Cartridge World, a franchise operation with more than 650 stores in the U.S. and 1,700 worldwide, will refill ink cartridges while you wait, or sell you their own brand of pre-packaged cartridges (used OEM cartridges that have been cleaned and refilled with Cartridge World ink) or printer manufacturers' OEM cartridges. You can also buy the cartridges online. Prices vary between the website and stores, and from store to store, but Cartridge World cartridges usually cost at least a dollar or two less than OEM cartridges. Cartridge World inks are among the most-tested aftermarket inks in independent reviews, usually with decent results. In several expert tests, documents and photos printed with Cartridge World ink appear comparable to those printed with printer manufacturers' own inks -- sometimes slightly better or slightly worse, but overall fine for most uses. But results aren't consistent: Cartridge World inks perform only poorly to average in various printers in one reputable overseas test, and in other tests they do better with some printer brands than others. In one test, Cartridge World cartridges repeatedly malfunction in an Epson printer, giving only error messages and refusing to print. Cartridge World inks also fade noticeably within a year in more than one test, while OEM inks such as Canon, Epson, HP and Lexmark printer ink (*Est. $10 to $20) last longer.
Both of PC World's most recent printer ink comparison tests -- one from 2011 and one from 2008 -- praise Cartridge World ink as a good aftermarket ink. Cartridge World ink is also included in comparison tests by the U.K.'s Which? magazine and Australia's Choice magazine, both of which are similar to ConsumerReports.org. TrustedReviews.com's test is a little older, but incredibly thorough.
1. PC World
Jeff Bertolucci tests multiple aftermarket ink sources -- stores that do refills, do-it-yourself refill kits and continuous ink systems -- including refilled ink cartridges from Cartridge World. Unlike some of the others, the Cartridge World inks work perfectly in his HP printer, although photos and colors aren't quite as crisp and vibrant as with HP inks. The Cartridge World inks cost a bit less per page than the HP inks, according to Bertolucci's calculations.
Review: Cartridge World Printer Ink: A Good Bargain?, Jeff Bertolucci, March 8, 2011
2. PC World
In this earlier test, PC World and the Rochester Institute of Technology test manufacturers' inks against cheaper aftermarket inks. Cartridge World ink cartridges work just as well as HP cartridges in an HP printer, but don't perform as well at photo printing in a Lexmark printer as the official Lexmark ink does.
Review: Cheap Ink: Will It Cost You?, Jeff Bertolucci, June 23, 2008
3. Which? magazine
This British publication, which is similar to ConsumerReports.org, tests Cartridge World ink in Canon, HP and Lexmark printers alongside other aftermarket and manufacturers' inks. Each test culminates in star ratings for document and photo print quality.
Review: Ink Cartridge Reviews, Editors of Which? magazine
4. Choice magazine
Australia's answer to ConsumerReports.org tests Cartridge World ink in Canon, Epson and Brother printers as part of this comprehensive review alongside other aftermarket inks, manufacturers' inks, a DIY refill kit and a continuous ink system. Editors score each ink for print quality and durability, and provide per-page cost figures for both black-and-white and color prints.
Review: Inkjet Refill Alternatives, Steve Duncombe, Updated March 15, 2011
Trusted Reviews conducts a comprehensive test of inks using mid-range, all-in-one machines from Canon, Epson, HP and Lexmark. Manufacturers' cartridges are compared with inks from Cartridge World, InkTecShop, Jet Tec and StinkyInk. Cartridge World cartridges produce the best results.
Review: The Inkjet Investigation, Simon Williams, April 21, 2007