Cons of Ink Tank Inkjet Printers
I have recently been investigating the best ink tank inkjet printer for home use. However, in this article I will not be reviewing any such printers but rather will share with you the user feedback I have seen that would make anyone think twice before making an ink tank printer purchase.
Recently I have become increasingly disenfranchised with my ageing Pixma all in one printer. The print quality has always been mediocre, but what really annoyed my head was the price of the replacement cartridges. Since all colours were combined into a single cartridge, running out of one colour meant binning the whole cartridge and doling out some of my hard earned cash for a new printer cartridge. This combined with the outrageous cost of printer ink(more than silver apparently!) eats away at that part of me that rejects being extorted. The only saving grace here is that I seldom print as I am a fan of paperless home but I have to admit there is a time and place for printing.
For that time and place I would like my printing to be of reasonable quality and cost effective. Up until recently, cost effective and Inkjet printers were an oxymoron. But, times have changed. With the introduction of ink tank printers that use refillable reservoirs of ink, the cost of printing has plummeted. This has lead to a renaissance for inkjet printers, even challenging laser printers for control of the office! It is this fundamental shift that leads me to consider replacing my old printer with a more cost effective ink tank printer and the subsequent researching of the topic.
Now, normally reviews investigating the best ink tank Inkjet printer would go on about stuff relating to print speeds, print quality of photographs, printing costs, software and all that kind of stuff. I won’t. What I want to cover is the pitfalls that have been reported by others in relation to ink tank printers from various manufacturers. The last thing I want is to buy a shiny new printer in the hope of reduced printing costs only to be tripped up by some other problems. So, I try to shine a light on some of these issues I have spotted on the Internet so you too, if interested in getting such a printer, will also be aware. So, that’s the thrust of this article.
Let’s start with a few observations on the various ink tank printer manufacturers. At this point, most of the big boys are already in the market. This includes the likes of Epson, Canon, HP and Brother with their Epson Ecotank, Canon Megatank and various other incarnations of the ink tank printer naming.
Epson are one of the first ink tank printer players with their Epson Ecotank range. Clearly they recognised how disenfranchised their customers were with the sky high costs of printing. The Epson ink tank printers have some of the lowest inkjet printing costs, and are generally well regarded by other inkjet printer reviews. But, I have noted a couple of concerning problems for the Epson Ecotank ink tank printers. First up was a report of smudging when printing photographs. This dissatisfied Ecotank user contacted Epson about this problem with the response being to use expensive Epson paper. This seemed to resolve the issue with the Epson Ecotank printing but it is disconcerting that one is forced to use only expensive Epson branded paper to achieve acceptable results with Epson Ecotank printers. I can understand that with full control over the ink, printer head and paper that Epson can achieve superior results but no doubt they can also design it such a way that acceptable results can also be gotten with third party quality paper. Epson users have reported a few error codes here and there while trying to print, but with quick searches on the internet looking for the problem area using the error codes, such as erreur Epson 0x97, these issues can be easily rectified.
I have also seen mixed reports about the Epson Ecotank printer head getting clogged. Unless used regularly, the ink will dry on the print head meaning some ink intensive cleaning is needed. Unfortunately, this can mean that you spend half of your ink in cleaning and not printing. Some have reported that Epson is more prone to clogging as it utilises pigment based ink where others have stated that the particle size is too small in relation to the nozzle size to be of an issue here.
Brother initially arrived on the scene with it’s Inkvestment range of ink tank printers. This immediately triggered concern on my side as cartridges have been the vehicle of choice by printer manufacturers to make copious profits at out expense. Moreover, they have been used by the likes of HP to discourage or prevent third party cheaper cartridges being used. So, my initial reaction to this was, thanks but I think I will pass on this. However, I noted a new range of Brother ink tank printers which utilise bottled inks which is more in the direction I would like to go so that third party supplies become an option.
The anecdotal evidence I observed by reading customer feedback seemed to be more positive than that of other prints brands. Brother ink tank printer customers seemed to report less problems. This anecdotal evidence seems to be supported by hard statistics. Consumer reports indicated that 13% of Brother Inkjet printers exhibit problems within the first 3 years of ownership. This compares to 20% for Epson and HP for their respective printers. So, reliability wise, Brother seems to be a more robust choice. They also are reported to be more forgiving when using third party supplies. On the negative side, I have seen some reports of problem software.
Generally the feeling from Canon ink tank printer reviews was that when they were on form, no printer could match their print quality. And, if print quality is all that matters then Canon is a worthy contender.
Does it have problems, sure. First up is Canon’s ink tank printer customers reporting an SB00 error. Apparently this is not user serviceable and requires repair costs in excess of the printer cost. BIG warning sign. Customers also reported various problems after the first year. Even reviewers of a free Canon printer gave it a 1 star. Readers, if you have positive news stories for Canon then please free to drop it in the comments below. I have nothing more here.
Initially I had some trouble locating customer feedback as it seems HP are not selling their ink tank printers on Amazon or other online retailers. You have to go through their online store.
Then I stumbled on feedback on mouthshut.com dealing with the Hp Deskjet Ink Tank Gt 5820 Multi Function Printer and that point the feedback flood gates were opened. At the time of writing, 750 votes were cast on this HP ink tank printer model with a rating of 2.5 out of 5. Users generally reported poor print quality, the need for frequent print head replacement and terrible customer service. Such feedback, combined with allegedly disabling printers when third party cartridges are being used does not entice me to get a HP machine.
Prepare for disappointment?
One thing that disturbed me when doing research on this topic was the high rate of dissatisfaction with ink tank printers and likely inkjet printers in general. And, no one brand of inkjet manufacturer has a monopoly on causing disappointment, it is quite well spread. Take for example this Epson ET-16500 on Amazon. 37% of purchases give it a 1 star. Or, this Canon PIXMA G4210 with a 25% 1 star rating. So, playing the odds, you are more than likely to be satisfied by whatever ink well printer you get. However, there is a significant chance that this will not be the case and this long term investment we think we are making will not pan out.
Wow, looking back over this article I feel depressed! It would seem that getting a tooth extracted by an enthusiastic butcher is preferable to buying an ink tank inkjet printer. But, if we are collectively going to jump into the murky waters of the inkjet printer business let’s be aware of the possible pitfalls that await us.
The general consensus is that laser printers still offer the more robust, trouble free, long term solution. In particular, I see Brother black and white printers being highlighted as a preferred solution. As for myself, mmm, I think I will not be pulling the trigger on an ink tank printer just yet given all the problems I have read about.