Ink & Toner
In the past, you have no doubt heard people say that today it’s actually cheaper to buy a new printer than it is to go out and get a new ink cartridge for your printer. In many cases, this is actually true; just buying an entirely new printer (even if the old one is totally fine) can be more cost-effective than walking into the very same store and just buying ink instead. For anyone who does not want to fill up their home with unused printers, though, there are other equally cost-effective solutions such as purchasing refurbished cartridges.
Buying refurbished cartridges (as opposed to buying brand new ones) can be beneficial in several ways, including financially. Here are just some of the reasons you should consider shopping for cost-effective, high-quality re-manufactured ink printer cartridges:
Refurbished ink cartridges provide good quality replacements.
If you are careful to purchase from reputable office supply businesses, you will find that the refurbished ink cartridges they offer will be very similar to new, brand-name cartridges at a fraction to the price. Good refurbishing manufacturers make sure to use only the very highest quality supplies, equipment and procedures, ensuring that all of the cartridge parts are cleaned and refitted properly prior to being placed in refurbished ink cartridges.
As mentioned before, the re-manufactured ink cartridges are often a very economical choice. However, it’s important to distinguish between a good, economical deal and a “bargain” super cheap deal that is too good to be true. If the price seems too good to be true, it probably means the product is of inferior quality. Good quality re-manufactured ink cartridges should sell for somewhere in the range of 30% – 60% of the cost of the equivalent new cartridges. If the price is much lower than this, you most likely will be unhappy with the printing quality of the cartridge, and it may even be so inferior that it can damage your printer.
A big benefit of buying refurbished ink cartridges is that they provide an environmentally responsible and effective alternative. When ink printer cartridges are not recycled and remanufactured, they are simply dumped in large landfill sites, where they may take up to a millennium to decompose. This addition to the accumulation of wasted, chemically-toxic landfill contents has a long-term negative impact on the environment, while recycling and re-furbishing these common office products will help to protect the quality of the world around us.
Additionally, the remanufacturing process uses far less non-renewable petroleum products than it takes to make new cartridges, so, considering the erratic and undependable cost of oil, buying refurbished cartridges can make good economic and environmental sense.
As you can see, there are several benefits to opting to purchase refurbished, remanufactured ink cartridges as opposed to buying brand new ones. When purchased from reputable dealers, recycled printer cartridges work as well, and are more economical than new brand-name cartridges. Add this to the helpful environmental impact, and you can see that choosing this option is truly the smartest choice.
That wise old saying, “Time is money,” is truer than ever in today’s busy world. Can you really afford to waste the time (and money) it takes to make trips to various office supply stores every time you need a few office supplies? You know how important those supplies are, but there has to be a more efficient way to keep your office well-stocked and running smoothly.
Shopping online is the handy, efficient answer to your needs. No need to wander up and down aisle after aisle trying to find the product you need (or a salesperson to help you look). No need to stand in a long checkout line waiting to make your purchase, or making another trip to the store and standing in line again to return or replace an item that didn’t work for you. And, invariably, no matter how well your shopping trip is planned, there’s always some essential item left off the list, requiring another visit to the store.
Doing your buying online takes care of all those problems, with the added convenience of letting you shop a little at a time, between customers or phone calls, rather than taking a big block of away-time out of the busy day.
Buying online also makes it easy to check your inventory as you shop — Are we running low on file folders? Do we have enough labels for our next mailing? — so you don’t end up buying extra supplies you don’t need, ‘just in case.’
Another advantage of online office supply stores is the wide range of products they can make available. Without brick-and-mortar display space constraints, online stores generally offer their customers far more products and choices than retail stores can carry.
An added bonus is that, practically-speaking, it’s much easier (and faster) to compare prices and products at an online store and between multiple online businesses, than it is to comparison shop at several brick-and-mortar stores. Shopping online lets you choose the options that will best meet your needs.
Online office supply dealers also provide more than convenience and a large selection of products. While it’s true that “Time is money,” it is also true that “Money is money.” Online office supply prices are often significantly lower than the prices at brick-and-mortar retail stores, simply because their overhead is lower. Online office supply businesses don’t have to pay as much for rent, utilities, displays and extra custodial and security staff, which means they can pass the savings on to their customers.
So, save your valuable time, effort and money by shopping for your office supplies online. It’s the smart way to shop. Please click here to check out our great selection of office products: STORE
There are four basic “brand” types of ink/toner cartridges:
1. Brand name cartridges that correlate to printer brands. These are called OEM products (Original Equipment Manufacturer.) Most OEM cartridges aren’t actually manufactured by the printer companies, but they are made to their specifications by contractors. Like any brand-name product, these are more expensive than non-brand-name items.
2. Brand-compatible cartridges. Legally these must be identified on the packaging and in advertising as distinct from their brand-name counterparts. Brand-compatible cartridges are often manufactured by the same companies that make the OEM products, using identical materials and processes. When purchased from a reputable dealer, these cartridges can usually be expected to serve as well as the more expensive brand-name versions.
3. Remanufactured, recycled cartridges, which also must be clearly identified as such. When processed by reputable manufacturers, these cartridges provide excellent quality for a considerably lower cost than OEM products.
4. Counterfeit OEM cartridges. These are packaged and sold as brand-name products, which is illegal, although it is also, sadly, all-too-common. Unlike real OEM products, or brand-compatible and remanufactured cartridges that are produced and sold by reputable companies, these fake OEMs are often made with inferior materials and shoddy construction that produce inferior printing quality and worse — a leaky or malfunctioning cartridge can cause serious damage to one’s printer.
How can you protect yourself from being victimized by counterfeit producers? Here are five things you can do:
1. Use your common sense. If a deal on “genuine OEM cartridges” sounds too good to be true, it probably is not true. Counterfeits are often offered for half the regular price of brand-names, which should be a red-flag warning that they are probably fakes. Again, remember that brand-compatible and refurbished cartridges are also economical, but if they are well-made by a reputable manufacturer, they will be clearly identified as what they are.
2. Buy cartridges only from reputable dealers who guarantee their products and services.
3. Don’t buy a cartridge that is not sealed in its package. If you buy online and receive a supposedly OEM product with open packaging or packaging that looks wrong (with misspellings, perhaps, or poor grammar), don’t risk damage to your printer by using it. Contact the seller immediately.
4. Some brands include serial numbers, which can be checked for authenticity at the company’s website.
5. If your nice, new OEM cartridge produces poor-quality copies, you should contact the seller — you may have unwittingly purchased a fake.
Will you save money on ink or toner cartridges if you invest in a more expensive printer? According to a May 2, 2012 article in PCWorld, the answer to this is, “Yes/Maybe/It all depends”. http://www.pcworld.com/article/254899/ink_onomics_can_you_save_money_by_spending_more_on_your_printer_.html
The authors, Jon L. Jacobi and Melissa Riofrio, point out that in virtually all cases, the less expensive a printer is, the higher the cost of its cartridges. Therefore your cost per printed page will be considerably higher with a cheap printer. On the surface it may appear that inkjet printers are more economical than equivalent laser printers, since they usually cost less in the first place and their ink cartridges are cheaper than laser printers’ toner cartridges. However, this is an “apples vs oranges” comparison, because toner cartridges last far longer than ink ones, so the cost per copy is less. For more information about ink and toner comparisons, please click here.
However, as Jacobi and Riofrio explain, the true over-all cost of a printer and its ink or toner depends largely on your actual printing needs. If you only need a printer for occasional, black-and-white text needs, it may be somewhat cheaper in the long run to buy a very inexpensive printer, even though you’ll have to pay dearly when the cartridge needs to be replaced. (Don’t forget that less expensive recycled cartridges are available for most models.)
Say you buy an $80 sale-priced printer that requires a $60 cartridge that prints 200 copies. If you only print an average of 400 copies a year, after three years, (using two cartridges per year) you will spend a total of $440, paying a bit more than $.36 per copy (not including paper or electricity).
If, on the other hand, you buy a $300 printer with cartridges that print 200 copies and cost only $30, you’ll spend a $480, paying $.40 per copy. This is a simplified formula, but if you have limited funds for an initial purchase and limited printing needs, a cheap printer may work for you.
Again, this example is based on a user with very modest printing needs. If you print more than a couple of copies a day, or if you need to have color options and high-quality printing, you will generally benefit economically by investing in a more expensive printer with less costly cartridges. For more information about determining cost-per-page, please click here.
Jacobi and Riofrio do specifically advise against investing in a tricolor bargain color printer that uses a single cartridge to provide all its colors. This may seem efficient, but when one color runs out, the cartridge must be replaced, even if it still contains plenty of the other colors.
So you know you need a new printer, but if you’re like most people, you find the huge number of model-choices and variations overwhelming and confusing (to put it mildly). Here are some practical guidelines to make it easier to make good decisions that will result in your long-term satisfaction with your purchase.
How not to choose a printer
First of all, here’s how not to pick a printer: Find the cheapest model offered on sale at a big box store and rush down and buy it. We’ll describe how to figure out the real cost of a printer shortly, but for now, just be aware that those great sales’ deals often lead to unexpectedly-high operating costs and buyer’s remorse.
What do you need your printer to do?
Step one in choosing a printer is to figure out what you actually plan to use it for. Do you want a multifunction machine that can also scan, make copies and/or send faxes?
Even if you just want a printer that prints, you still have many options to choose from. Do you need a simple, economical black and white printer? Do you need a printer that produces high-quality color pages? Do you need a printer that can be set to automatically print two-sided
pages? Do you need a printer solely for a specific purpose such as
printing photos or labels?
And, while you’re evaluating your actual needs, consider this: Do you need a laser printer or an inkjet printer? Again, the answer depends on what you need your printer to do.
If you need a printer that produces high-quality color pages containing graphics and/or photos, you may want to invest in an inkjet printer.
If you need a printer primarily for black and white text, or for simple medium-quality color graphics, a laser printer will probably meet your needs while being more economical to use than an inkjet. It is estimated that laser toner cartridges last at least three times as long as comparably-priced ink jet cartridges.
Laser printers also tend to print faster than inkjet printers, so if you often print many pages and speed is a factor, you should choose accordingly. While you’re thinking of speed, estimate how much printing you expect to do in a given day, week or month, and make sure that the models you are considering are up to the task.
Don’t forget to take into account the physical space you can provide for your printer while it is in operation. A huge printer in a tiny office isn’t fun.
Finally, what kind of interface will your printer need? USB connectors are standard for most printers, but you may also choose an Ethernet, web-enabled option that can connect to your office or home network. WiFi connectors are also available, which can be useful for remote connections and connecting with other WiFi devices.
Once you’ve narrowed down your choices to the printer models with the features you want and need, you are ready to do some cost comparison. Unlike most purchases, the price tag of a printer is usually not the most significant consideration. The cost of using the printer is often more important than the model price, no matter how much it looks like a bargain. Sadly, many thrifty consumers discover that their sale-priced printer eats expensive cartridges like popcorn, so they end up spending far more to feed the machine than it’s worth.
Therefore, you’ll want to compare the prices of the cartridges each model uses, and the “page yield” of each cartridge — how many pages a cartridge can be expected to produce before it needs replacement.
(For more discussion of page yield, please click here.)
So, for each printer you’re considering, you’ll want to do this: check the cost and estimated page yield of its cartridge, determine how many cartridges you will need (based on page yield) in, say, a year of use. Figure the cost of a year’s worth of cartridges, multiply by the number of years you expect to use the machine, and then add the price of the machine. This will give you a general figure for the user cost of a printer which you can compare to other models.
In estimating user cost, it’s worth checking to see if comparable, less expensive generic or remanufactured cartridges are readily available to help reduce your costs.
(To check our store prices, please click here.)
As you are probably aware, your home and office printing costs are largely determined by the inkjet or toner cartridges your printer uses.
You can figure how much your ink or toner will cost per average page of printing by dividing the price of the cartridge by its estimated “page yield” — how many “average” pages the cartridge will print before it needs to be replaced. If your $100 cartridge has a page yield estimate of 2,000 pages, you can expect to pay about five cents per page.
This can only be an estimate, for several reasons. There really is no “average” page in the real world. Ink use can vary from user to user, from project to project, and even from page to page. Obviously a page crammed with graphics, photos or bold print will use more ink or toner than a double-spaced page of body text. And a legal-sized double-spaced page of text uses more ink than a letter-sized page.
Therefore manufacturers estimate “page yield” based on letter-sized pages inked on 5% of the page surface. If much of your printing is big, bold and bright, you will get fewer pages than the estimated page yield. If your pages average 10% coverage, you can expect to get half of the estimated page yield from your cartridge.
But even if you have no idea how much ink your printed pages use, this manufacturer’s page yield figure gives you a basis for comparing cartridge prices. If Brand A costs $100 for a page yield of 2,000, and Compatible Cartridge A costs $60 with the same page yield, clearly the latter gives you more ink for your buck. If Brand A costs $120 for a 3,000 page yield (four cents/page) while Brand B costs $100 for 2,000 pages (five cents/page), Brand A is the better deal even if it costs more.
What if cartridge information does not include the average page yield? Manufacturers aren’t required to reveal this information, but one may assume that they will happily tout this figure if it is good. If there’s no estimate provided, you may be wise to choose a different product.
You should also be aware that some venders of high-priced brand-name cartridges are inclined to hint broadly that comparable generic or remanufactured cartridges have lower page yields. However, if purchased from a reputable provider, these cartridges can be expected to perform as well as the comparable expensive brand-name versions. Again, remember that page yield estimates are based on average 5% inked letter-sized pages. All cartridges — name brands, generic and remanufactured — may produce fewer “real life” pages than their advertised page yield.
One more bit of advice: Bargain-priced printers sometimes are sold with “starter cartridges” that are only partially-filled with ink or toner. The idea is to increase sales of cartridges, which often cost nearly as much as the printer itself. If you are considering investing in one of these bargains, don’t assume that you are getting a full cartridge as part of the deal. And when you replace the cartridge, look into purchasing more economical generic or remanufactured versions.
Three ways shopping online for ink cartridges saves you money:
- It’s easy to comparison shop online to find the best products for your needs at the best price. If you regularly shop at brick-and-mortar office supply stores, you know that it’s just not practical to go from store to store checking out and comparing all their options and prices. When you shop online, it’s easy to check out and compare all the products offered by any online store, and it just takes a couple more mouse-clicks to check the offers at several stores.
- Online office supply stores often sell their products at lower prices than brick-and-mortar stores simply because their overhead is lower, so they can pass the savings along to their customers. For starts, online businesses don’t need to own or lease expensive commercial properties in high-traffic locations. Brick-and-mortar stores have myriad extra expenses for fancy signage, premises upkeep, cosmetic appearance and extra-staffing (custodial, creating displays, etc.) Online stores are more far more efficient and focused on practical concerns.
- Online office supply businesses frequently offer a wider selection of printer ink cartridges than brick-and-mortar stores carry. Since they aren’t limited by display space availability, online stores can offer a wide variety of options including economical store-brand and re-manufactured (recycled) ink cartridges as well as competitively-priced brand-name cartridges.
Shopping for printer ink cartridges online is also convenient and saves valuable time. How? Here are a few ways:
- Online office supply stores are “open for business” 24 hours a day, seven days a week including holidays. You can shop whenever it’s convenient for you.
- No need to waste time (and gas) battling traffic during business hours to drive to a brick-and-mortar office goods business. No need to fritter away even more time (and frustration) going up and down the store’s aisles trying to find what you need or a sales person to help you or standing in a long line waiting to pay for your purchase. You can sit comfortably at your desk — or even at home on your couch with your laptop — and shop at your leisure.
- You can even shop a little at a time online, instead of taking a big block of time out of your business day. It’s easy to shop