The nearest printer cartridge to the old work desk is an HP 56, and the packaging claims that it’s good for ~520 pages, subject to the following qualifications:
Tested in HP DeskJet 5550 Color Inkjet Printer. Average based on ISO/IEC 24711 or HP testing metholodogy and continuous printing. Actual yield varies considerably based on content of printed pages and other factors. For details see www.hp.com/go/learnaboutsupplies.
This isn’t particularly heinous in and of itself; anyone who’s been within door-opening distance of a car in recent years already knows that Your Mileage May Vary, yadda, yadda. But calculating miles per gallon isn’t so difficult, since you know how many gallons you’re using. How many milliliters of ink are you using? Nowhere on the HP 56 package is there a reference to the actual liquid volume. (Last I looked, it was 19 ml, but that was three years ago; I am loath to open up a brand-new cartridge just to see if they’re still bothering to put this information in the usual tiny print.)
If Lexmark had its way, you wouldn’t know these things anyway:
Lexmark International Inc., one company that sells the cartridges, argued in a recent letter that disclosing ink volumes would actually be misleading to consumers.
The cartridges, which Lexmark describes as micro-machines, can use varying amounts of ink based on print quality and the amount of ink deposited on a page, so a comparison based on quantity of ink would be misleading, the company says. And the cost of the ink is only a small part of the cartridges’ cost, the letter said.
“Treating these sophisticated machines as though they were mere containers for ink is inappropriate,” said Charles Kratzer, an attorney for Lexmark.
I’ve only owned one Lexmark printer, and it was about as sophisticated as a hatchet. Its paper handling, in fact, was about on par with a hatchet. Still, someone has to take the Malevolent Scum position, right?
I am less perturbed by this, though, than I am with the ink-monitoring “systems” used to make the machines more, um, “sophisticated”; they inevitably are set to give off dire warnings that OMG you’re almost out of ink! at the point where you’ve used maybe two-thirds of the contents. Not even the most alarmist low-fuel light in any car I’ve ever driven is that pushy. One reason I’ve retained an old HP 720C all these years is that the only warning it gives is the only warning that means anything: the print is starting to look like crap.
Still, if the states want to regulate this sort of thing, let ‘em try. I don’t think it will do much good — except maybe for Kodak, largely an also-ran in the printer biz despite having genuinely inexpensive ink. (Try $15 for a color cartridge, $10 for black.)