Competitive Hands-On Test Report: Five All-in-One Printers with Factory-Equipped CISS (Ink Tanks)

HP DeskJet GT5820 Add Ink

Filling an HP DeskJet GT5820 ink tank.

Wirth Consulting recently completed comprehensive testing that compared the performance of five contemporary (“ink tank”) All-in-One (AiO) printers fitted with factory-equipped CISS (Continuous Ink Supply System) from Brother, Canon, Epson, and HP Inc.

Brother DCP-T300 Canon PIXMA G2000 Epson L365 Epson L220 HP DeskJet GT5820
Brother DCP-T300 Canon
PIXMA G2000
Epson L220 Epson L365 HP GT 5820
$165 $162 $164 $221 $218
Print/Copy/Scan Print/Copy/Scan Print/Copy/Scan Print/Copy/Scan Print/Copy/Scan
11/6 ppm ISO mono/color 8.8/5 ppm ISO mono/color 7/3.5 ppm ISO mono/color 9.2/4.5 ppm ISO mono/color 8/5 ppm ISO mono/color
6,000 x 1,200 dpi 4,800 x 1,200 dpi 5,760 x 1,440 dpi 5,760 x 1,440 dpi 4,800 x 1,200 dpi
USB USB USB USB/Wireless USB/Wireless
Mobile & Remote Printing Mobile & Remote Printing
Angle-Adjustable Controls Top-Mounted Controls Fixed-Front Controls Angle-Adjustable Controls Top-Mounted Controls
K/CYM Ink Price
$10.00/$8.00
K/CYM Ink Price
$7.00/$7.00
K/CYM Ink Price
$5.00/$7.00
K/CYM Ink Price
$5.00/$7.00
K/CYM Ink Price
$7.00/$7.00
K/CYM Ink Yield
6,000/5,000 pages
K/CYM Ink Yield
6,000/7,000 pages
K/CYM Ink Yield
4,000/6,500 pages
K/CYM Ink Yield
4,000/6,500 pages
K/CYM Ink Yield
5,000/8,000 pages
Internal Ink Tanks Internal Ink Tanks External Ink Tanks External Ink Tanks External Ink Tanks

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What is CISS?

CISS (Continuous Ink Supply System) is an inking system for printers and AiOs, and features a large external refillable ink supply. Its attraction is the large ink supply, coupled with inexpensive bottled inks, with CISS vendors claiming that users can save up to 95 percent (20-30 times less) in printing costs when compared to traditional OEM ink cartridges.

Two years ago, we performed a comprehensive test on CISS systems of the day. This involved the testing of the Epson factory-equipped CISS printers, as well as CISS add-on kits that are available from a variety of vendors. Several vendors also sell printers with pre-installed CISS kits; these printers and installed CISS kits aren’t authorized by the original printer maker, however. Nevertheless, we found that there were a number of considerations that users should take into account before purchasing a printer with a CISS kit.

CISS kits have a number of external tanks that supply ink to traditional ink cartridges, the number of which depends on how many cartridges a particular printer uses in its standard form. At first, CISS kits utilized ink bottles with a supply tube and an air filter. However, this design proved unable to provide a steady flow of ink, and the bottles were replaced by vessels utilizing Mariotte’s Bottle principle, which provided the ability to provide a steady flow of ink to the print head regardless of the quantity of ink remaining in the vessel.

While at first glance, CISS may seem like a good way to reduce costs, during extensive testing of multiple inkjet printers and CISS kits, we noted serious drawbacks, ranging from the inability of CISS-equipped printers to produce more than just a few prints (or work at all); ink leaking onto hands, desks, and inside printers; printer failure; wasted ink; ruined and useless print-outs with obvious ink splatters and void areas; and generally substandard image quality. We also found many hidden costs associated with CISS-kitted printers, all of which undermine any perceived potential savings, and found that any cost savings is offset by difficult installation, kit failure, user exposure to ink, messy installation and refilling of ink tanks, leaking ink tanks, frequent printer failure, very poor image quality, and of course, the user’s time spent attempting to correct and clean-up all of these problems. Consequently, Wirth Consulting did not and still does not recommend the use of CISS-kits.

Install CISS Kit

Installing a CISS add-on kit.

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