How To Buy A Printer That Won't Break The Bank


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OK I confess I’ve bought at least 10 inkjet printers in the last 5 years and finally found one that I really like. I’m not going to mention the brand here but I will tell you what the must have features are for me.

After years of refilling HP-like inkjet cartridges where the Cyan, Magenta and Yellow tanks were all mixed together in one unit I decided to buy a printer that allowed you to change each color tank individually. Although a minor change this affected how much it cost to print a colored output page in a huge degree. I never liked the concept of having all of the colors in one cartridge to start with. Every time I went to replace an empty cartridge I wondered how much ink was left in the other two colored ink tanks. If you didn’t notice they were always a dark color making it impossible to tell how much was actually in the tank.

My new unit seems to use the Yellow cartridge (black aside) more than any other color which makes me curse the days where I envisioned myself throwing money in the toilet by only using half of the colored ink in a multi color ink jet cartridge. This backs up my initial thought process and confirmed all suspicions.

Since I’m a small business owner and penny pinching is always a must, I continuously test how much mileage that I get out of a cartridge. As you well know the little pop up window tells you when your cartridge is running low and it seems like it’s there to annoy you and serves no other purpose. Being the cheapo that I am I decided to ignore the warnings and bells and whistles that normally go off and run a cartridge to the end of its tank.

It was tense, a sense of childlike mischief came across my mental state. I was actually defying the printing gods by defying their warnings of certain doom, nefariously clicking the cancel on every warning message. Surely something spectacular would happen at the end of the life of this inkjet cartridge! I had gotten about a thousand messages warning me of the peril that was coming my way. I envisioned scenes from nuclear war footage and big things happening like the printer exploding or perhaps the printer cartridge police showing up at my house and arresting me for such gross disrespect for printer law. Whatever happened this would be BIG!

Well after running the cartridge for about a month I got a harmless message that the cartridge was now out. No big light show, no explosion no nothing, what a disappointment! Anyway, I installed a new cartridge, realigned the thing using the printing utility and was up and running in about five minutes.

The point of the whole ordeal was to figure out how many more print jobs that I could do without changing the ink. Thus, saving me some extra cash. Well a month of printing is nothing to scoff at and it ended up saving me around $5.00 by using the cartridge down to the last drop.

Will it work on your printer? I don’t know. . But you should check out the manual for your printer to ensure that you won’t damage it by running the cartridge dry.

But friend I choose to live life on the edge. =)

Alexis Allen is a self-described consumer advocate in the Home Electronics Industry. You can check out her latest articles on the cost of printing at


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