We’re used to paying monthly for minutes on a phone contract, but what about paying a monthly fee to print from your inkjet printer? That’s what HP proposes with its Instant Ink service…
Printer ink is expensive stuff – it’s not uncommon to pay upwards of £50 for a set of printer-branded inks. So if someone offered you 50 prints on your home printer for £1.99 a month, would you go for it?
That’s the proposition of HP’s Instant Ink service which works with a number of wi-fi printers in HP’s range.
What is Instant Ink?
With the Instant Ink service you sign up online and are debited an amount each month for a specified number of prints, depending on the plan you choose.
There are three printing plans. The cheapest at £1.99 a month lets you print 50 pages per month, or you can pay £3.49 a month for 100 pages or £7.99 a month for 300 pages.
It doesn’t matter what you print – photos, text or images – just how much you print. Any unprinted pages at the end of a month from your quota are rolled into the following month, but if you use up your page quota before the end of the month, the printer won’t print unless you pay a top up.
When ink cartridges run low, the printer uses wi-fi to communicate with HP and have new cartridges sent to you, so you never have to pay for, or go out and buy, new cartridges.
Is it good value for money?
The key question is ‘is it cheaper to sign up to monthly prints than to buy cartridges?’ and that very much depends on your printer, the ink you use and how much you print.
When we asked Which? members how much they print, the average was around 20 black text pages and 10 colour pages a month. Few people said they ever printed photos. So the average person wouldn’t reach the 50 page quota in a month.
In our tests, printing 30 pages over time, turning a printer off between uses, printers spend between £1.61 and £13.86 of ink, depending on how much ink the printer uses to clean itself when you leave time between prints. This makes the Instant Ink program look like good value on many printers. However, if all you ever do is print in black and white, and predominantly text (which doesn’t use a lot of ink on the page), printing costs are lower. And if you only print a few pages a month, paying a subscription could be very much like paying for more calls and data than you ever use on your mobile phone.
If you print a lot of colour pages or photos – the more expensive types of print in terms of the amount of ink they use – you could be quids-in with Instant Ink.
One thing is clear – a switch to paying for a set number of pages per month could see you becoming very precious about formatting before you print in order to fit as much as possible on a single page. Because even the tiniest dot of ink on a page printed on the Instant Ink service will leave you with one less page to print from your monthly quota.
Would you ever consider making the switch from cartridge shopping to signing up for prints?
Would you consider paying a monthly fee to print from your printer?
No (83%, 561 Votes)
Yes (11%, 73 Votes)
I don't know (6%, 39 Votes)
Total Voters: 673