Ink Cartridges in the UK
The murky world of ink cartridges UK can be a baffling place and with so many options for printers and replacement cartridges it can be easy to get confused. Once you've bought a printer you limit your cartridge choice to the specific unit that fits your machine. Finding out it's the most expensive ink cartridge in Britain won't leave you smiling.
Your best bet is to consider running costs before you ever buy your printer. Most printer manufacturers now sell their printers at a loss or bundle them in free with computer purchases. Either way the manufacturers all rely on sales of printer consumables to make their profits; the cost of buying your printer is only a fraction of the ongoing expenses of running the machine in the long term.
You obviously need to choose the right printer for your needs. Laser printers are better for fast, high-volume printing and are generally cheaper to run. Inkjets are cheaper to buy initially and produce much better quality color prints. If you're printing photos and expecting lab-standard results you've got to opt for an inkjet printer.
It's worth remembering the biggest after-sale expense of all is generally the ink cartridges. Replacement ink cartridges in the UK can often cost as much as a new printer and some consumers just buy a new printer each time their cartridges run out. It's a ridiculous situation so carefully check the spec of the printer before you buy.
Printers with separate color ink cartridges generally produce better results and are more economical as you only replace the cartridge low on ink. Also check the manufacturer's statistics on print yields. Print yield is calculated on the basis of 5% coverage of ink per page and tells you how many pages you can expect to print from a single cartridge. You can then check the cost of replacement cartridges and calculate the price per page for printing.
When buying a new printer also check the pre-installed cartridges. The euphemistically named 'starter cartridges' only contain 40-60% of the ink of a normal cartridge; other printers don't come supplied with all the necessary cartridges. Quite often special photo inks are not included, even in a printer sold specifically for this purpose.
Once you've bought a printer you're down to the various options on replacement ink cartridges. Printer manufacturers invest heavily in improving inks and battle to produce the best color gamut, the most fade-resistant inks, the fastest drying times and the perfect chemical interaction between ink and paper. Third-party ink manufactures race to be the first to clone the technology, undercut the sale price and gain a chunk of the lucrative ink cartridges UK market. Most trail behind in terms of ink quality, and particularly in terms of print longevity: in some cases this is only about a fifth of what you could expect from OEM cartridges and paper.
All in all, it pays to do some footwork before buying your printer. Otherwise that blinking light telling you that the ink cartridge is running low will become the bane of your life.