They have also been nice to its dealers. Epson, and to a lesser
extent Hewlett Packard have introduced many ranges of inkjet cartridges - often
with 6 or 8 products, alarmingly regularly - it seems with every printer
announcement. This means so many product lines (or SKU's as we call them in the
trade). I say the trade suffers from "SKU indigestion". Often the only difference is the hard coded identification chip. Canon, on the other hand very seldom changes its range of consumables. Until late 2005, there had not been a significant change on one range (the BCI-3/3e/5/6 - essentially interchangeable since around 1997 and one the lower end since the BCI-21, later 24 was introduced around 1994. There had been improvements to the ink - but not a change which meant stocking numerous lines.
Cost of ownership
To optimise cost of ownership then you should steer clear of being tied to machines where there is no alternative than the printer manufacturer's own brand of cartridge. I believe that the most healthy market is where there is a good supply of quality alternatives. Competition, and fierce competition amongst the alternative branded products has driven the cost of manufacture down - and for the larger sources - at good quality - quality that for most practical purposes means that 'the compatible is as good as the original'.
The chip is a swine!
When Canon makes a change in its cartridge design it is a radical one. On first
appearance their new cartridges the PGi-5 and CLi-8 look similar to their
cousins the BCI-3e and -6. Even the Recommended prices are the same. The
difference is in the chip. To date there are no alternatives to the chip - and
it seems that there will not be any for some time. But at least you can re-use
the Canon chip either if you refill or on a compatible cartridge which are now
available at about £4 each
Are the new cartridges worth the difference? You are the judge - but read the reviews on printers that are available with the older cartridges - and of the compatibles.
So my recommendation - buy printers which use the old cartridges whilst you can
but if you can't get them now get the new models and either refill or use the
compatibles with the Canon chips fitted!
What are they?
Low cost printers and single function office devices have totally been superseded.
If you can find a Pixma IP4000 then buy it!
But I would recommend for anybody:
Home/office use - it is worth the few extra pounds (or euros or dollars) to buy one of the most versatile multi-function devices available. This is the Pixma MP780. I have one: it is fast - can print double sided, the results are good, even on ordinary paper, and I always use compatible cartridges! It can scan, fax, copy - even producing a PDF file. Typically available for 160- 180 ( 230- 260).
A set of five cartridges costs
19.50 (compatible). Compare that to 60 for the chipped cartridges, and you will save the difference in cost in two sets of cartridges. For me that is two months.
Photo printing - here I recommend the IP 8500 - available for about 210/ 300. Personally I do not have a unit (already having both an Epson R300 and R800). It was rated 'best buy' by Which? a few months ago. I picked up an opinion: Strengths: Produce prints an awesome quality, Separate 8 ink tanks, Fast and quite printing, Dual paper input sources Weaknesses: Pricey, Can print up to 8x10 photo, Ink tank a little bit more expensive ($9-$12 each). But I have told you how to get cheaper - and really good quality cartridges.
The new ones: IP1600, 2200, 4200, 5200, IX4000, MP500, MP800.
If you have bought one then you might like to read the following blog:
I have new Canon 6600 printer that uses the CLI-8 series cartridges. I did
refill them after they said that they were empty. The printer kept telling
me to install a new cartridge with each print saying I had no ink, but it
me print. After some 10 prints a message came up saying that I was using 3rd
party ink and that my warranty was void. The message " replace ink
cartridge" then went away and I was off and running with replacement ink. A
small price to pay for cheap ink. The prints are great. It is a great
printer with rebate at Circuit City it was $140.00.