These days, you can buy a printer for as little as £90. Even models by famous manufacturers like HP may be as cheap as chips. However, when the replacement time comes, you are in for a surprise — the new cartridge costs almost as much as the machine. Isn’t this unfair?
This is a perfect example of the “razor and blades” business model. The brand seems to lure you in with affordable hardware only to charge you more for the ink in the long run. Naturally, this imbalance has given rise to alternative replacement options. For example, the hp 950/951 ink cartridges you can buy from Smartink cost three times less than the original. Are they just as good?
Original vs. Affordable
All printer manufacturers warn clients against third-party supplies. Their own prices are justified by intensive R&D. It does not matter if you have a laser printer or an inkjet model. Some experts say brands like Brother and HP even sell their equipment at a loss, so cartridges let them recoup their investment.
Original equipment manufacturer cartridges, or OEM, are the priciest. On the upside, you have confidence in their quality, and compatibility is guaranteed. The alternatives include:
- Remanufactured cartridges;
- Compatible cartridges.
Remanufacturing refers to filling old cartridges with fresh ink. During the recycling, they are emptied, cleaned and refilled. Meanwhile, compatible cartridges are manufactured by third parties from scratch. They are designed to emulate name-brand supplies. Let’s see how these options compare.
1. Refilling — Pros And Cons
Refilling inkjet cartridges can be risky, as ink is a proprietary product. You can see different colours, drying time, or other physical properties. Smudging, problems with the printhead and other issues may be caused by substandard refills. The volume of ink may also deviate from the standard.
If you do not need to print photos professionally with the highest resolution, you could probably get away with refilled cartridges. For printers used in offices, the exact colour match may not be important. On the downside, finding a reputable supplier is a challenge, as there are so many fly-by-night companies. Look for extended warranties and product testing.
2. Compatible Cartridges — Pros and Cons
Although these cartridges emulate original products, they have important design differences. Compatible models are sold under different brands and are not regarded as counterfeit products. These replacements are totally legal, despite the attempts to ban them.
Cartridges from reliable suppliers offer excellent quality, as they comply with standards like ISO. They also come with a two-year warranty. The buyer protection covers defects and transportation damage.
Big brands recognize the appeal of cheaper replacements, so they try to counteract them with firmware updates. Basically, they tell your printer not to recognize non-original cartridges. The solution is simple — disable automatic updates or decline them every time.