A printer worth -$150.00

2005-10-02 21:41

I have a sudden need for a faster computer. One of the winners in the AoI benchmarks was a surprisingly cheap eMachines system. Its successor is available at Best Buy.

Let us review the components of the “bundle” offer they have.

Computer: $650. $50 mail-in rebate.
Monitor: $320. $50 mail-in rebate.
Printer: $60. Two $30 mail-in rebates.
Bundle: $150 mail-in rebate.

In practice, then, if you want the computer and the monitor, they will give you $150 to take the printer. Why? It’s a Lexmark. Lexmark has bought into the Gillette business model; give away the razor and sell the blades. Lexmark printers use elaborate and expensive technology to prevent you from using generic ink in their printers, and the ink cartridges are expensive. So, if you get a printer, they will make lots of money selling you ink.

Contrast this with Canon, who sell a broad range of printers that use ink in cartridges, such as the BCI-6 series, which consist of a plastic shell containing a sponge and some ink. The cost of such ink cartridges, per page printed, is a fraction of the cost of printing on something like this Lexmark printer.

If you are looking at buying a printer, get one that uses separate cartridges for each type of ink, and preferably one where the print head isn’t in the ink cartridge. Putting the print head in the ink cartridge means a lot of waste over the lifespan of a printer; both a waste of ink and of electronics, as the print head components are tossed out time and time again.

Canon makes excellent printers, and will not screw you on ink. Our i9900 (a $500 high-end inkjet) has easily saved more than its cost on ink in the time we’ve had it.

Peter Seebach

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