Recently I purchased an HP Photosmart C5180 printer/scanner/copier that utilizes 6 separate ink cartridges. Several HP photo-oriented printers now use the 6-cartridge printing systems and the 02 series ink cartridges are currently the only cartridges that HP have manufactured for 6-cartridge print systems. In other words, if your printer is an HP and uses 6 ink cartridges, it will be the 02 series ink cartridges. In this review, I will cover the 02 light cyan ink cartridge and compare it to light cyan cartridges on similar systems. Reviews on the other 5 02 cartridges will follow and Epinions' 100-word-difference guideline will be followed.
Recommend this product?
Unlike traditional HP ink cartridges, the new 02 Ink Cartridges do not include the print-heads. For those not familiar with printer technology, the print-head is what disperses the ink onto the print media (photo paper, document paper, "I'm with Stupid --->;" T-shirt transfers, etc.) and is traditionally built into HP ink cartridges. It is the "Do not touch" part of the ink cartridge that comes covered with tape when purchased new. Like the other 02 ink cartridges, the light cyan 02 ink cartridge does not have the print-head built into the cartridge. This has its pros and cons.
-Slightly lowers the cost of the cartridge.
-Change out ink cartridge without having to align print-head
-Cartridge failure less likely.
-Faster possible print speeds.
-Regular print-head cleaning a must (done automatically by printer, or manually if desired).
-Print-head failure on systems such as those using 02 ink cartridges will mean the end of your printer. For other printer systems that use cartridges with built-in print-heads, print-head failure means simply purchasing a new ink cartridge.
I've owned my printer for about 8 months now and have not had a single problem with the reliability of the 02 light cyan ink cartridge or the separate print-head system. I use my printer a few times each week, for photos and regular document printing. When my printer hasn't been in use for a couple of days, it will go into a device maintenance mode to refresh the printing/ink system. This is likely a precautionary step taken by HP to prevent or at least minimize the clogged print-head problems that occasionally plague certain Epson printers (which also do not have print-heads built into the cartridges).
Like other ink cartridges, the 02 Light Cyan Ink Cartridge has a microchip built into it. This chip monitors ink levels and alerts you when the cartridge is low on ink. When there is enough ink in the cartridge to start printing a photo, but not enough to complete the photo, the chip allows the printer to know that there is not enough ink to complete the photo. Thus, you will not run out of ink halfway through a 8x10 photo print. And, of course, this chip tells the printer whether an OEM ink cartridge is being installed or a remanufactured cartridge.
When combined with the other 5 ink cartridges (yellow, cyan, light magenta, magenta, and black) HP says that consumers benefit from over 100 years fade resistance (research done by Wilhelm) when using HP's Premium Plus photo paper. The colors, in my personal experience are very bright and colorful. I often use HP's Advanced photo paper, which offers waterproof photos when used with HP's 6-ink systems.
HP's website describes in small detail the ink purification process that they use in producing their ink. After all, ink is almost pure profit for them, why wouldn't they sink a little research and development into it?
I've seen the woes and perils of using refilled and/or remanufactured ink cartridges before. Been there, done that. I understand that some people get away from it just fine, but I'm not one of those people. Before I purchase a printer, I always check the prices of the OEM (original equipment manufacturer) ink, in this case HP Ink cartridges. HP explains on it's website that even the slightest impurities (as little as 0.001 percent) in ink can result in undesirable quality or clogged print-heads. Thus HP Vivera inks (used in 02 ink cartridges) use dye inks instead of pigment inks (with the exception of the black cartridge). Unlike pigment inks, dye inks dissolve completely in water and thus helps eliminate clogging. Also, HP inks are filtered to enhance the purity. Any light magenta or light cyan cartridge is diluted and in some brands this can affect fade resistance. Several brands, HP included, use a special process when diluting these cartridges so that fading in minimized, thus allowing for the advertised 100 years fade resistance.
In my experience, using HP inks and this 02 ink cartridge, I don't doubt that HP puts a lot of work into the development of their massively profitable ink. I've always had pleasing results with the quality and have never experienced a faulty ink cartridge with the 02 series light cyan ink cartridge.
This light cyan (often referred to as photo cyan) is used by HP 6-cartridge printer systems for photos only. Therefore, it will not improve color in general document printing. Because of this, I do not recommend 6-cartridge systems for people who do not print photos or do very few photos. For such people 4-ink systems are sufficient. For those who do print photos, however, this light cyan cartridge will give you noticeable improvements in sky and cloud colors, various shades of light-gray, any blue hues will be improved, and photos seem to be brighter and more vivid.
Refilling Cartridges/Remanufactured Cartridges
Personally, I have not tried to refill these cartridges. There are available online compatible refillable 02 ink cartridges for purchase. Considering the unusual build of these cartridges, I would say that it would be quite difficult for the average person to refill these cartridges without making a big mess. As for remanufactured ink cartridges, there are plenty readily available all over the internet, though I cannot attest the the quality of their ink or what it might do to the inside of your printer.
Cartridge Size and Cost
At around $10 per cartridge, I find it much more convenient to replace as opposed to replacing an entire tri-color cartridge when one color runs out. Of course, that is one of the benefits of a 4 or 6 cartridge system. This cartridge only holds 5.5ml of ink and is good for about 240 4x6 photos, depending on your settings and the color content of the photo. Thus, cost per photo with this cartridge is about 4 cents. It could be more or it could be less depending, again, on the color content of the photo. Since there are 6 cartridges, overall cost per photo with the 5 other cartridges added will be 24 cents per photo. An OEM high-capacity 02 light magenta cartridge is not available for the public.
02 Cartridge Compared To Similar Competitors' Light Cyan Cartridge
HP 02 Light Cyan Ink Cartridge
Cartridge Yield: 240 4x6 photos
Cost Per Photo Print: 4 cents (24 cents when combined with other 5 cartridges, photo paper not included)
Epson 78 Light Cyan Ink Cartridge
Capacity: Not Disclosed
Cartridge Yield: Not Disclosed
Cost Per 4x6 photo: 6 cents (36 cents when combined with the other 5 cartridges, photo paper not included)
Canon BCI-6PC Photo Cyan Cartridge
Cartridge Yield: 280 4x6 photos
Cost Per Photo: 4.6 cents (28 cents when combined with the other 5 cartridges, photo paper not included)
Thus, the HP light cyan cartridge offers a better than average cost per photo on the market. Kodak's bran new lineup of all-in-one printers offer 10 cents per photo, but do not offer photo cyan (or photo magenta) in its color scheme. HP offers this light magenta cartridge along with the other five cartridges in an 02 Series Custom Photo Value Pack that also contains 150 sheets of photo paper for $36. The light cyan ink cartridge in this combo is evidently 4.5ml instead of 5.5ml as when bought separately.
Replacing the Cartridge
This cartridge is stationary and easily replaced. When you open the door of the printer utilizing the 02 Light Cyan ink cartridge, the cartridge is immediately in plain sight. Since there are 4 other color cartridge slots, HP has made it easy to identify which slot to insert the light cyan cartridge. Above each slot is a color coded example of which cartridge goes where. Also, each cartridge is designed to fit only into its designated spot. It simply will not fit into any other slot. A latch holds the cartridge in place, thus removing the cartridge involves simply lifting the latch out of place, removing the cartridge, and placing the new cartridge in its place.
HP Photosmart 8250, 3210, 3310, C5140, C5180 (or other C5100 series printers), C6180, C7180, D7160, D7360 printers. Later this year HP will release it's new annual lineup of home-use printers that will likely use this 02 light cyan ink cartridge. If/when that happens I will update this section of this review.
The light cyan cartridge is a great feature of any photo printer. Although 4-ink systems do nice photos, 6-ink systems that offer the light magenta and light cyan cartridges will see better color variations. Do you have a new baby boy in your home? This cartridge allows for better color variations in "baby blue" colors. I also saw improvements in my sky colors as well as shades of blue in general. This cartridge seems to last quite a while in my printer, being as that I do not constantly print photos. Therefore, it's small size has not forced me to make regular trips to my office supply store. And even when I go on a photo printing spree, it seems to hold up quite well.