Printer Ink: Ratings of Sources
Total of 12 Sources
For an explanation of how we rank reviews, see our ratings criteria page.
Which Printer Ink Refills Can Save You the Most?
by Melissa Riofrio
Our AssessmentPC World writer Jeff Bertolucci tries seven different refill services and kits with his HP printer ink cartridges. The kits tend to make a huge mess and print poorly. Refill services eliminate the mess, but printed documents still don't look as good as those printed with new HP ink cartridges. Each service or kit gets a full write-up. Melissa Riofrio summarizes the reports, saying that Costco's in-store refill service strikes the best balance: It's convenient, with "acceptable" print quality. This report does a good job of assessing initial print quality, cost and ease of use, but it doesn't test whether the ink fades quickly or damages a printer over time.
Cheap Ink: Will It Cost You?
by Jeff Bertolucci
Our AssessmentIn this older article, PC World and the Rochester Institute of Technology test inks from Canon, Epson, HP, Kodak and Lexmark head-to-head against cheaper third-party inks. The lower-cost print more pages, but the brand-name inks print better-quality, more fade-resistant images. Canon ink is judged good with text and very good with photos, scoring very good overall. Kodak and HP inks do a good job with both text and photos, as do third-party inks for the HP printer from Cartridge World and LD Products. The worst performers are inks from Overstock.com and Walgreens, which do a poor job printing text and line art. You can view prints with each ink side by side in a slideshow.
Ink Cartridge Reviews
by Editors of Which? magazine
Our AssessmentEditors of British consumer magazine Which? test 19 ink cartridges, rating each one for document and photo quality. Cartridges from Canon, Epson, HP and Lexmark are tested, along with several models from Cartridge World and some U.K. third-party sellers. Three brands emerge as Best Buys.
Inkjet Refill Alternatives
by Steve Duncombe
Our AssessmentChoice magazine -- an Australian publication similar to ConsumerReports.org -- tests official manufacturers' ink and seven brands of third-party ink (some available in the U.S., some not) in Brother, Canon, Epson, HP and Lexmark printers to see whether the off-brand inks really work well and save money. They also test a do-it-yourself cartridge refill kit and a continuous ink system. Detailed charts show ink costs per page and over three years, as well as scores for durability and quality for each ink. Editors don't pick best buys, however.
The Inkjet Investigation
by Simon Williams
Our AssessmentTrustedReviews.com conducts a comprehensive test of inks in which all variables are considered. Using mid-range all-in-one machines from Canon, Epson, HP and Lexmark, testers use each manufacturer's cartridges and compare them with cartridges from Cartridge World, InkTecShop, Jet Tec and StinkyInk. They print from each onto the manufacturers' paper, four other brands of glossy photo papers and plain paper. Sample printed pages are reviewed in blind tests by a panel of non-experts. Cartridge World cartridges produce the best results. The only flaw with this report is that it's now a few years old, but more recent tests elsewhere draw similar conclusions.
Test Results from Wilhelm Imaging Research
by Henry Wilhelm
Our AssessmentWilhelm Imaging Research "conducts accelerated light exposure and dark aging tests to determine the comparative life expectancy of inkjet and other digitally printed photographs, as well as that of traditional black-and-white and color photographs." The company's studies are sponsored by computer, photography and consumer periodicals, and possibly printer manufacturers. A journal article posted here, "WIR Testing Finds Aftermarket Inks Are Inferior to OEM," outlines Wilhelm's findings that official Canon, HP and Epson inks printed on official Canon, HP and Epson papers can preserve images for 16 to more than 100 years, while aftermarket inks and papers fade much faster (some in just a couple of months) -- but the article dates from 2006 and does not say who funded the study. More recent tests of OEM inks and various papers are posted on the Wilhelm site with even better results, but no more recent comprehensive tests of aftermarket inks have been posted.
by Editors of ConsumerReports.org
Our AssessmentConsumerReports.org tests hundreds of ink cartridges from 13 brands (both OEM and aftermarket) for this report. While a few of the off-brand ink cartridges don't work at all, editors name a few that work well. This test is several years old now, but ConsumerReports.org's buying advice regarding off-brand ink hasn't changed.
Are Single-Ink Cartridges More Efficient Than Multi-Ink Cartridges?
by Hartmut Müller-Gerbes
Our AssessmentEpson commissioned this consulting firm to study whether single-color printer ink cartridges waste less ink than multi-color cartridges (where you must replace the entire cartridge when one color runs out). Twelve printers from Brother, Canon, Epson, HP, Kodak and Lexmark are tested. Not surprisingly, the Epson printers -- which use single-color ink cartridges -- prove most efficient, using up more than 80 percent of their ink before they claim to be out of ink. Close runners-up are Brother and HP printers that use single-color ink cartridges. The worst performer, the Kodak EasyShare 5300, wasted more than 60 percent of the ink in its single-ink cartridge. Notably missing from the analysis are prices, so there's no way to tell which printer actually saves the most money for its user.
Review: The Cheapest Inkjet Cartridges Sites
by Editors of TechSupportAlert.com
Our AssessmentThis tech-review website whittles 47 Internet sellers of inkjet cartridges down to the four best. A "how we test" page outlines their methodology. Only the 14 sites that sell a wide range of cartridges, deliver within three weeks and give no-hassle refunds make the initial cut. The top four sites offer low prices and ink cartridges that "worked just as well as the original OEM cartridges though not necessarily identically." Editors say two of the top four sites -- 4Inkjets.com and 123Inkjets.com -- pay TechSupportAlert.com a commission on sales, but that this doesn't affect the review. Two of the top picks -- CarrotInk.com and InkSell.com -- pay no commission, editors say.
Page Yield/Reliability Comparison Study: HP Inkjet Print Cartridges vs. Refilled Cartridges
by Editors of QualityLogic.com
Our AssessmentHewlett-Packard commissioned QualityLogic to conduct an independent study that would prove its cartridges are better than third-party cartridges. Not surprisingly, QualityLogic found that HP cartridges are better in many ways. The 10-page report mentions the six competing branded refilled cartridges and three refill-service providers tested, but doesn't reveal the performance of competing brands by name. Generic labels hide the actual brand names in test results. The study shows that HP cartridges print 66 percent more pages than the average refilled cartridge. Furthermore, one-third of the refilled cartridges were either dead on arrival or quit printing early, but none of the HP cartridges did this.
Lab Testing Case Studies
by Editors of Allion.com
Our AssessmentThis Japanese consulting firm has run several tests comparing various brand-name printer inks with off-brand inks and continuous ink systems. The tests appear to be well done, using gases to simulate the aging process, but the reports sometimes leave out crucial bits of information -- such as the names of the off-brand inks -- and it isn't clear who funded the tests.
Inkjet Printer Ink
by Contributors to Amazon.com
Our AssessmentMost major brands of printer ink have amassed many user reviews at Amazon.com -- some more than 100. Official Canon, Brother, HP and Epson inks get the best reviews. Third-party inks fare worse, with some users complaining that they get error messages when they try to use them with their printers or the cartridges burst.