May 14, 2009

Is Your Inkjet Printer Lying to You?

By Kara Hiltz

Low-Ink Warnings Often Jump The Gun, Reports PC World


Most of us rush to put gas in our cars once our fuel gauge approaches the red zone. The same goes for our printers when they give us a low-ink warning. You don't want to push your luck. In some cases, the printer leaves you no choice — it refuses to print until you change the cartridge

PC World set out to learn just how much ink the average consumer wastes simply by trusting their printer's warnings. In How Much Ink Is Left in That Dead Cartridge?, Jeff Bertolucci reveals that most "empty" ink cartridges can prints many more documents and photos.

How PC World Put Ink Warnings to the Test

PC World compared leftover ink in an "empty" black ink cartridge for multifunction inkjet printers from four major manufacturers: Canon, Epson, HP, and Kodak. The researchers took each cartridge's initial weight, and then printed pages until the low-ink warnings shut down the printer, forcing a cartridge change. Next, they weighed the cartridge with its remaining amount of ink. Finally, they measured a third weight — the cartridge's "true" empty weight — by draining the cartridge dry before weighing it.

The results showed many cases in which a great deal of ink remained in the dead ink cartridge.

Four Lessons From PC World's Study

  1. The Epson cartridge performed the best as it wasted the least amount of ink (about 8 percent) while an aftermarket cartridge in a Canon printer left behind 45 percent of its ink.

  2. Three out of the four of the printers (Kodak being the exception) left more ink behind when using third-party cartridges than with their own brand-name cartridges. The manufacturers claimed that they design the printers to sense their own cartridges' levels more accurately. Third-party vendors say that they fill the cartridges more to begin with, which means more ink is bound to be left behind when the printer determines that it's "empty."

  3. Some experts told PC World that a percentage of ink should remain in a cartridge or the printer runs the risk of damage.

  4. During PC World's tests, not all of the printers provided low-ink warnings. Som printers, like the HP, printed until the ink cartridge ran dry. But PC World points out that "since the print heads are part of the cartridge in HP's design, running out of ink does not damage other parts of the printer."

We would like to encourage PC World to conduct a similar yet different test — find out which cartridges print the most pages and, therefore, offer the lowest cost per page. After all, we consumers can't do much about empty cartridges that aren't really empty, but we can reward printers and cartridges with a low cost per page by voting with our wallets.

About Databazaar Blog
Virtually everyone who uses a computer uses a printer. But computers get all the glory. So we launched this blog to give printers their due. We hope you find our coverage enjoyable and useful, and encourage you to subscribe and participate.

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