Epson has halved the potential capacity of the cartridges for its recently-released Surecolor P706 A3+ inkjet printer by clipping a plastic lug inside them, to fill the space used by the larger ink bladder of the otherwise identical P906 printer cartridges.
(The printers are known as the P700 and P900 in most parts of the world.)
Although the 10-colour pigment inkset is identical (as are ICC profiles for the two printers) the larger, 50ml capacity cartridges in the A2+ P906 can’t be used in the P706, as Epson has an individually-numbered chip built into its P700 and P900 cartridges which is recognised by the printer and only allows the lower volume carts to be used.
This also has the effect of eliminating the possibility of using 3rd party cartridges and refillable systems, the scourge of the printer manufacturers, who say they deliver inferior print results and can potentially damage printheads.
‘With ink cartridges the more commonality in design and size the better. Engineers could have designed a smaller cartridge to house the smaller ink volume but this would involve redesigning aspects of the whole printer,’ Epson Australia responded to a series of questions from Inside Imaging on the thinking behind differentiating cartridge capacity between the two printers.
A particular bugbear with the P706 revealed by reviewer Keith Cooper is that initial set-up uses almost all the ink available in the cartridges which are supplied ‘in the box’ with the printer. During set-up, ink needs to fill the ink lines and printhead, replacing the ‘transportation fluid’ used in the new printers. It’s a one-off process.
A new set of 10 cartridges for the P706 costs around $550, which can effectively be added to the purchase cost, given the P706 will, according to the review quoted above, only produce a dozen or two prints with the cartridges supplied with the printer.
The P706 has an RRP of $1249 and the UltraChrome HD PRO10 25ml cartridges are $54.95 each. The A2+ P906 is $1995 and the UltraChrome HD PRO10 50ml cartridges are $59.95. P706 owners will thus be paying almost twice as much per millilitre of identical ink as owners of the P906 – a great argument for resellers to upsell to the larger format printer!
‘I’m sure Epson have their reasons for their ink cart strategy, but I can’t help feeling that offering interchangeable ink carts for the P700/900 at 25/50/100ml would have been a far more customer friendly approach,’ commented Keith Cooper in his review of the P900.