Review: Continuous Ink System for HP Photosmart 7510 Printer

So. Freaking. Expensive.
So. Freaking. Expensive.

We all hate having to buy new ink cartridges for our inkjet printers. The darn things seem to run out of ink all the time, and it’s tough to buy one color at a time. They’re incredibly expensive as well. Is there any way out of the “razor and razor blade” model? Continuous ink systems can theoretically provide a solution. What if, instead of having a bunch of small ink cartridges, you had external tanks of ink that had more ink than you’d ever need with hoses going to the print-head? That’s exactly a continuous ink system is. I decided to give the kit from a go!

I have always been infatuated with the idea of continuous ink systems, but it wasn’t until we had to print wedding invitations a few years ago that we felt really needed one. We could either pay a printer a per-invitation fee or we could use our own printer. I justified the cost of a continuous ink system, $129.99 at the time of purchase, by comparing it against the hundreds of dollars we would have to pay a professional printer. Furthermore, not only was the CIS cheaper, but we also got to keep the system once we were done printing invitations.

Anyhow, that was years ago, and the system worked well, but eventually it ran out of ink, and rather than refill it, I saw that had a new version out so I decided to spring for it. Step one in installing a custom ink system is to remove the old cartridges.

Old Ink Cartridges
Old Ink Cartridges

That’s where I hit my first snag… I pulled out the block of replacement ink cartridges I was supposed to install, and my hands got full of ink.

Uh oh...
Uh oh…

Can you see the detached hose on the left? Bummmmmer… I received a defective unit. I contacted They asked me to send a picture, and as soon as they got the picture, they sent me a brand new unit with a pre-paid label to return the defective unit. That’s pretty solid customer service right there. 

My Replacement Unit
My Replacement Unit

I received my replacement unit promptly, and after a quick visual inspection, the new cartridge unit looked good to go. I installed it into my printer, which is only slightly more complicated than installing a standard set of ink cartridges. As these units are all attached to the same ribbon of hoses. You place them all in the slots in a group, and then you snap them all in individually.

Locked and Loaded
Locked and Loaded

After they’re installed properly, some other pieces are included to guide the hose so there it doesn’t get caught on anything as the print head moves back and forth. 

Then there’s the external tank. This kit includes a set of plastic hooks with double sided tape so you can fasten it to the side of the printer. This is a great solution as it keeps the tank secure to the side of the printer, but it’s easy enough to pop it off if you need to move it around to refill the cartridges or do some other maintenance.

Once installed, it was time to give it a go! I followed the instructions to run a print head cleaning and printed out a few test pages. I got an “error” on my printer that Non-HP cartridges were installed. Right… Like I care…

So… how did it work? It worked great at first, but after some time, I noticed that the colors were fading and eventually it seemed that the ink was so faint that it barely showed up. I was frustrated, and I sent a note to the company. They told me to give them a call during business hours. I spoke with a really helpful person who showed me exactly what to check, and in the end, we found the issue, and it was MY fault.

In this picture, the vents are properly opened.
In this picture, the vents are properly opened.

There are some air vents on the top of each ink cartridge, and you need to unplug the stopper at the top of each tank. If you don’t, the airflow will be blocked. If the airflow is blocked, picture someone holding their thumb over a straw and pulling it out of a soft drink. The water stays in the straw, just as my ink was staying in the hoses. As soon as we unplugged the vents, it worked great! Instantly, my pictures were again vibrant.

A few months ago, I had a similar issue, and I must have done something wrong, but I had to re-prime the cartridges, which involves sucking ink via the cartridge through the tubes. It’s really just some suction syringes that you need to do this, and sells them. I was able to prime the cartridges, and then all was well again.

Over the past few years, I’ve printed countless shipping labels, photos, and other various documents. The printer works like a champion, and it’s so nice to not have to worry about filling up the cartridges. After a few years of lots of printing, including both my wedding and my brother’s wedding invitations, I’m finally now needing to refill the tanks. I ordered a black ink refill kit, and as you can see in that pic above, I should probably get the color refill kit as well.

I’m really happy with my purchase from One piece of feedback would be to make the instructions slightly more clear. Little things like changing the bullet points to numbers and adding check-boxes so people can check off steps as they go could go a long way. 

I found the instructions to be a bit difficult to follow.
I found the instructions to be a bit difficult to follow.

Do you need to be an engineer to install this? No… not completely… However, I do think the kit is a bit too advanced for a completely non-technical person. If you have a need for this, get your family geek to install it for you.

If you go through a lot of ink cartridges, I recommend picking up a CIS. Not only is it satisfying and convenient to never have to think about ink, it’s also a greener solution. You’re not constantly buying disposable ink cartridges. There are some CIS systems at different places on the internet like Amazon, etc, but I like, as they have shown good customer service over the years and a willing to help their customers.




The package from InkProducts comes in a pretty boring brown box, and inside, you’ll find the continuous ink system and a manual.

First thing’s first… There is a bit of installation required for this kit! You may be surprised by what needs to be done to get this fully installed and working properly. The manual is definitely necessary. To be honest, I feel like the manual should be a little bit better. I was able to get things figured out easily. But if I were not a techy already, I think I would have a really difficult time. For example, one of the more difficult things that needs to be done with this installation is the removal of microchips off of the authentic HP ink cartridges and putting these chips into a plastic retainer that Ink Products calls the “chip block.” This is actually a pretty ingenious idea. This keeps the printer from telling you that your ink is not authentic. However, the process to do this is a bit complex. You have to use a razorblade (I used a safety pin) to pry these flexible microchips off the ink cartridges. They just referred to these as “chips” and called the place where I was supposed to put the chips the “chip block.” I just think the manual could better describe things, telling people EXACTLY what the “chip block” is, why they need to remove these chips, and how to do it.

In any case, I didn’t find installation that difficult, but if you’re not a technical person, you may find it impossible. I’m just giving fair warning.


Giving TEP Wireless Another Try

Last Christmas, my wife and I went with her family on a trip to Mexico. We wanted to make sure we had internet connectivity the whole time so we decided to give TEP Wireless a try. TEP Wireless is an international hotspot rental company. You let them know what country you’re going to, you pay a fee, and a device gets sent to you. When you land in your international destination, you hook up to the device, rather than using your expensive cellular roaming, and just like that, you should have internet.
Needless to say, I had a *very* rough experience the first time around. I won’t recount the entire thing here, but the original post is here.

That experience happened almost a year ago exactly, and a few months ago, I was contacted by Jordan Frank of TEP Wireless. He told me how bad they felt for my original bad experience and asked me if I was willing to give the service another shot. At the time, I didn’t have a need for the service, but when my wife and I ended up planning a trip to Australia, this seemed like the perfect time to give it another go. Read more

The Simple.TV, In Current Form, is a Disaster

I really wanted to love my Simple.TV. The premise behind it was so simple, just like the name. The premise of Simple.TV is to essentially create a DVR server that can serve up television to any device with a web browser or a Simple.TV app. It’s just a standard tuner. No cablecard or anything like that. Also, bring your own harddrive. It can stream in HD quality to your local network or anywhere else, bridging functionality of a TiVo and a Slingbox together, except… more simple… That would be great if it worked, but it actually doesn’t work. By “it doesn’t work,” I don’t mean that it isn’t good enough. I mean it actually doesn’t work.
I really wanted to like Simple.TV. I backed them on Kickstarter, ordering two units. I live in San Francisco, but being a Los Angeles native, I wanted to install one of these in my parents’ house so I could stream Lakers games up here, and I planned to install one here. When the Engadget review came out, I thought they were way too harsh. Heck… I was so excited to receive my Simple.TV that I even made an unboxing video. That’s how lame I am!

After I unboxed it, it was time to set it all up! The process of plugging everything in is quite simple. It has a coax passthrough so if you’re already using something like a TiVo, which I am, you can pass coax into the Simple.TV and back out to the TiVo. That worked just fine. There are two ethernet ports. I believe the second one is for passthrough of ethernet, but it is labeled only as Ethernet2, and I can’t find any documentation about it. There isn’t a product manual for the Simple.TV, not even in PDF form online. There’s a power port, and then there’s also a USB port for the external drive. That’s where I hit my first snag. Read more

Review: Henge Docks 15 Inch MacBook Pro Docking Station

I’m constantly figuring out how to best optimize my workspace. Most recently, I purchased a Heckler Design OneLessDesk. While I love the desk, it provided me with some challenges. the primary challenge was that I no longer had anywhere to put my MacBook. On the Heckler Design website, they show users putting their MacBooks on on the lower portion of the desk, but I really prefer having a dedicated keyboard and mouse/trackpad. I decided to buy a laptuk to put my 27″ Cinema Display on top. However, I didn’t like how the Laptuk raised my monitor up an extra few inches. It made the viewing angle uncomfortable. I continued my search for a good way to dock my MacBook Pro.
Then I stumbled on Henge Docks. Henge Docks is a company that makes a vertically oriented line of docking stations for Apple’s MacBook Pro line of computers. They looked classy on the website, and I decided to order one to see if it would be a good way to fit my laptop on my OneLessDesk. Read more

Pictures and Thoughts: My Heckler Design OneLessDesk

I was sick of my old desk. In fact, it wasn’t even a desk really. It was a big glass Ikea table that I used as a desk. It worked just fine for me, but I got sick of cleaning the glass, and the glass actually just rested on top of a metal stand, and I got sick of the glass getting knocked around. Also, it was really big. I wouldn’t say I actually started actively looking for a new desk, but my eyes were open. Then one day I stumbled upon the Heckler Design OneLessDesk over at the MacRumors forums. I did some research on the desk, and I knew I had to have it… Read more