Office Depot ink cartridges save money and lose quality

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Everyone knows that buying new branded printer cartridges from the original manufacturer can be expensive. But are third-party alternatives really the better deal? As PCWorld’s Serial Refiller, I set out to try out third-party options – including remanufacturers, refill services, and do-it-yourself refill kits – and tell you if the savings are worth the effort.

Since I only use each refill for a short time and with only one printer, my experiences with ink refills are anecdotal and do not test the shelf life or archivability of third-party inks, or how the printer performs with them after repeated use. That said, my hands-on tests give you a taste of what to expect when trying a third-party alternative with your own printer.

My test printer is an HP Photosmart e-All-In-One. Each time I evaluate, I start with a new set of OEM cartridges, empty them, and then use them for refilling or for comparison with the remanufactured option. I am using the standard size HP 60 cartridges; The high yield 60XL cartridges last longer and usually save you more money.

Using both OEM and third-party inks, I keep printing a range of pages – from plain text to a full-size color photo – until the ink runs out (blank streaks appear on the page). . I’ll count the number of pages printed before streaks appeared to give a sample page yield. These page yields will likely be different from what the OEM or third-party ink manufacturer claims, just as your own mileage will vary based on the print content. I also compare the print quality of the third-party ink pages to those printed with the OEM cartridges.

Remanufactured cartridges from Office Depot save one step – for one price

When printer ink is empty, nothing is easier than going to the nearest office supply megachain to purchase a new cartridge. Not the OEM cartridge – the Serial Refiller would never do that! – but a reprocessed one. That was my savings strategy when I went to Office Depot and bought two refurbished ink tanks for my HP Photosmart e-All-In-One. Office Depot’s cartridges undercut HP by just a few dollars, but installing them is definitely less messy than using the do-it-yourself refill I tried last time.

Products:

* Office Depot OD640WN (HP 60) Remanufactured Black Ink Cartridge ($ 13) * Office Depot OD643WN (HP 60) Remanufactured Tri-Color Ink Cartridge ($ 17)
Taxes and shipping costs: Varies depending on the location
Provider URLs:

OfficeDepot.com OD640WN (HP 60) OfficeDepot.com OD643WN (HP 60)

Worth a try? Yes sir
Annoyance factor: Low
Print quality compared to OEM ink: Satisfactory but not as good as OEM
Yield (mixed sample set): 134 pages
Cost per page: 22 cents (OEM: 27 cents)

The store’s $ 13 OD640WN is a black HP 60 cartridge filled with Office Depot’s in-house ink. The $ 17 OD643WN is a remanufactured HP 60 tricolor tank. Office Depot also collects used cartridges of all brands and gives you a credit of 2 USD for each cartridge you bring with you. Excluding the in-store credit, the two cartridges cost $ 30 pre-tax – about $ 5 less than the standard-size HP 60 black and tri-color cartridges (if purchased separately).

Easy setup

The remanufactured cartridge is pretty much identical to the HP product except for the Office Depot sticker on the top. Installation is a breeze, especially if you’ve already replaced HP cartridges: just remove the empty HP tank and insert the Office Depot unit.

Install the Office Depot tri-color cartridge

After following the HP recommended alignment procedure to calibrate the cartridges for the best quality, I started printing. At least that’s what I tried, amid incessant dialog boxes that pop up as soon as the printer detected the product wasn’t a genuine HP cartridge. Whenever I checked a box (in a Windows dialog box) to remove one message, another quickly took its place.

The warnings from HP included:

  • ‘Ink low: Check your computer’s status screen for more information.’ (This was shown right after installing the Office Depot cartridges.)
  • ” Original HP ink out of print: print cartridge (s) refilled or depleted. Replace the cartridge (s) or press OK to continue. ‘ (An immediate continuation of the first warning.)
  • “Black: If this cartridge was sold to you as a new, genuine HP cartridge, it may be a counterfeit.”

The results: good enough?

After all the excitement, the pages I printed with the Office Depot inks looked pretty good. However, when I held the Office Depot printed pages next to their HP counterparts, I noticed noticeable differences in print quality. Overall, the black edition from HP was noticeably darker and text appears bolder and sharper. The skin tones were smoother and the colors looked more vibrant. Of course, your subjective impression of the print quality can differ. If good enough is good enough, Office Depot ink could be a viable alternative.

I also dripped some water over both samples. As expected, every set showed streaks and gradients, but Office Depot’s inks did no worse than HP’s.

Page yield was a tie: Office Depot’s rebuilt tanks lasted for 134 pages, compared to 132 for the HP inks. Based on this page yield, I paid 27 cents per page to print with the printer manufacturer’s standard size HP 60 cartridges; With the inks from Office Depot, I spent a little less at 22 cents per page.

Purchasing remanufactured cartridges from Office Depot saved me a few dollars, as well as the hassle of refilling the tanks myself. However, I lost a little print quality in the process. When satisfactory output is what you need, Office Depot inks will perform well – but the better results of your own HP ink cartridges are only a few dollars away. Of the two third-party ink alternatives I’ve tried so far, the Inktec do-it-yourself refill kit is far cheaper.


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