December 21, 2009, 2:07 PM — The urban myth that it's cheaper to buy a new low-end printer rather than replacement ink cartridges was put to the test by PC World in their recent article, “What's Cheaper: Replacment Ink, or a New Printer?” Interesting story and even more interesting conclusions.
Technically, you can buy a few low end printers for less than the cost of replacement ink cartridges. That means the urban myth can be counted as true. However, as with most urban myths, more elements to the story appear and complicate the situation.
An interesting term used in the article, “Earth Killer Method,” refers to the idea of buying new printers rather than replacement ink cartridges. How many used printers do you want to throw in the trash? Since there are circuit boards in printers, and other electronics, they should be disposed of properly, not thrown in a landfill. Anyone who would actually follow this plan in order to maybe save a couple of dollars now and then might need to take their supposed savings and buy a conscience.
The best point made in the article? Higher quality printers provide better results and cost less in the long run. Low end printers make sense for only low end jobs. Do you really want to print a proposal for a major business opportunity on a $29 printer? Doesn't your business image deserve better?
Some people always search for the cheapest option in the short term and remain blind to quality. Let those people sit in their self-imposed cheapskate cell, counting pennies at the expense of their reputation and the environment. Don't join them.
People equate printers and ink cartridges to the old Gillette business model of selling razors cheaply to sell more blades. Or you can look at the market as expensive printers remain low in price, subsidized by ink cartridges bought over the life of the printer.
Today, the competitive marketplace demands companies prepare documents and materials with a “dress to impress” philosophy. There are ways to save money in your print budget, which we'll get to soon. But throwing away pounds of printers for ounces of ink is fools gold. Quality materials created with quality tools is business gold.