Everybody has heard the adage that the major inkjet printer manufacturers—Brother, Canon, Epson, and HP—make more from the ink that keeps their printers going than from the sale of the printers themselves. This is not just simply an axiom; it’s absolutely true.
Printer ink is not the only consumable that fuels the profit margin of a particular industry. Another often-touted example is razor blade replacement cartridges. (How many others can you think of?)
For the longest time, though, the only choice we had was (except for using third-party or refurbished ink cartridges, but that’s another story) to suck it up and pay the price—if, that is, we wanted to keep printing. Over the past few years, though, due primarily to pressure from consumers and technology journalists, printer makers now offer us choices, many choices.
It all started with HP’s Instant Ink subscription program, but now each printer maker offers some kind of “bulk-ink” product that provides at least some relief to the price of ink itself and, better yet, increased transparency into what it actually costs to keep your printer churning.
Each printer manufacturer has its own bulk-ink product, as follows:
- Brother = INKvestment Tank
- Canon = MegaTank
- Epson = EcoTank
- HP = Instant Ink
Except for EcoTank and MegaTank, these products are quite different in approach and how much they actually save you in terms of the per-page cost of ink. Depending on how and what you print, each product has its own distinct advantages and disadvantages.