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Consumer Reports: Ink-Guzzling Printers

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Consumer Reports tested nearly 30 big-name printers to see how they used ink. (Published Tuesday, Jul 9, 2013)

    You may not realize it, but printer ink is one of the most expensive liquids you can buy. In fact, ounce for ounce, it can cost more than fine champagne! So when Consumer Reports' readers complained that their printer ink seemed to be disappearing, testers investigated.

    Ink is used as the printer prepares to print after not being used for a while. So if you print infrequently, that could mean more ink used for maintenance chores such as cleaning the print heads.

    Consumer Reports designed a special test to see how much ink was actually making it onto paper. Testers printed 30 pages of text or color graphics intermittently over a three-week period. Some printers were much less efficient with ink. The worst offenders used as much as $120 a year in ink that never gets used to print anything! They are the HP Officejet Pro 8600 and the Lexmark OfficeEdge Pro 4000.

    NBC 5 reached out to HP for comment, this was the response:

    At HP, we design different printers to accommodate the different printing needs of our customers. In order to achieve accurate results, testing methodologies must mirror real-life customer usage. Just as you wouldn’t measure the performance of an Indy race car on the crowded streets of Manhattan, our high-output printing systems, like the Officejet line, can’t be accurately measured in a low frequency intermittent use scenario because that is not how they were designed to perform. To this end, in the Consumer Reports testing, the HP Envy, a printer designed for home use, fared well. We believe the Consumer Reports results are misleading and we would welcome the opportunity to discuss their testing methodologies in detail.

    -Thom Brown
    Supplies Technology Expert
    HP's Printing and Personal Systems Group (PPS)


    Additionally, HP points out Andy Slawetsky of Industry Analysts believes that the "test parameters seem flawed for a few reasons." Slawetsky did a test of more than 150 inkjet printers in 2011 and found HP printers performed better than the competition.

    NBC 5 reached out to Lexmark for comment, this was the response:

    The Lexmark OfficeEdge is an award winning device, honored by BLI - the pre-eminent independent document imaging device testing house in the world, last year. Please see the award here. The OfficeEdge was tested by BLI, and was lauded for its excellent reliability and highly tested consumables yields.

    Lexmark has exited the inkjet market, as we announced the sale of that division this past April. Please click here for that information.

    Thank you,
    Lexmark Corporate Communications
     

    Test data also showed most brands had printers that used a lot of ink for maintenance as well as ones that were easy on ink. If they can keep ink usage down for some, they should be able to keep it down for all their printers. But the Brother brand stood out. All three of the Brother printers tested were frugal with ink at start-up. A Consumer Reports Best Buy is the Brother DCP-J140W, at $80.

    You can save on ink no matter which printer you own by following this advice from Consumer Reports. First of all, try to print all at once rather than every few days. Also, leave your printer on between jobs. The tiny amount of standby power used will cost much less than the ink used up when the printer turns on.

    Complete Ratings and recommendations on all kinds of products, including appliances, cars & trucks, and electronic gear, are available on Consumer Reports' website.