I was recently sent the Epson ET 4550 ecotank printer to review. The printer has a RRP of £369.99 with a three year warranty included on the Epson site – the question is…. is it worth it?
I’ll let you know at the end ;) You’ll probably be wondering already how it can be so much more expensive than your bog standard printer though, and one of the main reasons is the ink.
This printer doesn’t need standard print cartridges…. well actually any print cartridges at all, as it has an ink tank system where you pour the ink in to the tank of the printer. The double set of ink bottles that come with the printer are supposed to last for around 11000 prints, by most people’s printing frequency this means 2 years plus…
Considering how expensive ink cartridges can be, this makes the Epson ET 4550 sound a whole lot more affordable and better value in the long-term. Plus environmentally wise, that’s a whole lot less plastic cartridges to be disposed of.
If you’re worrying that filling up your printer with ink sounds messy, then I wouldn’t be. I found it really easy to do, but I do recommend putting a bin bag or something similar underneath that end of the printer and the surrounding area just in case.
TIP: When opening the ink bottles, use the big side of the silver foil to pull the foil off as the underside will have ink on and you are less likely to get your hands dirty. Also always do remove the silver part BEFORE snapping the lid off of the nozzle of the ink else you will risk a little spillage if you struggle with the nozzle top.
The ink bottles are quite well designed though, in that there is only a drip flow from the nozzle until you squeeze the ink bottle. This means that when you first flip the bottle over to pour into the ink reservoir of the printer, you are only risking a few drops of ink if you aren’t quick enough to get the tip into the hole. Then it’s a simple case of squeezing the bottle until its empty.
I did get a small amount of ink on my hands, but it washed off really easily. Considering how long the ink should last, it could be a very long time before you have to refill it as well. Make sure you put the rubber stoppers on to the ink reservoir holes to protect your ink. The beauty of this system as well, is that I can’t imagine that an ink reservoir would be as likely to dry out if you don’t use it very often as a cartridge would.
My only tiny worry with the ink, is that you could wreck your printer if you got the inks confused, but Epson have purposefully labelled the inks and each ink reservoir tank on the printer really obviously to prevent this. You just need to pay attention when filling it up, or in my case make sure you have your glasses on – though it is colour coded as well not just text to make sure.
The instructions that come with the printer are really easy to use, and it took me no time at all to set it up, other than the ink charging which took 20 minutes, this is something you’ll rarely have to do though.
When you open the box of the printer and see the software disk, if like me your laptop doesn’t have a CD drive, then don’t panic I didn’t have to download anything to get it to work. My laptop just found it via Wi-Fi and printed straight away with zero issues.
Another reason for the price of this ‘printer’ is that it doesn’t just print. The Epson ET 4550 also prints double sides, scans, copies and even faxes. I didn’t test out the fax part, as honestly I had no one to fax! However it did seem easy to set up, just needed a LAN cable between it and a phone line. The cable isn’t provided, which if I wanted to use it as a fax would probably have been a negative for me, but then nothing seems to come with cables any more!
As I mentioned above, my laptop found the printer via our Wi-Fi after I set it up as it a wireless printer. I love this bit, as you can be in one room and print in another. With it’s Wi-Fi capability, you can also print using it with smartphones and tablets.
TIP: When setting the Wi-Fi and putting your password in, if you press the button it changes from a capital letter to a number when pressing the number/letter keys on the machine. Press the button again and it will change to a small case letter and so on.
It took me a few moments to figure that out, so I thought I’d save you the time.
If at any point you end up in a bit of the menu you don’t want to be in, and can’t work out how to get out of it (this may have happened to me…) then a quick press of the ‘Stop reset’ button will get you back out and to the home screen if it wouldn’t let you use the home button.
Now you know how easy it is to set up – very – you may wonder how well it actually works…. in other words stop waffling and tell us. I have to say that as a photocopier and scanner, it is the best I have ever used. I decided to give it a real test and not just copy a single sheet of paper, but a quite thick library book that would prevent the lid from closing.
For many copiers and scanners, when the lid is open a bit it wrecks the quality of the scan but not with the Epson ET 4550! It really did exceed my expectations and did an excellent job. Plus for copying, it has a simple two button system on the front to choose whether to print the copy in black and white or colour.
Print wise it is so easy to use, and most importantly clean and clear even when printing images. I tested it out on A4 paper and on smaller glossy photo paper and it was excellent on both. The only tiny niggle was having to navigate the menu to change the type of paper over, but the fact that it gives you a lot of options is a good thing and for most people the A4 paper setting is the one it’ll be on the majority of the time I’d imagine.
The printer is really fast, much faster than my previous one and its not too ridiculously loud. I’ve never printed double sided before, so I was impressed with the printer being clever enough to flip the paper over, to print the other side when I tried it out.
All of the printing was clear, the photograph paper one especially so, it makes it so easy to print your photos out at home. The combination of quality paper and the Epson ET 4550 makes such a difference.
So to answer my question at the top of this post, is the Epson ET 4550 worth its big price tag? My answer is that in my opinion it definitely is, it exceeded my expectations and will most likely save me a fortune in ink cartridges. Plus it looks sleek smart and makes my paperwork look that much more professional.
*I was sent this printer for the purpose of this review, but as ever all thoughts and opinions are my own and honest*