But how low is low?

ink-is-running-low_454

| My printers are so helpful. They want me never to run out of ink in the middle of some crucial printing job, so they err on the side of caution and start warning me whenever "ink is running low." But here's the deal — What does "low" mean?

Low. It could mean "Better run right out to the store and buy another cartridge." Or it could mean, "Sometime in the foreseeable future you'll need more ink."

You see, it really doesn't tell me what I need to know. What would be really helpful is if the printer would say something like, "At the rate you're using yellow ink, that cartridge is going to run dry after another 20 pages."

Low. For sure it doesn't mean "Stop the presses!" It seems that you can still print for days, even weeks, after those warnings start to appear. Here are pictures of two cartridges that I took out of the printer about a week of steady use after it began warning me of imminent depletion of ink.

cyan_325
Cyan
magenta_325
Magenta
 

Each Canon cartridge is divided into two reservoirs, one that appears to hold only ink and another that appears to hold ink-soaked cotton, perhaps a wick of some sort. A new cartridge has ink in both, and the ink clearly leaves the cartridge from below the cotton-soaked reservoir. How it gets from one part to the other is unknown.

Currently the printer is all worked up over "low" ink in the fat black cartridge, but when I take it out and look at it, the cotton-filled side appears to still be half-full of ink. I'm thinking that will last a long time yet. In the meantime, would the printer just stop with the warnings? I get so annoyed with that little popup window that I sometimes change the cartridge even while there is still obvious ink in the cotton-filled side. That makes the suits at Canon happy, of course, but it means I'm wasting a lot of ink.

I like these printers that have separate cartridges for the different colors. I used to always worry with the tri-color ones that one color would run out but there would still be lots of the other two colors left.

But now with the single-color cartridges I still have the same problem: How low is low? How long before it actually runs out?

If they're smart enough to implant a sensor in the cartridge to warn of low ink, surely they are smart enough to calibrate the degree of lowness.

Last updated on Jul 15, 2016

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