Epson kills the printer ink cartridge

“We all have a printer story. They run out of ink at the worst possible time, or worse, nag us about running low on ink when there’s plenty left,” Wilson Rothman reports for The Wall Street Journal. “So how much would you pay for a printer that doesn’t run out?”

“Epson, the maker of my nightmare printer, has finally put an end to the horror of ink cartridges, at least for people willing to throw cash at the problem up front,” Rothman reports. “The five new EcoTank series printers look like normal models, only they have containers on their sides that hold gobs and gobs of ink. How much? Years’ worth. Enough that your children—or at least mine—could go on a two-hour coloring-page-printing bender and you wouldn’t even notice.”

“Most people buy printers by price: $100 is the magic number for anybody but a photo enthusiast, and printer makers like it that way,” Rothman reports. “They lose money on the hardware and make it up on ink.”

MacDailyNews Take: Yep, it’s razors and razor blades.

“When you buy an EcoTank printer—for instance, the ET-2550, which closely resembles Epson’s XP-420 — you fill up its four-chambered reservoir with ink from plastic containers included with the printer,” Rothman reports. “Fast forward two very print-productive years. You and your family have churned out more than 35 black-and-white and 60 color pages every week. Finally, you need more ink. Epson will sell you a whole set of replacement canisters for $52… The old model is out the window. Epson’s not trying to make money on ink this time around, because it’s charging you up front for the printer. The ET-2550 costs $400; its big brother, the ET-4550, which has a fax, a sheet feeder and Ethernet, costs $500.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: What’s saving HP et al. from soiling their collective pants over this is that people, in general and en masse, suck at recognizing ROI. The great unwashed gravitate like lemmings to the lowest price tag, even when that purchase costs them significantly more – in money, lost time, and frustration – over the life of the product. See: Windows PCs, Android phones, entry-level automobiles, etc.

Those who can do the math will choose these Epson printers. Most people cannot, or will not, do the math and so, they will not. They’ll grab a $100 printer that gobbles ink cartridges like candy and spend more over its lifetime than they would have on a $500 Epson ET-4550.


  1. Consumers will pick based on how much they print.

    People who print a lot of pages every month will move to Epson. Then HP will follow suit.

    Me, I rarely print anything, so I’ll stick with my Canon portable.

  2. You can probably count on the fingers of one hand the amount of times I’ve absolutely needed to print something at home. I’ve had a variety of printers over the years, and when I’ve come to use them the ink has either dried up or due to flaky drivers my computer can’t find it so I’ve had to reconfigure it to work. In the end I just gave up and junked them and now I just wait until I can print it at my office the next day. Saves having another box cluttering my house as well.

  3. I love the situation where ink expires so you don’t get your $$$ money’s worth. You’re replacement$ also may have expired so it’s a real frustrating expensive losing deal for us, winning for them. But people aren’t printing either like they used to because of the expense and reduced need (which is why the ink expires).

  4. My days of buying Epson printers came to an end a few years ago when they essentially outlawed the sale of generic ink cartridges for their printers in the USA. I switched to Brother and never looked back. An ink jet printer doesn’t last more than about 2 years anyway because the ink jets become clogged. Who wants to use up gobs of ink futility running the so-called cleaning cycle? For just $109 you can get a Brother ink jet multi-function printer that prints, copies, scans and faxes. It supports Ethernet, WiFi, NFC & AirPrint connectivity. A 12-pack of generic ink costs just $15.

    1. I bought an Epson all-in-one not long ago. When I replaced the cartridge once–with the correct Epson replacement–the printer accused me of trying to install a non-Epson cartridge and refused it. This non-customer-facing FEATURE then also locked out the scanning function until another bribe was paid.

  5. If you read the entire article you will see that the author does the math at the end which indicates the more expensive new printer is only worth it if you use the printer company’s expensive ink. If you use off-brand inks that cost about ⅓, even with some faulty cartridges, you are better off cost-wise over the life of the printer with a cheap cartridge printer. Also the ink of the new printer is not waterproof.

  6. This is why I use Brother inkjet printers. I can get third party ink for less than $1.00 per cartridge. I think the cost per page is now less than my laser printer. When I an running out I pick up another pack of 18 cartridges for $14.99 on Amazon. Bonus: Brother releases drivers for Mac, Linux and Windows.

  7. My problem has always been the ink drying up then you waste the whole cartridge trying to get them clean. I have since moved to laser printers and no issues anymore. Print when I need it every time and it can sit for a while and not hurt anything. Only problem I had was an HP 2600 that they stopped updating drivers for on OS X and had to get rid of it. Now I have a brother that is 5+ years old and still going strong. I always recommend laser now, its an up front cost if your looking for an all-in-one or color, but if you just need a simple black they are cheap. The ink/toner is expensive, but it usually lasts a long time.

    1. Umm. I installed Printopia on my Office iMac years ago so I could print wirelessly from my iOS devices, and it continues to print fine to my HP Color LaserJet 2600. I’m currently running the latest version of Yosemite on this Mac, and El Capitan beta on my other networked iMac at home. Recently, I also noticed an automatic update to my HP printer’s driver. So, I’m sorry your HP 2600 printer isn’t working, but my continues to work just fine.

  8. Being a graphic designer I’ve always like the quality of Epson printers and especially the software and AirPrint, which just works. HP software and mac support is a terrible headache in comparison.

    The ink is a total rip off, but color print are few and far between. Send them out to shutter fly/costco if any real quantity. Black carts are about $17 and last me a couple of years at the rate printing is needed. Meanwhile scanning and AirPrint fully integrated in Mac OS. For creative types it’s Epson FTW

  9. This reminds me of when I was in Thailand some 5 years ago and saw an inkjet printer on a girl’s desk with large ink tanks on the side. It was some after-market modification and a ribbon cable delivering the ink to the print head. Each color tank must’ve had ½ cup of ink in them. The girl thought I was crazy, excitedly taking snapshots of her printer gushing, “Why don’t we have this in America?!”

    1. Why not just rip off gullible American users I guess is the thought. For as long as possible…

      By charging so much for ink ultimately people print less and the devices start to languish into obscurity. Greed is killing that golden goose.

  10. Good news. I gave up on ink jets 10 years ago. Wish this had come out before I bought a Xerox Phaser 8650. I am so BITTER at the gall of Xerox for charging $125 for box of 3 blocks of wax ink! And that’s just one color. It cost $500 just to get a full set of refills and for what? Blocks of wax? Not to mention the printer had to continuously melt (and waste) that hyper expensive wax just to be available to print. Biggest ripoff ever.

  11. I long for the print quality of the Epson. I lived in Japan for 25+ years and used epson from the mid-90’s exclusively over there. The ink costs here were too much and my printing needs decreased considerably. But I have missed the quality of Epson’s finer printers. This may allow me to get back to Epson!

  12. Printers, how quaint. I never bought a replacement. Toner too expensive, printed too slow, ink smeared. Although this design does seem to have some merit, I can’t make myself buy another printer, yet.

  13. I use Epson inks for the reason Epson states, after market inks will screw up you printer. They are not made to the same standards and thats why the are cheap! I learned the hard way.
    Going on 8 years with one of the printers and it is still working fine, the other is 4 years old and is used daily.

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