Printers are something that many of us have but how much do we look into buying one before purchasing? Do we just look at features or do we look at setup and ongoing costs as well? I dare say not many of us, if any, look at the environmental costs of each printer. Epson has looked at this and as a result has their EcoTank printers to help us use less consumables.
I have not had a printer installed in my home office for at least three years — although there has been many times I have wanted to print something out (or the kids did) I just did it while at work the next day. That just isn’t as handy though so when Epson offered me the chance to check out their new EcoTank ET-4850 I jumped at the chance.
Printers have come a long way since I last purchased one. Now you don’t need to look for a specific printer for cloud printing of course — it’d be a lot more difficult to find one that did not cloud print.
The EcoTank ET-4850 can of course cloud print — from a variety of sources and methods — and also cloud scan (ie. scan documents to the cloud). Other features include copying, fax (if anyone ever does that anymore from home), a 2.4-inch colour display, 2-sided printing although this was a bit iffy to get working and a new EcoTank ink system instead of cartridges.
Design and size
Once the Printer is set up (more on that in a bit) it measures 417mm x 503mm x 255mm while sitting on your desk. It’s not the smallest printer around but remember it is a multifunction printer/copier/scanner/fax so it needs to be a certain size.
The front panel includes a 2.4-inch touch colour display but to be honest I rarely used that after the printer had been set up. All of the functionality is done from my device(s) using either the Epson SmartPrint app or the Epson iPrint app — more on those later.
The ink levels of each colour are directly visible on the front of the printer, showing you just how many of each colour are left. Epson say that there are thousands of pages worth of ink included in the box but I find that a bit of a stretch considering at the time of writing this I’ve printed may 20-30 pages using various methods and set up the device and the inks seem to be down around the 80% full mark.
After filling the tanks at the setup there is maybe 10% of each bottle left along with a full spare black bottle — maybe they mean black and white pages of ink? In saying that though the setup used a lot of ink with the head cleaning etc so once you get through that the usage does seem to be not much at all.
Setup and use
Filling the EcoTank with ink was incredibly simple — and clean — thanks to its key locking mechanism that prevents spillage. It took all of a couple of minutes and wasn’t messy as I thought it would be — after all when you hear you are filling the tank with ink from a bottle you expect to be pouring it in but luckily you aren’t.
I set up the printer using my phone but the full setup was not simple. Well, basic setup was but to get all the cloud functionality you need to go through a lot of verification steps. If you take your time and read all the instructions though it is not that difficult — just quite a few steps to it and it often seems like you are doing the same thing over and over again.
The main issue with setting up the printer is not the filing of the tanks but all the various apps you have to use to do it. Sure, you can get most of it set up from the Epson SmartPrint app but if you want to print remotely you’ll need the Epson iPrint app. Also, if you want to print from your PC, you’ll need to install the drivers manually yourself along with setting up cloud print using the barcodes and login details given to you.
Of course you can always connect directly to the printer from your PC using an ethernet cable but mine isn’t very close to where the printer is so it was not an ideal scenario. After setting it up using the three different apps installing drivers on your windows PC, along with logging on to various locations, adding cloud locations, the storage and scanning, then you’re good to go.
To use the printer the best and easiest way to do so is to use the SmartPrint app, but you’ll need to be on the same Wi-Fi network as the printer to use that app. The SmartPrint app was also the only way I could get double sided printing working but it worked flawlessly using that app without having to reinsert the page yourself.
Scanning a document, if you use the SmartPrint app, is simple and you can save it to your phone or local device easily. You can also manually set the destination to a cloud destination such as a Google Drive or OneDrive account.
Let’s face it. Most of what people do on a printer is scanning, copying and printing and as long as you’re using the correct app, this works perfectly. There was one occasion though when trying to print from the PC and from a word document it was not possible to make it dual-sided instead I had to use the smart print app to perform that function.
To print a document remotely, if you’re not on the same network as the printer, you’ll need to use the Epson iPrint app. This gives you the option not only to print documents from your device wherever you are but also capture and print a document at the same time from your device. It would be so much easier if Epson just incorporated all this functionality into the Epson SmartPrint app so you didn’t have to have multiple apps installed to use it to its full capabilities.
Speed and quality
Because I’ve got all my printing set up to be cloud printing, whether it’s from my PC or my phone, the printing is not as fast to start as what you may expect. There are some. It took 30 seconds to a minute for the document to head to the cloud and then back to the printer and then start printing that depended obviously on the complexity and size of the file.
Once printing started though it was great and simple with auto collating such that it prints from back to front when a document is more than one page so that you can just grab it off the printer and it’s good to go without having to sort the pages in order yourself.
The printer is not a dedicated photo printer so don’t expect the print lab quality photos with this printer. It was able to print colour documents and photos quite well but unless it was urgent I wouldn’t be using it to print my photos routinely.
The EcoTank difference
In a relatively short review it is difficult to determine the true value of an eco-printer. There is the obvious difference of less consumables used such as cartridges and thus less landfill and associated manufacturing issues.
The other advantage of the EcoTank is that it uses less ink per page. According to Espon it will cost around half a cent per black and white page and around 2 cents per coloured page. When talking about the cost of a printer we also need to take into account the upfront cost of the printer along with the cost of the consumables. For the Epson EcoTank ET-4850 the upfront costs are relatively high so if you don’t print a lot of pages we suggest you do your maths carefully. If you print a lot of pages then this could well be perfect for your home office.
This is where the Epson EcoTank ET-4850 excels — in the home office that prints a lot and requires all the usual all-in-one features. Although the setup can be confusing given the number of places that it requires to be set up, once working it was relatively easy to use.
If you need an AIO for your home office then you should do yourself and the environment a favour and check out the Epson EcoTank ET-4850. For more information head on over to the Epson website. The Epson EcoTank ET-4850 can be purchased wherever good printers are sold at a RRP of $649.