Choices, Choices, Choices!

You are bombarded with commercials and ads on a regular basis informing you how their product is better for your equipment, or better for your bottom line.  How do you know who to trust?  How can you make an educated guess?  What does OEM mean?  What’s the difference between a compatible and refurbished or remanufactured toner cartridge?

What Are OEM Cartridges?

OEM is the acronym for Original Equipment Manufacturer. This is the type of cartridge that is produced by the company that manufactured your printer. Of course, the manufacturer of your printer recommends you use their products and will claim their products work better than the competition or the lower priced compatible brands.  Unfortunately, OEM cartridges are the most expensive choice due to their brand-name status.

What Are Compatible Toner Cartridges?

A compatible toner cartridge is one that is made of all new parts, but they may not be the same brand as that of your printer or multi-function device. Instead, the parts in compatible toner cartridges are very similar to those produced by your printer company. This type of printer cartridge is usually low cost and is usually a very good option. These cartridges are typically readily available at any office supply store or even a big box store such as Target or Wal-Mart.

What Are Re-manufactured/Refurbished Toner Cartridges?

Refurbished toner cartridges are known by a few names. You may hear them called recycled or re-manufactured toner cartridges. These types of cartridges are recycled by companies specializing in this process.

Some toner cartridge re-manufacturing companies collect original OEM cartridges that can no longer be used. They are then disassembled and used to create new products. Other companies will pick up used cartridges from their customers so they can use them again passing the savings along to their clients.  Either way,  old cartridges are disassembled.  The parts that don’t work  are replaced with parts that do work.

These cartridges are environmentally friendly and cost-effective. In addition to an environmental edge, re-manufactured cartridges can have a performance edge over compatible cartridges because their original parts and casings are brand-name. You want to be sure to deal with a reliable and reputable refurbishing company so you will get good cartridges that will work properly.  Trustworthy companies will offer a money back guarantee or lifetime warranty on their products.

What Are The Downsides?

With both re-manufactured and compatible ink and toner cartridges there are some drawbacks. Many people complain that the ink quality is not as good in these as in OEM cartridges. This is because the companies that produce these cartridges do not have access to the necessary patents, ink formulas and production techniques to replicate the ink found in OEM cartridges. For the every day home or office user, this is not a factor.  This usually only affects people or businesses who have to rely on their printers for high-end graphics.

Your printer may complain constantly of low ink levels even when you know that you have just inserted a full cartridge.  There are ways around the error messages of low ink levels and you can usually contact a technician at the company where you purchased your toner cartridge to walk you through the process.

What’s The Bottom Line?

In the final analysis, your choice of laser toner cartridges will depend on the type of jobs you need to do, your budget and your personal preferences. For most people, an inexpensive toner cartridge that is dependable and produces good print quality will fit your needs.  Your best bet when purchasing ink and toner cartridges is to shop around, read reviews and check the reputation of suppliers.