Epson EcoTank ET-4500 review

No cartridges are required for this refillable EcoTank MFP

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We liked

Saying sayonara to overpriced ink cartridges is a very satisfying feeling, and being able to see the ink levels through clear plastic windows is also comforting. You can keep them topped up with the bottles that come bundled in the box whenever you like. Epson reckons these are good for up to two years’ worth of printing.

The print quality is consistently crisp and colourful, as is usually the case with Epson, and photos turn out more realistic and pleasing than most office-orientated printers. Duplex printing is another plus point.

We disliked

This bulky and tired form-factor isn’t the most practical for a small office as it cannot be stowed easily, nor does it allow papers to be stacked on top. And with the overhanging ink tanks, this is a rather bulbous and awkward machine to accommodate.

Ease of use could be much improved by designing a companion app to adjust the settings and get the thing online, rather than relying on the printer’s own control panel.

The eye-watering price of this printer is only really justified by the long-term savings you could make from the EcoTank system – to the tune of 70%, according to Epson. Will you have this printer long enough to justify the investment, and will it last that long without failing? 

We experienced repeated paper jams with our sample model, which suggests that it might not.

Final verdict

There’s no doubt that the EcoTank system is a revelation after years of overpaying for ink cartridges. Refilling the five tanks by hand is almost fun and being able to see the levels means you should never be surprised by a lack of ink again. If Epson’s figures are to be believed, you’re going to save a lot of money on your overall print costs.

However, this pretty basic MFP does not resemble a £350 (around $450, AU$600) machine, and that initial investment becomes harder to justify when the interface feels so crude and paper jams are an expected hazard.

Jim Hill

Jim is a seasoned expert when it comes to testing tech. From playing a prototype PlayStation One to meeting a man called Steve about a new kind of phone in 2007, he’s always hunting the next big thing at the bleeding edge of the electronics industry. After editing the tech section of Wired UK magazine, he is currently specialising in IT and voyaging in his VW camper van.