Skip to Main Content



Printing has existed in some form or another as far back as 3500 BC, but it wasn’t until recently that printing technology became inexpensive and much more common. Now, almost everyone has access to a printer.

These days, consumers have two reliable options when it comes to printers: laser printers, which utilize toner; and  inkjet printers, which use a dye-based ink. The concept of the inkjet printer is credited to two people. The first is Japanese engineer Ichiro Endo, who conceived the bubble jet printer in the 1950s.

The second is HP’s own John Vaught, who independently developed the inkjet printer at the same time. Vaught was inspired after seeing how coffee was made: evenly pouring hot water over coffee grounds resulted in the coffee filtering into the cup below.

That’s just how an inkjet printer works: ink is heated and liquefied, which allows it to drop onto the paper below.

Of the two, inkjet is most common for everyday home users looking for high-quality color prints on a variety of paper types. And traditionally, inkjet printers have utilized disposable cartridges, making them perfect for low-to-mid volume print jobs.

But recently a new type of inkjet printer has emerged: the tank printer. Ink tank printers come with their own advantages, and you might be wondering which type of inkjet printer is right for you. Here’s a breakdown of the differences between the two.

Ink tank vs. ink cartridge printers: what’s the difference?

So, what’s the difference between an ink tank printer and an ink cartridge printer? Both are types of inkjet printers. At first glance they are comparable, and the immediate difference is fairly obvious: one uses disposable ink cartridges, one uses ink tanks.

To get a better understanding of how they differ, let’s take a deeper look at both types of printers.


You’re probably already familiar with ink cartridge printers. They have been one of the top choices for home and small office settings for many years now. They utilize small containers, or cartridges, filled with ink. Black ink comes in a single cartridge, while color ink can come in three different cartridges (cyan, magenta, and yellow) or a single, tri-color cartridge.

But what you might not know is that a printer cartridge is more than just a plastic cube full of ink. Not only does a cartridge contain the nozzle mechanism to disperse the ink onto the paper, but it also houses a small microchip that communicates with the printer’s processor. This helps the two communicate: the printer tells the cartridge when and how to release ink, while the microchip controls the print head and disperses the appropriate amount onto the page. It also tells the printer how much ink is left in the cartridge.

Ink cartridge printers are powerful, versatile, and can print high-quality black-and-white and color images on a wide variety of print mediums: plain or glossy paper, cardstock, certain fabrics, and other specialty materials. They’ve become especially cheap in recent years, and are perfect for a variety of common settings, like the home, small-to mid-sized offices, and dorm rooms.

A print cartridge can typically print between 300 to 400 pages before they need to be replaced.HP also offers high-yield print cartridges that print upwards of 800 pages.

Ink cartridge printers are best for small to medium-sized print jobs, especially if you print infrequently. Standard ink cartridges are less prone to drying out and can go long periods of time without being used. High-yield cartridges should be good enough for larger print jobs and users who print frequently, because they can dry out if left alone for too long.


If you’re interested in purchasing an inkjet cartridge printer, look no further than the HP ENVY 6055e All-in-One Printer. All-in-one printers can do more than just print, they offer scanning and copying capabilities too.

This printer is perfect for casual use in small homes or offices, dorm rooms, and other locations with small to medium-sized printing needs.


Like all of HP’s printers, the ENVY 6055e is easy to quickly set up anywhere - you can use the HP Smart App to guide you through the simple setup process. Install the app on your PC, tablet, or smartphone for the ability to print and even scan or copy from any of your devices.

The ENVY 6055e is WiFi-enabled, and includes a self-healing feature that detects and resolves connectivity issues to help reduce interruptions. It also features Bluetooth capability, so you have plenty of wireless connection options for maximum versatility.

The ENVY 6055e is equipped with the optional HP+ smart printing system, which supports advanced features such as multi-item recognition, text extraction, book scanning, page flattening, and auto-heal, which removes distracting marks like hole punches from scanned files. HP+ also includes 6 free months of HP Instant Ink and an additional year of warranty.


  • 10 page per minute (PPM) black & white print speed
  • 7 PPM color print speed
  • 1200 x 1200 dots per inch (DPI) black and white resolution
  • 4800 x 1200 DPI color resolution
  • 1200 x 1200 DPI scan resolution
  • 300 x 300 DPI copy resolution
  • 100-sheet input tray
  • 25-sheet output tray
  • Automatic duplex printing
  • Borderless printing
  • Dimensions: 17.03 x 20.14 x 5.2 in
  • Weight: 11.51 lbs


As the name suggests, ink tank printers use built-in ink reservoirs, instead of disposable cartridges, to feed ink to the print head. The reservoirs are refillable with ink from a bottle.

There are a lot of advantages to this system. For one, ink tanks can hold a lot more ink than a cartridge can, and they can be easily refilled as needed. Plus, a single bottle contains enough ink to print thousands of pages, so you’ll be buying them much less frequently. When you do need to purchase refills, you’ll only have to purchase the ink you need: black, cyan, magenta, or yellow.

Ink tank printers are better for the environment too, because you won’t be tossing those plastic ink cartridges into the trash any longer.

Aside from the ink tanks, these printers offer comparable features to ink cartridge printers. You’ll still get high-quality prints on a variety of different mediums, and the ink tank printers are just as fast, if not faster, than standard ink cartridge machines.

And, since many tank printers are business-class printers, many even exceed the capabilities of ink cartridge printers.

That said, if you don’t print off hundreds or thousands of pages every month, you may be better off with a cartridge printer. They’re easier to maintain and can go long periods of time without being used.

Conversely, tank printers require a little more regular maintenance, and must be used frequently to prevent the reservoirs from clogging or drying out. That’s why they’re better for mid-to-large businesses, schools, libraries, and homes with a high monthly print volume.


If you’re in the market for an ink tank printer, HP has you covered with our Smart Tank 5101 All-in-One Printer. Just like the other HP All-in-One printers, this model has print, copy, and scan capabilities, and can be easily installed in any setting using the mobile-guided setup via the HP Smart app. You can also use the app to print from your phone, tablet, and other devices.


It has all the same convenience features that you’ve come to expect from HP’s printers: self-healing WiFi that ensures a consistent and reliable connection, low-on-ink sensors to remind you to refill the ink reservoirs, and automatic on/off technology to save energy when the printer isn’t in use.

The HP Smart Tank 5101 also comes equipped with HP Wolf Essential Security, which ensures your most sensitive documents are protected against a variety of cyber threats.

Best of all, HP Smart Tank printers come with two years’ worth of ink refills, so you can get printing right away, and you won’t have to worry about buying replacement bottles for a while.


  • 12 PPM black & white print speed
  • 5 PPM color print speed
  • 1200 x 1200 DPI black and white resolution
  • 4800 x 1200 DPI color resolution
  • 1200 x 1200 DPI scan resolution
  • 600 DPI copy resolution
  • 100-sheet input tray
  • 30-sheet output tray
  • Manual duplex printing
  • Borderless printing
  • Dimensions: 17.11 x 22.86 x 10.21 in
  • Weight: 11.09 lbs


Whether you print infrequently and are looking for a tried-and-true cartridge printer, or you need a tank printer for high-volume print jobs, HP has you covered. We’ve been at the forefront of printer innovation ever since the invention of the very first inkjet machine, and we continue that legacy today by offering the highest-quality printers around.