Is Your Inkjet Printer Really Out of Ink?

Last Updated Nov 6, 2008 8:29 AM EST

ink-cartridges.jpgIs your inkjet printer lying to you? It might be, according to an eye-opening PC World article: How Much Ink Is Left In That Dead Cartridge? The mag's editors posited that many printers produce low- or no-ink messages when in fact their cartridges have substantial ink remaining. To prove the theory, they tested printers from four major manufacturers. The infuriating results:
Many manufacturer-branded (OEM) and third-party (aftermarket) vendor cartridges leave a startling amount of ink unused when they read empty. In fact, some inkjet printers force users to replace black ink cartridges when the cartridge is nearly half full, PC World has found.
Coincidentally, this just happened to me: My Brother multifunction printer flashed countless messages about replacing the cyan cartridge, but when I pulled it out, I could see it was still about 1/4 full. (The aftermarket cartridges I use are transparent, not opaque like most.)

So, how can you work around this maddening situation? In my case I simply reinserted the cyan cartridge and the printer got back to work. Meanwhile, consider switching to a laser printer. Although the hardware and toner cartridges are pricier at the outset, the cost per page is significantly lower than with inkjets.

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    Rick Broida, a technology writer for more than 20 years, is the author of more than a dozen books. In addition to writing CNET's The Cheapskate blog, he contributes to CNET's iPhone Atlas.