Has Epson killed the printer ink cartridge?

080615blog epson printer

The answer is yes, at least based on this headline the other day in The Wall Street Journal: Review: Epson Kills the Printer Ink Cartridge.

However, reading the analysis underneath the headline reveals a much more complicated picture: Epson has a new printer line that can store so much ink that you can practically forget about the need to ever refill it again.

From the review written by Wilson Rothman:

Epson, the maker of my nightmare printer, has finally put an end to the horror of ink cartridges, at least for people willing to throw cash at the problem up front. The five new EcoTank series printers look like normal models, only they have containers on their sides that hold gobs and gobs of ink. How much? Years’ worth. Enough that your children—or at least mine—could go on a two-hour coloring-page-printing bender and you wouldn’t even notice.

Sounds great, but …

This line of Epson printers starts at $400, which as someone who just happens to be in the market for a new home printer, I can tell you is a mighty steep place to start. A hundred bucks is much more typical, and Epson will sell you one for that price, too, minus the 55-gallon drums of ink.

So what’s the better deal?

It’s complicated, Rothman tells us, and depends not only on your tolerance of a hefty up-front investment, but also your willingness to take your chances on third-party ink and level of concern for environmental score-keeping.

Rothman concludes:

But for most people, it’s more about the checking account. Here’s the math: If you play by Epson’s rules, a $100 printer using Epson ink could cost you as much as $800 over two years, so the EcoTank model is just half that. But paying full price for ink cartridges is a broken concept. If you only buy off-brand ink for your $100 printer, your total cost, even after two years, is less than $200.

The decision boils down to this: Will you pay less and deal with the annoyance of changing ink cartridges and the potential bootleg ink failures? Or would you pay a few hundred dollars more up front for a printer that eliminates ink hassles entirely? (At least for a while.)

Put me down for definitely undecided.

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