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How good are compatible ink cartridges ?

post #1 of 6
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I've just ordered yet another Epson ink cart and winced at the price. The site throws up compatible ones at ludicrously low prices but I'm scared. Are they any good? Do they spew out all over the printer ? Why are they this cheap? is Epson just screwing me again? Help please.
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My computer worked yesterday,
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Windows is like that.
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post #2 of 6
i don't know from where you are but i read an german article about compatible inks for epson printer (i own an stylus 760) and the best and cheapest cartridge for epson comes from pelikan (www.pelikan.com). i use it on my own printer for about 2 years now without problems and for my opinion it's even a bit better than the original especially for photo-printouts.

<a href="http://www.druckerchannel.de/tintenstrahler/tintentest/epsonkompatibel/epsonkompatibel_foto.shtml" target="_blank">here's the link</a>
post #3 of 6
most printer manufacturers will state that if you switch to 3rd party inks, you effectively VOID the warranty.

ie: yes your epson will run with brand_x ink cartridges (and they're cheaper than the original epson inks) but if it gets baked and you send it in for service with non-epson inks in the carriage, they won't help you but blame the inks

&lt;moral: keep your old original inks to drop back into the printer if you plan to return it... there will still be 3rd party ink internal to the system if they check, but from outside it'll appear all epson so they won't suspect cheap ink as a cause&gt;

specific to print quality, some manufacturers optimize their nozzles for their own inks and require matching paper to get the max quality.

generally, paper quality will reflect more on print quality than ink will (run the same ink on kodak paper, "super-bright" plain paper, generic photocopier paper, etc... easy to differentiate and pretty clear that better paper gives better output... crappy paper can't absorb 720dpi and will ripple... low contrast paper muddies images)

for photo quality output (on glossy paper) some third party inks don't absorb properly (not designed for the waxy coating on that brand of paper, perhaps) and will smear rather than absorb
at between 2 and 4 bucks a sheet for nice paper, this really chaps the butt and there are 2880dpi printers that will never get that quality with crappy ink that blotches at 1440dpi. sometimes you do get what you pay for.

test first (decent paper suppliers will sell you singles or trim some sample sheets for you to try)

textured papers generally suck (pun intended)
smooth uniform surface is required for even ink coverage and predictable absorbtion... i've seen some unrecognizable output on hemp that's crisp on all other papers (only texture differed) the same hemp paper from a commercial press or laser looked perfect, so it's an inkjet --&gt; paper issue

in the photographic world, fuji is known for better blues and greens, kodak for better reds and yellows... follows logically that certain papers and inks will suit your needs better than others... try to identify your major output requirements (landscapes, interface, renderings, etc) and maybe you can guesstimate what colourspace you'll spend more time in... then ask who does the "best job" in $/performance

also note that the colour purity isn't the same in all 'compatible inks'. some save money by filling the tank with less vibrant colour and as a result the calibration of tone you'd expect for that printer won't measure up.

use the original ink and some nice paper to run some colour chip spectra or test images (ole no moire fruit hat in photoshop). post next to your printer and add identical samples on alternate papers and with proposed inks. make an informed choice.

one last point from my experience:
cheaper now and more expensive later isn't really cheaper... do the math on pages/cartridge and the life cycle of the printer (most base capacity on an imaginary threshold of 5% colour ink per page... fine for letterhead with logo, not realistic if you're outputting digital picutures or running gothic band posters in mostly black.
individually replaceable colours will be cheaper in the long run if your output is lots of duotone

(eg: one project was almost an entire booklet of orange and green for a client... hosed the ink cartridge of yellow even though plenty of magenta and cyan remained... lost $ due to inability to top up only the depleted colour

and if quality counts, don't refill them yourself... unless you're very good and can also recreate the pressure bladder around the ink in some cartridges, you'll inevitably introduce bubbles into the inkjets and ruin your pictures

not to seem a pessimist...
it's just that some folks expect klimt for crayola budget

hth
"I do not fear computers. I fear the lack of them" -Isaac Asimov
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"I do not fear computers. I fear the lack of them" -Isaac Asimov
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post #4 of 6
As long as they are not refills, they are fine. As a point of fact Lexmark, HP, Epson et al DO NOT MAKE their cartridges. They are manufactured for them by third parties. Additionally, they CANNOT void the warranty if you use a compatible cartridge. Go here for the law:

<a href="http://www.inkprintercartridges.com/printer-warranty.html" target="_blank">http://www.inkprintercartridges.com/printer-warranty.html</a>


P.S. Rhinotek carts are fine.

[ 08-18-2002: Message edited by: MacsRGood4U ]</p>
Things Ain't What They Seem!
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Things Ain't What They Seem!
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post #5 of 6
I've used Dataproducts brand at my store and they actually worked better than the HP cartridges they replaced! ..............................................
post #6 of 6
I woke up this ancient thread because tonight I took one of my old HP black cartridges and filled it using a kit that I bought at Costco. I'm not presently using the printer for photo output, just black text, so it seemed like a safe thing to try (especially since I'm on a budget for the time being).

What I'm curious about is this: it safe to swap ink cartridges in and out or do you introduce air bubbles the moment you remove the cartridge from its carrier? It was nice thinking that I was saving money - we'll see what happens over time~
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Steve Jobs ate my cat's watermelon @ drewprops.com
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