Genius or Wasteful? The New Printer vs. New Ink Debate

December 2, 2009 at 6:36 pm 2 comments

Stephanie Scharf5t3ph One of my friends refuses to buy ink. Instead, he just buys a new printer that comes with ink because it’s less expensive. Genius? Or waste?

This was my Twitter comment that quickly sparked the following responses:

  1. J Miller
    Liquidretro @5t3ph Tell him to get a laser, doing the other is a waste
  2. Ryan Minert
    ryanminert @5t3ph I did the same thing. Bought a new printer for $25, much less than the ink for the one I had
  3. Ben Kolar
    benkolar @5t3ph if he sells printer or donates it then good. But if tosses then very wasteful and polluting
  4. Chris De Jabet
    chrisdejabet @5t3ph Money saving, but overall wasteful. My father-in-law did the same thing for a long time. Now he gets cartridges.
  5. Cara
    thinkCara @5t3ph Just freecycle the old one. i’d go for new if the cost was cheaper.
  6. Justin McDowell
    revoltpuppy @5t3ph It’s a waste because, as I understand it, those printers only have partially full ink cartridges, just to get them through demo mode.
  7. Tim Jinkerson
    timjnx @5t3ph Just saw this. I thought that the cartridges that come with the printer are only part filled? Anyway, it’s not good eco sense to buy!
  8. gthogan
    gthogan @5t3ph Big time waste of money. He’s most likely not getting a full cartridge of ink with those new printers.
  9. Tim Jinkerson
    timjnx @5t3ph It’s not about the money, it’s about a perfectly good printer going in to landfill, and more resources used to make another one!
  10. Jfalkenthal@5t3ph Genius, if he resells the printer for a decent amount. Wasteful if he has a printer graveyard. 9:52 PM Nov 30th from web in reply to 5t3ph
  11. this quote was brought to you by quoteurl

My Experience: I have an el-cheapo printer/scanner from Walmart that I use for printing assignments (text) and scanning my doodles.  While I buy new ink, once I tried to refill my cartridges at a Walgreens.  The guy warned me it might not work for my type, and sure enough it didn’t. So, I spent $20 for the failed refill, and $40 for brand-new cartridges. Lesson learned.

Inkjet vs. Laser

A Google search for “inkjet vs. laser” yielded the following video from Chris Pirillo.

Main points:

  • Inkjet: less expensive hardware, more expensive ink, lesser quality and lower duration, deal with registration lines and ink smudges
  • Laser: iffy software, expensive hardware, faster, higher quality, toner expensive but lasts longer, worth money overall

How Much Ink is in a New Printer?

Vodpod videos no longer available.

I found this interesting discussion on

“Always check the expected output of the cartridges included with new printers. You will usually find them to be a fraction of the expected output of after-market cartridges. There are very few (if any?) cheaper printers on the market which come fitted with cartridges containing more than 50% the normal amount of ink or toner, 33% isn’t uncommon, and I’m sure you’ll find less somewhere if you look. This is true of laser printers as well as inkjets.
So factor this into your decision: if paying $40 gets you a new printer and $40 gets you a new set or cartridges, you will probably get more than twice the output from the new carts as you would the new printer with its part-full carts.”

Another remark from the superuser page:

“You mentioned that you already know that printers only come with “starter” ink cartridges. Even though you get 1 to 1.5 years out of that for only $40, you should try and see what the costs savings are for ink cartridges that last longer. If you can manage to get 3.5-4 years off of $60 worth of ink cartridges I feel that is better.”

Yahoo! Answers Debate

Most valuable response to this question: “The printer companies use the drug dealer method of getting you hooked on their printer then ripping you off on the ink. It’s often cheaper to buy a new printer than to buy just the ink. On ebay there are dozens of posts for brand new printers without ink.
Refilling is a dangerous practice. Even though it often works (or appears to) you are adding fresh ink to a cartridge which was empty. If it was empty for a while, there are clots of ink inside which will travel to the print heads and clog them. Every day there are several posts here from someone who refilled and now the printer wont work.
I have found a much better solution (at least for Epson printers). There is a 2-piece cartridge where the ink is in a separate tank. When it runs out, you replace just the ink tank (the entire tank, so you are not adding ink to a dried-out cartridge which may contain clots). But you are keeping the same chip which resets itself to full. The ink tanks are less than $3 and contain 50% more ink than standard cartridges. I get them at

Tips & Tricks

Your Turn To Talk!

Please leave your comments on this issue! What do you do? What do you think is best?

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My (Nearly) Complete Christmas Wish List – 2009 Creature Doodles – Free PS Brush Pack

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Digitalike  |  December 26, 2009 at 11:58 pm

    I always use the best of canon printers that too inkjet which is most affordable to common price

  • 2. Samantha  |  February 19, 2010 at 11:02 pm

    Nice blog, i like it, its informative,
    i will visit his blog more often.
    i like your topic specially about
    Genius or Wasteful? The New Printer vs. New Ink Debate



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About the Author

Stephanie Scharf currently resides in Lincoln, NE. She attends the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and is studying Advertising with an emphasis on graphic and web design. Her time is split between working on school and client projects, hangin' with friends, and "geeking out" by reading up on the latest in web and social media trends. For more information, please visit the About page.

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