I’m indulging in a bit of a moan. A moan about something that is wonderful in itself, but which I believe is conning us at the same time! We nearly all use printers of one type or another these days and, as I say, they really are wonderful. The way they can spit out tiny bubbles of ink onto any acceptable surface to produce perfect photographs, coloured wording, excellent backgrounds and elegant designs, is well beyond the ability of most people to understand how it is done – certainly beyond me, that’s for sure.
I am old enough to recall the very early days of printers, when they could only produce wording in which each letter was made up of a series of plain-to-see dots (called dot-matrix), and pictures, except for the simplest of graphics, could not be reproduced at all. Some very clever people have done a hell of a lot of work since then to bring that humble printer up to the level we now find acceptable and I admire them immensely for what they have done. Don’t forget, these people have now gone a step further, into what I would have though just a year or so ago was totally impossible – the 3D printer, that works very much like a photo copier, but outputs actual solid objects, objects that can be used, just like the original they are copying. Fantastic!
To get back to the ordinary printers that we all use today, built by companies like Canon, HP and Epson to name a few, it is almost as amazing to me that they are now available at prices that would have seemed impossible just a little while ago. Highly sophisticated pieces of equipment, some of which I have seen on sale for as little as $54, with all sorts of mod-cons built in, as well as the basic requirement of printing – they also act as scanners and photocopiers and have Wi-Fi as well, so you don’t even have to physically connect your computer to them in order to get results!
This is where I switch into moaning mode though, because there is one thing the printer manufacturers do that rather spoils all the wonderful things I’ve listed above – the price of the inks that have to be used in their machines! Okay, I accept that the companies must have been involved in immense costs to design and build their equipment, and they’re getting that back in the cost of the ink, but surely, after the length of time printers have been on the market, those initial costs have now been completely absorbed and the prices of ink cartridges could come down.
I won’t give the manufacturer’s name here, in case someone takes out a libel case against me, but my printer, which I fully accept is a superb piece of equipment and uses four ink cartridges, black, cyan, magenta and yellow, charges me a total of $144 retail for the privilege – a lot of money for an old pensioner like me. I have no idea how much that works out if I were to buy it in litre bottles, but I’m sure at the rate I’m paying now, it would be somewhere in the hundreds, if not the thousands of dollars, for each colour!
Because of this immense cost, I was forced several years ago to take a chance, despite the warnings of the machine’s manufacturer about lost warranty safety, etc., to buy a set of generic inks from one of several suppliers who now operate at various points around Australia, and I haven’t looked back! The inks they supply are just as good as those I was getting from the printer manufacturer; they are colour fast, quick drying and don’t clog up the works either (unless you don’t use the machine for a long period of time, but that is a condition that applies to the original inks as well, and all you have to do then is use the print head cleaner facility built into it). Not only that, but the ink cartridges that were costing me $144 dollars a set now cost me $39, and even less if I buy two sets at one time. Now that is a saving worth taking a chance on, and my old but excellent printer is long out of warranty anyway, so I reckon I’m winning all round. Now I’m not suggesting for one moment that anyone should do as I have done – that is entirely up to you. All I can say is, I am very satisfied and a lot wealthier than I would have been if I hadn’t taken the chance!