all cases, be sure to buy your cartridges from an online supplier who 100% guarantees their product without question, and isn't afraid to answer your questions when it comes to the quality and reliability of their products.

    * Post was edited: 2004-10-14 10:59:00