Three Questions to Before Buying a Printer Cartridge

If you have a computer printer, getting the right ink or toner is important makes a huge difference in print quality.

Printer cartridges
Selecting the right ink or toner for any printing job is important, especially if you plan to print in color.Pexels/Fernando Arcos

While printing pages from your computer seems like a simple task, there are lots of parts of the operation that are somewhat complicated, and while you don’t need to completely understand all of them, you do need to understand what kind of refills your printer uses, as the wrong one might fit, but it won’t work correctly, leaving you disappointed with print quality and the money you wasted. When shopping for the right refill for your printer, consider three factors.

HP 61, 2 Ink Cartridges, Black, Tri-color

Ink or Toner?

This ink pack contains both a black and tri-color cartridge, and fits a number of HP printer models.HP

While they are often used interchangeably, ink and toner cartridges are actually two different things. Laser printers, which are ideal for high-volume printing, use toner. To print, they have a drum unit that fuses (or melts) toner powder onto paper with heat. On the other hand, inkjet printers, which are suitable for low-volume printing and are the traditional choice of home users, use ink. To print, inkjet printers spray liquid ink through microscopic nozzles onto paper. Knowing which kind of cartridge you’ll need for your printer is critical to choosing the right one. Of course, many ink and toner cartridges are made for specific models of printers. So, once you have narrowed down your need to ink or toner, use that information to help make the right selection.

Brother Genuine High Yield Toner Cartridge

Color Or B&W?

This toner cartridge replaces black & white toner only and will yield up to 2,600 printer pages.Brother

While many people choose to print in color, other individuals don’t need to print more than black and white. In laser printers, printing in black and white uses only the black toner cartridge and the white space on the page to produce the image. Printing in color uses all four toner cartridges—black, magenta, cyan and yellow—to create images, and since all are used, more toner is used per page. Generally, color print costs are higher than black and white. To determine which is best for you, and, consequently, what printer cartridge is best, consider the kinds of things you print most often. If most are simple pages of typed material, black and white will likely serve you fine. If you print a lot of photographs or pages with colorful graphics, color printers and toner cartridges are going to better fit your style.

Epson 410XL Black & Standard Photo Black and C/M/Y Color Ink Cartridges

Cartridge or Bottle?

Cartridges like these are easier to use than bottled ink, but are also somewhat more expensive.Epson

For inkjet printers, which use ink instead of toner, the current battle is between the traditional ink cartridge and newer ink tank printers. Traditional printers use ink cartridges for printing, and most come with one large black cartridge and three color cartridges. When one of the cartridges runs low, simply pop it out and replace it with another. Ink tank printers, on the other hand, have individual color ink tanks, which are capable of holding a large quantity of ink. Typically, ink tank printers are somewhat more expensive to purchase than those that use cartridges. However, since the refill ink bottles used on ink tank printers are relatively inexpensive, those printers are less expensive to operate than models that use cartridges. Make sure you know which kind of printer yours is before ordering ink, so you’re not left with cartridges that don’t fit and are of no use to you.

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