A Brief Explanation.
Broadly speaking there are two types of inkjet printers. The first uses true cartridges. Companies such as Hewlett Packard and Lexmark use this system. Cartridges consist of a tank of ink, a head (The copper coloured metal strip) and sometimes a chip that gives back data on the levels of ink. The cartridges for this system, as owners know only too well, are expensive.
The other system as employed by companies such as Epson, Canon and Brother, uses headless cartridges. This means that when you buy a cartridge for these types you actually get a tank of ink and sometimes a chip but the printer head stays within the printer. Replacements are marginally less expensive for these types of printer. Neither system has any significant print quality advantages. Another point worth remembering is that print quality is measured by Dpi, (Dots per inch), and the printing media and not simply by the ink used.
Laser printers work on an entirely different system utilizing a large cartridge containing toner and not ink. Toner is a powder containing heat sensitive pigment. Most, though not all, laser printers are used to print text and therefore use only black. Replacements are expensive but some are capable of printing up to 20,000 pages of text from one cartridge.
What Can I Do?
For owners of Epson, Canon and Brother Printers one answer is to use compatible cartridges. These are cheap and carry superb guarantees as to their quality. Most will last at least as long as the originals. For Hewlett Packard and Lexmark owners there are remanufactured cartridges. Owing to the patents on these cartridges it is illegal to manufacture compatibles.
You could always try refilling the originals but this can be messy and sometimes leaks can occur resulting in permanent printer damage.
Before you purchase a new printer find out the cost of replacement cartridges. You ll be amazed at how much they vary. Look for a printer that uses tanks of ink and best of all one that uses separate tanks for black and the colours. In so doing when you need to replace a cartridge, say yellow, you need only replace this one colour and not the whole colour cartridge.
A cheap printer laden with incentives such as rebates does not always pay in the long run. Discount ink cartridges or compatibles will always save you money with no loss of print quality.
Keep that printer doing what it does best, Printing!