Surprise! Ink tank printers from Epson

Surprise! Ink tank printers from Epson

Epson L800 Ink Tank Printer

Users of ink-jet printers often suffer sticker shock when they replace the ink cartridges, which may cost more than what they paid for the printer.

So it was most surprising that Epson introduced its L-series of ink-tank printers, in effect abandoning the business model of ink-jet printing.

High ink-cartridge prices sustain the printer manufacturers but when ink tanks are introduced, the cost of printing plummets as ink-tank refills are cheaper and last much longer.

In the past, only third-party accessory makers provided ink tanks, often with the risk of voiding the warranty. Now that a major printer manufacturer has joined the fray, others are likely to follow suit.

Ink-tank printing is no different from that using cartridges. Speed and quality are just as good. The biggest difference is cost: For the L800, one 70ml bottle of black ink can print 4,000 pages and three 70ml bottles of colour ink can print 6,500 pages.

Print resolution is a very respectable 5,760x1,440 dpi, good enough for photos. Test prints showed excellent results and the ink tanks seemed to last forever, not drying up or failing, despite hours of relentless printing.

I predict that the introduction of ink-tank printing will revive consumers' interest in printing their own photos, especially the larger-format ones which cost much to print at photo-print shops. But I am not sure what effect this will have on the bottom lines of ink-jet printer manufacturers.

How much: $428 (printer), $15.90 for each bottle of ink refill

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