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It’s business model invented by King Gillette: Lure customers in with a good price on the razor’s handle, then squeeze them forever on expensive replacement blades.

 

This brilliant (if cynical, greedy and wasteful) concept was adopted by Polaroid (cheap cameras, expensive film) and has hit a nadir with inkjet printers.

 

I bought my current inkjet printer 7 years ago. It ran out of ink 6 1/2 years ago, and in a classic Mexican Standoff, I simply refused to buy new cartridges and have been effectively printer-less ever since. (I know they can be refilled, but I’ve been down that messy route before and don’t want to return. Especially not with 4 cartridges to refill.)

With my new computer purchase, I’m being offered a $100 rebate on a new printer. Seeing as the eligible printers start at $100, that basically means the printer is free.

 

It’s really tempting to take the “free” printer, but for a number of reasons it just feels wrong:
  • It’s bad enough that the cartridges end up in landfill; it seems a crime to toss away the entire machine. (Realistically, nobody’s going to take an empty old printer off my hands, even for free.)
  •  

  • The build quality of the new printers is shockingly low, clearly designed to be replaced within a year or two… and to end up in the landfill with my old one.
  •  

  • I feel like I’m being suckered and don’t want to play that game.

 

With razors, my solution was simple: I discovered the joy of shaving with a straight razor.* But what’s the solution with inkjet printers?

 

Kodak refills are more realistically priced, but the printers themselves don’t appear to be any more solid. Are there any better options for the light home user?

 

* One straight razor will last a lifetime. If you find straight razors too scary, then old fashioned double edge razors are a good alternative. They last forever, give a fabulous shave, and replacement blades are cheap. Add a brush and a quality shaving soap or cream (not canned goop) and shaving becomes a pleasure rather than a chore.

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