DefinIT Insights

What is a Multi-Year Ink Cartridge for Business Printers?

multi year ink cartridge techspert servicesReplace your cartridges more than a couple of times and you’re quickly looking at the cost of a new printer. But printer manufacturer Epson has an idea…

No more ink cartridges.

Sounds too good to be true? Or possibly like a protest slogan? Well, it’s not such a strange idea. In fact, office supply purchasers might well agree that it’s an idea whose time has come—about six years ago, actually.

That’s One Expensive Cheap Machine

An HP OfficeJet Pro printer will cost you between $100 and $250 on Amazon; the replacement cartridges for it will set you back $25 (black) and $50 (color). If you replace your cartridges three times per year—as I do on a printer that sees only a light amount of work per week—you're looking at $225. So, depending on what model you buy, you're essentially replacing your printer once or twice a year. Ouch.

Back in the day, you could simply refill your cartridges with ink. The ink kits sold for a fraction of the price of replacement cartridges. Who cared if it was a messy, fiddly job to refill the cartridges? And so what if the first couple of pages were smeared? We were saving money, baby.

Now, though, this is less of an option, as some savvy printer makers have figured out ways of preventing cartridges from being reused. (You can recycle them, though, with the company's blessing. Lexmark and HP, among others, will gladly recycle them for free.)

So, we get the machine for cheap, but the parts—not so much.  

Ink Cartridges No More?

While reading this article in on the Epson EcoTank, I began to think we would soon be free of our ink-cartridge servitude. Two years, one cartridge. Sign me up. Then I read it again and realized it wasn't so much one giant cartridge as one entirely new system. But hey, sign me up anyway. If I could print out 4,000 black and 6,500 color pages on one tank of ink, I'd be all about that.

And then there was the snag: my cheap, sturdy little all-in-one is still humming along nicely, drinking ink and spitting out perfectly good printouts. So, I guess I'll have to stick with it for awhile, until it breaks or I have a sudden need for two printers.

Of course, there is one other snag on the Epson: the initial price.

Yes, But Think What You'll Save in Ink!

Epson’s EcoTank line starts—starts!—at $379 for a home-use model and goes up to almost $1,200 for a very fancy, very large printer. There are home- and small-business friendly models around the $400 to $500 mark.  

Yes, the initial outlay is pretty impressive. But when you consider that these printers come with the equivalent of 20 ink cartridge sets—that's $1,500 according to the pricing model we used above—it's still quite a deal.

If you're planning on keeping the printer for more than two years (the estimated time to use up all that ink), you won't have to replace the machine. You will have to fill the ink reservoirs, though. Fortunately, Epson offers high-yield bottles of black, cyan, yellow, and magenta ink for $12 to $20 apiece. These bottles are billed to print out “thousands of pages,” according to Best Buy.

Not only do the EcoTank printers have extraordinarily-sized ink tanks, they're also designed to get much better ink-mileage, as it were, than their counterparts. This only leaves one question:  Are Epson EcoTank printers any good? Since the line was only unveiled last month, we'll have to wait and see. But we're hoping yes. And we're really hoping that other printer manufacturers follow this lead.

Wait! There’s more! Check out our Techsperts Talk blog to find out if you’ve missed anything in the past few months and feel free to call us with any computer questions you have!


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