* Prices may differ from that shown
As you may have read here, we have recently had to replace yet another faulty HP printer and, until I find a permanent replacement that meets all of our requirements, we are making do with a Lexmark X2670, which has the basic features we need but could not be considered the ideal solution by a long way. Even bringing it into use was a traumatic experience but, suffice to say that it has delivered adequate service so far.
Of course, all printers need ink and the Lexmark is no exception. It is one of the types that uses a combined colour ink cartridge and so has only two ink cartridges in total, black and tri-colour. This does have the disadvantage that if one colour runs out then the entire colour cartridge has to be replaced, another reason we are still looking for an alternative printer.
This printer uses a rather uncommon set of Lexmark ink cartridges. The black is the model 14 and the colour, 15. I have looked in most of the sorts of stores, such as PC World, Maplins, Rymans... Rarely do you find these cartridges on display. However, we do have a local Cartridge World and they have a broad range, which includes these models.
With our usage, it's the black ink cartridge that gets hit hardest and in that I suppose we are not unusual. We have had to replace the black ink twice now. Lexmark advertises that the cartridge will produce 175 pages at 5% black ink coverage, which really isn't a lot. I suppose this is where these manufacturers hope to make their money after selling the printers so cheap.
You don't get a lot of notice from this printer of when a cartridge is about to run out and so we have been caught out a couple of times. However, it does seem to print cleanly and crisply right to the end so I have no complaints about the quality of the ink cartridge itself. The black is rich and deep, which may be why the capacity is not that high?
The first time I replaced the black 14 cartridge, I replaced it with another of the same at a cost of about £16. It was all that was available at the time. The next time I managed to get to Cartridge World and, intending to have the 14 refilled rather than replaced, was told by them that the 14 cannot be refilled! However, for a higher initial outlay (about £23), I could get instead the alternative 14A black cartridge. When this runs out I could bring it back to be refilled, for just £10. This sounded like a far better idea.
Both cartridges have the same capacity, which is why you rarely see the 14A in most stores. Why would you pay more for the same size cartridge, when most of these stores don't offer a refill service?
So, we'll see how we go with the 14A. So far the quality it has produced seems identical to the 14 it replaced but then both are genuine Lexmark so why wouldn't it? Hopefully it won't run out at an inconvenient time. The tri-colour cartridge (15) also comes in 15 and 15A versions, once again with equal capacities, this time of around 150 pages. No doubt I will be buying a 15A when the time comes, always supposing that we haven't got another printer by then.
Update ~ Nov 2009
Well that didn't last long! Almost as soon as it was installed the printer declared it empty! Took it back to complain. CW weighed the cartridge and agreed it was empty. Did it dry out on the shelf? I'd thrown the packaging away so I don't know the date it was manufactured. CW made a good-will offer of a free refill, which I accepted.
The refilled 14A has now lasted far longer than the original fill so who knows! However, I have noticed that the printer says the cartridge is just about to run out, every time it's used, so you have to close the message window, after which the printer prints as normal. I suppose we'll only know when it has genuinely run out when it stops printing black.