Consumer Reports: Making your pricey printer ink last longer

PHILADELPHIA -- Outraged over the price of printer ink? You're not alone.

A recent Consumer Reports survey shows the price of ink is the number one complaint for printer owners. The good news is there is an easy way to make the ink in your printer last longer.

So, why are those tiny little ink cartridges so expensive?

"There's a lot of science and engineering behind printing, And it all has to work together seamlessly. Consumers expect a push button experience and that's what they try to deliver," said Rich Sulin from Consumer Reports.

So think of what you paid for your printer as more of a down payment.

"The manufacturer hopes you come back to them and buy their original brand ink or toner. That's the profit motive. So now they sell the printer cheaply, but can charge more for the ink and toner," said Sulin.

And when it comes to that ink, most consumers aren't even getting what they paid for. CR says tests have shown with many inkjet printers, more than half of the ink you buy never winds up on the page!!

"Inkjets, which are a very popular type of printer, tend to use up more ink than other types of printers because they have to do a maintenance cycle," said Sulin.

That maintenance cycle helps keep the printheads from clogging, which can ruin your prints. CR says consumers who print the average 25 to 35 pages a month should leave their printers on. That's because turning a printer off and on can trigger more maintenance cycles. Don't worry about your electricity bill. CR says inkjets nowadays use very little power in sleep mode.

Other ways to save? Consider an affordable black and white laser printer, especially if you're mostly just printing text. You can also check out reservoir inkjet printers. They use ink reservoirs you fill yourself instead of cartridges. And those refills can last up to two years.

Consumer Reports urges consumers not to be attracted by low prices when shopping for a printer. Instead, consider the price of a printer over time, including, of course, the cost of ink.

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