We all know that printer companies make their money from the ink and toner cartridges, rather than the printers themselves. One way they can maximise profit is through warnings of cartridges being empty when in fact there’s lots of ink left and they can go on for much longer.
Back in 2008, PC World investigated the issue and tested four printers; Canon Pixma MP610, Epson RX680, Kodak EasyShare 5300 and HP PhotoSmart C5280. Only the HP printer continued to function after a low ink warning, for both HP and compatible cartridges.
Other manufacturers used the warnings as a cut off so that the remaining ink could not easily be used. For Epson there was still 8% of the ink remaining, for Canon 24% and for Kodak an incredible 43%. On average, compatible cartridges were even worse.
I don’t know if the situation is any better now, although I can say that in the case of a Canon machine I use, only by manual intervention can it be persuaded to use up the remaining ink after the warning is given.
But greenIT.fr (who brought the above information to my attention) has identified a possible solution. A Russian developer has come up with software that lets you reset the print counter and block the low ink warning. The software only runs on Epson printers, but it is free – it’s available here.
It would be good if PC World (or anyone else) repeated the exercise. In these days of environmental concern and CSR reports, the reported level of ink cartridge waste would be difficult to explain away.