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Epson locking out Epson alternatives?

February 16, 2021

Less than a year after launching a new printer series, Epson printer owners find out they can not swop their Epson cartridges or use aftermarket consumables.

In late April 2020, Epson launched their “breakthrough in professional printing technology” with the introduction of the 13-inch (A3) SureColor® P700 and 17-inch (A2) SureColor P900 desktop photo printers. These two new models replaced the SureColor P600 and SureColor P800 printers.

The printers are targeted at the professional photographer market and cost $800 / €658 for the P700 and $1,195 / €982 for the P900. This printer is not for the occasional home use market. In Australia and New Zealand, the model numbers are P706 and P906, respectively.

Each printer uses a suite of 10 ink cartridges that are the same size and shape. The P700 cartridges contain 25ml of ink and cost $37.99 / €31.20 per cartridge. That is $379.90 / €31.20 for the set.

The P900 is the same size and shape cartridge but contains 50ml of ink and cost $41.99 / €34.50 per cartridge. Printer users report that the printer will almost consume the first set of cartridges supplied in the box, during the printer set up. Hence, you need to buy a second set at the same time as your printer.

(Click on image to enlarge)

Suppose you have done your research on the printer. In that case, you will have spotted, on the Epson website, the message that the printers have been designed to work with Epson cartridges only. Other brands of ink supplies are not compatible and, if described as compatible, may not function properly or continuously.

Add in their warning about firmware updates that may affect third-party ink; you might be persuaded to be locked into the OEM brand.

Here is the second lock-in, you have bought the P700 printer, but you can only use the 25ml capacity P700 cartridges. The 50ml P900 cartridges won’t work in your P700 printer because Epson has created the chip lockouts to maximise consumables’ sale. Resellers, of course, will be happy to upsell you the P900.

If you have the older P600 or P800 printers, hang on to them because they do work with CIS systems.

Editorial Opinion: These are professional printers for professional photographers who want the right tool for the job. Why not make the cartridges interchangeable, or a 50ml one size for all, especially as the cartridge is precisely the same size? 

It seems that in this particular situation, Epson is diverging from their “From the first sketch until its entry into a recycling process: All our products are developed with an ecologically sustainable life cycle in mind. This is the key-strategy for our eco-considerate products and it carries our efforts to decrease our environmental impact beyond our gates, into your homes and office.

Making and shipping half-empty cartridges is not sustainability in action.

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