Cheap printers end up costing much more in longer term - Consumer NZ

Ink tank printers are at least 16 times cheaper in the long run than cartridges.
Ink tank printers are at least 16 times cheaper in the long run than cartridges. Photo credit: Getty Images

Kiwis are being warned over cheap printer deals that may end up costing them many times more in the long run.

A new Consumer NZ comparison has highlighted that more expensive ink tank printers were about 16 times cheaper to print than similar ink cartridge models in the long run.

The non-profit purchased two Epson printers, the ET-2850 refillable ink tank for $499 and a XP-3100 ink cartridge model, which usually retails for $149, to study the differences.

"The ET-2850 EcoTank printer looks expensive next to the seemingly identical XP-3100," Consumer test manager Paul Smith said.

"I picked up the more affordable printer on sale for just $49, so it seemed a bargain. But manufacturers can be sneaky.

"You pay much less for cartridge-based printers like this because they know you'll end up paying much more for ink in the long run."

The cheaper ink cartridge printer comes with enough ink to print 130 pages of both black and coloured prints. The EcoTank printer comes with enough to print 6500 black prints and 5200 colour pages, however.

"You'll need to buy 13 of the best-value, high-capacity ink cartridges to match the out-of-the-box printing from the ink tank printer," Smith said.

"That $49 printer doesn't look such a bargain when you add in those extra cartridges - it works out costing $170 more than the ink tank printer."

It gets even worse when you look beyond the initial print capabilities, Smith said.

"If I was to go on and print another 7500 black and white pages, the extra ink for the EcoTank would cost just $35 compared to $600 for the equivalent cartridges.

"That's less than half a cent per page to refill the ink tank, compared to 8 cents per page if you buy cartridges. And it's even worse if you print in colour."

According to Consumer NZ the four major home-printer companies in Aotearoa all sell ink tank models, but customer preferences vary and so cartridge models are affordable for people who don't print very often.

There was "little difference" in the performance of the two models, with functionality largely the same including WiFi printing and both also able to copy and scan.

"However, if you're looking to get a printer at home, you're better off getting something that doesn't drain money every time you need to replace the ink," Smith said.