One major annoyance with inkjet printers is the cost of ink, which can easily reach $100 per set of color and black cartridges. Another is the need to always keep extra cartridges on hand, to quickly replace the one that inevitably runs dry before the others — lest the printer be rendered unusable.
Today, however, printer maker Epson has taken a major step toward resolving both of those annoyances, with the introduction of its new-to-North America EcoTank models.
The series of five inkjet printers doesn't use ink cartridges at all.
Instead, four of the printers feature a set of reservoirs that hold ink poured in from a bottle, and Epson says each bottle contains a two-year supply* of ink. (Of course, the actual duration will depend on the consumption per print job and the frequency of use.) Moreover, each set of four bottles (cyan, magenta, yellow and black inks) will sell for only $52, or $12.99 for black- or color-ink bottles, Epson says. (A larger-capacity black-ink bottle is available, too, for $19.59)
Two of those printers are meant for home use, and two are intended for home office use.
A fifth, small business-oriented model incorporates pre-filled pouches of ink instead of reservoirs. But there’s also a two-year supply* of ink in each pouch, according to Epson. Each set of four pouches costs $480, or $180 for a black-ink pouch and $100 per color-ink pouch, Epson says.
All of these EcoTank printers will be available in September.
Although new to the North American market, they're not entirely unique. Epson has previously offered such refillable ink reservoirs and pouch technology in printers sold overseas. Plus, the concept is not proprietary, so other printer makers may offer similarly equipped models here in the future, Epson concedes.
Here’s more about each of the five printers, and further information is available at epson.com/ecotank:
Expression ET-2500 EcoTank All-in-One ($379) — For home use, its reservoirs hold enough ink to produce up to 4,000 black and up to 6,500 color pages. Print speed is up to 9.2 pages per minute in black and up to 4.5 pages per minute in color. It has a 100-sheet paper capacity.
Expression ET-2550 EcoTank All-in-One ($399) — For home use, its reservoirs hold enough ink to produce up to 4,000 black and up to 6,500 color pages. Print speed is up to 9.2 pages per minute in black and up to 4.5 pages per minute in color. It has a 100-sheet paper capacity. Additional features (compared with the ET-2500) include a 1.44-inch color LCD, computer-free photo printing via a built-in memory card slot, and Wi-Fi Direct wireless networking technology for printing from a smartphone or tablet.
WorkForce ET-4500 EcoTank All-in-One ($429) — For home office use, its reservoirs hold enough ink to produce up to 4,000 black and 6,500 color pages. Print speed is up to 9.2 pages per minute in black and up to 4.5 pages per minute in color. This model features a 30-page automatic document feeder (ADF), a 100-sheet paper capacity, a 2.2-inch monochrome LCD and Wi-Fi Direct.
WorkForce ET-4550 EcoTank All-in-One ($499) — For home office use, its reservoirs hold enough ink to produce up to 11,000 black and up to 8,500 color pages. Print speed is up to 13 pages per minute in black and up to 7.3 pages per minute in color. It has a 150-sheet paper capacity and offers two-sided printing, in addition to a 30-page ADF, and a 2.2-inch monochrome LCD.
WorkForce Pro WF-R4640 EcoTank All-in-One ($1,199) — For small business use, its pouches hold enough ink to produce up to 20,000 black and up to 20,000 color pages. Print speed is up to 20 pages per minute in black and up to 20 pages per minute in color. Features include a 580-sheet paper capacity, automatic two-sided printing, copying, scanning and faxing, and a 4.3-inch color LCD. (Alternatively, 10,000-page capacity ink pouches will be available, priced at $100 for black ink and $67 for color ink.)
*Epson’s estimates of two-years’ printing capacity for each printer’s set of ink bottles or pouches are based on these expected average output volumes, and in comparison to standard-capacity ink cartridge sets for similarly-featured printers: about 150 pages per month for the ET-2500, ET-2550 and ET-4500; about 300 pages per month for the ET-4550; about 800 pages per month for the WF-R4640.
[Image credit: Epson]