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Affordable inkjet printer drought?

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My 15 year old Epson Stylus C88+ inkjet printer suddenly died on me two weeks ago, so I started looking for another Epson to replace it.
I found an affordable Epson all-in-one (even though I don't want or need the copier or scanner portions) from B&H Photo, but the scanner was jammed and I could not continue initial setup.
I sent it back with a request to replace it with another but got an email telling me that it has been discontinued. So now I have a store credit.
All my usual buying haunts are cleaned out, which surprises me. Newegg, Amazon, Staples, B&H are either sold out or discontinued.
I've looked everywhere for affordable Epson multi-cartridge inkjet printers and... nothing.
I've got some printing work coming up that needs to be done in October and afterward (medical papers, tax returns and health insurance documents) and no way to print them.
I figure that I'll probably have to get some cheap printer until I can get what I really want but I'm coming up empty even there.
Any ideas?
 
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I know they're not inkjets, but I've been running Brother toner printers (currently HL-L5200DW?) for many years and they've been great for productivity. You do miss out on the color printing, but if someone demands a color print job (which has never even happened to me for the best part of a decade) then you can just go to a retailer that offers printing services. Inkjets are just too costly and finnicky that I couldn't be bothered going back to them.
 
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Are you absolutely stuck on buying Epson have you looked at Canon at all

MAXIFY MB2120 it has multi ink tanks and a fairly reasonable price and it's wireless
 

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I know they're not inkjets, but I've been running Brother toner printers (currently HL-L5200DW?) for many years and they've been great for productivity. You do miss out on the color printing, but if someone demands a color print job (which has never even happened to me for the best part of a decade) then you can just go to a retailer that offers printing services. Inkjets are just too costly and finnicky that I couldn't be bothered going back to them.
Yeah we have had a hp2015 for many years and got it secondhand ( $10 ) toner lasts much longer, if they don't need color it is one of the best ways to go for sure.
 
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Try major Supermarket chains, they tend to carry at least one cheap type in their stationary/ electrical section.
The biggest issue is finding one with full ink cartridges, not starter packs.
 
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The biggest issue is finding one with full ink cartridges, not starter packs.
Good luck with that. :(

And did you mean "supermarket"? A supermarket to me a big grocery store. Did you mean something like Walmart or a warehouse club like Sam's or CostCo?

While not my first choice, Best Buy might be worth looking at too.

Personally, I have not had luck with any brand's budget models. It seems these devices have become almost disposable items with the companies depending on making money on ink sales. I am not going to say they have "planned obsolescence" built in, but it sure seems like they know the exact day the warranty runs out! :rolleyes:

I've really had good luck with HP Officejets, as long as I am willing to spend $250 or more on them.

(even though I don't want or need the copier or scanner portions)
I rarely use the copier and use the scanner even less. So I didn't think I wanted or needed them either. But on those rare occasions when I did need them, I sure was glad my device copied and scanned (and faxed too).

Best Inkjet printers for 2020
 
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Good luck with that. :(

And did you mean "supermarket"? A supermarket to me a big grocery store. Did you mean something like Walmart or a warehouse club like Sam's or CostCo?
I meant Supermarket as in grocery shopping but also sell general goods, where I live Woolworths is a huge chain and sell basic goods too.
 
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The last time I did an analysis ... with our print levels. The cost of the less expensive "home printers" was prohibitive. The replacement cartridge costs over 5 years was something like 9 times the printer costs. The $1200 Office Printer turned out to be the cheaper alternative. Of course every user is different and each analysis should be based upon what you use. Back in the day, primt mags on the PC industry used to print articles giving reviews and sample costs .... these apparently aren't exciting enough for industry web journalists to bother with any more. Tho is yaa invest some time, you can get great examples, maybe not the one you had your eye on.


Take the Canon Pixma TS9120. It may seem like a bargain in the store with a price of about $80. But CR's estimated total cost of ownership for the printer tops $500 after two years when you add the price of ink. The $300 Canon Pixma G4210 hits your wallet hard on Day One, but it has an ink reservoir instead of cartridges, and may run only $6 per year in ink costs, making the two-year cost of ownership only $312.

The deciding factor will be your workload ... Just paperwork like copies of tax returns and other documnets ... kid's homework ? Thats a very different thing than if you are working from home during the pandemic. I see a big letdown coming in the commercial office market as companies are realizing their employees are just as productive working from home. My son manages the financial documentaion and reporting for the US offices of a German manufacturer and he's replacing his $350 inkjet w/ a $ 1,100 Epson EcoTank Pro ET-16650 with a 2 cent per page color printing cost. The $330 HL-L8360CDW's color laser per-page cost are at 1.9 cents for black pages and 10 cents for color, compared to the $50 cheaper HL-L82360CDW's 2.5 cents per black page and 12.7 cents per color page. Compare that with some others ....comparison, the $250 OKI C332dn's running costs are 4 cents black and 17.6 cents color, and the $720 HP M452dw delivers running costs of 2.2 cents monochrome and 13.6 cents color.

I would avoid any printer that uses "Tri-Color" cartridges.

And yes... over the last 15 years, we have seen a big change in the size and merchandise at super-markets. When I moved my son out to Oklahoma for Flight School and later for FAA Training, we visited a Walmart ... the "grocery end" was the biggest grocery store I had ever been in, except for maybe a Wegman up in Syracuse. It was like a Wegman's, Best Buy, and Home Depot all rolled into one .... I wanted to catch a bus to get to different departments within the store ... could even by patio and apartment furniture.
 
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The replacement cartridge costs over 5 years was something like 9 times the printer costs.
This right here. And you also gotta consider that inkjets dry out over time. So if you're not actually printing pages that whole time, you're wasting precious ink.

I suggest that the typical family get a more expensive laser-printer that uses toner. Its $100 per toner, but toner never "dries out", and are specified for 3000-pages or so (typically). High-capacity toner can go 8000-pages.

Laser printers have less fidelity than inkjet. So if you need photo-like prints, you should go to CVS and use their fancy printer (or buy prints from online). Otherwise, most household print jobs are text and home-office stuff (forms, tax documents, and the like), which laser-printers are more than suitable for.
 
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The prices of pretty much any printer is just stupid right now. Right now is just a really bad time to need a new printer. I bought a cheap hp officejet 3830 for $38 shipped from ebay last year. For the grandkids homework (it replaced another cheap 10yo hp). Was going to pick up another to replace my own aged officejet until i saw that its now $150+. So obviously price isnt a good indicator of quality atm. The 3830 is using some cheap 8 or 9 month old amazon replacement cartridges ($12ea for 2) due to the hp ink being ridiculously priced. They print as nicely as the hp cartridges do. I found the same as the OP in that selection is a huge challenge right now. I couldnt find anything quality or that reviewed well for a decent price. Definitely do your due diligence in researching both the printer and ink. Im assuming supply issues are the reason for the sky high prices and piss poor availability.
 

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We are dealing with 3 issues that caused the supply of printers to dry up. WFH, elearning, and short supply from China thanks to Covid.

That said, unless you need photo quality color prints, an inkjet is a huge waste of money. The brother HL-L3210CW is $200 on Amazon right now, and actually in stock. It's a great color laser printer, and the toner lasts ages compared to inkjet cartridges. Plus, I've never had a problem with it, or any Brother, using cheap generic toner cartridges. The only issue I ever had was the color being slightly off, but that comes down to whoever refilled the cartridge using too cheap off colored toner.
 
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Inkjet Printers are pretty much disposable now, as it's cheaper to buy a new one than it is to replace the ink cartridges.
 

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Inkjet Printers are pretty much disposable now, as it's cheaper to buy a new one than it is to replace the ink cartridges.
That's why they all usually come with 1/4 filled carts these days.
 
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Thank you, everyone. The input is definitely appreciated.
The reason I don't need a scanner or copier function is because I already own a Canon flatbed scanner. Scan the item and then print it if I want(ed) a copy.
I have absolutely ruled out tri-color inkjet cartridge units because when one color dies the other two are useless and wasted.
That's one reason why I got the Epson; three colors and one black, and the way I print, I only paid about $60 a year for ink and was happy with the results.
I tried a Canon before I got the Epson and I was shocked at how fast the ink got used up, even in Draft mode. I put that one out on the curb with a "Free Printer" sign.
Thanks again!
 

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Thank you, everyone. The input is definitely appreciated.
The reason I don't need a scanner or copier function is because I already own a Canon flatbed scanner. Scan the item and then print it if I want(ed) a copy.
I have absolutely ruled out tri-color inkjet cartridge units because when one color dies the other two are useless and wasted.
That's one reason why I got the Epson; three colors and one black, and the way I print, I only paid about $60 a year for ink and was happy with the results.
I tried a Canon before I got the Epson and I was shocked at how fast the ink got used up, even in Draft mode. I put that one out on the curb with a "Free Printer" sign.
Thanks again!
It sounds like color laser might be the best solution, or even black and white laser if you don't need the color.
 
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I agree. I have this one on my radar:
I know someone with a color printer for those rare times it is needed, so I think I'll be all set.
Thanks, everyone! :)
 
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Oh man inkjet printers.
Or just printers for home use in general. You get a new one all happy thinking 'This one will last!'

Half a year later you printed five pages and the whole thing is screwed up beyond recognition. Of course, you've already had your usual refill message for at least one of the colors, you've had to reprint test pages because something somehow got weirded up along the way, and you've likely spilled ink somewhere during installation.

Never. Again. I just don't print anymore. You want it? I'll send it digitally or print at work.
 
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or print at work.
LOL

Well, many of us are retired, are students, or work out of the home. So we still need to occasionally print something out.

I think one of the best ways to prolong the life of an infrequently used printer is to use it! That is, set an event in your calendar program to remind you to print out test page or something once a week. That keeps the cartridge nozzles and print heads from drying out and clogging up.

Also, inkjet ink has a relatively short shelf life - even if unopened. So even if the sale price is great, don’t buy more than you will use in the next year, or two at the most.

I am not going to get into the never ending, no answer is right debate over genuine vs 3rd party ink and toner. All I will say is the following are my personal experiences after decades of providing tech support - and with my own printing devices.

1. Many printout quality problems have been cleared automagically simply by replacing 3rd party ink/toner with genuine OEM ink/toner.
2. If you decide to use 3rd party ink or toner, stick with the same brand from a reliable, reputable source.

I will comment no further on Item 1.

It is important to note there is a lack of consistency with 3rd party ink. Ink is actually some pretty high-tech stuff. And HP, Epson, Brother and the others make their inks using specific and patented formulas with very tight controls for consistency batch after batch. Especially when it comes to professional applications, color consistency is critical. As is how the droplets disperse and soak into various papers.

There are actually strict industry standards publishers, professional photographers and others rely on to ensure the green, for example, they see with their eyes matches the green they see through their viewfinder which matches the green they see on their monitor when then matches the green that comes out of the printer! Note I picked green as an example because printer ink does not come in green. It has to be derived by mixing other colors - precisely.

The 3rd party makers have to reverse engineer and make their own formulas (without violating any patents). That is an expensive process, especially considering how many different printer makers and printers (and all-in-ones) there are out there. So all the different 3rd party ink makers have their own formulas. This means if you buy your ink from Office Depot this time, Sam's next, BestBuy after that, you likely will be using different formulas each time. And who knows how their suppliers maintain consistency of those formulas batch after batch?
 
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LOL

Well, many of us are retired, are students, or work out of the home. So we still need to occasionally print something out.

I think one of the best ways to prolong the life of an infrequently used printer is to use it! That is, set an event in your calendar program to remind you to print out test page or something once a week. That keeps the cartridge nozzles and print heads from drying out and clogging up.

Also, inkjet ink has a relatively short shelf life - even if unopened. So even if the sale price is great, don’t buy more than you will use in the next year, or two at the most.

I am not going to get into the never ending, no answer is right debate over genuine vs 3rd party ink and toner. All I will say is the following are my personal experiences after decades of providing tech support - and with my own printing devices.

1. Many printout quality problems have been cleared automagically simply by replacing 3rd party ink/toner with genuine OEM ink/toner.
2. If you decide to use 3rd party ink or toner, stick with the same brand from a reliable, reputable source.

I will comment no further on Item 1.

It is important to note there is a lack of consistency with 3rd party ink. Ink is actually some pretty high-tech stuff. And HP, Epson, Brother and the others make their inks using specific and patented formulas with very tight controls for consistency batch after batch. Especially when it comes to professional applications, color consistency is critical. As is how the droplets disperse and soak into various papers.

There are actually strict industry standards publishers, professional photographers and others rely on to ensure the green, for example, they see with their eyes matches the green they see through their viewfinder which matches the green they see on their monitor when then matches the green that comes out of the printer! Note I picked green as an example because printer ink does not come in green. It has to be derived by mixing other colors - precisely.

The 3rd party makers have to reverse engineer and make their own formulas (without violating any patents). That is an expensive process, especially considering how many different printer makers and printers (and all-in-ones) there are out there. So all the different 3rd party ink makers have their own formulas. This means if you buy your ink from Office Depot this time, Sam's next, BestBuy after that, you likely will be using different formulas each time. And who knows how their suppliers maintain consistency of those formulas batch after batch?
Oh come on Bill, don't get me started on the science of ink. Its total and utter BS for a normal consumer print job and you know it. its a known fact mfgrs build in all sorts of detection and blockades to prevent you from using cheaper ink that works just fine because it kills their business plan. I've used many inkjet printers and third party ink never was the culprit for issues. Just as many of them died with stock inks and numerous other non-ink related problems. Like mechanisms just simply locking up or dragging on one side of your paper, and what not.

Its INK, man. Please, its hundreds of years old and you really don't need advanced technology to put it in a cartridge and feed it through. For professional work, sure. All the rest? Give me a break. Most consumer inkjets are just bottom barrel junk, let's face it. Its one of the worst markets to buy something in.
 
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Gee whiz. That's a bunch of feculent blather and you know it! You are just arguing to start an argument. And the proof is in the fact you agreed with me concerning professional work, then pretended that argument does not apply for "a normal consumer print job". What a bunch of malarkey!

If I print out a picture of my grandkids on my home HP printer, I expect their faces to look natural, not red or green. I am sure I am not alone in that feeling.

And this has nothing to do with detection and blockades. That's just you ranting. And its not true any more any way - at least not in the US, EU and most other "non-corrupt" countries. Printer companies blocking the use of 3rd party ink is illegal.

See: Consumer Reports: Thinking of Using Third-Party Printer Ink Cartridges? Read This First. Note the part about the US Supreme Court ruling on the case, "Impression Products, Inc v Lexmark".

Its INK, man. Please, its hundreds of years old
:roll: OMG! And all ink is and always has been the same? Yeah right. Like there's no difference between pigmented and dye based inks. No differences in chemical properties. No differences in "lightfastness" or how inks bleed. Or how exposure to different types of light affect inks. Yeah right. It's clear you know nothing about the "science of ink". I'm outta here.
 
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Gee whiz. That's a bunch of feculent blather and you know it! You are just arguing to start an argument. And the proof is in the fact you agreed with me concerning professional work, then pretended that argument does not apply for "a normal consumer print job". What a bunch of malarkey!

If I print out a picture of my grandkids on my home HP printer, I expect their faces to look natural, not red or green. I am sure I am not alone in that feeling.

And this has nothing to do with detection and blockades. That's just you ranting. And its not true any more any way - at least not in the US, EU and most other "non-corrupt" countries. Printer companies blocking the use of 3rd party ink is illegal.

See: Consumer Reports: Thinking of Using Third-Party Printer Ink Cartridges? Read This First. Note the part about the US Supreme Court ruling on the case, "Impression Products, Inc v Lexmark".

:roll: OMG! And all ink is and always has been the same? Yeah right. Like there's no difference between pigmented and dye based inks. No differences in chemical properties. No differences in "lightfastness" or how inks bleed. Or how exposure to different types of light affect inks. Yeah right. It's clear you know nothing about the "science of ink". I'm outta here.
Context. This is about inkjetprinters in general being pretty crap overall. Ink choice is just a detail in all of it really...

No one is complaining about color accuracy...
 
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Its INK, man. Please, its hundreds of years old and you really don't need advanced technology to put it in a cartridge and feed it through. For professional work, sure. All the rest? Give me a break. Most consumer inkjets are just bottom barrel junk, let's face it. Its one of the worst markets to buy something in.
I think you're underselling the ink technology a bit here.

100+ years ago, we changed our fonts to have "serifs" so that the ink would have "readable" portions to spool under. Ink was somewhat imprecise, and printers had to work with the imprecision of ink.

Today, 600dpi inkjet printers are available for $150. That's 360,000 dots per square inch. When ink is deposited on a modern printer page, it is dropped within 1/600th of a linear inch of its programmed location, or within a 42 linear micrometers.

------

Professional work is 2400 dpi or greater. 300 or 600dpi is typical household resolutions. Professional ink printers have 11+ inks that they deposit, because you can't get photo-quality finishes with just 3 inks + black. Your standard 3-color ink cartridge has a lot of technology behind it. With that being said: I still think a typical 3-color ink cartridge is unsuitable for household purposes, because a typical house simply won't print enough pages before the ink dries out (AND it still looks like crap compared to 2400+ DPI 11+ color ink printers)
 
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The context does not change the facts.

And one reason much higher resolutions matter in professional quality printers is in part, because much higher resolution cameras are used. Blowups need to be supported. Precise measuring may be needed and many other factors - not just relating to photography, but also engineering and design.

But I agree - that is not relevant here. But normal folks still want images of their kids and grandkids, or even their dog to look correct.

Not all ink is equal.

Today, 600dpi inkjet printers are available for $150. That's 360,000 dots per square inch. When ink is deposited on a modern printer page, it is dropped within 1/600th of a linear inch of its programmed location, or within a 42 linear micrometers.
And you are only talking about one characteristic of the ink - that is, how fine/tiny the droplets are. Other characteristics - totally setting aside color accuracy - include how fast the ink dries. How it smudges (or not) once dry. How it bleeds into the paper and how it bleeds depending on the paper type. If the ink is glossy or matte. Is it black black or is there is a reddish or brown hue to it? I note some cheap printers don't even have black cartridges. They mix the colors to make black - and you can tell.
With that being said: I still think a typical 3-color ink cartridge is unsuitable for household purposes, because a typical house simply won't print enough pages before the ink dries out.
There's that but I personally feel separate cartridges are better because 3-in-one assumes all the print jobs will consume the cyan, magenta and yellow inks at the same rate. That is rarely the case. It is very common for one color to run out when there is still plenty of the other two left. If your print jobs use a lot of yellow, for example, you will run out of yellow first. Yet to get accurate print outs, you are forced to replace them all instead of just the yellow.

As far as drying out - that happens but again, printing a test page once a week helps ensure they won't prematurely. Drying out is inevitable but if you don't print something for many days, the jets and print heads will dry out first, then the cartridges clog up even though there's still usable ink inside. That's one big advantage to lasers.
 
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Drying out is more a function of the print head assembly rather than the ink... and yes, ink supplier matters. I have seen folks run print heads on $15,000 wide format inkjets with bargain basement ink. The color cartridges on my 16 year old wide format printer are 350ml and the black is I think double that ... the black goes within 12 - 18 months but the colors will sometimes sit in the machine for years and also sit on my shelf for years, not to mention how long they sit before I buy them. I change out the print heads and cleaner with every other printer cartridge change.

The cheap printers is the Gillette marketing strategy ..... give away the razor, make money for life on the razor blades. Ink will run out fast, and if it doesn't the print head seal will. We have several printers here ... I use a Color Laser MFP for "commercial quality", capable of doing the kid's homework, scanning, faxing ... all the way up to making 10 sets of stabled documents. It does photos well enough for example when contained in an engineering expert witness report for a court case. The wide format inkjet plotter does engineering drawings 36" x whatever and a 10 cartridge inkjet handles photos where correct color tones are essential (faces). The only one that ever has ink issues is the photo printer, almost always resolved by a maintenance procedure.

For most home users, I have to stay with the $350 - $1150 range. How many users and what you do with it will determine the better choice. So let's say there's an $800 difference there and the cost per page will varies by 10 cents a page. Let's pick some examples:

50 pages a month x 12 months x 5 years x $0.12 = $360. Total cost of ownership per year over 5 years = $350 + $360 = $710 / 5 years = $142
100 pages a month x 12 months x 5 years x $0.12 = $720. Total cost of ownership per year over 5 years = $350 + $720 = $1070 / 5 years = $214
150 pages a month x 12 months x 5 years x $0.12 = $1080. Total cost of ownership per year over 5 years = $350 + $1080 = $1430 / 5 years = $286

At that point, the more expensive printer is the better deal
150 pages a month x 12 months x 5 years x $0.10 = $180. Total cost of ownership per year over 5 years = $1150 + $180 = $1330 / 5 years = $266

That is oversimplified as 1) the cost per page for black is much smaller, 2) the quality of the output is much better on the more expensive option and c) the $350 dollar job often won't last 5 years, but the point is ... the cheapest printer is not always the least expensive option. You can do the math, just make sure to have a reasonable estimate of how many color and black only printing you do.
 
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Oh come on Bill, don't get me started on the science of ink. Its total and utter BS for a normal consumer print job and you know it. its a known fact mfgrs build in all sorts of detection and blockades to prevent you from using cheaper ink that works just fine because it kills their business plan. I've used many inkjet printers and third party ink never was the culprit for issues. Just as many of them died with stock inks and numerous other non-ink related problems. Like mechanisms just simply locking up or dragging on one side of your paper, and what not.

Its INK, man. Please, its hundreds of years old and you really don't need advanced technology to put it in a cartridge and feed it through. For professional work, sure. All the rest? Give me a break. Most consumer inkjets are just bottom barrel junk, let's face it. Its one of the worst markets to buy something in.
I don't have that problem with my Canon MG3500 I think I've replaced the ink once in 3 years and I've a son in High school who prints stuff like dead trees don't matter mostly txt but he does do colour printing when he needs to which is atleast once a week and I have no problem using third party inks in the firmware it asked me do I really want to use a third party product and I ticked the Your Damn Right I want to box and away it went printing like it just don't care
 
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