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Inside the Inkjet Printer Industry, and other useful info...

Did you know:

  • Printer manufacturers regularly change their ink cartridge designs. 3rd party ink manufacturers often have to race to keep up with compatible cartridges.

  • When users print in grayscale on most inkjets, their printer uses color ink as well. The same goes when printing black text on some inkjets — color is added, to make the black look deeper. Sometimes, printing a draft in black and white or grayscale doesn't save as much ink as you think.

  • For many inkjet printers, printing a color photo can use as much as 30 times more ink than printing a standard page of text.

  • Ink cartridges have always been the "razor blades" in the printer business. Printer manufacturers typically make money off of ink, not printers. With the advent of photo printers, inkjet owners are printing more and more photos — and using more and more ink.

  • Printer manufacturers have traditionally competed on: dpi, pages per minute, print quality and ink drop size. Most inkjets today (at any price) are doing a great job on each of these points, and there is very little difference between these printers on these points. So the printer manufacturers have begun competing on price over the last few years.

  • Some printer manufacturers have recently begun embedding "smart chips" in their ink cartridges. In some cases, if the printer doesn't detect a chip (ie. in a 3rd party ink cartridge), then the printer may assume that the ink cartridge is empty ­ thus prohibiting printing. In other cases, the chips will become deactivated when the cartridge is empty — meaning that a user who refills the cartridge with an ink refill kit won't be able to print.

Printer FAQ's

Will buying a less expensive printer save me money?
Surprisingly, this isn't always the case. Differences in the cost of printing supplies, especially ink cartridges and toner, can easily make the less expensive printer more expensive in the long run. Consider a laser printer that initially is more expensive than an inkjet, but also has a lower operating cost (cost to print per page). Depending on your print volume and how long you keep the printer, the laser printer may actually be cheaper to own in the long run.

Is color ink used to print black text?
Yes, many inkjet printers will combine color and black ink together, even if you are only printing black text or greyscale images. The printer manufacturers do this in order make the black more vibrant. The result is that you sometimes end up using color ink even if you think you're saving money by printing in black and white or greyscale.

Will a printer that prints photos well print everything else well too?
Most new photo-capable inkjet printers will do a good job printing text and graphics as well. However, some printers are optimized for photo printing only and do not print text/business graphics that well.

How much printer resolution do I really need?
Printer resolution is important when choosing a printer because it refers to the quality and sharpness of the printer's output. Here's a general rule of thumb for determining the right resolution for your needs:

General-Purpose Text & Graphics: 300dpi

Higher Quality Text & Graphics: 600dpi

Photo-Quality Images: 1,200dpi

Professional Photo-Quality Applications: 2,400dpi

Does a printer with higher print resolution produce higher quality output compared to a printer with lower print resolution?
This is not always the case, especially when printing color photos and business graphics. Some ink jet printers that print at 300 dpi can produce equal or better photo/business graphics output when compared to a 600 dpi color laser or 720 dpi ink jet because they use a better method of mixing colors on the page.

What do those printer speed ratings really mean?
Chances are, when you look through the specs of a printer, the manufacturer has provided a top rated speed for that printer. For example, a printer may be rated as being capable of 10 pages per minute (ppm) of black text. This figure is misleading because printer manufacturers have done everything they can to increase the advertised print speed by lowering the print quality, reducing the amount of text/ink coverage on the page, printing in draft mode, and various other adjustments that make these speed ratings unreliable in the real world.

What is a printer driver and why is it so important?
A printer driver is a piece of software that acts as a translator so that the printer can understand the data and instructions that come from your computer. Additionally, the driver is used to change various printer settings, such as print quality, color/black-only printing and paper size. It is important to occasionally update your printer driver (updates are available from the printer manufacturer's website) because they increase the efficiency and operating system compatibility of your printer.

What does CMYK stand for?
CMYK refers to Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black - the basic colors used in today's modern ink jet printers. From these fours colors, the printer mixes and lays them on the page to produce your output. Some photo printers have two additional colors, Light Cyan and Light Magenta, which allows them to reproduce a greater range of colors for higher quality photo output.

 

 
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