It's been called one of the most expensive liquids on the planet, oftentimes topping the per-ounce price of a fine wine or expensive champagne. No, we're not talking about gasoline — although that can be expensive too — we're referring to printer ink.
However, Epson is hoping to change that with its new line of printers that promise to save you money and make replacing empty ink cartridges a thing of the past. Epson's new EcoTank printers feature massive "ink reservoirs" called SuperTanks that the company says you'll only need to replenish every two years, at a fraction of the cost of traditional inkjet printers.
The End of the Ink Cartridge?
Each of the company's five new printers comes fully loaded out of the box. According to Epson, the amount of ink you get will allow you to print up to 4,000 black pages (6,500 color pages) on the entry-level model and as many as 20,000 black pages (20,000 color pages) on the high-end, business model. Refills will cost $13 per bottle or $52 for a complete set of four bottles.
By comparison, Epson's current line of printers can only output around 220 pages before requiring an ink refill. Moreover, after-market kits, which are the best way to save money on ink refills, don't work with Epson's printers. As a result, 90% of all pages printed in North America are printed in black-and-white only, according to Epson. So far those SuperTanks are looking more and more appealing. Unfortunately, there is a catch.
High Price of Admission
These days it's possible to get a cheap inkjet printer for as low as $20. Ink cartridge prices can vary, but we've seen cartridge packs range from $6 to about $24. Epson's new printers, however, won't function with off-market ink cartridges and the printers themselves will start at $379 for the basic home model and climb as high as $1,199 for the top-of-the-line business model. That's a lot of money for any type of printer.
Epson is essentially trying to change the way the printing industry works. Currently, manufacturers take a loss on hardware sales and recoup their money by selling expensive printer ink. (Which is why we recommend third-party ink whenever possible). HP even invented a subscription service complete with "rollover pages" that was designed to save you money on ink.
Epson's new model would demand more upfront cost and less going forward, perhaps meaning more printing in the long term.
Based on Epson's numbers, it would take a standard home printer approximately 20 sets of cartridges to print the same number of pages included with the equivalent EcoTank printer. However, Epson is basing its numbers on average monthly print volumes of about 150 pages just for the entry-level models. So before you purchase any printer, ask if you're printing that much in the first place.
When they debut next month, Epson's new printers will definitely impact the industry and they're bound to make life easier and cheaper for many people. But the real question is, how much are you printing?
For a small or large business, these printers have the potential to save money. However, for a home user who prints a few pages per month, buying one of these printers may actually be more expensive. With apps, email, and the cloud making document sharing easier than ever, printing may eventually go the way of the fax.
Will you invest in one of these new printers? Or are you trying to phase out your paper usage? Let us know in the comments below.