Back in March HP released a firmware update. Rather vanilla sounding news we agree, until you learn that the update started killing third party ink cartridges last week.

If you’ve ever spent any time around a printer you’ll know that the manufacturer urges users to use its official ink cartridges. The trouble with this is that official ink cartridges are usually more expensive than generic counterparts.

For instance, one black ink cartridge for an HP printer can cost R449. For an extra R150 you can have a brand new printer.

We aren’t saying you should use third party ink cartridges but if you have and there hasn’t been a disaster, where is the harm?

According to HP, there is harm, but not necessarily to your printer. In a report by Hot Hardware, HP was quoted as saying that the updates were to, “protect innovation and intellectual property, but also to improve the safety of products for customers”.

You might think that improving the safety of customers is a noble cause but Hot Hardware points out that customers who refill their cartridges are fine. This is because the cartridge they use houses a compatible security chip and conveniently flies in the face of what the manufacturer said.

Customers who are using the knock-off cartridges will see the message, “Cartridge Problem. The following ink cartridge appear to be missing or damaged. Replace the ink cartridge to resume printing”.

Worse still you won’t be able to plug in another third party cartridge as the firmware reads its chip. Dutch third party ink cartridge manufacturer 123ink.nl has said that it is working on a hack for the new firmware but there is currently no solution.

The firm was also kind enough to compile a list of affected printers which you can peruse below. It’s important to note that this problem is worldwide.

  • HP Officejet Pro 6830
  • HP Officejet Pro 8610
  • HP Officejet Pro 8615
  • HP Officejet Pro 8620
  • HP Officejet Pro 8625
  • HP Officejet Pro 8630
  • HP Officejet Pro 8640
  • HP Officejet Pro 8660
  • HP Officejet Pro x451dn
  • HP Officejet Pro x451dw
  • HP Officejet Pro x476dn
  • HP Officejet Pro x476dw
  • HP Officejet Pro x551dw
  • HP Officejet Pro x576dw

Who would have thought printer ink could cause so much controversy?

[Via – Hot Hardware][Image – CC BY/2.0 frankieleon]