Should I Buy Generic Inks and Papers

If you have email, you get spam. It's a fact of our modern life. And it seems that a significant percentage of all that spam is from someone trying to sell you cheap inks and paper for your printer. So cheap that it's almost too good to be true. And in many cases, it is.

If you want optimum quality from your printer, you should buy brand-name matching inks and paper. That doesn't necessarily mean that it has to have the same brand name as your printer, but that it should come from a source that is a known name.

But if you don't really care what happens to the print a year from now—and if good is good enough—you might be tempted to try off-brand media. Before you do so, you should be aware of the following factors:

■ Some of the very inexpensive inks are actually counterfeits. They may be made without lubricants, using a different chemistry basis and might actually damage or destroy your print head.

■ Manufacturers won't honor the printer's warranty if it has been damaged by generic ink.

Another option is to try refilling ink cartridges using the kits sold via email and on the Internet. These work by injecting new ink into the cartridges using what looks like a hypodermic needle. Yes, it can save you money, but it's very messy and, like the generic inks, generally isn't something supported by your warranty. Again, you must be sure ofyour source because some inks are bad.

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