Estimate your real inkjet printing costs

Summary:It's common knowledge that inkjets are the Gillette razors of the personal tech industry: They sell the printers cheap and then gouge us with high-priced ink cartridges. To help provide more transparency into the true total cost of ownership for an inkjet printer, the American Consumer Institute Center for Citizen Research (ACI), a non-profit consumer research organization, recently released a new tool for estimating ink costs.

It's common knowledge that inkjets are the Gillette razors of the personal tech industry: They sell the printers cheap and then gouge us with high-priced ink cartridges. To help provide more transparency into the true total cost of ownership for an inkjet printer, the American Consumer Institute Center for Citizen Research (ACI), a non-profit consumer research organization, recently released a new tool for estimating ink costs. The super-simple tool asks you to plug in the number of black-and-white text pages, color pages, and 4x6 photos you print in a week and spits out three lists of printers sorted by total costs over a three-year, five-year, and seven-year ownership period.

It's a great idea, but the tool is limited in usefulness for at least two reasons:

1) The results are based on test data from QualityLogic, an independent imaging and telecom testing lab, and is limited to the list of printers the lab has tested (currently only about 20, tested in October 2008). So, for example, none of the printers listed on QualityLogic's published list were currently available at BestBuy.com.

2) The tool only provides results for three-, five-, or seven-year periods.  Given that the majority of the printers listed sell for well under $200, I have a hard time imagining that anyone will be using them for more than three years. Most mainstream inkjet printers will be lucky to have a lifespan of even three years, much less five or seven.

Having said all that, as QualityLogic points out in its printer and MFP testing blog, as more printer manufacturers begin to report yields using ISO Yield Standards (which QualityLogic bases its testing on), there will likely be better data and more calculators popping up to help you sort through the inkjet print price conundrum.

[Via The New York Times Gadgetwise blog]

Topics: Printers, Hardware

About

Janice Chen is an editorial consultant and has been covering technology for over two decades. Serving as editor in chief at CNET and Computer Shopper magazine for many years, she oversaw product coverage for the CNET and ZDNet websites. She has appeared on most of the major morning TV news programs and was featured weekly on CNN Headline... Full Bio

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