I was recently tasked with helping a lady find a printer and scanner for her daughter’s school work. With a budget of around R500 (around $50, what can I say people are struggling) I knew that buying a decent printer and separate scanner (something I favour doing, even over more expensive 3in1’s) was out of the question. My attention turned to entry-level 3in1’s (scanner, copier, and printer). Now having previous experience with a cheap 3in1, an Epson Stylus CX3500 called by one internet commenter an “Ink Scam”. I knew more or less what to expect, but nevertheless I was still surprised.
HP 2050 or Canon MP280?
I had narrowed my search down to two 3in1’s – a HP 2050 for R499 (around $50) and a Canon MP280 for R549 (around $55). I then immediately turned my attention to the ink cost. In these cheapies I rarely look at print speed or scanner resolution as that is irrelevant for the purpose of its use – non mission critical, non-commercial or casual use for school projects – my main interest is the cost of the ink. But first a cursory glance at the Amazon.com reviews.
Amazon Reviews for HP 2050
I was told by the salesman that the HP came with trial ink cartridges that would only print a few pages before they would need to be replaced – a tactic also deployed in cheap lazer printers – whereby the cartridges or toner are only filled to a certain level and not full. This almost immediately ruled out the HP because I would not buy a printer like this without buying a set of new cartridges as well – something that would push the cost of the printer to a R1000 (around $100) or even more. I was then told that two sizes of ink cartridges were available for the HP – a standard cartridge as well as a “XL” cartridge. And that the “standard” ink cartridge has a page yield of 120 pages in black and 100 pages in colour. A disturbing fact considering that printer companies usually work their yield out around some ridiculous coverage such as 5%.
There were not any negative reviews for the MP280 based on ink consumption at the time of my research, except one complaint over faulty cartridges. Most negative reviews revolved around the fact that it did not come with a USB cable included, common practice – at least in South Africa.
I asked about the Canon, salesman said he would “check on the system” and said it had a page yield of around 350 pages (a figure later found out to be incorrect) with the cartridge it shipped with. My disposable theory mode kicked in and I was sold.
I bought the Canon.
Ink cost comparison:
HP 2050 ink cost
Cartridge model and specs:
122 Black | Page yield: 120 pages | Cost: R129.90 (R1.08 per page)
122 Colour | Page yield: 100 pages | Cost: R149.90 (R1.50 per page)
122XL Black | Page yield: 480 pages | Cost: R329.90 (R0.69 per page)
122XL Colour | Page yield: 330 pages | Cost: R339.90 (R1.03 per page)
Canon MP280 ink cost
Cartridge model and specs:
PG-510 Black | Page yield 220 (5%) | Cost: R239.90 (R1.09 per page)
CL-511 Colour | Page yield 244 pages (5%) | Cost: R299.90 (R1.23 per page)
The regional MP280 cartridge PG-210 (Black) and CL-211 (Colour) with same page yield as above this is available in XL size as well. The XL has 66% more ink (9ml compared to 15ml). The claimed page yields for the XL are 401 pages (220 standard) for black and 349 (244 standard) for colour.
While the above cost calculation is based on casual observation and while page yield obviously depends on factors such as ink coverage, HP has no problem printing their page yield on the back of their cartridge packaging:
I just have to say that these two are some of the most expensive printers to run that I have ever seen. Most print shops don’t even charge that much to print per page. While one could argue that you have the convenience of the printer in your own home. That is just really expensive.
I know that printer companies selling cheap printers make the bulk of their profits on the ink but this is just ridiculous, what about people – as in this case – who buy the cheap printers because of economical constraints?
You should have no business buying a sub R1000 (around $100) printer let alone a printer and scanner costing less than a grand in ZAR (<$100). Unfortunately not everyone can afford expensive hardware when they have more pressing matters to spend their money on such as food, education healthcare etc.
One Amazon commenter said it best:
“Home Desktop Printers: the Ink SUVs of Our Times”
My opinion / Endnotes/
* When the salesman came back with the incorrect figure of a page yield of 350 for the Canon he simply said “three hundred and fifty without mentioning which cartridge or cartridge colour gave this yield – which is incorrect for the cartridge. However by this time I had already made up my mind to NOT go with the HP because of the budget and remaining ink the printer (allegedly) ships with. I could not tell the lady to cough up another R400 (around $40) for ink and I also could not let her walk out with a printer that will print 20 pages and then need to be refilled. While I could have done more research it was just a matter of going with to the shop and picking it out or intuition and asking the right questions. Unfortunately South Africa’s “big box” retailers often don’t have salesman with specialized knowledge, that’s why I bought my DSLR at Orms instead of Game, Makro or Hifi Corp.
* You will see that the HP cartridges I took pics of and quoted the price on are 122 cartridges while Amazon and Walmart says that printer model takes a 61 cartridge, same with the Canon MP280 which states that it takes a PG-210 (Black) and CL-211 (Colour).
Here is what HP has to say about this:
Visit these links for more info: