Review: Opening The HP 99 Photo Print Cartridge C9369W – Inside HP Ink Cartridge

Inside the HP 99 photo inkjet print cartridge.

Wanna print 6-color photos on your HP 4-color printer? HP has the answer, the HP 99 cartridge is designed to give the user 6-color photo prints when combined with a tri-color inkjet print color cartridge.

HP 99 photo color ink cartridge for (HP) Hewlett Packard inkjet printers.

A look inside the HP 99 ink cartridge – internal structure:

The HP 99 ink cartridge is a strange bird – designed to be used with a tr-color cartridge (like the HP 97 – opened here, or the HP 95 cracked open here)  to print 6-color photos with your HP printer.  This cartridge contains three (3) colors – black, photo cyan, and photo magenta.  This is *not* the cartridge you want for printing large volumes of text, or black only documents – since the black ink is inside this cartridge shares space with two (2) other colors, the back ink will run out quickly.

Removing the cartridge cover on the HP 99 photo color ink cartridge from Hewlett Packard - inkjet print cartridges.


Color: Black
Part Number: C9369W- HP 99 Photo
Ink Type: Dye based ink
HP 99 Ink Volume: 21ml*
Page Yield: 130 4×6 photos**

Ink Drop Size: 15pl

Retail price: $28.99
Street price: $13.18

*7ml per color (black, photo cyan, and photo magenta)

** that 130 page estimate is from HP and based on 5% coverage (see what 5% coverage really looks like) – needless to say, manufacturer estimates are always on the “high side.”

This cartridge is often paired with the HP 95, or HP 97 tri-color ink cartridge to offer 6-color photo printing.

For You Refillers:

Don’t remove the label – there are air channels on the top of the cartridge that need to be maintained – best way to refill is to just stick a syringe (needle) full of ink into one of the pre-drilled holes that are in the cartridge.

A look inside an HP ink cartridge - the HP 99 photo color ink cartridge. A look inside the internal structure of the (HP) Hewlett Packard ink cartridge - HP 99 photo ink. Hewlett Packard (HP) photo ink cartridge 99 - inside the ink cartridge, or where to refill your HP ink cartridge.

Refilling is easy if you know where to put the refilling needle.  There are five (5) holes already in the cartridge lid which are covered up by the cartridge number sticker.  As you can see from the other images, there is black ink around only three (3) of the holes. We suggest using one of those three (3) holes since they are closer to the ink exit point.  All the other two holes  are there to confuse refillers.  This cartridge will hold around 18-21ml of ink, which is a good amount for a modern ink cartridge.

Where to refill the HP 99 photo ink cartridge.

Contact! – Contact!

These solder points, or contacts help make up the print head.  Printers that use these types of cartridges do not have an internal print head – rather the print head is located on the cartridges themselves.  If print quality declines to the point where the cartridge is no longer usable, simply try another cartridge (it’s like getting a new printer).  If your cartridge cannot be recognized, give the contacts a quick clean with a damp cloth, or other device and try again.  If the contacts are harmed, the cartridge may not function at all.

Inside the HP Hewlett Packard - 99 picture photo ink cartridge.

The Print Head:

Unlike Epson, which makes the printhead part of the printer, Hewlett Packard (HP) puts the print head technology on the cartridge (for most of their consumer printers).  This means every time you buy a new cartridge, it’s like getting a new printer.  This is why these type of HP printers (that use this cartridge style) last forever in our opinion.  As long as the mechanics of the printer keep working it will last forever since the print head can simply be replaced by installing a new cartridge into the printer.

Not all HP printers and cartridges use this style (print head on the cartridge) of build, but a large majority of the ones you will find at Wal-Mart, Target, Best Buy, and other discount (online) retailers use these cartridges.

Notice the 2D UPC code on the print head ribbon.

Inside HP inkjet printer cartridges - a look inside the sealed ink cartridges from HP 99 photo color.

Is this an embedded expiration date?

Yet another 2D UPC code on the outside front of the cartridge.  So that is 3 total on a single cartridge.  If (HP) Hewlett Packard went to the trouble of putting them on there, you can bet they are there for a reason.  HP claims there is no built-in “self-destruct” expiration date for their cartridges.  Read more about it here…

HP 99 photo ink cartridge - expiration date, and serial number of the cartridge.

When to use this cartridge (HP 99):

Use this cartridge when printing photos only – the HP 99 photo cartridge is rated at 130 4×6 prints.  At its current price, this cartridge is not a bad deal for printing photos, however the photo quality will not be professional level (fine for home use).  If printing 130 photos at a time sounds daunting, try and preserve the cartridge for future use (using a cartridge clip, available on eBay or Amazon – or here) by removing it from the printer.  Easily refilled, but not practical for everyday use.

Note: cartridge clips are included with some refill kits like the InkTec brand.  Good kits in our experience.

Specifications for the HP 99 (C9369W) photo ink cartridge:

Information about HP cartridge page yields here:,st=cartridge,ss=99

Hewlett Packard HP 99 sponge sponges ink cartridge cartridges.  Internal structure of the HP 99 ink cartridge.

Compatible with the following HP printers:

You can use this cartridge for photo printing, however avoid using this cartridge for everyday printing.  As mentioned above, this cartridge is only one-third (1/3) black ink – the other two chambers are for photo cyan, and photo magenta.

CIS (CISS) for Canon InkJet Printers Coming…iP4700 CIS

Testing in bunches.

We have been testing a bevy of printers and will have reviews posted shortly.

Test printing with the Red River Paper sampler -20 different inkjet printer papers

We have been using the super cool sample printer paper packs from Red River Paper to run a full set of tests on not only the printer and the CI system (CIS, CISS), but how 20 different papers (light glossy to heavy matte) work with the printer/CI system combo.

Canon items we are posting shortly:

Canon Pixma Alternative Ink Solution CIS, CISS, Inking System iP4200, iP4300, iP4500

We can say that both systems work as advertised, and we are quite impressed with the performance of these printers when equipped with a CIS, CISS, or CI system.  You can stop refilling ink cartridges, and go CIS easily, and for less than $100.00.  Cartridges used are the PGI-5bk, and CLI-8 series, as well as the newer, and smaller, CLI-221, and PGI-220 series cartridges.

No more cartridges!

Video: Epson Workforce 500 With CIS, CISS, Bulk Ink System

The Epson Work force 500 with CIS:

A continuous inking system works quite well with this model.  When all you want to do is print, and print a bunch – a CI system (CIS, CISS) is the answer.  Functions quite well with the Workforce 500.  See if you agree.

Review: Canon CLI-221, PGI-220 Inks Shrink Compared To CLI-8, PGI-5

Filed under less ink for more money

Check out our Continuous Inking System review and installation guide here. No more cartridges!

Spotted this on Amazon and wondered why:


The iP4300 printer has been discontinued by Canon for a while now, and its replacement is the Canon Pixma iP4600 which cost a mere $87.00. Why does the new replacement cost less than the old model?


We found the answer when we saw the new CLI-221 and PGI-220 ink cartridges that the iP4600 uses.  Canon has halved the size of the inkjet cartridge on the newer CLI-220, PGI-221 cartridges; we also assume that the print head assembly has changed as well.  This would explain the rush on old technology.  Having tested an iP4300 we can testify to the quality of the printer, very good.  Two paper trays in a consumer inkjet printer is worth its original $99.00 price alone.  But $295.00 is stretching it a little.

New CLI-220 Canon cartridges are MUCH smaller than the previous CLI-8 series.

New CLI-220 Canon cartridges are MUCH smaller than the previous CLI-8 series.

The new cartridges also have a new chip to deal with, so that is also an issue.  Copies of the cartridges (available as compatibles) are available, however these copies do not include the chip attached to the end of each cartridge which is required to register the cartridge in the printer.  The Canon print monitor can be turned off, and you find out you are out of ink when the page you printed is missing a color.  A quick look inside the printer to check the ink every now and then cures this.

Chipless compatibles are available for CLI-220 series inks, but requires a chip swap.

Chipless compatibles are available for CLI-220 series inks, but requires a chip swap.

If you want a cartridge with a reset chip, they are not currently available.  The previous Canon cartridges like the CLI-8, and PGI-5 series, which were released in 2005-2006, and it took over a year and a half until the code on the chip was broken and reset systems were made widely available.  Canon locked out third party cartridge providers when they used 128-bit encryption on the ink monitor chip as to stymie remanufacturers.  It took a long time to crack the original Canon code, and I would guess this would be the case this time around as well.  Compatibles with chip for the CLI-8, PGI-5 series ink cartridges are readily available today, however this was not the case over the past 2 years.

Printers that use the “new” CLI-220, PGI-221 cartridges are:

  • PIXMA iP3600
  • PIXMA iP4600
  • PIXMA MP620
  • PIXMA MP980
  • PIXMA MX860

So if your printer uses the newer CLI-220, PGI-221 cartridges, it looks like you will have to do the chip swap in the short term.

We will update this post as more information becomes available.

This deal on a Canon MP960 looks even better now.

Update 4-14-09:

Canon compatible cartridges with a reset chip will soon be available.

News: Epson Says Hack This! T069/T068 Refill Prevention

More Bad News For Epson Refillers/Remanufacturers:

(see update at bottom) We cracked open some cartridges yesterday and have more bad news for refillers/remanufacturers. There is an easily findable internal Cartridge World document floating around on the web that corroborates our findings.  It appears the rumors are true, and Epson has deployed a second chip embedded inside the cartridge,  behind the outer chip in another effort to make the cartridge un-refillable.

Epson double chip cartridge makes refilling almost impossible.

Epson double chip cartridge makes refilling almost impossible.

Hidden Chip Inside Cartridge:

In addition to the chip on the end of the cartridge that monitors your ink usage, there is a second chip embedded inside the cartridge that is not user resettable.  While the chip on the outside of the cartridge can easily be reset, the internal chip cannot be reset and communicates with the outside chip.  If this internal chip becomes dry “due to ink depletion” the main chip on the outside of the cartridge is written to as permanently empty and the cartridge becomes forever useless.

Clever Design:

Close-up of the internal ink sensor chip on the T068/T069/T088 cartridges.

Close-up of the internal ink sensor chip on the T068/T069/T088 cartridges.

Epson has cleverly incorporated this second chip into the cartridge, and we doubt most people even know of its existence.  What the chip does is not exactly clear.  However, you can tell from the cracked open cartridge picture below that the Epson ink cartridge has two distinct ink channels or chambers that meet at the internal chip (which is placed right above the egress hole where the ink hole is).   When compatibles (copies) from China were available for the T068/T069 and T078/T077 series inkjet cartridges, it was simply a copy of the Epson cartridge shape, sans the internal chip.  Now that no more compatibles (copies) are making it into the US we are not sure how to get around this one.

2nd Chip Complicates Remanufacturing or Refilling:

Epson ink monitor chip on all currently shipping Epson inkjet printers.

Epson ink monitor chip on all currently shipping Epson inkjet printers.

In a pre-litigation world, some 3rd party company would have developed copies of the chips and made them available to remanufacturers, and refillers. This second chip is a new development (the second chip was not present in the last pre-lawsuit set of cartridges from Epson T048/T060/T044) and it takes time for the aftermarket to catch up. Combine that with Epson’s recent victories in preventing the importation of compatible cartridges (exact copies), and we have a cartridge shortage on our hands. To exacerbate the problem, Epson has recently released a new cartridge series (T098/T099) along with some new printers, and you can expect more new cartridges in the very near feature as Epson tries to get way ahead of the aftermarket competition.

Lots Of R&D Money To Design Un-Hackable Cartridge:

We must say, it is a very clever design.  Makes most cartridges impossible to refill.

Also mentioned in the Cartridge World internal document is the requirement of refilling the cartridge before the “low ink” warning comes on.  How one is supposed to know when a cartridge is 1/4 full  we have no idea.  The document goes on to say that if refilling is not done when the cartridge is at least 25% full, the chip embedded in the cartridge will write to the outside chip that it is – empty – rendering the outside chip un-resetable.  Maybe it cuts off the flow?  Who knows, but this would explain what the two distinct ink chambers are for.  All we know is there are no remanufactured T068/T069 series cartridges currently available (if you live outside the USA, the import ban obviously does not effect you).

Are There Still Compatibles Out There?

There were some compatibles available right before the import ban (so we know it is easy to make a copy), however Epson was changing the outer chip design every month or so, therefore the compatibles that were available did not always work properly.  Before the importers from China could work it out, the cartridges were cut off.  There may still be some of these cartridges out there, but they are getting old.  Import ban was effective October of 2007.

Epson's clever two chip designed inkjet cartridge.

Epson's clever two chip designed inkjet cartridge.

We assume that this dual chip design is also incorporated into the T078/T077 series, T098/T099, as well as other newly shipping Epson cartridges. Epson has brought a sledgehammer to the aftermarket fight, and it will take some time for 3rd party cartridge remanufacturers to catch up.  So to review, this is what Epson includes as “refilling-deterrents”:

  1. Chip on outside of cartridge (ink monitor) – must be reset
  2. 2nd chip inside the cartridge – ?
  3. Black tape over the clear plastic covering to prevent one from seeing the inside of the cartridge

In the mean time, find those cheap cartridges wherever you can, and stay tuned for updates.

If you would like to see the Cartridge World internal document, it is still available in PDF form here: