What is “page yield” and why does it matter?
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.