Why buy the cartridges when you can buy the printer?

HP Officejet 8100_002

HP Officejet Pro 8100 (2015)

HP Photosmart 8150

HP Photosmart 8150 (circa 2005)

I have been feeding a monster for the past ten years. This monster is an HP Photosmart 8150 inkjet printer that consumes ink cartridges with the appetite of a velociraptor. The printer still works and I am generally reluctant to replace a working product; however, in this case the reasons are compelling:

  • Speed – The HP Photosmart 8150 has the speed of a slow-moving snail.
  • Bleed- HP Photosmart 8150 inks have the water resistance of low quality construction paper when wet.
  • Economics – Newer printers offer double-sided printing at a lower cost per page.
  • Usage – The HP Photosmart 8150 is optimized for photos, and I rarely print photos at home.

I selected the HP Office Jet Pro 8100, which sells for $99.99 on sale, since it has the features I am looking for.  The printer contains starter cartridges with about half the amount of ink in a typical cartridge. When these cartridges are taken into account, the cost of the printer is actually $58.00.

For an economic analysis, let’s look at the black ink cartridge. Most pages that I print contain mostly black text, although a similar argument would also apply for color cartridges. A black cartridge for my old printer sells for $28.99 and prints 480 pages for a per page cost of $0.06 cents, while a cartridge for my new printer sells for$26.99 and prints 1000 pages for a per page cost of $0.03. The savings are a little over $0.03 per page and I can cover the $58.00 printer cost in under 2000 pages and even faster if the pages are double-sided or include color. For me, 2000 pages is six months to a year of printing. Purchase justified. Case closed.

Note: This analysis is based on HP cartridges. Low-cost aftermarket refill cartridges are available, but I choose not to use them due to concerns about poor performance (see Use third-party ink at your own risk and  WIR Testing Finds Aftermarket Inks Inferior to OEM).

Note added July 23, 2015: Does anyone want to buy a used HP Photosmart 8150?


About Mark Mizen

I have over twenty years professional experience in all aspects of photography and digital imaging. I am Chair of the ISO WG5 TG2 committee responsible for physical properties and durability of imaging material and am currently with HID Global working on systems for security printing for IDs, licenses, and credit cards. Previously, I was Director of Digital Development at Creative Memories from 2009 to 2012 and was responsible for the Creative Memories digital products and services. I also established and directed the Creative Memories Technology Center, which evaluated new products prior to product introduction, assisted with production difficulties, and provided technical information to support product sales.
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2 Responses to Why buy the cartridges when you can buy the printer?

  1. Brenda says:

    Your timing is impeccable! My printer is showing that it needs 3 (of 4) ink cartridges replaced. I need to do a quick analysis and see if I should buy a new printer instead of ink! Never occurred to me before.

  2. Pingback: Epson’s New Strategy | All About Images Blog

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