Recently an empty HP 21B ink cartridge landed on my desk, not literally as cartridges don’t actually fly do they.…well not unless you throw them at someone, which…. when I think about it I could quite easily manage sometimes, actually I could think of 1 or 2 people working here that could do with the odd inkjet bouncing of their heads at one point or another, maybe that could be the latest stress relief in the work place, if someone cheeses you off then lob a cartridge at them, I bet the instant relief of seeing an HP 21 bouncing off that annoying colleagues bonce will be great, plus I’d be good at it as I’m usually a good shot, just don’t lob them when Health and Safety or the boss are around.
What really happened was one of the guys in our warehouse had come across it whilst sorting through a batch of empty cartridges we had just received in. It’s not unusual for this to happen; in fact I have quite a collection on my desk, for some reason every time our guys in collections find something they have not seen before or that is new it ends up here, perched on my desk, I’m not really sure why…it seems that somewhere over the years of working here I have turned into the ‘finder of all new info’.
One of the first things I noticed about this grubby little cartridge was that the label is a different colour, in our region (Europe) printer consumables usually have a blue HP logo on but the HP 21b that I was looking at had a logo printed in black, another thing that is different is that the 21b says Simple Black on the label too. My initial thoughts were that it could be a fake product, I have covered fake HP cartridges in another blog so I am aware that they are around but on closer examination I would say NO its not fake its defiantly a genuine HP product but I had never seen one before so is it new and is it for our UK/European market?
I decided to test it in one of our test printers, HP use different cartridge codes for different parts of the world so I have seen products in the past that look just like European products but have a different code or model number, usually although they will fit in our UK machines the printer will not recognise the circuitry and it won’t print. I tested the 21b on the HP Deskjet F4180 and it registered instantly, it wouldn’t print as there was no ink but if it’s not for the UK market then why is the printer even recognising it? At this stage I’m getting a bit confused, I decided to ask the ‘Knower of all things knowable’…. time for some research on Google…..
When I did a shopping search on Google I was initially bombarded with all the UK versions of the HP 21 which initially tells me that it’s not a UK item so I kept on searching and eventually found out that this item is for sale but it’s exclusively for India, China and the Philippines. I’m still stumped as to why if it is a non UK product it works in my printer if all HP products are globally regionalised? Plus why does it say Simple Black, what does it mean?
Further searching on the net and I came across a website based in India but with English text that sold the HP 21B, also known as HP818b depending on which country you live in and according to this website “HP have launched the 21b Simple ink in India etc. because people there are looking for cheap ink cartridges”… (Aren’t we all)?
The interesting thing that I found was that this website also claims that the HP21b is a standard HP 21 that has been REMANUFACTURED by HP, What!.... Wait a moment, that can’t be true….can it? Surely all the hype that HP has put forward in the industry news about refilled/remanufactured cartridges being low in quality and not lasting as long can’t have been in vain, can it? HP actually mark the cartridges as ‘single use only’ so surely they can’t be refilling their own empties.
Knowing what I know about HP as a company I would think not but I obviously couldn’t say for sure, after all we are going through times of austerity, maybe they have decided to refill their own cartridges to save the company money, after all who better to do it than HP, they can eliminate all the circuitry issues that they have put in to discourage users to refill their cartridges, plus they could also use genuine HP ink so the quality would be spot on and they would take out much of the refilling companies along the way. I will leave to the conspiracy theorists to work out if there is any truth in this as doubtful as I am about it. Maybe HP will get in touch and let us know.
True to form the final thing I did with the HP21b was to cut the top off and have a look inside, I wanted to see how it compares with the standard UK version and if it was any different inside.
The top came off without too much trouble, the sponge inside is the same size as a standard HP 21XL or the older HP 21 (before HP made the sponges smaller) but it looked like it had only had maybe 7 or 8mls of ink in before it was used. So really there is no mystery, well not as far as I can see anyway, the HP 21b is simply an HP product made to supply certain countries with cheap ink cartridges.