Thursday, 26 August 2010

Brother Printers

Brother printers are well built and have a wide range of specifications to suit most requirements. They all take brand new replacement inks and the cartridges do not have microchips on them. They are multi cartridge machines and work well with compatible inks. The cartridges hold a good amount of ink with little wastage and I believe are the best value per page when using compatible inks. Brother printers have fixed print heads that clog up over time causing banding (lines from left to right on your printout) and complete blocking. The only remedy is to do regular print head cleaning from new, don't wait until you have a problem. Using the compatible ink will probably shorten the life of your printer but by the time it happens you should have saved enough money to replace it several times over.
Our experience points us to believe that Brother printers are currently the best choice of printers on the grounds of quality of manufacture, quality of output and most importantly the cost of printing. We have a lot of printers (laser and inkjet) in our office and they are all (bar one specialist printer) Brother. We started off with an assortment of every brand and have gradually replaced them all with Brother printers as they have either broken, gone wrong or the cost of cartridges has become to high. I will tell you a bit more about Brother in another post.

Monday, 23 August 2010

Lexmark Printers

Lexmark printers mostly have the print head built into the ink cartridge. These printers are cheap to buy but tend to be expensive to buy replacement inks for. A lot of people once they have purchased a cheap printer are shocked to find that one set of replacement inks cost more than the printer did! You wouldn't believe how many people come into the shop and find out the price and watching their faces fall when they realise that their printer is not a bargain after all is horrible. Lexmark also restrict where they sell certain cartridge models to keep the price unrealistically high and also try to restrict the supply of recycled cartridges to the remanufacturers for the same reason. Remanufactured cartridges are available but only for a couple of product lines, meaning you have to buy the genuine cartridges, there is no alternative. Lexmark printers mainly take two cartridges (one black one colour) so you are back to the old problem of when one colour ink runs out you have to replace the whole cartridge, throwing out ink in the process and wasting money. The printers themselves are good quality but the price of running them is prohibitive. The phrase I hear most when a customer is buying a set of Lexmark inks is "it would be cheaper to buy a new printer" and guess what it is TRUE! So my best advice is not to buy a Lexmark and save yourself some pennies!

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Canon Printers

Canon are another quality make of printer witha mix of ink cartridge types. The multi cartridge printers take the brand new replacement cartridges, which seem to be very reliable. Some people sell replacement cartridges that do not have a microchip on - these are very cheap and you have to take the microchip off the genuine cartridge and put it on the replacement, this is not a satisfactory solution. If the microchip has the slightest little mark or scratch it won't work and you have wasted your money. These printers have fixed print heads that clog up over time causing banding (lines from left to right on your printout) and eventually complete blocking. The only remedy is to do regular print head cleaning from new, don't wait until you have a problem. The majority of these printers have replaceable print heads, when the print head will not clear by doing multiple print head cleans you can easily remove the whole print head. This allows you to soak the print head in tepid water (boiled and then cooled to make sure it is pure) to try to dissolve the dried inks and clear the jets. Try to do this in a way that does not damage the contacts and try not to get covered in ink! When you get to this stage it is kill or cure so its worth a go and is surprisingly effective and can be done several times successfully if you are careful. If this does not work replacement print heads are available for most printers from Canon but you will have to weigh up the benefits as they can be as expensive as buying a new printer.
Canon also do a range of printers that take two cartridges one black one colour (cyan, magenta, yellow). As explained before the big disadvantage of these cartridges is when one compartment is empty you have to change the cartridge, it will not print if you have run out of one colour. This means throwing away ink. There are remanufactured cartridges available but again they are dependant on supply of recycled genuine cartridges and are more expensive than brand new replacement cartridges.
Canon printers offer very good photographic quality, the nearest you can get to professional imaging. So if you are a keen amatuer photographer Canon would be a good choice, but of course you have to pay good money to get the quality, so it is not a cheap option.

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

HP Printers

OK back to business. Hewlett Packard (HP) are a quality make of printer with a wide range of models to suit most requirements. Many of the printers have the print head built into the ink cartridge. The genuine ink cartridges are widely available and quite expensive. The remanufactured cartridges are readily available and are generally good value compared to the genuine cartridges. The remanufactured cartridges are fairly reliable, they are not as cheap or as reliable as the brand new replacements that are available for other types of printer. As the remanufactured cartridges depend on recycled cartridges there is usually a lag of up to a year from the time a new model of cartridge is launched to sufficient empty cartridges being available to make the remanufactured cartridges readily available. Not all new printers use new model cartridges so check before you buy! HP does not list the ml on the packaging, instead they say how many pages the cartridge will do. For example HP22 says 165 pages, which is 5ml of ink in each colour. The 165 pages is at 5% coverage which is not a lot and I think is very misleading.
HP also has a good range of laser printers, you can easily get genuine and remanufactured toners as well as parts if the printer breaks. All in all HP makes good printers but they can be expensive to run.

Good Luck Danny

A self indulgent post to say good luck to Danny, he has set off on the adventure of a life time today. He is going to work in New Zealand for a year. He will be racing with a bit of showjumping as well. We are all rather jealous of the fact that he is jetting off to their summer! We are all missing you terribly, have the best time and make the most of the sunshine!

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Epson Printers

Epson are the most popular brand of printer for the domestic market and offer a wide range of attractively priced printers to suit most requirements. Most of the new printers take one range of cartridges. These mostly take four cartridges one black and one each of cyan, magenta and yellow. Brand new cheap alternative cartridges are available across the range with savings of up to 90% being achievable over genuine cartridges. The new cartridges have microchips on them which can cause recognition problems, do not buy the cheapest you can find, do not change all of your cartridges at once always change them one at a time, we are up to version 7 on the microchip on the most popular cartridges (Epson brings out a new version of microchip to keep in front of the alternative manufacturers) so purchase your cartridges from a trustworthy source or you might end up with the right cartridge but the wrong chip - useless!
Epson printers have fixed print heads that clog up over time causing banding (lines from left to right on your printout) and complete blocking. The only remedy is to do regular print head cleaning from new, don't wait until you have a problem. Using the compatible ink will shorten the life of your printer but by the time it happens you should have saved enough money to replace it several times over.
The modern Epson printers do not measure how much ink is in the cartridge they do a page count and estimate. The result is that even if you use genuine ink when the cartridge says it is empty there will still be ink in it, so you will be throwing it away. Once the counter has reached its maximum it will not print no matter what you do. This is more of an issue with compatible cartridges as they normally have considerably more ink in them than the genuine cartridges. The chip is tweaked so more pages are printed than with the genuine cartridge but ink will still be thrown away. Another alternative is to use cartridges which have a resetting chip there are a lot of cartridges around advertised as double capacity and they do have a double the ink compared to the genuine cartridge but again all you do is throw it away as the printer counts the pages not the ink in the cartridge. Epson are good printers until they go wrong, they can be expensive to fix once the print head is blocked, it's just the waste of ink when it is so expensive to buy in the first place that irritates me. I wouldn't go and buy something and only expect to use three quarters of it but thats what Epson want us to do.

A disclaimer!

Before I go into all the details about the different make of printer I want to make completely clear that these are my own opinions.

Monday, 16 August 2010

Which printer to buy?

Many of you are looking for a little guidance on which inkjet printer to buy. We have been selling ink cartridges for well over ten years to domestic and commercial customers throughout the UK and Europe and over that time we have picked up a little insight. We sell the manufacturers own brand of cartridge at the best prices you will find as well as the cheaper alternatives.
The most important thing to remember when buying a printer is - what is it going to cost me? No not the price of the printer the cost of the replacement ink, or if you like the what is it going to cost you per page to use. Quite often the cheapest printer to buy is the most expensive to actually use, sometimes one set of replacement inks cost more than you paid for the printer.

There are two main types of inkjet printer.

Multiple cartridge machines mostly take 4 cartridges one black and one each of cyan, magenta and yellow but can take many more.

1. The big advantage of this design over printers that take two cartridges (one black and one colour) is that in the two cartridge machines the colour cartridge is split into three compartments (cyan, magenta, yellow) and when one of these compartments is empty due to you printing a lot of one colour (lots of blue sky maybe) you have to throw away the other two compartments ink and all. If one ink has run out the printer will not print.

2. The cheaper alternative ink cartridges for these machines are brand new copies of the genuine article often for a fraction of the price.

3.The main disadvantage is that these machines have a print head inside the printer that clogs with dried ink over time. This happens with genuine ink as well as the cheaper alternative version. The only way to prevent this happening is to do regular print head cleaning from new, do not wait until you have a problem. Using the compatible ink will probably shorten the life of your printer but by the time it happens you should have saved enough money to replace it several times over. Remember to clean your print head!

Cartridge with Print head machines.

1. The advantage is that every time you replace your cartridge you replace the print head in your printer, theoretically leading to better print quality and longer printer life.

2. The disadvantage is that most of these are two cartridge machines - see above.

3. The cost of the replacement ink is high, as they include the print head.

4. The brand new compatible inks are not available for these machines. The alternative inks are genuine cartridges that are remanufactured. You can have your cartridge refilled in a shop literally with a syringe and needle, the other option is the professionally remanufactured version. These are recycled cartridges which are refilled in a factory. I will post a description of the process separately. Remanufactured cartridges are more expensive than brand new alternatives and a have a higher failure rate.

5. When a set of genuine replacement inks costs nearly as much as a new printer maybe extended printer life is not an advantage!

I will post a breakdown of the various printer brands so you can make an informed decision!
Just about to add analysis of various printer brands to the blog, have a look!

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Practice, practice, practice

This is one of the pictures I have been practicing with in preparation of the NEXT BIG THING.... very soon all will be revealed! I took this picture on Christmas morning, its the view looking towards Cartmel from our house.
Just waiting to hear news about the freebies!

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Freebies, freebies!!!

We have been in talks with one of our bigger suppliers about freebies for a couple of weeks now. I felt that it had gone a bit quiet so probably wasn't going to happen when all of a sudden we had a phone call saying get ready for delivery. From our conversations with them last week I was expecting a palette of various bits and bobs and now its sounds like a bit more than that.... last phone call was could we get an arctic near to the shop!!!!! Luckily we can so I am thinking you are all going to be deluged in freebies in the coming weeks! What a result!

Ben hard at work

Ben is worth his weight in gold, he is doing the alterations in the shop, here he is making some new shelving units in the downstairs stock room (more of a holding area really, the main stock room is upstairs) The big change round will be happening soon, I will do some before and after pictures for that, I will let you into the big secret of what we will be doing soon!

And all the rest...

I don't have a picture of me that is suitable (all with horses!) I will get one soon. There are a few other people in the background at work but I will leave them in the shadows for the moment!


Maggie works part time in the shop and has been with us for the last three years. She is normally in on the day I'm not so I don't see her as much as everyone else, but that means when I do see her there is lots of catching up to do! Loves going to the gym and long walks with her two little dogs.


Ben works in the shop but also does a bit of everything as well. Today he is laying the new flooring in the new bit of the shop! Ben is a builder by trade which comes in very handy. When we moved shop last year he did all the fitting out in the new shop and did an amazing job. He is also building an extension at home so I think he comes to work for a rest. He is John's youngest son and a workaholic like his Dad! Ben is forever helping me and I am incredibly grateful!


Tommy is the original team member who was here before the rest of us. He came along with the company when we bought it and I can safely say we would be stuck without him. He is Packing Manager and keeps me right when I am packing with things like airmail and shipping to places like South Africa which I can never remember how to do. Also mends printer, computers, anything that won't work - he gets it going again. John tells Tommy and I off for chattering "in Scottish" Tommy also makes the best cup of tea! Don't play him at snooker you will lose!

Meet the team

I thought you might like to meet the team. I will do a post for each member of staff starting with John the boss (better do him first!) So here he is actually looking a little tired in this picture, I didn't tell anyone I was going to take their picture so they weren't prepared. John does a bit of everything, when our website crashed in February he came into work at 5.30am and finished at 7pm almost every day for 7 weeks! He really is the driving force of the team and a real inspiration to us all......more about that another day. I should also add that he is my husband!

Monday, 9 August 2010

Some more (not so good) info on price rises.

I just got some more details of the price rises we heard about last week. One of our suppliers sent us this....
Brand %Increase/Decrease Product Reason
HP 3.5% Increase Laser Supplies Exchange Variations

Lexmark Increase between 4% All (Laser and Exchange Variations
and 11.7% Ink Cartridges)

Sagemcom 10% Increase as of All (Laser and Exchange Variations
1st September Ink Cartridges)

Epson The following changes came into effect on 1st August
* Individual ink cartridges will increase by up to 3%
* Multipacks increase by up t0 15%
* Laser increase by up to 3%

Now doesn't that make for cheery reading? I think I am just the same as you in thinking I hate that the prices go up so much. We do try to absorb as many of the market fluctuations but it isn't always possible. We buy ink every day and there are minor prices changes every day. John does all the purchasing as he is a born haggler, even down to the last 2p! I sometimes feel like I have to leave the office as he wears down the opposition and plays seven different suppliers off against each other, he loves it!
On the plus side we are changing the shop around (Ben is multi tasking this week!), we have big changes in store, I will tell you more soon!

Monday, 2 August 2010

HP inkjet prices went up last month by 9%, but we have held our prices! Just been told that Epson, Canon and HP (toners) are going up 3% this month, hoping to hold our prices - will be reviewing soon though!