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I don't know about you but I always feel that writing about inkjet cartridges is a bit of a fraud. After all, what is there to say when all's said and done? It's ink! It prints. Nuff said. Well, perhaps there is a bit more that we can say, so, here's my take on the subject.
I've chosen this particular cartridge as it's one of the set that populates the print head module of our Canon MX860, which we've been using since I bought it at Christmas to replace a malfunctioning HP C7280, about which I have previously written here on Dooyoo. I chose that particular make and model as Canon products have always, in my experience, proved to be well-designed, reliable and good value for money.
But what about their inks?
It's always claimed that printer manufacturers can produce printers at seemingly impossibly low prices because they make all their profit on over-priced and short-lived ink cartridges. I know that certain manufacturers have a worse reputation than others for this. A read of the reviews published here on Dooyoo gives you an idea of who these might be.
Canon, however, have usually been given the thumbs up in reviews for the length of time that their ink cartridges last. Until now I've not been able to comment but as I am now in the first cycle of cartridge replacement since we bought the printer, complete with the original inks, I can give you my opinion.
The MX860 print head module holds five ink cartridges. Four of these are identical in design and size and are designated CLI-521 for each colour. They are the usual yellow, magenta and cyan plus a black. Each holds 9ml of ink. This printer is unusual, though, in that it also has a second, larger black ink cartridge as well, the PGi- 520, which holds 19ml of ink. In use it seems that it is this larger cartridge which the printer uses in preference as it is the one that ran out first.
The ink cartridge comes with an orange cover over the ink outlet and this is held in place with a set of pegs, which snap when the cover is rotated to remove it for use. This is a pretty good guarantee of a good shelf-life although I doubt they hang around for long anyway, with the amount of ink that most users will get through in normal use.
When raising the scanner deck on the MX860 so as to access the printhead module and the ink cartridges it contains, there can be no mistakes as to which cartridge needs to be replaced. Each has an LED that is either on permanently if it is OK, blinks slowly if it's getting close to needing replacement or blinks rapidly if it is the one needing replacing now.
The PGi-520 ran out after about two months of fairly heavy usage and it wasn't until it ran out that I discovered something that I hadn't initially realised: the ink cartridge has clear windows in the end of the body through which you can see the ink it contains. This shows some honesty on the part of Canon as, extracting the empty cartridge and shaking it vigorously, not a drop appeared to have been left behind in the cartridge. Not only that but the window on the new cartridge was completely opaque, showing that there were no short-measures where new ink is concerned.
I get my inks from Cartridge People as I have found them excellent value and providing a reliable service. So far I have only used genuine inks and will probably continue to do so at least until the end of our first year of ownership of this printer. The PGi-520 is £9.72 which, bearing in mind it contains more than twice the amount of ink as the CLI-521 cartridge, which weighs in at around £9.20, is very good indeed.
The ink is a solid and vibrant black, even on dense black print, as you would expect from an original manufacturer ink. So far it's too soon to determine how well the ink will survive over time. For the purpose for which we need it, however, it provides our documents with a very professional appearance.