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Less for your money? Ink cartridges really are getting smaller over time

Consumers are getting less for their money than they did just two years ago

Without a doubt, printer ink is worth its weight in gold — or, at least, that's what you'd think given how expensive the stuff is when you're buying it in the store. But are you actually getting less ink today in those cartridges than you were just two years ago? It appears that may very well be the case, at least when it comes to HP ink.

All ink cartridges contain something known as a hydrophobic sponge that can absorb ink, but not water. That sponge is key in preventing the ink in a cartridge from mixing with water when humidity is high.

The U.K.'s HP Ink Cartridges blog — an independent retailer — recently did an experiment where they sawed off the tops of different HP ink cartridges to see exactly what was inside. When an HP 350 cartridge with a manufacturing date of January 2010 was put side by side with the same model from 2012, the size of the sponge had shrunk to nearly half its original size. And the sponge size of a 2012 HP 301 cartridge was even 40% smaller than the 2012 HP 350.

According to HP supplies technology specialist, Thom Brown, "it's important to note that the size of foam inside a cartridge does not directly correlate with the amount of ink in the cartridge or the number of pages that a cartridge will be able to print." Still, even if the only thing shrinking is the size of the sponge, that still represents a significant reduction in HP's costs — savings that don't appear to be getting passed along to the consumer.

Frustrated? We don't blame you. Given that ink is unlikely to get cheaper any time soon, it may very well be time to consider whether making the switch to a laser printer is the right move for your wallet. Or better yet — ditch the printer entirely and embrace the paperless office of the future.

[Image credit: HP Ink Cartridges blog]

This article was written by Fox Van Allen and originally appeared on Tecca

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