The new Epson Stylus NX300 is a combination inkjet printer, scanner, copier and fax machine, put together for the absurdly low price of $90. Models NX200 and 100 sell for even less. Of course the profit’s not in the

Epson All-in-One printer, but the ink. It follows the old Gillette Razor marketing model of “Give away the razors, make your money selling the blades.”

What interested us most about this unit was neither the price nor the features, but the ink. Printer ink is outrageously expensive no matter what you buy. The dye for inkjets runs over $8,000 a gallon. What really interested us in this case was the durability.

Epson claims that its ink is waterproof, or at least water resistant if submerged, and retains its clarity six times longer than other inks. These are major claims. We’ve all seen that photos fade and old documents become hard to read. Epson claims their new inks will retain their clarity for a hundred years or more. Now, no one has tried this out for a hundred years, of course, but results are projected from tests under elevated temperature and humidity.

The question of durability is extremely important. Businesses and individuals now routinely store pages and CDs and DVDs with the assumption that they can be archived and will last virtually forever. This is wishful thinking. Documents stored on disks can become unreadable within 20-30 years. Over time, the reflective dots on the disks become less so, making them difficult to read. Paper copies last longer, but for archives should be printed on acid-free paper.



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