*NEWS*DELVE INTO THE MURKY WORLD OF INK

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*NEWS*DELVE INTO THE MURKY WORLD OF INK

 user 2006-07-25 at 11:00:00 am Views: 76
  • #16032

    Delve into the murky world of printer ink
    If
    you think gasoline is expensive these days, imagine the price for a
    gallon of ink for your home inkjet printer. It could cost thousands of
    dollars.The price of printer ink may be the only liquid besides
    gasoline that infuriates consumers so much. It doesn’t take long for
    the cost of ink-cartridge replacements to exceed the price of the
    printer.So it makes sense for consumers to search for ink bargains,
    especially if you print many photos from your digital camera.The bad
    news is it’s somewhat complicated. You can choose from many
    money-saving alternatives, and the best value is not clear-cut. But the
    decision is based on an age-old trade-off: price versus quality.Studies
    show the printer’s manufacturer makes the best-quality inks. But think
    about what quality you need. A child’s grade-school project printed on
    regular copy paper doesn’t need high-quality ink.Or maybe you take lots
    of photos of your grandchild to hang prints on the refrigerator, only
    to replace them a month later with newer photos. ”In that case, you
    might want to go with an aftermarket ink because you’ll be chewing
    through the cartridges,” said Charles Brewer, managing editor of The
    Hard Copy Supplies Journal, a publication by imaging industry
    market-research firm Lyra Research.If you’re worried about a printed
    photo fading after a few years, ask yourself whether that’s a big deal.
    After all, if it fades, you could print it again from the digital image
    on your computer.Or if you seldom need superior quality, you could use
    cheap ink at home and just pay for commercial photo finishing for those
    few important photos. For snapshots, a commercial photo finisher online
    or at a retail store like Wal-Mart may be cheaper than doing it
    yourself anyway. Consumer Reports found photo finishers charge 15 to 25
    cents per 4-by-6-inch print, while printing at home costs 25 to 40
    cents.If you will be printing at home, which choice of cheaper inks is
    right for you? Descend through the following baby steps in quality and
    price. With each, you’re likely to get a discount of at least 15
    percent and slightly poorer quality. Once you become dissatisfied with
    your prints, back up one level and you’ve found your ideal trade-off
    between quality and price.Brand names. This is the top quality for
    rendering accurate colors and resisting fading. But it’s the most
    expensive, with such names as Hewlett-Packard, Canon and Lexmark.”If
    you demand top performance and you can handle the top price, the
    [brand-name] solution is bulletproof,” Brewer said, adding that
    same-brand ink, paper and printers are meant to work together to
    provide the best quality.Comparison shop for the best deals on name
    brands, but compare apples to apples. Some brand-name printer
    manufacturers are offering lower-priced cartridges that simply contain
    less ink and need to be replaced sooner, Brewer said. Get out your
    calculator and compare unit prices to find the best deal.Store brands.
    These are cartridges offered under such names as Staples, OfficeMax,
    Office Depot and Rhinotek. The print quality will likely be quite good,
    but they are more susceptible to fading than brand-name inks, according
    to a recent study.Refill shop. These are franchised retail stores, such
    as Cartridge World and Caboodle Cartridge. You bring in your old
    cartridge to be refilled or swapped with a different refilled
    cartridge. Because these are stores dedicated to only one task, they
    develop expertise and use a variety of different ink sets that will
    match your printer, Brewer said.Refill machine. These are
    cartridge-refill machines in such stores as Walgreens and OfficeMax.
    Brewer said they use a limited number of inks that may or may not match
    your printer well, and the employee doing the refilling is likely to be
    less knowledgeable than someone at a store dedicated to refills.Refill
    kit. The ink quality of some do-it-yourself refill kits can be good,
    but it’s a messy chore to transfer ink from a container to your
    cartridge. And a word about all refills, whether a do-it-yourself or a
    refill shop or machine: An ink cartridge can only be refilled four to
    10 times with any of these refill methods. After that, the print head
    could burn out, Brewer said.Online generics. If a generic replacement
    for your $45 cartridge costs $7 online, there’s a reason, Brewer said.
    You just can’t count on the quality of the ink and the cartridge, which
    may leak. Batches of the same cartridges might differ in quality.”If
    you go online and it sounds too good to be true, it probably is,”
    Brewer said. ”If you buy something that does not print well,
    regardless of how cheap it is, you’re not going to feel satisfied.”
    But you may stumble on an online store selling generics that work well
    in your printer.A few other tips are not to overbuy on cartridges.
    Cheap printers break easily. If you have to replace it, you might be
    stuck with a box full of cartridges that won’t fit any current-model
    printer.Also, you could use a two-machine strategy. For text, use a
    black-and-white laser printer, which will give you comparatively cheap
    printouts. For photos, use a color printer with high-quality ink or
    small dedicated snapshot printer
    .