On paper, the task of buying additional ink cartridges for your printer sounds like a relatively straightforward one - but anyone who has had the unfortunate luck of trying to sort through the hundreds of options available will know that it can be a bit of a headache.
Here's our guide on navigating the major sticking points.
If you're already at the point of seeking out new ink cartridges, chances are that you've already purchased your printer. If you have, you would have had to make the choice between an inkjet printer - which uses traditional cartridges- and a laser one, with "toner" cartridges.
Which one is best for your home really comes down to how frequently you need to print things out.
Traditional cartridges are almost invariably cheaper - as is the piece of machinery itself - but they are limited in terms of the number of pages they can print on. They can also run dry after periods of inactivity, a design-flaw that many users fail to overlook in the early stages.
For most experts' money, a laser-based printing machine is much more effective for someone who prints regularly as the cartridges are generous in terms of ink and tend to last a lot longer. This makes them ideal for small, home-ran businesses which require professional-looking documents day in day out.
To make things even more complicated, ink cartridges are further divided into smaller subcategories based on the type of printer that you have.
This works along the same lines as the accessories for Apple products, in that there are official brand-own products - which are guaranteed to be compatible with your machine - and third-party knock-offs, only some of which will actually work.
Suffice it to say, it's generally the best to go for the product that is made specially for the printer that you have - even if they are invariably more expensive than the off-brand ones. This will ensure that it works at maximum efficiency and squeezes out every last drop of ink that you paid for.
You can also purchase refurbished cartridges, however, whereby used products are cleaned and then refilled with fresh ink. These are available either in official brand or off-brand variations, making them - in a lot of cases - the cheapest and most ecologically friendly option.
Below are some of the major brands which produce and sell the above types of ink cartridges (although, as stated, it's important you check the product specification to ensure they are compatible with your device):
If you do want to cut corners and go for the supposed off-brand products, we recommend sticking to major stores like Amazon and Tesco, which are now beginning to stock their own self-produced supplies.
Our recommendation, however, is Epson. Though this will limit you to buying one of their specially-made printers - which can be expensive - the company has a well-earned reputation for reliability. There is value to be found, too, if you're a persistent printer, with multi-pack offers comprised of black and coloured cartridges often available.
Many shops, online and offline, will let you just enter the model of your printer and suggest suitable ink cartridges. However, this sometimes doesn't work well so make sure that you only put ink cartridges that are recommended by your printer manufacturer.
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