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Printer with an honest ink cartridge?
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nickw311
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Oct 11, 2010, 09:33 PM
 
I recently replaced my black ink cartridge on my Epson Stylus NX400 in preparation for printing numerous black and white text only documents. In the middle of this job, for some reason the cyan cartridge became empty and it won't let me print anything else. Epson is screwing me over here.

Is it still using color even when I checked "black ink only"?

I've also read that Epson has a chip on their cartridges that only allows a certain number of pages regardless of how much ink is left. Could this be what happened? I hit the page limit even though none of them used cyan?

This is frustrating to no end. Can anyone recommend a good printer brand (NOT epson) that won't bend me over on the ink cartridges?

Will I just have to buy a laser printer?
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Ph.D.
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Oct 11, 2010, 09:51 PM
 
Ink is famously expensive, and companies such as Epson have been sued over issues related to protecting their profits on these cartridges. While they are definitely out to get your money, they will not outright cheat you, as that would just lead to more lawsuits.

Epson's printers measure the amount of ink actually used, not how many pages have been run through the printer. Lighter colors such as yellow and cyan are generally the first to be used up. So unfortunately that ink is probably exhausted (a little will remain, but actually quite little). While you wouldn't be able to print in color if even one ink is gone, I do think it's quite inappropriate for the printer to refuse to print black only when a color is exhausted. Sadly, this is typical behavior, but note that a small amount of color may be used even when printing black-only (e.g., to keep the heads free of clogs).

If you are mostly doing office work, then yes, get a reasonable laser printer (black and white, not color). They produce crisper and more professional output anyway. An inexpensive office-grade HP would be my choice, and would probably cost $250-350. Note that these sometimes ship with "starter" cartridges with only ~1/3 the toner of a full cartridge (not cool either). But the good news is that a proper cartridge lasts a very long time. My 7 year old HP (with a full cartridge) has never needed a replacement and still prints like a champ.

If you are an artist or photographer, you can consider getting a new printer with individual, larger ink cartridges. You will still pay through the nose for ink, but at least you won't have to toss an entire multi-color cartridge when the yellow runs out. Although I understand you are unhappy with Epson, in my opinion they are still the leaders in inkjet technology, with Canon and HP running close behind.

Cheers.
( Last edited by Ph.D.; Oct 11, 2010 at 10:02 PM. )
     
reader50
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Oct 11, 2010, 10:39 PM
 
A fan of Canon here. I gave up on Epson after persistent head clogging, plus the combo color ink tanks you mention.

The Canon will stop the job if one ink tank goes empty. However, I can restart the job in the printer control window, especially if black is still in stock. And all colors are in their own separate tanks.
     
Big Mac
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Oct 11, 2010, 11:15 PM
 
Ditch Epson, and you'll be happier with almost anything else. I'm also a fan of Canon.

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Ph.D.
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Oct 11, 2010, 11:17 PM
 
It's important to distinguish between dye and pigment printers. Early pigment printers (Epson was the first with this technology, which is more light-fast) were prone to clogging. My ancient Epson 2200 became a real drag due to this issue, and I was glad to see it go. Even earlier dye printers had problems.

Later versions, such as my current Epson 3800, have vastly improved archival ink formulations and better heads that are far less prone to clogging. They verify that all jets are operating properly, and even clear them automatically if not. It's no longer a problem.

A number of manufacturers make good printers these days. But the bigger question is what your needs are. Without knowing what you are printing, how much you are printing, how big you are printing, and what your budget is, there's no way to offer much more advice than I've already given.
     
Spheric Harlot
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Oct 12, 2010, 01:43 AM
 
Originally Posted by reader50 View Post
A fan of Canon here. I gave up on Epson after persistent head clogging, plus the combo color ink tanks you mention.

The Canon will stop the job if one ink tank goes empty. However, I can restart the job in the printer control window, especially if black is still in stock. And all colors are in their own separate tanks.
Is this still the case? I'm under the impression that even Canon succumbed to temptation in recent years, like every other manufacturer.
     
reader50
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Oct 12, 2010, 02:22 AM
 
I don't know, my Canon printer is from 2005. And you can't have it.
     
Spheric Harlot
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Oct 12, 2010, 02:31 AM
 
My iP3000 is about that age, too. Before coded ink tanks.
     
ghporter
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Oct 12, 2010, 06:48 AM
 
My Pixma MX310 just finally needed its ink cartridges changed this week. I could tell because the black printing was getting kinda faint. The printer had been warning me that both cartridges were low for some time, and I simply finally agreed because of the low density of black it was able to do. It did NOT quit in any way, it just didn't have as much ink on hand as it used to.

I dumped Epson after several printers wound up being "disposable" because of clogged (and un-cleanable) jets. On advice here, I went with Canon, and I haven't been disappointed.

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Oisín
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Oct 12, 2010, 07:56 AM
 
Unless you frequently print your own photos, just buy a colour laser printer. Photo quality is lower than inkjet photo printers, but just about everything else is far better. And you can get good colour laser printers for less than $200 these days. Black text is crisp on a whole different level than what any inkjet can provide, and even coloured text is richer in colour, though it can be less crisp.

I’m never going back to inkjets. If I have to print something in full colour that needs to be really high quality, then I’ll have it printed just down the street. But I’d do that if I had an inkjet, too.
     
ghporter
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Oct 12, 2010, 08:15 AM
 
My MX310 is an all-in-one that cost $80. There's no way I could have found any sort of color laser for that price point. I went out just looking for a Mac-compatible scanner, but wound up with a fax machine with page feeder, a home copier, a color printer, and a scanner. I don't use the printing feature all that much, as I prefer to scan documents and other stuff, then print them with my B&W laser printer. Laser is definitely the way to go for high volume printing, for fast printing, and for economy.

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Spheric Harlot
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Oct 12, 2010, 08:42 AM
 
Originally Posted by Oisín View Post
Unless you frequently print your own photos, just buy a colour laser printer. Photo quality is complete crap.
Fixed that for you.

Really, unless you're printing brochures or need to see what a color layout looks like on paper, there is no reason to buy a color laser. B & W is FAR lower-maintenance, and MUCH cheaper in the long run.
     
Oisín
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Oct 12, 2010, 09:02 AM
 
There are other things than photos where colours come in handy. I do quite a bit of coloured text, for example, where a colour laser still outperforms an inkjet (unless set to highest quality, at which point the ink usage tends to go through the roof).
     
amazing
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Oct 12, 2010, 10:04 AM
 
Even if you're using a B&W laser printer, the cartridges are set to register empty way before they actually are empty.

I regularly cover the sensors on both B&W and color laser printers to get more mileage out of the toner. I'm perpetually amazed at how more output appears out of supposedly "empty" cartridges.

Yes, some paper gets wasted with subpar "faded" printing--but that's way less expensive than laser toner.
     
-Q-
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Oct 12, 2010, 10:13 AM
 
Another fan of Canon here. I print *very* infrequently in color and haven't had one issue with clogged print heads due to minimal use. I certainly can't say that about the 2 Epson printers I had prior to that.

That being said, I also have a cheap HP laser printer for use in printing black & white documents and I honestly can't remember the last time I had to replace the toner. If you can swing the price (and NewEgg has laser printers starting at US$49) I'd recommend a laser.
     
Oisín
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Oct 12, 2010, 10:35 AM
 
Originally Posted by amazing View Post
Even if you're using a B&W laser printer, the cartridges are set to register empty way before they actually are empty.

I regularly cover the sensors on both B&W and color laser printers to get more mileage out of the toner. I'm perpetually amazed at how more output appears out of supposedly "empty" cartridges.

Yes, some paper gets wasted with subpar "faded" printing--but that's way less expensive than laser toner.
Yeah, mine started to say that black was nearly out and telling me to replace the toner about two months ago. I’ve printed at least 300 pages since then, and there’s still no sign of anything starting to fade. (Xerox Phaser 6125)
     
nickw311  (op)
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Oct 12, 2010, 12:49 PM
 
Thanks for all the advice. Looks like I'm not the first one to dislike an Epson.

I really don't do a lot of printing, but when I do print it is often color pictures from photos I took on my camera so I kind of want an ink jet BUT I can always go to a pharmacy and use one of their photo printers for like 25 cents per sheet. I could really live without photo printing as long as I can print like plane tickets, documents, etc. so maybe I will look into a small laser.

Any recommendations on a small laser printer?
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nickw311  (op)
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Oct 12, 2010, 01:04 PM
 
Also, I called Epson tech support last night to ask about why the printer was using color when I chose the "black ink only" option, and why I can't even print when I have a brand new black ink cartridge.

They desperately tried to justify it saying that it uses color ink to start the printer when cleaning the heads, etc., and that once any ink cartridge is empty it won't let me print at all in order "to protect my printing experience." I made the rational correlation that recently my car cd player broke but Honda didn't disable the entire car "to protect my driving experience." She then hung up on me.
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ibook_steve
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Oct 12, 2010, 02:27 PM
 
Originally Posted by nickw311 View Post
Also, I called Epson tech support last night to ask about why the printer was using color when I chose the "black ink only" option, and why I can't even print when I have a brand new black ink cartridge.

They desperately tried to justify it saying that it uses color ink to start the printer when cleaning the heads, etc., and that once any ink cartridge is empty it won't let me print at all in order "to protect my printing experience." I made the rational correlation that recently my car cd player broke but Honda didn't disable the entire car "to protect my driving experience." She then hung up on me.
I don't know if you read the Consumerist (The Consumerist), but if you do, you should send this in!

Steve

P.S. Yeah, I've given up on Epson as well, though I don't do enough color printing to have bought a new printer, which would be a Canon if I did. I think "Ph.D." is in a definite minority here in liking Epson because I've had nothing but clogged jets and cleanings that used up all the ink with mine.
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Brien
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Oct 12, 2010, 03:32 PM
 
After Apple stopped making printers, I went almost exclusively with Espon until I realized they were trash. I then went through Lexmark and HP printers. So-so. I have a Canon now. I haven't really found any printer that I'm in love with, but the Canon has given me far less headaches.
     
-Q-
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Oct 12, 2010, 04:00 PM
 
Originally Posted by nickw311 View Post
Any recommendations on a small laser printer?
I believe this is the successor to the model I own (HP 1200):

Amazon.com: HP LaserJet Pro P1102w Printer

I've had mine for going on 5 years now and it's been a great printer. Takes up very little space (fits nicely on the small two-drawer filing cabinet next to my desk) and produces good prints.
     
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Oct 12, 2010, 04:20 PM
 
The HP 1200 is a good printer-I had one at work and it did a great job. At home I have a Brother HL-2040, which has been replaced by the HL-2140. There's a somewhat more expensive, networked version, the HL-2170W, but for the same suggested price, I'd go with the HL-2270DW, which is both networked and does duplex printing.

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amazing
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Oct 12, 2010, 04:32 PM
 
I vote for Brother printers at Costco.

Mainly because of Costco's warranty, which goes far beyond the manufacturer warranty. After a year, if something's wrong with a Brother printer, Brother will tell you that it's outside the one-year warranty whereas Costco will replace the printer with no questions asked.
     
CharlesS
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Oct 12, 2010, 05:14 PM
 
Originally Posted by Spheric Harlot View Post
Fixed that for you.

Really, unless you're printing brochures or need to see what a color layout looks like on paper, there is no reason to buy a color laser. B & W is FAR lower-maintenance, and MUCH cheaper in the long run.
My Xerox 6280 has the option to set the printer to B/W-only mode, in which case you're using nothing but the black toner, making it the same as a B/W laser in most circumstances, but you have color when you need it. The Dell 3130cn appears to be the exact same printer as the Xerox 6280, and has B/W toner priced on par with toner for B/W-only laser printers (according to the Internet, the Dell cartridges might even work in my Xerox, and I'm currently debating whether to gamble on it). Unfortunately, I haven't used up the starter toner cartridges that came with this printer yet, so I don't know whether they have the fixed print count or not.

One thing that would probably be a sure bet in terms of honesty would be Xerox's higher-end solid-ink printers. They're expensive as hell, but the "cartridges" are dirt cheap, since they appear not to be cartridges at all but just big chunks of solid ink that gradually wear down over time. I'd like to see them find a way to chip that.

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olePigeon
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Oct 12, 2010, 06:01 PM
 
If you're doing B&W, your best bet is to get a B&W laser printer. Save the inkjet for color. Most laser printers have the option to continue printing until it uses every last grain of toner before you have to replace it. Then buy remanufactured toner from places like Monoprice.com, and you'll save a ton of money.

I have a cheapy dinky Brother HL-1440. I just put black tape over the cartridge sensor, and it'll print until nothing comes out. HP is a little easier, you can usually tell it to ignore toner through the control panel.
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olePigeon
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Oct 12, 2010, 06:03 PM
 
Originally Posted by CharlesS View Post
One thing that would probably be a sure bet in terms of honesty would be Xerox's higher-end solid-ink printers. They're expensive as hell, but the "cartridges" are dirt cheap, since they appear not to be cartridges at all but just big chunks of solid ink that gradually wear down over time. I'd like to see them find a way to chip that.
We're buying two for our front office, I'd be glad to post any experiences I have with them if anyone is interested.

They are cheap, but you have to be careful about keeping the printer powered on. Our two printers will be on UPS backups. If the printer loses power and the temperature drops too low, it'll dump the ink in the ink pool. So you could waste a lot of ink if you're not careful.
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Spheric Harlot
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Oct 12, 2010, 06:54 PM
 
I assume that means they eat power like a tube radio.
     
olePigeon
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Oct 12, 2010, 07:22 PM
 
Originally Posted by Spheric Harlot View Post
I assume that means they eat power like a tube radio.
I have no idea.
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ibook_steve
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Oct 13, 2010, 03:25 PM
 
Originally Posted by olePigeon View Post
I have a cheapy dinky Brother HL-1440. I just put black tape over the cartridge sensor, and it'll print until nothing comes out. HP is a little easier, you can usually tell it to ignore toner through the control panel.
Wow, that's the exact same one I have! Found at the Goodwill a few years back for like $50, but it needed the whole toner assembly and that cost about $150. But it's worked perfectly since on the same toner.

Where's the cartridge sensor you are talking about?

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amazing
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Oct 13, 2010, 03:38 PM
 
Originally Posted by ibook_steve View Post
Wow, that's the exact same one I have! Found at the Goodwill a few years back for like $50, but it needed the whole toner assembly and that cost about $150. But it's worked perfectly since on the same toner.

Where's the cartridge sensor you are talking about?

Steve
it's a round plastic window with a raised rim on the right side.
     
olePigeon
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Oct 13, 2010, 06:22 PM
 
Originally Posted by amazing View Post
it's a round plastic window with a raised rim on the right side.
Yeah. Just put some electrical tape or duct tape over it, and the printer thinks it's full. I've gotten a few months of extra printing out of the cartridge. I use it until it starts fading, give it a good shake, use it some more, then when it's too faded, I finally replace it.

At work I set all our HP printers to ignore toner level, and set the override to 2000 pages. I get a ton of extra prints out of each cartridge. When I attempted to refill the toner cartridges (not worth it, better off buying), I was amazed over how much toner was still in the cartridge when I had to empty it before filling. Seemed like a good 1/4 of the toner was still in there.
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tooki
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Oct 14, 2010, 02:45 PM
 
Originally Posted by nickw311 View Post
They desperately tried to justify it saying that it uses color ink to start the printer when cleaning the heads, etc., and that once any ink cartridge is empty it won't let me print at all in order "to protect my printing experience."
But that really is true. Since inkjet printers don't have separate tanks of just solvents with which to keep the heads wet to prevent clogging, the only way to prevent clogging is to run ink through the nozzles, which obviously consumes ink.

And running the heads dry can permanently damage them, so you don't want that happening either. I like how Canon printers stop when the printer sees a tank is empty (ignoring what's left in the sponges in the cartridge), but will let you press the continue button on the printer to override it and keep printing -- you just have to keep your eye on it to make sure you change the tank as soon as banding begins to occur. (The automatic stop also is genuinely handy if a tank goes empty before printing a large photo, because that really can be enough to totally run a tank dry, including the sponge.)
Originally Posted by nickw311 View Post
I made the rational correlation that recently my car cd player broke but Honda didn't disable the entire car "to protect my driving experience." She then hung up on me.
But a CD player doesn't involve the main mechanism of the car (the engine). A better comparison would be that the car refused to start if the oil level is low -- it won't immediately kill the car, but it's a really bad idea to drive like that.
     
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Oct 17, 2010, 01:42 PM
 
Originally Posted by reader50 View Post
A fan of Canon here. I gave up on Epson after persistent head clogging, plus the combo color ink tanks you mention.

The Canon will stop the job if one ink tank goes empty. However, I can restart the job in the printer control window, especially if black is still in stock. And all colors are in their own separate tanks.
My Epson color pro originally purchased in 1992 quit last week with a smell of ozone. The ink was quite inexpensive. I went to the photo section of my local Costco and noted that they have a price list for refilling Canon, HP, Dell, and Lexmark ink cartridges. With that in hand, I went out and purchased a new printer that used said inkjet cartridges. sam
     
   
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