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 user 2005-09-15 at 10:15:00 am Views: 52
  • #12457

    How Much Ink in That Cartridge?

    Printer manufacturers
    often neglect to provide an answer, but consumers may have a better
    idea in 2006, when new guidelines are introduced
    Reader Mark Wilson writes: For some reason Lexmark  refuses to
    discuss the amount of ink in its [color inkjet] cartridges. All I want
    to do is find out which cartridge gives me the best value for my money.
    Without knowing the relative amount of ink in each cartridge, I cannot
    calculate the best value.

    Wilson was trying to decide whether a “standard yield” or “moderate
    yield” offered more ink for the money. The best answer he could get in
    an e-mail exchange with Lexmark’s customer support was: “I suggest that
    you may purchase the moderate-yield cartridge for home printing.
    However, if you are a small-business owner, you may purchase the
    standard- or the high-yield cartridges.”

    Wilson’s request seemed reasonable, so I decided to take it on. I
    understand why Lexmark doesn’t want to reveal the actual quantity of
    ink in a cartridge. It might be a trade secret, though a competitor
    could just open a cartridge and measure the contents. More likely, the
    company would just as soon customers didn’t realize that on a per
    milliliter basis, ink is considerably more expensive than Macallen
    25-year-old scotch or Chateau d’Yquem sauternes.

    But why couldn’t Lexmark compare output in terms of the number of some
    standard page that could be printed? Such information is routinely
    supplied for monochrome laser-toner cartridges, including Lexmark’s.

    COMING STANDARD.  “Publishing information regarding the ink-fill
    volume for a particular inkjet cartridge wouldn’t necessarily assist
    people in their purchasing decisions when comparing one cartridge with
    another,” Tim Fitzpatrick, Lexmark vice-president for corporate
    communications, wrote in an e-mail. “The U.S. Fair Packaging &
    Labeling Act recognizes this with a specific exclusion for ink,
    including inkjet cartridges, and with good reason.”  

    Fitzpatrick said the difficulty in comparing printed output was a
    result of the large number of variables involved, especially in photo
    printing. But help may be on the way. Wrote Fitzpatrick: “An ISO
    [International Standards Organization] standard, which we hope will be
    available in the first quarter of 2006, will also help to provide an
    easily understood differentiation between standard and high capacity by
    establishing a common standard that doesn’t require a consumer to wade
    through disclaimers and explanations regarding all potential variables,
    including the type of output printed, model, manufacturer, type of
    paper, etc.”

    Personally, I would be prepared to work my way through those
    complexities, but it looks like we’ll have to wait for the notoriously
    slow moving ISO