by Alan Zisman
(c) 2002 First
published in Toronto
, January, 2003
Early in the 20th century, King Gillette established
company's name and market share by selling razors cheap. He made his
company's fortune selling the replacement blades.
Printers seem to get cheaper and cheaper to buy, selling for as little
as $79 or so. But all that means is that when it's time to replace the
ink cartridges, you can easily end up paying more for a set of ink
cartridges than you did for your printer.
Sales of replacement ink cartridges total over $17
year; Hewlett-Packard's ink cartridge sales equal that company's
profits. Consumers looking for savings on ink have generated $3 billion
worth of sales of no-name brand cartridges and refillable kits.
If you're unhappy with an
ink-guzzling printer, Strydent
Software can help. The 35-person Burnaby, B.C.-based company offers
a $52 (about the cost of one ink cartridge) InkSaver utility, which
works with the printer drivers of many (but not all -- check the
Web site to see if your printer is supported) popular printer models,
allow users to fine-tune their printer's ink consumption.
By default, most printers let users choose between standard (and in
some cases high) and draft mode, saving on ink but also resulting in
noticeably poorer print quality. The InkSaver installer prints out a
test page, showing the effect of different levels of ink use for both
text and graphics. Users can pick the levels they prefer, separately
the black and colour cartridges. The program allows users to either
confirm the ink settings for each print job, or to set them once and
forget about them. A clever calculator built into the dialogue box
how much money is saved on ink costs.
putting less ink on a page will be noticeable, but I found that on my
text-heavy print-outs, settings saving 25 to 40 per cent of the ink
hard to distinguish from pages printed with no ink-reduction. Photo
printing, however, showed a noticeable loss of quality with anything
more than a minimal reduction in ink use.
Test it for yourself -- Strydent offers a downloadable 15-day free
US$35 (about CDN$52)
20 MB available hard drive space
List of compatible printers is available on the Web site.
Buy Strydent Inksaver from Amazon.com