This information is now pretty out of date (or was) but there have been a number of strong indications that Epson decided to up the ante when it comes to third party consumables through the use of a clever firmware update system available with newer Epson printers.
The update(s) shut the doors on third party consumables that work with earlier firmware versions and effectively tie your printer into using only Epson OEM/Original cartridges.
This issue was resolved with new chip designs (v6.0) but the issue may be making a comeback as of early 2014 with reports of Epson Expression (XP) models hitting issues and some indication that other printers like the PX730WD, Artisan 837, etc.. also showing symptoms.
In short, if you don’t want to be forced to use Epson original consumables, don’t install any firmware updates
To date the printer models affected seem to be the PX730WD, PX830FWD and anything that has the ability to download and update firmware (eg: TX730WD, Artisan 735, XP models, etc..)
Firmware? What Is it?
Firmware, for the uninitiated, is the computer instruction set that any piece of hardware has installed on its internal chips. It tells the printer how to communicate, how to move motors, fire nozzles and most important of all, how to recognise original vs’ compatible (non-original) cartridge chips.
Updates Are Good Right?
Under normal circumstances, yes you’d expect any firmware update to be a positive move. Normally such an update might includes fixes or tweaks to resolve issues with ink usage, nozzle firing or something that slipped through testing that causes headaches for end users.
Unfortunately it seems that Epson is also using the firmware updates to stop non Epson cartridge chips being accepted by the printer.
What Does This Mean?
Short version, if you want to use third party cartridges, CIS systems or anything that hasn’t been produced by Epson, then you do not want to install these firmware updates, ever!
At present this problem is only starting to surface with Continuous Ink Supply system sellers first noticing a problem when a high rate of chip failures were being reported by customers with PX730WD and PX830FWD printers. Further investigation helped nail the culprit down to customers installing updates on their computer and accepting the “kind” offer from the software to update their printer firmware to the latest version.
Is There An UnDo/Roll-back?
Once you update, you’re stuck until new chips are released by the third party consumable providers.
It’s possible someone will work out if/how to roll-back to an earlier firmware version but at present such information is not available and Epson certainly won’t provide any tools to make it happen.
At present the scope of this problem is still being investigated as very few sellers have looked beyond a higher than normal rate of returns or support queries. Whether this affects single use third party cartridges as well as Auto Reset Chips (ARCs) remains to be seen but it’s worth avoiding the firmware update option until more is known.
The primary culprit with these updates seems to be the Epson Download Navigator software. It is described as being:
Once downloaded and installed this software will check to make sure that you are using the latest firmware and software for your Epson product. If updates are available the Epson Download Navigator will guide you through downloading and installing these updates.
Compatibility is listed for the following models:
- Epson Stylus Office BX535WD
- Epson Stylus Office BX635FWD
- Epson Stylus Office BX935FWD
- Epson Stylus Photo PX730WD
- Epson Stylus Photo PX830FWD
- Epson Stylus SX440W
- Epson Stylus SX445W
- …and various Epson WP laser models
The above list contains the UK/EU models but the sibling equivalent models in other global sales zones (eg: Artisan, Workforce, TX, etc..) will likely also be compatible