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   Partners - Review of Artisan 50 Ink System

Feb 6th, 2010

Steve Mathieu

Most of us learn at a young age to be wary of things that seem "too good to be true". Multi-level marketing companies, no exercise fad diets, and email business opportunities from Nigeria all come to mind. When I first heard about continuous ink systems that promised to cut the cost of ink by 95% or more without sacrificing quality, I was obviously skeptical. As an amateur photographer, I am well aware of the printing tradeoff between convenience and cost. Because of the high costs of OEM ink, it has generally been cheaper to have high volume printing done professionally. Cost vs. convenience. But why can't we have both? For many people including myself, the idea of inexpensive, quality at-home printing was just a pipe dream. But although bulk ink and continuous inking systems seemed too good to be true, for me, it was worth trying.

Once I decided that I was going to purchase a CIS, I learned everything I could about the vendors, ink, and technologies used. I finally decided on the Ink Republic CIS based on the user reviews and testimonials, the product features, and the customer support reputation.

Shipping was free and very fast. It was about a week from the time that I ordered to the time that I was opening the box. All of the kit materials were securely packed.

I found the installation to be a little tricky because the model of CIS I purchased (Artisan 50) was not the printer featured in most of the instruction manual images. In fact, the Artisan 50 was not mentioned in any of the installation manuals provided with the kit. Hopefully they will update the manual for the 50 in the near future. I actually found the videos included on the CD to be more helpful that the actual instruction manual.

For the Artisan 50, my installation went as follows:

1) Removed the OEM cartridges from the printer
2) Installed the iINK chipset
3) Turned on the printer, toggled the iINK chipset reset button until the Epson software recognized the cartridges
4) Attached the bridge about halfway across
5) Connected the tubing to the bottles using the provided bottle caps
6) Primed the ink using the provided suction bottle (watch the video for this part) - locking each ink stopper
7) Removed the cartridge lid using screw driver (see website Knowledgebase)
8) Installed the iINK cartridges into the printer
9) Attached the iINK cartridge lid using tape
10) Adjusted the tubing length until there was just enough for the printer head to travel back and forth, but not so much that the tubing touched the paper
11) Taped down the tubing holders
12) Installed the waste bottle by opening the access panel on the back left corner of the printer, disconnecting the tube and connecting the waste tube leading to the bottle to the printer tube
13) Installed the grey foam washer
14) Released all ink stoppers
15) Turned on printer
16) Printed test pages and performed head cleaning until banding was no longer visible

Printing/Image Quality
Once I had the CIS up and running, I attempted to print a "real" photograph to see how it compared to the OEM ink. Sadly, the first few prints were not great. I was very disappointed with the color reproduction compared to the OEM copy. I contacted Ink Republic and asked if they had any ICC profiles for the Artisan iINK. They responded with several different ICC profiles that they said should help. Wow, what a difference! The blacks were blacker, the skin tones were dead on, and the image printed nearly matched the OEM prints and my calibrated monitor. And this isn't even an ICC profile designed specifically for this ink and paper. I can only imagine how great that will be! For reference, the ICC profile that I am currently using on my Epson Ultra Premium Glossy Photo paper is: 290_265G.

It's official; you can have your cake and eat it too. As of this writing, I have printed nearly 20 8x10 full color photos and probably another 50 4x6 photos and the provided ink bottles are still completely full. And based on other user reviews, I expect to be able to print hundreds if not thousands more pictures before I will need to replace a single bottle. Try that with your OEM cartridges. The best part though, I actually enjoy printing photos again. I no longer dwell on how much ink one of my large, full color, maximum DPI photos will use up if it does not come out right. If it doesn't, I'll just print another!

Thanks Ink Republic!

Steve Mathieu
steve.mathieu -AT-

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