It’s been a few months now since our first look at Epson’s relatively new ink-delivery system, EcoTank, in our review of the $499.99-MSRP WorkForce ET-4550 EcoTank All-in-One. (We reviewed it back in August of 2015.) Now that the EcoTank tech has been out in the wild for a while, we’ve had a chance to chew on it in light of other ink developments in the inkjet-printer marketplace, and users have chimed in. And our opinion of it has changed some—but not enough to reconsider the Editors’ Choice nod we gave to the WorkForce ET-4550.
EcoTank now plays in a field with HP’s Instant Ink service and Brother’s INKvestment, two new means of delivering and pricing inkjet ink. EcoTank, while it cansave you money on ink, as we’ll get to in a moment, is, of the bunch, a bit of an odd bird, at least when it’s applied to certain printer models. That brings us to today’s EcoTank review model, the $399.99-MSRP Epson Expression ET-2550 EcoTank All-in-One. For the $100 difference between this unit and the WorkForce ET-4550 we tested, you get a more robust machine in the WorkForce model. (So far, the purchase price hasn’t come down on either model from the list price, no matter where you shop.)
As we explained in our review of the WorkForce ET-4550, these recent EcoTank models really are just versions of earlier Epson AIOs with four big ink reservoirs added, encased in a housing attached to the right side of the chassis. In the case of the ET-4550, for example, it is, at the core, Epson’s WorkForce WF-2650 All-in-One; today’s review unit, the ET-2550, is actually the $89.99-list Expression Home XP-320 Small-in-One Printer, as shown hereâ€¦
(If the AIO on the right looks larger, except for the EcoTank attachment on the right side, it’s not, actually; it’s just a question of perspective in the two images. The machines are the same size, barring the EcoTank hump on the ET-2550 model at right.)
Like the ET-4550, then, the ET-2550 is an under-$100 AIO with enough ink in the box, Epson estimates, to last you for two years—which is to say, enough ink to jack up the purchase price to $400. On the ET-4550, Epson estimates its 11,000 black-and-white pages and/or 8,500 color prints are the equivalent to two years’ worth of printing (comparable to about 50 ink-tank sets). Our ET-2550 review unit, on the other hand, comes with enough ink, according to Epson, to churn out about 4,000 monochrome pages and/or 6,500 color prints. That, according to Epson, is equal to about 20 cartridge sets. A cartridge set consists of, in this case, all four of the cyan, magenta, yellow, and black (CMYK) process-color tanks.
As you’ll see on the next page, the EcoTank system in itself can, if you’re willing to spend the additional money up front, save you money—if (and this is important) you use your printer often enough to justify buying all that additional ink. (We’ll get into that math a bit later on.) But the bottom line on EcoTank, at least as it is implemented with this entry-level AIO, is complicated by the fact that this is a very modest printer apart from the EcoTank stuff. So what about the printer itself? Is it worth $400?
That’s what this review will be all about. In short, though: Except for the four large bottles of ink in the box and the “supertanker” ink reservoirs on the right side, everything about this printer says low-volume, right down to its 500-page recommended monthly print volume (which works out to about 15 to 20 pages per day). Epson has provided enough ink to print about 167 black-and-white pages and/or 271 color pages each month. The good news is that should you require more ink, as you’ll see in the Cost Per Page section later on, refill bottles are remarkably cheap.
The key thing, though: Were you to require much more volume than what Epson suggests, the ET-2550 (and possibly your patience) probably won’t be robust enough to handle the day-to-day stress. This model’s small input and output options, and, as you’ll see next, its lack of certain key features, render it not up to the needs of a large number of would-be buyers. The Expression ET-2550 couldserve you well, but only if you match it closely to how much you print (and how little you scan). To do that, read on.
Read the entire review at Computer Shopper