Printer Running Costs

We have often heard customers comment on not being aware of the cost of cartridges for colour printers until they come to buy their first replacements.

It would seem the preoccupation with the relatively cheap purchase prices of printers distracts many from looking at the on-going cost of consumables. This despite the often quoted fact by manufacturers that users will spend many times the purchase price of the printer on consumables during the life of the printer.

We therefore would like to help you assess these costs so that you may take them fully into account when next looking at purchasing a printer.

By visiting the UK web sites of the printer manufacturers you can look up the specification of their printers/cartridges including the number of pages of test prints you can expect from each cartridge (page yield) based on a certain coverage of each page. This is normally based on the ISO/IEC 24711 test print. While this may not give you an accurate indication of the number of pages you can expect with the type of printing you do (the test is conducted by continuously printing until the cartridge is emptied, which is not normal!) because most manufacturers use the same test it is possible to compare what the running costs of different models will be.

By combining this information on page yield with the price of the cartridges a cost per print can be determined and the results for a number of printers can be compared.

This will get around the confusion of trying to evaluate costs by just comparing the price of the cartridges. The physical size of cartridges can not be used as an indicator as often the manufacturer will produce small, medium and larger volumes all using the same carcass. Some of the small volume ones are modified inside to stop them being refilled with larger volumes! In addition the electronics of the cartridges in the same series, which externally look the same, can be different stopping a larger volume cartridge being used in a printer that normally uses a low volume version. This is because there is often a relationship between what you pay for the printer and what you will pay for ink on an ongoing basis. The trend is for printers at the cheaper end to have higher running costs than the high cost end of the market. Making the choice is not always easy!

Do not forget to look out for test results carried out by organization like Which? or publications like PC Pro which include information on ease of use, installation and quality of output as well as running costs. We have based our decision to stock Canon printers on the basis of these tests conducted over a number years as new models come to market.