Do you need to buy branded printer inks? | The strategist

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Photo: NBC

Let’s say you started working from home at the beginning of the pandemic and had to buy your own printer. As a savvy shopper, you’ve consulted the strategist’s list of the best printers and picked this compact one HP laser Model. At just over $ 100, this is a good deal for a printer that reliably prints out documents, forms, shipping labels, and anything else you need to print at home. The sticker shock won’t kick in until you run out of toner and discover that Replacement HP cartridge costs $ 50 – or almost half the price of the printer.

Whether you have a laser printer that uses toner (a fine powder that has melted onto the page) or an inkjet printer that uses ink (liquid sprayed onto the page through tiny nozzles), you will likely find that replacement cartridges are quite expensive. especially when compared to the cost of printers. “Printer companies spend billions of dollars on research and development – they develop the technology for printers, design it, and bring it to market,” said Aaron Leon, founder of the printer supplies retailer LD products. These companies, including HP, Epson, and Brother, are selling their printers at a loss and are making good on their investment in ink and toner sales. “That’s why original branded cartridges are so expensive,” he says.

However, these branded cartridges (also known as Original Equipment Manufacturer or OEM) are not your only options. If you dig further, you will find that you can also purchase third-party cartridges, often at a fraction of the cost. These fall into two categories: remanufactured cartridges, which are recycled OEM cartridges that have been emptied, cleaned, and refilled with new ink or toner; and compatible cartridges that have been manufactured from scratch and designed for use with branded printers. This will save you a lot of money, but how does the quality compare to OEMs? And how do you know if the third party vendors you’ve bought are good?

George Lemus, Senior Manager in NYC ABC Computer ServicesAccording to a company that provides printer repair and IT services and sells printer supplies, its customers prefer OEMs for ink but are more open to buying third-party toner. The ink itself is a proprietary product. Even if third party OEM cartridges are refilled, the colors and physical properties (such as drying time) may not match the originals. With subpar ink, Lemus says, “You can smear and have problems with your printhead [the printer component that ink passes through to reach the page]and you can actually have serious problems with your printer. “

As a professional art printer (who shares tips and tricks on his Youtube channel), Jose Rodriguez, also cautious when it comes to third-party ink cartridges. “These types of products are almost universally inferior in terms of quality and performance,” he says. “The cartridges are filled with different amounts of ink than the one they are supposed to hold and they do not fit well in the printers for which they are supposedly designed.” When you’re ready to get the job done, Rodriguez recommends buying empty compatible cartridges and third-party ink from reputable sellers and refilling the cartridges yourself. He says this is the best way to make sure you’re getting good quality ink while saving money. He sticks to only four ink vendors with whom he has had good experiences: Precision paints, InkOwl, InkProducts.com, and Inkjet Mall.

However, if you’re not looking to professionally print photos or want museum-quality prints, Rodriguez says you can probably get away with third-party ink cartridges to save money. Lemus agrees that it is possible to find quality third-party suppliers, but you need to do your research. As Lemus says, “There are a lot of fly-by-night companies”. So, look for third-party vendors with great reviews and full warranties – in case their cartridges don’t work in your printer or they stop working after a while – and test all of their products for quality. You can contact a supplier like ABC Computer Services directly to order cartridges from companies that have already been verified.

Toner is a slightly different story. Since it is widely used in black and white printing and in high volume situations such as office printers, accurate color matching is less important. According to Lemus, the quality of third-party toners has come a long way in the past two decades as well. “Ten or 15 years ago there was no way to buy a recycled or remanufactured toner, but now it’s completely different,” he says. “The technology is incredible now. These remanufactured cartridges are just as good as the OEM cartridges, but you pay a lot less. “

It is important to note that compatible cartridges and aftermarket cartridges are different from counterfeit cartridges, which are marked as OEM products but are in fact fraudulent. As long as your third-party ink cartridges are labeled as such, it is completely legal to buy and use. Printing companies have tried to challenge third party vendors in court, but have so far been unsuccessful. In one Fall 2017The Supreme Court ruled that Lexmark printer’s patents do not apply to cartridges that have already been sold, so third parties can sell refilled cartridges. Compatible cartridges are usually designed as differently as OEM versions that they do not infringe your patents.

That doesn’t mean the big printer companies are happy with third-party inks and toners. One way to regulate this is to introduce firmware updates, which essentially tell your printer to stop recognizing third-party cartridges. If you’re trying to use these cartridges, Leon and Rodriguez recommend turning off automatic updates on your printer, or making sure you always decline or ignore an update when you have the choice.

It turns out that printer ink is a pretty complicated problem, but here’s the tl; DR version: If you don’t mind spending the extra money, OEM cartridges are your best bet. They contain all of the company’s proprietary technology and are less likely to malfunction or be rejected by your printer than third-party ones. You also don’t have to worry about firmware updates making them unusable. However, if you don’t need museum-quality colors and don’t mind finding reputable sellers and avoiding updates, you can probably get away with third-party suppliers – especially if you’re buying toner.

LD Products HP 48A (CF248A) Black Compatible Toner Cartridge

Leon’s company, LD Products, sells ink and toner cartridges that are compatible with many popular printer models. For example, if you have the HP LaserJet mentioned above, LD toner costs far less than the $ 50 OEM cartridge. According to Leon, they offer a lifetime guarantee on all of their products, so you can get a replacement if your printer suddenly stops accepting your cartridge.

Valuetoner Remanufactured Ink Cartridge replacement for HP 62XL

If you have a color ink printer like that HP OfficeJet 200 (our first choice for a portable printer), get a refurbished black and color cartridge set for just $ 55. If you had chosen the HP brand, you’d pay around $ 64 for it the sentence. Valuetoner’s refurbished cartridges have over 1,200 five-star ratings on Amazon.

InkProducts Deluxe ink refill set for HP 62-61-60-901 cartridges

For the DIY enthusiast who would like to try refilling, this refill kit (which works with the aforementioned HP OfficeJet and other similar models) can be purchased from a Rodriguez-approved dealer. It contains everything you need to refill your black cartridge at least 20 times and your color cartridge 25 times per color. That’s less than $ 4 per refill.

TRU RED Remanufactured Black High Yield and Tri-Color Standard Ink Cartridge Replacement for HP 62XL

Large office supply stores like Staples and Office Depot also sell remanufactured and compatible cartridges. Because they offer satisfaction guarantees and have dedicated customer service departments, you are less likely to get stuck with a faulty cartridge than if you had chosen a random online seller. Here is a version of the black and color cartridges for the HP OfficeJet from Staples.

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