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The truth behind bargain printers

11/17/2010 by Alex Paransky

This and every holiday season printer manufacturers come out with a bunch of $49.99 printers which are targeted toward individuals looking for a great deal on a new printer, or for the special gift for someone.  But before you buy that $49.99 printer for your friend or even for your self, think again.  With some minor exceptions, here are some qualities that you will find in most $49.99 printers.

  • Price
    It's cheap.  Not many people can complain about spending $49.99 on a printer

  • Build
    It's cheap.  The printers are built as cheaply as possible to cut down on the costs of manufacturing.  There may be few if any buttons on the control panel.  There may be some or no indicator lights to let you know if there is anything wrong with the printer.  

  • Print quality
    Average to poor.  Not much innovation goes into these machines other than for the purpose of reducing costs.

  • Cost of ink
    Very to extremely expensive.  In some cases, replacement ink costs far more than the cost of the printer.  

  • Limited ink selection
    While there may be less expensive ink options such as larger yielding cartridges in the same series, your printer may be crippled by the manufacturer to not accept these higher yield cartridges.  For example, many low end HP printers only accept HP 92 and 93 cartridges, instead of the higher and more economical HP 96 and 97 cartridges.  Higher end HP printers accept all cartridges in this range such as HP 92, 93, 94, 95, 96, and 97.  Another example may be recent Epson printers which only accept T069 series of cartridges, but will not accept T068 series which are basically the same cartridge with 50% more ink for not much more money.

Take for instance HP Deskjet F4480 currently selling on Staples.com for only $39.99.  What a great deal!  Right?  Wong!  Take a look at the cost of the cartridges.  The HP 60 Black seems reasonable at $14.99 and HP 60 Color seems OK at only $19.99.  Now take a look at the yield, that's how many pages each cartridge is expected to print.  The HP 60 black will only print up to 200 pages and the color cartridge will only last you for 165 pages, if you are lucky.  That's extremely expensive at almost 8 cents page page in black and over 12 cents for each color page you print.  Sure, you could take a look at the HP 60XL cartridges which print a little more, but for a color and black HP 60XL you will pay about seventy six dollars.  That's $76 of ink for a $39 printer. 

There are two models for pricing inks for these low end printers.  For the price sensitive consumers, the cartridges are priced very inexpensively.  So when you initially look at the printer and take a glance at the cost of the cartridge you may not think that the cartridges cost all that much.  However, when you realize how little ink or how little prints you are going to get from these cartridges the true picture of the cost is revealed.  So, when trying to size up the cost of the printing supplies, look not only at the price but also at the yield of the cartridge.  If you are not able to determine the estimated yield of the cartridge, don't buy the printer that uses it.  Why would you pay for a cartridge without knowing how much it is going to print? 

The truth behind these bargain basement printers, is that they barely make a profit for the manufacturer, however, they carry a healthy revenue stream in ink products for the life of the printer. In this world, you don't get something for nothing.  Printers this cheap must make money for their manufacturers somehow.

There are some printers which are an exception to this rule.  While they cost a little more, they offer great features and are very economical when it comes to ink supplies.  One such printer that we are currently recommending to our customers is the HP OfficeJet 6500.  The printer currently sells at Staples.com for as low as $99.98 after instant rebates.  The wireless version with built in duplexing (printing on both sides) is at $119.98 and the top of the line version with all these features plus a touch screen is $149.98.  The best part about these printers in the cost of the ink.  At Cartridge World Pasadena the HP 920XL Black refill is only $18.99.  This cartridge is rated to print up to 1,200 pages that's only 1.5 cents per page (compare that with HP 60 Black at 200 pages).  When it comes to colors, these printers accept three different color cartridges.  The cyan, magenta and yellow colors are separated in to their own cartridges so you only need to replace the color that is out.  This makes this printer very economical in the long run.  Each XL color cartridge can print up to 700 pages and costs only $9.99 to refill at Cartridge World Pasadena.

Many printers which are offered as free add-ons to new computer purchases also fall into the same model.  The printer is "free", however, the cost of the ink is definitely not.  So, when you are buying a new computer pass on the free printer option and opt for a bigger hard drive, more memory or a bigger monitor instead.  

Finally, when you have your heart set on a specific printer give us a call at (626) 793-5555, we'll be happy to chat with you about your selection and give you some pros and cons about your chosen printer.  

At Cartridge World Pasadena, our goal it to save you money and make you our lifelong satisfied customer.  We are not here to make a quick buck and sell your products which are not going to work in your printer or advise you on purchasing printers which will cost a lot of money to run.  We are a part of the Pasadena community and we work hard to help our customers make the right choices for their printing needs.  If you have any questions about your printer or printing in general, stop by our store.  We'll be happy to chat with you on our favorite subject.

Happy Shopping.
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