The problem with all printers, especially inkjets, is that the ink cartridges are very pricey. HP, Epson, Canon, Lexmark, and other inkjet printer manufacturers all make more money selling ink than they do printers. The reason is that the markup on ink is much greater than the equipment.
In fact, the reason they manufacture and sell printers is to lock in the ink sales. The fact that you bought a particular printer dictates that you will buy their ink. There are knock off ink makers but they only represent about 2% of the inks sales. So the printer manufactures may make a few bucks on the sale of the printer but they make sales on the ink for the life of the printer.
I’m not sure what the exact markup of inkjet printer cartridges is at each manufacturer but I have seen numbers as high as 60%. So if these companies sell you a printer for $100, they are pretty much guaranteed to sell you about $1000 worth of ink cartridges over the life of the printer. If you are a heavy printer (like photos, brochures, etc.) and use at least one set of cartridges a month, you will probably spend 5-6 times the amount on ink as you did the printer every year.
And they have constantly developed new ways for the printer buyers to use more ink. They have increased resolution (more dots, more ink), push printing photos (more ink), and even added a copying feature to most printers sold (more ink). That’s also why you see so many models that print anything, it creates more ink sales. Even when you install a printer, they have included software that reminds you every time you run out of ink that you can buy their ink by just clicking on a button. They use every trick in the book to keep that ink business.
The only real saving option you have is to try one of the other generic ink manufacturers. There are 2 or 3 that offer ink cartridges for just about any brand. You can often save up to 35% using these generic brands. The problem is that HP and the gang are always looking for ways to keep the generic guys out of the business. Most cartridges now have computer chips in them to monitor and the printers have special software to try and keep proprietary ink cartridges in that machine.
And in my personal experience there have been both ink quality and cartridge issues. Most offer to replace any cartridges which is good but the sometimes the hassle may be more than the savings. I had one set of cartridges that really caused me grief by leaking out all over the printer. That clean up was not fun.
And the printer manufacturers are constantly changing the ink cartridges. Why in the world would they change the size, shape, and configuration of an ink cartridge on every new model? To fight the generic guys and to make it more difficult for them to cut prices. On one of HP’s high end large format printers there are 12 ink cartridges! Imagine replacing those every couple of days.
Now it’s easy to make these printer manufacturers out to be part of an evil empire but they are just doing what successful businesses do, expand their market and increase their profits. That’s what business is all about so you really should expect no less. And if you’re one of their stockholders, be happy.
But there is a way to save money on any inkjet printer (and printers that use toner too). A couple of enterprising software companies have figured out ways to change the printing methods and incorporated routines that reduce ink usage overall. There are more than two but I’ll stick with the two I’ve personally used and found to work well.
Although both companies have the same principal in mind (using less ink in any print job), each has a little different method. InkSaver basically optimizes the printing process and uses less ink with little impact on the quality of output. They also have a bunch of other useful features on everyday printing tasks. PretonSaver accomplishes the same types of ink savings although they change the shape of the dot to lesson the ink use and still maintain a high level of quality in the output.
Which one is best? Well, InkSaver only works with Windows XP and Vista right now so Windows 7 users are out of luck. PretonSaver works with all windows versions and has Enterprise level editions for large companies. InkSaver retails for $29.95 for one computer and PretonSaver is $20 for one user or $34 for three. So PretonSaver has both price and operating systems advantages. PretonSavor also tracks printing costs so for large companies that might be advantages.
Which one saves the most ink, or money? They both claim up to 70% but that really only applies to the best possible scenario. In my testing I did save about 35% with both products. I also found that the quality of output was excellent on both products. I do a lot of printing so that turned out to be about $75 a month in ink cost difference. For $20 or $30 dollars, that’s a heck of a good return on investment.
InkSaver is available at many office supply stores and their own website. PretonSaver is available online at their website or from select partners. Preston Savor also has free trial that allows you to try before buying. Both brands can save you money on your inkjet ink costs and are definitely worth a try.