Bye Bye Inkjet! I don’t owe no more.

There I stood, steaming in the store's printer ink cartridge aisle. I swear I had printed less than 200 non-photo pages when a "replace color ink" message had popped up. My printer had officially gone on strike until I met its demand for ink.

An observant salesperson approached me after noticing me gawk for too long at one ink cartridge. "Can I help you with anything, sir?"

"Yes, you can tell me how I can get in on this racket." I pointed to the $60 ink replacement cartridge. He laughed and kept walking. "No, I'm serious," I yelled to him. He continued laughing on his way to another customer.

Behind me, about fifteen inkjet printers were each paired with a stack of colorful marketing brochures boasting of print quality and speed. None mentioned their ferocious appetites for ink that can literally cost more per drop than most of your better fine wines.

I saw printers brilliantly priced at less than $100. They sported fancy buttons, lots of camera card slots, a color screen for previewing photos and sleek, modern ergonomic designs. I knew each looked far better than it could perform and would ultimately cost a mint to maintain. "Just like a bad date," I mumbled, disgusted that a full set of ink for any of them might total half the printer's cost.

I've tried the cheap, generic refills but they are "hit or miss" -some simply fail to work, costing even more.

This is ridiculous; I stormed out of the store. There must be another solution. Would I buy a car whose oil or gasoline cost half the car's value per fill-up?

At home, I jumped online and was thrilled to see that the price of color laser printers had plummeted. Color laser printers that cost thousands of dollars two years ago can now be found in the $400 range and can yield thousands of quality, color pages rather than the few hundred offered by a typical consumer inkjet printer. Laser printers don't use ink. Instead, they use toner, a powdery substance that is fused into the paper using electrical charges and heat -like a photocopier.

After a few taps on my calculator, it became obvious that a color laser printer made economic sense. With the initial toner that came with the printer I would get 4,000 B/W pages plus 2,000 color pages. Subsequent toner refill sets would run less than $200. I made the purchase and after a year, 90 percent of my color toner is unused.

If you have been frustrated with the high cost of ink refills, consider shopping for a color laser printer. After the initial purchase, the increased toner yield can save you money over time and will spare you from ink-refill sticker shock.

My inkjet printer's strike failed. It is currently still out of work. It's pretty. I'm selling it for less than $100.

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