My un-biased tested and compared recommendation to most people for most applications for any brand printer, with a free shipping coupon code shown here:
This is the ink I USE, and that I've tested to be superior to any of the dozens of available second and third party alternative inks. All inexpensive inks ARE NOT ALIKE- most others give inferior color. This includes off the shelf retail alternative cheap ink sold in places like Office Depot, Staples, etc- which is not good at all.
It is generally 50% less expensive than the cost of regular ink refills, with as good or better color than OEM. It is even less expensive when you but more than one cart at a time, and this is how I purchase ink.
There are cheaper inks than this-- but I don't use them...
Read HERE to find out why, the alternatives, and the difference between inks including image comparisons.
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6 COLOR VERSUS 4 and 5 COLOR PRINTERS
AND NOW 7 and 8 Colors!
Yes, having six colors ink systems in a printer produces better images than four and five color systems, no doubt about it. You can produce color photographic prints that are INDISTINGUISHABLE from standard chemical processed color photographs on your $150-$200 ink jet printer on your desk at home now. The four and five color printers are indeed a little cheaper, and you will make very nice prints, including photos. But if you want prints that are perfect, spend the extra dollars and get a six color system. No baloney here. PS, the five color printers add a "photo black" which helps the printer print grays in photos without using up the regular primary colors to blend a gray.
For your information, a six color
printer adds two lighter shades of magenta and cyan
(printer red and printer blue) which are used in
intermediate areas of color. This provides more accuracy
and finer control of color and smoother rendering of
images. As it turns out, in a six color printer, these
are the two colors you end up using most. So unless you
have a system where you are refilling your ink cartridges
or using a Continuous Flow System below, seriously
consider a printer with INDEPENDENT COLOR INK CARTRIDGES,
as in CANON.
Don't buy an inkjet printer based on how quickly it cranks out text documents. This is another shortsighted error I've seen in commercial reviews of ink jet printers-- you don't expect a sedan to do the job of a pickup truck either.
HOWEVER- if you are printing a small or
moderate number of text only documents, almost every
single inkjet printer over $70 (and a few even cheaper)
out there will do an adequate if not excellent job for
you, Canon, Epson, HP, Lexmark
As for 7 and 8 color printers--- OH COME ON, ALREADY. Will printer manufacturers stop at NOTHING to sell new printers?!? I'm getting kick ass color lab perfect prints on my 6 color Canon i960. Anything over 6 colors is pure overkill. Remember, every book and magazine picture on the planet is only FOUR COLORS. Enough is enough.
Some professionals might enjoy the advantage of 8 color printing- but it comes at a steep price- more colors means more ink to buy, more nozzles to clog which means more printer cleaning, which means more wasting ink- you can't just clean ONE COLOR - you have to waste ink cleaning all the colors.
Further, one 8 color printer, the Epson R800, the cartridges cost $14 each retail-- times eight colors-- and if the printer goes ONE DAY without printing, it WILL clog. See http://www.inkjethelper.com/printtest.html