After seven years of output, the HP ink jet printer had finally stopped working. Because it was never intended to be serviced by mortals, it was time to find a new one. Choosing a model can be as difficult as you want to make it because HP has an estimated six billion models. For once, I delegated the obsessiveness in culling the list of models down to three.
It doesn’t take an MBA to realize that the companies make their money on the cartridges. How much was the question.
I constructed a spreadsheet to determine which model would be most economical over its lifetime.
The three models came out as follows:
- D5069 – $78. Uses HP98 black ink cartridge, HP95 color
- 6940 – $130. Uses HP96 black ink cartridge, HP95 or 97 color cartridge
- K5400 – $160. Uses HP88 or HP88 XL cartridges. There are four: cyan, magenta, yellow and black.
To estimate the cost of printing, I used this simple formula:
|pages/2 years||pages/2 years|
|+||*||# color cartridges||+||printer cost|
- When a “large capacity” cartridge was available, I chose to use that instead of the smaller one. It’s always cheaper.
- Printing is about 2,500 pages a year, mostly text with occasional color use.
- A printer has a service lifetime of at least two years.
- The cost includes the black and color cartridges. The manufacturer’s estimated page counts for each cartridge are optimistic assessments, but they’re consistently so. (For a more thorough analysis, see Rob’s site, warning: possibly NSFW.) I print mostly text, with an occasional web page or map, but not full size maps.
- The third printer takes three cartridges. I assumed it would use each color at the same rate.
- Printer cartridges would be purchased new, never refilled.
Not surprisingly, the cost of ink dominated the total cost of ownership. Printing costs ranged from $0.09 to $0.16 for ordinary documents. If I printed photos, you’d hear sucking sounds as my wallet was cleaned out by HP. The “cheap” printer would ultimately cost twice as much as the better featured one.
|Model||Cartridge type||TCO||Cost per page|