January 18, 2010

Will Kodak Printers Save You Money?

A few months ago my sister bought a Kodak printer in order to save money on their printing costs.   She had seen advertisements from Kodak advertising their cheap printer ink.  Kodak ink is $10 for black cartridge and $15 for a color cartridge.   That is much cheaper than the ink cartridges for other printers.  Our HP printer cartridges seem to cost about twice as much.

The Kodak printers seem to start over $100.    The cheapest I could find on Newegg was $120 and cheapest on Amazon was $100.   HP printers can be found for under $50.    So you've got about $50 higher up front cost to go with the Kodak printer.

Kodak's own analysis claims annual savings of about $120 over the average printer.    The HP models seem to be less than average and about $70 more than Kodak.  So it would seem to take less than a year to recoup the higher cost of the Kodak printer.   However the catch is that Kodak's analysis assumes average printing of  150 photos, 800 pages B&W text and 500 pages mixed text and graphics.   That seems like a LOT of printing.    I don't know if that is really a typical amount for a household or not.   It is definitely much more than my wife and I print.   I'd say that their average usage is around three times as much as we print.   If we print a third as much as they assume then we're only saving about $70 / 3 = $23.33 a year in ink using the Kodak compared to an HP.  At that rate it would take over two years for us to recoup the higher cost of the Kodak printer.   If you print very little than the Kodak printer will take years to pay for itself.

What is the quality difference? 

I bought my current HP printer because the quality on my previous Lexmark printer wasn't good enough.  So if I'm going to buy another printer then I would want to make certain that the quality is as good as my HP which I know has good print quality.

This article from the Boston Globe concludes that the Kodak is cheaper but the quality is lower.   But this article from Yahoo had a more positive view of the Kodak printers.   Skimming the customer feedback on Amazon it seems that HP printers have generally higher reviews than the Kodak printers.   I'd have to do a bit more research to get a clear picture of the quality difference but it seems HP has higher quality.

Bottom Line

I do think that Kodak printing is cheaper in the long run compared to most inkjets.   However if you aren't printing a lot then the higher initial cost of a Kodak printer may not be worth it for the lower cost ink.   Quality of the printouts may be a concern, if you're thinking of switching to Kodak printers then I'd compare the print quality first to make sure it meets your needs.

So the real answer is :  It depends.

If you do a lot of B&W printing then also see my previous topic:  Should you Buy a Laser Printer to Save Money?

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