February 8, 2007 3:47 PM PST

Printer makers back cartridge test standard

There may soon be a way to determine how many printed pages you really get out of an inkjet printer cartridge.

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.

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."

Currently, each manufacturer applies its own standards for determining cartridge life, according to Bob Palmer, InfoTrend's director of printer research. This makes it hard for consumers to comparison shop adequately when deciding on a printer or printer cartridge.

"They do it themselves and say 'We based it on 15 percent coverage,' but one vendor's definition could be a page that's all red or all text, and another can use photographic content," Palmer said. "So the way they did it before was providing their own spec. (The new ISO recommendation) says they may submit them to the standards committee, (the committee) will give them a rating, and then they can put this rating on the product."

The announcement coincides with Kodak's release of its own inkjet printer line and an assertion that it will offer ink prices at 50 percent of its competitors. Critics contend that until Kodak provides how many milliliters of ink are in each cartridge, it's hard to determine whether its claim is accurate.

Members of the industry group supporting the standard--the International Committee for Information Technology Standards--include industry heavyweights Dell, Epson, IBM, Lexmark, Okidata, Pitney Bowes, QualityLogic, Ricoh, Spencer Lab and Xerox (in addition to the aforementioned Kodak, Canon and HP). But there's no word on when these companies plan to implement the standard, or when consumers, if they care to look, can expect to see an ISO rating on cartridge packaging.

"I don't think consumers will know the difference," said Andrew Lippman, a research analyst for inkjet cartridges at Lyra. "It's more for the industry competitive fairness practices. It's really to have everyone on an even keel in terms of comparing specifications."

Lippman said that the quality of cartridges used by a printer is only one of many things to consider when choosing a printer. Plus, even if a cartridge standard is established, as with other printing standards, there will still be debates among manufacturers.

"They have standards for the speed of a printer, and there are other standards like image permanence (how long an image from an inkjet photo printer will last)," Lippmann said. "The standard for the time in printing a photo is something that Kodak has debated with others. The standard currently quotes the 'draft speed' of a 4x6. Kodak and others say that there is no way you want to print in draft mode, as you will get poor quality."

"Printer cartridges have gained a lot of attention, with the Kodak printing announcement--which pushed the issue of cost-per-page and point-of-purchase price of a cartridge at retail--but there are debates over what the actual cost per page is," Lippmann added. "Each manufacturer has their own claim."

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12 comments

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Why Consumers Don't Look
Consumes don't compare the number of pages each different brand claims to produce because the numbers don't mean anything since each manufacture has their own system.

Once the standard exist it will be easier for consumers to compare and then they will make the comparisions.

I think the analyst who was interviewed was an idiot.
Posted by mstrclark (62 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Agreed
It's like nobody goes swimming because the pool is dirty. If we clean it up, no one will notice since no one uses the pool anyway.

Worthless quotes.
Posted by shoffmueller (236 comments )
Link Flag
Why Consumers Don't Look
Consumes don't compare the number of pages each different brand claims to produce because the numbers don't mean anything since each manufacture has their own system.

Once the standard exist it will be easier for consumers to compare and then they will make the comparisions.

I think the analyst who was interviewed was an idiot.
Posted by mstrclark (62 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Agreed
It's like nobody goes swimming because the pool is dirty. If we clean it up, no one will notice since no one uses the pool anyway.

Worthless quotes.
Posted by shoffmueller (236 comments )
Link Flag
Cartridge Test Standard
It's time for the Cartridge Industry to come way down on their prices. The cost of INK is rediculous!!! I am about ready to go back to my "Old Royal Typewriter" and "White Out". Then I would only have to worry about the cost of paper.
Posted by bjsjan (5 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Cartridge Test Standard
It's time for the Cartridge Industry to come way down on their prices. The cost of INK is rediculous!!! I am about ready to go back to my "Old Royal Typewriter" and "White Out". Then I would only have to worry about the cost of paper.
Posted by bjsjan (5 comments )
Reply Link Flag
and so
who cares?

---
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Posted by darmik2005 (18 comments )
Reply Link Flag
and so
who cares?

---
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://iphone.emigrantas.com" target="_newWindow">http://iphone.emigrantas.com</a> - iPhone blog
Posted by darmik2005 (18 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Funny how things turn around
100 years ago, a Republican, Theodore Roosevelt, led the fight against the film trust for limiting the people who manufactured film and prevented competition.

Now they're bringing back the good old days, and the government supports it through DCMA. IT'S INK!!!! INK!!!! Not some super high tech invention. Seventy five dollars for a couple of ounces of liquid is outrageous.

It's criminal to be limited to one vendor for a commodity. The real irony is that Kodak, 100 years later, is the one that might be making an effort to change things (at least till their market share gets big enough.) These companies don't understand what a free market is, unless it involves firing thousands of people and paying slave labor overseas.
Posted by fmsorigaay (9 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Funny how things turn around
100 years ago, a Republican, Theodore Roosevelt, led the fight against the film trust for limiting the people who manufactured film and prevented competition.

Now they're bringing back the good old days, and the government supports it through DCMA. IT'S INK!!!! INK!!!! Not some super high tech invention. Seventy five dollars for a couple of ounces of liquid is outrageous.

It's criminal to be limited to one vendor for a commodity. The real irony is that Kodak, 100 years later, is the one that might be making an effort to change things (at least till their market share gets big enough.) These companies don't understand what a free market is, unless it involves firing thousands of people and paying slave labor overseas.
Posted by fmsorigaay (9 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Cartridge size
A co-worker was telling me about a great deal on inkjet cartridges.
I told him to be aware of how man milliliters of ink they actually
contained. It turned out they only had half as much ink.
Posted by Galley (55 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Cartridge size
A co-worker was telling me about a great deal on inkjet cartridges.
I told him to be aware of how man milliliters of ink they actually
contained. It turned out they only had half as much ink.
Posted by Galley (55 comments )
Reply Link Flag
 

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