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February 8, 2007

Standard inkjet printer cartridge test coming?

Candace Lombardi at ZDNet:

A group of leading printer manufacturers, including Kodak, Canon and Hewlett-Packard, said Wednesday it’s backing a recent standard published by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).

Standard ISO/IEC 24711:2006, which still needs industry adoption, establishes how ink and toner cartridges for inkjet printers and all-in-one printers must be tested. (Actually it’s inkjet only so no toner is involved – ed.)

The standard cites how many cartridges must be tested to determine an average lifetime (nine of them), what constitutes a standard test document (five pages printed with default printer settings) and the kind of machine on which the cartridge must be tested.

Analysts agree that there has been a longstanding need for this kind of standardization in the industry, but they’re not sure it will make much difference to consumers.

“It’ll make a difference to those consumers who actually look at that info, but I think the vast majority of consumers don’t look at that,” said John Shane, director of communications supplies consulting service at InfoTrends. “For that small percentage who does, this will be a good way to help them compare.”

It’s a shame that more people haven’t caught on to the fact that inkjet printers are sold at low ball prices in order to get consumers to buy high priced ink refills. Yes, some manufacturers publish “pages per cartridge” numbers and even better, some reviewers try to estimate “pennies per page,” but it will be nice to get them all using the same metric. Will the test be gamed? Sure, just think about “default printer settings” for a minute and what you would do if you were head of printer sales for some vendor. However, a fully documented test is a start.

Posted at 8:44 pm. Filed under Printers

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