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Printer Cartridge Single Color Vs. Tricolor

Along with a cartridge for black ink, inkjet printers use individual cartridges for each color or a multi-chambered cartridge that holds three color inks. When you evaluate output devices for your business, the tricolor cartridge designs may catch your eye for their seeming simplicity, convenience and price. Although these devices have their place in the spectrum of computer peripherals, they may not match up to the demands of your workplace.

Inkjet printers that use one black cartridge and one three-segment unit that combines cyan, magenta and yellow into a single consumable can’t offer the color range of devices that incorporate six or more shades for photographic reproduction. These simpler two-cartridge configurations come in units designed with a limited duty cycle, the specification that measures a printer’s monthly output capabilities. Expect two-cartridge inkjets to do an acceptable job of producing basic documents. If you print large numbers of photographs and need superior color reproduction, these units may not offer the output quality you want.

Replacing a multicolor cartridge instead of three or more single-color units looks convenient on the surface in that it involves fewer supplies to purchase and maintain. In use, it can become more of a liability than an asset. If one of the three colors runs out before the others, the printer’s ink sensors may halt output until you replace the entire cartridge, sacrificing whatever remains of the other ink components. In the long run, your ink costs rise as a result. However, mainstream printers often enable you to substitute other colors, turn off color, or simply continue to print when one color is empty.

Two-cartridge inkjet printers tend to come from the lower end of the hardware cost scale. These entry-level units feature seemingly throwaway prices, some at under $50, until you realize that replacing their inks may cost as much as the printer itself, and that the cartridges print only a few hundred pages. Manufacturers make their money from the incremental purchase of ink over the lifespan of a printer, so the alluring hardware price tag forms only a small part of the total cost of device ownership.

Other Considerations
Inexpensive hardware typically equals low-production hardware, designed for exceedingly light duty and an undemanding workflow. As a primary printer in a business setting, a two-cartridge inkjet becomes expensive to use because of its short-run ink capacities. If you use a laptop computer and want a small, simple output device for when you take your work home, a two-cartridge printer may make an acceptable choice, so long as you don’t expect it to crank out large volumes of heavy-coverage documentation.

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