I know that this is off of my usual line of discussion, but I needed to blow off some steam about this one.
It is well known in the printer industry that low-end printers, especially inkjets, are essentially loss-leaders- the printer is sold at or below production cost, with the intention of making the profits by selling the supplies-- ink cartridges, print heads, etc.
While this is a legitimate strategy, buyers need to be aware of the efforts that the manufacturers make to commit the customer to ridiculously high future costs. One of the ways they do this is by forcing you to replace a color cartridge that empties (even if you don't need it) before allowing you to do ANY printing, even black. The printer, or other functions, simply shut down.
A few years ago, I bought a Brother multifunction printer, seemingly a bargain, to replace my ageing fax and printer. I printed in color rarely. However, the printer had self test cycles periodically, and every time that printer was turned on. When this happens, the printer would use a small amount of color inks. After a few months, the magenta ink ran out, shutting down to printer even to just black printing. I checked the forums and web site and found there was no way around this. You had to replace the magenta ink cartridge, costing $20. Then a month later, the yellow cartridge did the same. Mind you the black cartridge had plenty of ink in it.
I decided to cut my losses and dump the printer. I actually tried to GIVE the printer away, only 6 months old, to a neighbor, who decided that it wasn't worth the headache for him either. So I took a new, perfectly working printer, and put it out at the curb for collection. I have a friend who bought an Epson and has had the same problem.
I decided not to repeat this mistake again. I swore never to buy a Brother printer again. After doing some internet research and talking to salesman at Office Depot, I found a Lexmark printer that met my needs. It has the old fashion "HP style" setup with 2 print cartridges-- one color and one black. When the color one empties it gives you warnings but doesn't stop you from printing black. So far it works for me.
Out of curiosity I stopped by the local Office Depot again recently to see what on the market. This time I saw a fancy HP multifunction color printer at a "too good to be true" price-- 600NIS, including multiplexer (2 sided printing), built-in ethernet, fax, document feeder, etc. I came home and checked on the internet and read the reviews, which were pretty positive. The problem is that the reviewers aren't necessarily aware of this color ink requirement scam if they don't use the printer long enough. So I went onto ZAP, and Israeli internet comparison shopping site, which includes buyers reviews. Sure enough, this printer showed up, with several buyers complaining about their printer shutting down after only a few weeks use when one of the colors ran out. (This is especially frustrating after the purchase, because the manufacturers usually put in "starter" cartridges with low capacity).
I think that buyers should organize a boycott of these printers, and really let the manufacturers know that this arrangement is unacceptable, and deceptive to buyers.