Review: The Myth Of The Epson Starter Cartridge

No such thing as an Epson “starter cartridge”:

Not really a review, but an observation.  There seems to be some out there that think Epson ships “starter cartridges” with their printers, when this is just not the case. Hewlett Packard, and most other laser printer resellers do engage in this type of short changing, however it is noted in their product literature for legal reasons.  Epson gets a bad rap for the assumption that starter cartridges are included with their printers – the first set of cartridges included with Epson inkjet printers is used to prime the print head, resulting in more than half the original cartridges being used up in this process.  Therefore people seem to jump to the conclusion that Epson must include starter cartridges with their printers.  The head charging process is a one time deal with a new or refurbished printer from Epson.  Regarding the HP “starter cartridge”, the rumors are true.

From here, if you read the fine print you will see this HP printer:

Includes introductory print cartridges: average continuous composite cyan/yellow/magenta cartridge yield 750 pages and average continuous black cartridge yield 750 pages.

Epson also includes a  disclaimer, but of a different sort:

For print quality, a small amount of ink remains in the cartridge after the “Replace cartridge” indicator comes on (they got sued, class action style – and lost –  for not telling consumers this).  This [printer] all-in-one ships with full cartridges and part of the ink from the first cartridges is used for priming the printer.  See for more information about cartridges.

Two important things to get out of the above Epson statement:

  1. There is ink left in the cartridge when the empty light comes on.
  2. All printers shipped from Epson come with full cartridges.

In our experience, we have seen some printers that actually ship with cartridges that are “more full” to compensate for the print-head priming process that every “new” Epson printer goes through on first use.  With our Artisan 800 here in the shop there is a 5 minute process while the printer primes the print head –  and the process uses lots of ink.  Here is what the Artisan 800 ink monitor registers after the head charging process – in a new printer. (Note: refurbished Epson printers are considered “new” because they most likely have a new print-head that needs to be primed on first use):

How much ink your bundled Epson inkjet printer cartridges use to prime the print head onfirst use.

How much ink your bundled Epson inkjet printer cartridges use to prime the print head on first use. We guess this is why there is an extra (T098) black cartridge included with this printer.

How much ink used?

So just eyeballing it, it looks as if the “priming process” used about 60% or more of the ink included with the printer.  You can also see below – from this included T099420 yellow cartridge – that it was quite full before we put it in the printer. After the print head priming process, the level is about 60% less.

Inside the T099 series discount Epson inkjet printer cartridge showing the insides of the printer.

A look inside a bundled T099 yellow ink cartridge that came with our Artisan 800 inkjet printer.

After testing bundled Epson inkjet cartridges in an Epson C120 inkjet printer (T068, T069), the original cartridges that were provided by Epson printed about 200 pages, and they all seemed to go dead about the same time. When we installed a new set (pulled from another C120 printer) we got about 400 pages before we started getting the Epson monitor prompting us to change the cartridges.  Your mileage may vary.