Ink costs can be a major gripe when it comes to home printing, and printer manufacturers know it. Epson and HP are just two of the big printer names that have come up with new ways for customers to pay for their ink and prints – but do they really keep costs down?
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What is HP Instant Ink?
Available on a select range of HP wi-fi printers, HP Instant Ink is a different way to pay for your ink and prints at home.
You don’t pay for cartridges, so in its simplest form it’s a bit like a mobile phone plan: you pay a certain amount every month to print a set number of pages on your home printer.
If you reach your page limit within a given month, you can ‘top up’ your payment to print more pages – and the printer won’t print until you do. If you don’t use your page allowance in a month, the remaining pages roll over into the next month.
How does it work?
To get started, all you need is an HP printer that’s compatible with the Instant Ink service and an enrollment card, available from stores including PC World.
You register the code on the enrollment card online to start the service.
There are three Instant Ink price plans available:
If an ink cartridge is running low, the printer communicates with HP via the wi-fi connection and a new cartridge is posted to you. You don’t pay for the cartridge because you’re paying a monthly subscription for prints.
Is HP Instant Ink cheaper than buying ink cartridges?
So far, eight HP printers are compatible with Instant Ink – these include the HP Envy 4500, HP Envy 5530, HP ENVY 5640, HP Officejet 5740, HP ENVY 7640, HP Officejet Pro 6830, HP Officejet Pro 6230 and HP Officejet Pro 8610. The value of Instant Ink will vary according to which printer you own and what you print on it.
Text pages are generally cheap to print, so if you only print black text, paying for cartridges for the Officejet printer is probably the cheaper way to go.
If you regularly print colour pages or photos, Instant Ink is likely to work in your favour – and it saves you trips to the shops to buy cartridges.
If you make the switch to Instant Ink you may find yourself becoming even more of a print preview jobsworth. The smallest dot of ink on a page will be counted as a printed page, so make a friend of the ‘shrink one page’ setting in Word.
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