Thinking of Buying a Canon Printer

Daniel Roberts

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I like Canon printers. Indeed I believe that if Canon really got their marketing act together they could be number one. One reason for my belief is that unlike Epson, HP and Lexmark, Canon's background has been in the camera business. In that business films (now memory cards!) and cameras have been separate businesses.

To a certain extent (I believe forced on it by competition) Canon has appeared not to have succumbed to the temptation to sell the printer at breakeven, or even a loss, and to make all its money on supplies. Of course they still make most of their money from supplies - but they keep to the formula - higher original cost: lower cost of usage (see cost of usage in this issue of Incartekspressions.

They have also been nice to its dealers. Epson, and to a lesser extent Hewlett Packard have introduced many ranges of inkjet cartridges - often with 6 or 8 products, alarmingly regularly - it seems with every printer announcement. This means so many product lines (or SKU's as we call them in the trade). I say the trade suffers from “SKU indigestion" (a subject for Incartekspressions 6). Often the only difference is the hard coded identification chip. Canon, on the other hand very seldom changes its range of consumables. Until late 2005, there had not been a significant change on one range (the BCI-3/3e/5/6 - essentially interchangeable since around 1997 and one the lower end since the BCI-21, later 24 was introduced around 1994. There had been improvements to the ink - but not a change which meant stocking numerous lines.

Cost of ownership

To optimise cost of ownership then you should steer clear of being tied to machines where there is no alternative than the printer manufacturer's own brand of cartridge. I believe that the most healthy market is where there is a good supply of quality alternatives. Competition, and fierce competition amongst the alternative branded products has driven the cost of manufacture down - and for the larger sources - at good quality - quality that for most practical purposes means that ‘the compatible is as good as the original’.

For Canon printers, for example a BCI3e or -6 cartridge costs around £7 (depending on source), whereas a compatible cartridge might cost £1.50. Just run the numbers through Froogle to see!

This advice is hardly surprising from the author of ‘Brand Freedom Day’

The chip is a swine!

When Canon When Canon makes a change in its cartridge design it is a radical one. On first appearance their new cartridges the PGi-5 and CLi-8 look similar to their cousins the BCI-3e and -6. Even the Recommended prices are the same. The difference is in the chip. To date there are no alternatives to the chip - and it seems that there will not be any for some time. (See - the Canon Chip race),

The result (a) there is less incentive to reduce the retail price: an original costs £9-£14 from the same source. AND THERE IS NO ALTERNATIVE.

The result - Ink costs will be about eight times as much for the new printers.

Are then new cartridges worth the difference? You are the judge - but read the reviews on printers that are available with the older cartridges - and of the compatibles.

So my recommendation - buy printers which use the old cartridges whilst you can!

What are they?

Low cost printers and single function office devices have totally been superseded.

If you can find a Pixma IP4000 then buy it!

But I would recommend for anybody:

Home/office use - it is worth the few extra pounds (or euros or dollars) to buy one of the most versatile multi-function devices available. This is the Pixma MP780. I have one: it is fast - can print double sided, the results are good, even on ordinary paper, and I always use compatible cartridges! It can scan, fax, copy - even producing a PDF file. Typically available for £160-£180 (€230-€260).

A set of five cartridges costs £7.50 (compatible). Compare that with £60 for the chipped cartridges, and you will save the difference in cost in two sets of cartridges. For me that is two months.

Photo printing - here I recommend the IP 8500 - available for about £210/€300. Personally I do not have a unit (already having both an Epson R300 and R800). It was rated ‘best buy’ by Which? a few months ago. I picked up an opinion: Strengths: Produce prints an awesome quality, Separate 8 ink tanks, Fast and quite printing, Dual paper input sources Weaknesses: Pricey, Can print up to 8x10 photo, Ink tank a little bit more expensive ($9-$12 each). But I have told you how to get cheaper - and really good quality cartridges.

Buy NOW!

As I have said the IP4000 is now unavailable. How long the two I have recommended will be around, I don't know. Not more than a few months, I fear.


Avoid the new ones: IP1600, 2200, 4200, 5200, IX4000, MP500, MP800.

If you have bought one then you might like to read the following blog:

I have new Canon 6600 printer that uses the CLI-8 series cartridges. I did refill them after they said that they were empty. The printer kept telling me to install a new cartridge with each print saying I had no ink, but let me print. After some 10 prints a message came up saying that I was using 3rd party ink and that my warranty was void. The message " replace ink cartridge" then went away and I was off and running with replacement ink. A small price to pay for cheap ink. The prints are great. It is a great printer with rebate at Circuit City it was $140.00.

Dan Roberts

Business Builder Incartek (Ink Cartridge Technologies Ltd) Affilitated to ICFBA (International Confederation for Business Advancement) tel +44 7000 7000 44

Author of “What day is Brand Freedom Day?"

This is reprinted from my e-zine Incartekspressions (issue no 5)

About Incartek

Incartek specialises in the office products and computer consumables businesses identifying opportunities for you to grow your business and then supporting you in exploiting them. It is affiliated to the International Confederation for Business. Incartek has three patents (granted or pending) in the design of inkjet cartridges.

About Daniel Roberts

Dan Roberts is a well known figure in the European electronic supplies and peripheral products industries. As a consultant to it since 1987 he opened up distribution channels and provided strategic guidance to companies such as Kodak, Verbatim, Memorex, EMC2 ICI Imagedata , and various office products, remanufacturing and computer leasing companies.

Between 1996 and 2005 he suspended is consulting activities to direct Europe’s largest master distributor of compatible inkjet cartridges – The Container Club.

Prior to 1987 he was Director of Product Planning for Unisys, and Director of Planning for the international operations of Memorex. In all, he has over 30 years experience in aftermarket dis


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