Printer Ink cartridges are something we all know are very expensive. Depending on the type of printer you own or what online deals are currently available, it’s often more cost effective to simply buy a new printer than it is to buy ink cartridge refills for your old one. The chances are, depending on how often you use your printer, that buying a new one will probably be an upgrade as well as a complete refill for less.
In many of my previous articles, I have expressed the importance of comparing the price per unit of products to effectively understand the full value you are receiving when you purchase them. A good example might be comparing the price of petrol or diesel per litre from different fuel stations to see which is less expensive. If you thought petrol was expensive at $1.31 per litre in Sydney though, then you'll probably be as shocked as I was to learn that for the ink in my printer I'm actually paying a jaw-dropping $1,183 per litre.
Luckily though, Epson have released a bold new range of "EcoTank" printers that look like they could potentially save me $942 in ink costs by comparison. If these figures turn out to be accurate once the EcoTank printers reach Australian shores, it could well turn out to be a game changer for the printer industry. HP, Canon and Brother, beware!
The way I arrived at the figure of $1,183 per litre was to calculate how much customers are likely to be paying per litre for ink on a common multifunction printer like the one I own, the Epson Workforce WF-3640. I usually purchase the black/colour value pack 252XL cartridges when refilling, which from The Good Guys currently sells for $129. These cartridges only contain a total of 109ml of ink that works out to the staggering total of per litre as mentioned above. Please try to refrain from being ill now and continue reading, as it does get better.
To help put the cost of this printer ink into perspective, I've put together the following infographic which compares the price per litre of other items such as an 85ml Dolce & Gabbana perfume, 15ml eye drops, 750ml Dom Perignon Brut Vintage, 1l Belvedere Vodka, 2L Riverina Skim milk, 1L Shell Diesel and Sydney tap water.
By comparison to the prices stated within the infographic above, its almost laughable at how much we are forced to pay for such tiny quantities of ink. It’s the typical Gillette business model where the company make it very easy and cost effective to buy the product, but when you want a refill (i.e. buy new blades) they will charge you the price of a small mortgage over the period of your life for those refills.
Another trick you can’t really afford to miss is the refill notification from the printer itself. The companies testing standards are designed to provide ample amounts of lead-time so you are left with an empty printer. However, beware that these low-ink warnings are sometimes far too early and checking the ink cartridges yourself can be a much more effective way of measuring your levels.
Above all this, the thing that annoys me the most is that with current ink cartridges, the amount of ink that evaporates whilst it sits in your printer can be anywhere from 5% to 35%, especially if you only use your printer say once every other week. It’s a complete joke! We are literally throwing money into the air at extortionate rates.
Therefore when I heard about Epson releasing a new EcoTank range of printers, I thought it was worth checking out. On Tuesday 4th August, the company unveiled five new all-in-one printers, which don’t require ink standard cartridges. These new printers instead contain large ink reservoirs the company call “super-tanks”. This is perhaps an exaggerated term as they deem anything above 109ml to be considered a super-tank.
However, Epson claim that there is enough ink within their ‘super-tanks’ to last for up to two years under average printer use. The company also claims that there is the equivalent to 20 sets of ink cartridges within the tank.
To buy one of the more basic models (Epson EcoTank L355) it will cost you $526. This is a little expensive, but the printers have only just been released and naturally will cost more. I would recommend hanging on for 6 months as prices are likely to drop by at least 10 - 20%.
The largest price drop though with these new models will be the cost of ink refills. To buy all four 70ml (total 280ml) bottles and completely refill your printer will cost $67.56 or $241.29 per litre. Drastically less than most printers on the market today, and would save me a whopping $942 over what I'm currently paying per litre with my Epson WF-3640 printer model.
The new line of printers claims to print plenty more pages too. The Epson XP-312, which costs $61.30 to refill, is said to print 175 pages in black and 540 in colour. The EcoTank L355, on the other hand, claims to print 4,000 black pages and 6,500 in colour from one full tank. If you convert that into a price-per-unit value, it works out as 0.522 cents per page from the XP-312 compared to just 0.06 cents from the L355 EcoTank printer.
Epson America’s Executive Vice President, Keith Kratzber said in a statement, “The introduction of EcoTank marks a fundamental shift in the way we think about using colour in business and in the home.” “We believe that our new EcoTank printers are well-positioned to take a large bite out of the small business printer market.”
FYI: The EcoTank printers are not yet available on the Epson Australia website so all costing above regarding printers, refills and cost per page have been based on the prices that the printers and cartridges are on sale for in the United Kingdom.