Tips when buying an Inkjet printer

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For anyone new to buying a printer for your PC then you need to consider what you will use the printer for and also very importantly how much printing you will do.

Firstly Consider Printer Cartridge Costs...

Many printer manufacturers nowadays practically give the printers away and make their money on the ink cartridges.  Take for example HP (Hewlett Packard).  These are very good and well put together printers but you are almost forced down the route of buying genuine HP cartridges and even the few "compatible" cartridges are very expensive.  HP are also notorious for shipping the printer with a low capacity cartridge to get you going so its not long before you are spending more on a couple of ink cartridges than the printer cost in the first place !!!!

If however you are only planning on printing a small number of documents or the occasional photo then the quality is going to be a much higher consideration than the cartridge costs.

The best way to find out how much printer cartridges will cost is to look at the details of the printer you are thinking about buying and find out what the cartridge numbers/codes are.  Next put these codes into Ebay's search and see what comes up - you will soon see if compatible cartridges are available and how much these cost. 

Bear in mind that printer manufacturers have many different models - sometimes one printer model may have a good supply of compatible cartridges whereas other models by the same manufacturer only have genuine cartridges available.

On the whole Cannon, Epson and Brother are good options for compatible cartridges

Secondly Consider Colour Cartridges....

Some printers come with just two cartridges (black and colour) where the colour cartridge has 3 wells of colour, and other printers come with four cartridges where the 3 primary colour cartrdges are provided seperately.  This is a big consideration.  If you go for a printer that has just two cartridges then this can be a false economy.  Imagine the scenario where you print off a lot of documents or pictures that use one colour more than the other - what will happen is one particular colour will run out in your colour cartridge and the whole cartridge will have to be replaced even if the other two colours are still full !

By buying a printer that has seperate cartridges for the three colours (Yellow, Cyan & Magenta) then you only need to replace the colour that runs out - a big saving in the long run, particularly if you do lots of colour printing !!!

Thirdly Consider Colour Printing....

If you print out a lot of documents that have a "short life" - I.E. work documents, homework, draft pictures etc then compatible inks are just as good as genuine cartridges.  If however you want to print out those family photos to keep for a long time or to frame on the wall then compatible inks are usually more susceptable to fading than genuine inks provided by the manufacturer.  Pictures exposed to the light will fade if the ink isn't designed to be fade resistant.

Fourthly Consider Warranty and Life Expectancy of the printer....

Technically compatible inks are not always as fine as genuine manufacturer inks.  If you are going to spend £50 on a printer and expect to print lots of documents then compatible inks will save you hundreds of pounds over the life of the printer, even if it only lasts a year or so.  Its not a problem to throw the printer away and spend another £50 on a new one after 12 months or so if you have saved hundreds along the way.

Manufacturers typically state that warranties are invalid if you use compatible inks, but again if you save money in the medium-long term its not a problem.

In Summary - I always pick a printer that has a good supply of compatible cartridges and has 3 seperate colour cartridges.  I keep a genuine set of cartridges in an airtight container and use these when I want to print those all important family photos.  For the rest of the time I use the compatible cartridges, buy these in bulk on Ebay and basically save myself a lot of money.


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