">Let us take a moment to mourn the impending death of the Polaroid instant photo. You shall be sorely missed, my shake-and-bake friend. Sniff. And with the death of yet one more beloved but anachronistic technology, let us anticipate the imminent decline of another—the photo printer. Only this time I'll do so with a smile.
Home inkjet printers and their ilk have for a while now embodied the best and worst of the technological state of the union, as it were. Simply put, they are mainstream products with incredibly high-end engineering, but also represent a ludicrously false economy in the worst way. And for a decade, printer companies having been laughing all the way to the bank at our expense.
Let me state that I once was unabashedly passionate about my now aged Canon i70 photo printer. It is compact (in fact portable if you buy a battery for it), fast, prints remarkably great images up to 8 x 10, and does documents too at a respectably brisk clip. When digital cameras first appeared, I'd spend weekends cooped up with my photo-spewing friend, printing out scores of crisp, colorful masterpieces to shove in the face of anyone who would look. "Isn't it amazing! I printed it myself!" I would crow, impressed not only with my handiwork, but more with how I stuck it to the man by not paying for pricey store-made prints. Then I'd run to Staples to load up yet again on $40 worth of ink cartridges.
And there's the rub. Printers are sold using the razor blade business model—the printers are dirt cheap, but you have to keep buying ink for eternity. And wouldn't you know, it turns out that printer ink, especially for photos, is probably the most expensive substance per volume you'll ever buy—more expensive than gold, oil, perfume, even blood in most cases. If you're buying name-brand ink cartridges, which typically hold a few milliliters of ink, you're shelling out the equivalent of between $3,000 and $5,000 per gallon. (Suddenly, spending $45 to fill your car's gas tank doesn't seem so extravagant, eh?) Just as an idea of how valuable this particular golden goose is, more than 40 percent of HP's $2.63 billion operating profits from last quarter came from it's imaging and printing group alone. In other words, ink keeps printer companies in the black.
No surprise, then, that to stave off competition from low-cost generic refill cartridges, the industry giants circled their wagons and began putting chips into their printers and cartridges to make it so that you had to buy their brand. Lawsuits on both sides havesince raged fast and free: Canon sued (and won) to keep refilled cartridges from being sold in Japan without Canon ink; HP sued and won for patent infringement against a company that made replacement cartridges. Epson, however, settled a lawsuit claiming their cartridges intentionally signaled they needed replacement when they still had ink left. And more recently one man filed a class-action suit claiming that HP illegally colluded with Staples by giving them a $100 million "bribe" not to carry low-cost replacement ink. It's sordid stuff, but at this point it's almost irrelevant for me.
Even at barebones prices, it's now far cheaper to order prints through Flickr, Shutterfly or iPhoto, or if you need them in a hurry, from your local Wal-Mart, Walgreens or even mom-and-pop photo store. At my local drugstore, a small chain, if you order more than 100 prints, they're 15 cents each and available in a couple hours on archival paper with archival ink. And I can put my order through online. Compare that with the cost of photo paper, ink (which in my case, by the way, has to be used at least once every couple weeks or it dries out) and the time involved, and my venerable i70 simply can't compete.
So I've put my printer out to pasture for a couple years now, and I haven't looked back. Hit the comments section if you've experienced similar, or have a solution I've overlooked (an obvious one being the decline in printed photos in general). And feel free to nominate other tech you think is moribund to add to my Deathwatch List.
Shake and bake. The poloroid! Dont throw it away. I am sure there will be a renewed following. This camera was a must have during the 70's and boy it was adored by the whole family. It will be back.
A few years ago, HP (and other printer manufacturers) cartridges were filled with a maximum designed capacity of ink. The cost per mL (milliliter) of ink it held was in the $0.50 - $0.80 range. The cost per milliliter in some of the newer printer models is now close to $3.00 per milliliter.
Gradually over time, the volume of ink in OEM cartridges has declined, and lately cartridge sizes from all printer manufacturers are getting smaller. In comparison, the retail prices of inkjet cartridges have not decreased at this same rate.
Now, HP has stopped disclosing the volume of ink in each cartridge and on their packaging. This was done so that consumers could no longer do comparative pricing per milliliter. HP did this to hide under the veil of the cartridge “shell” the true volume while adjusting the prices without comparison.
Whenever a vendor stops disclosing the information on a product there is only one reason…deceptive greed! How did they get away with this, aren’t their laws against this?
The HP “shell game”
The volume of HP black ink cartridges has decreased in size:
• The 940XL (currently 49mL) actually use to be the 940.
• The revised “low capacity” 940 (currently 42mL) use to contained 69mL of ink.
The volume of each HP color ink cartridges have also decreased in size:
• The 940XL (currently 16mL) actually use to be the 940.
• The revised “low capacity” 940 (currently 10mL) use to contained 28mL of ink.
Even these new XL "high capacity" cartridges have less ink volume in them than they are designed to hold. All 940XL and 940 have inside them, exactly the same size ink bladder. The black cartridge bladders designed capacity is 69mL, and each color cartridge bladder designed capacity is 28mL. So, when you are looking to purchase a new inkjet printer, refill cartridges, or continuous ink supply system (CISS). What you actually should be looking for is the cost per milliliter of the inkjet printer cartridges.
The market for consumer printer ink is all about corporate greed. Why else would something containing 98% distilled-water be one of the most expensive fluids on the planet!
If you want to see some revolutionary technology check out the products at:
Figures. Just another red herring for consumers. I bet this is more expensive than cobra venom and blood plasma!
this printer ink racket (for that's what it is), breaks united states anti_trust laws. where is the free market?
Ok heres my 2 cents! Its a big rip off! i am soo cheap i am going to try to refill mine with
1. black temp hair color
2. every flavor of 'kool aid' mixed up to make it black!
3. drain and dilute a ink pen or marker.
4. save the mop bucket water for a few months..
5. if theres a way i will find it.
Oh, HP is cheap up front, buy a printer 20 bucks! yeah but the new refills 4 ink are double! i have often just bought a new printer..
i found the best value is a CANON printer, they are awesome, not too expensive, the ink is very affordable compared to others!!
too bad the local dollar stores don't have those 1.00 bottles of ink anymore! that was a kick arse deal1
oh, can one put blood in the cartridge? now thats the way to do it!!
Inspiring Stuff!!! Thanks for sharing & Keep it Up. I will wait for the next update.
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