Epson EcoTank L7160 review

Epson’s expensive EcoTank promises affordable five-colour inkjet printing

TODO alt text

Our Verdict

Epson’s EcoTank system may look a little clunky and it certainly adds cost, but in terms of print quality and ink economy, the L7160 is hard to beat.

For

  • Cost-effective printing
  • Five-colour ink system works well with photos
  • Includes enough ink for 1,900 photos

Against

  • Small, non-touchscreen interface
  • Expensive initial cost
  • Limited paper tray capacity
  • No ADF, NFC or fax

The Epson EcoTank L7160 multi-function printer is the latest EcoTank product from Epson that can be used for home or professional use. Instead of the four ink tanks found on previous Epson EcoTank printers, the L7160 has a five-colour refillable ink tank system through the addition of a dedicated photo black pigment ink.

The focus on printing photos is highlighted on the box stating that the L7160 includes enough ink in the bundled bottles to print 1,900 photos. That’s 10x15cm photo paper, not A4, but it’s still way more than any other inkjet can offer. 

At AED 1,900, the L7160 is certainly on the expensive side but over time, it should pay for itself based on what you save with ink costs when compared to standard ink-jet based printers. Also, inks are reasonably priced at AED 280 for a set of five as shown below.

Design

Epson’s EcoTank printers are a little larger than their cartridge-based equivalents. The ink tanks themselves bulge from the front panel and there’s something satisfying about being able to see how much ink you have remaining.

Waiting for a cartridge itself to tell you when it needs replacing can leave you dry, or suspicious that you’re spending more than you are actually using. The refueling system itself is well designed with bottles that correspond only with the correct colour tank, so you cannot pour the wrong one, while an automatic shut-off valve prevents you from overfilling the tanks.

With all the flaps and trays pushed in, the L7160 is compact enough, but the various extending trays feel flimsy and one can only wonder how long the many moving plastic parts will last. 

The 2.7-inch (6.8cm) display is small and not touchscreen, but it is easy enough to read on its tilting flap. You have to raise the flap and extend the front delivery tray to print anything, which extends the footprint of this printer. 

Front IO

We were happy to find an SD card slot alongside the front USB port and a square USB input beside the Ethernet port at the rear, although the package doesn’t include a USB data cable, which is fine as most people will likely connect to it wirelessly.

Spec Sheet

Here are the full specs of the Epson EcoTank ET-7750:

Type: Multifunction colour inkjet printer

Functions: Print, copy, scan

Ink: Five tanks (C, M, Y, PB, BK) 10 bottles included

Paper size: Up to A4, DVD Printing

Connectivity: Ethernet, Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi Direct, USB

Data storage slots: USB port, SD Card

Print speed: 13ppm (10ppm in colour), Max 28ppm

Main paper tray capacity: 100 sheets (20 x photo paper)

Print quality: 5,760 x 1,440 dpi

Duplex: Yes (plain A4 paper)

Scan quality: 1,200 x 2,400 dpi

Apple AirPrint: Yes

Google Cloud Print: Yes

App support: iOS/Android

Consumables included: 5 x ink refill bottles

Size/Weight: 161 x 425 x 359mm (HxWxD)

Features

The Epson EcoTank L7160 is a 3-in-1 multifunction device, so that means it can print, scan and photocopy, but not fax. Does anyone still do that? And being a premium model, it offers key features such as duplex printing. Most notable though, is the EcoTank system that replaces sealed cartridges with compartments you fill with ink from a bottle.

Five bottles of ink are included in the box, which Epson reckons might last you for up 1,900 photos, or 6,00 black and white pages and 4,000 colour documents. With the set of five ink bottle costing AED 280 that is a potential 80% on cartridge costs. However Epson has measured this it works out as more cost effective than any other inkjet system we have tested. 

There are three input paper trays, one that will accept one hundred sheets of plain paper and another for envelopes and photo paper, or a tray that allows you to print directly onto printable compact discs.

You can scan up to A4-sized documents at 1,200 x 2,400 dpi. That’s a reasonable resolution for most purposes.

We recorded print speeds in line with Epson’s claimed 28ppm for basic mono printing and while photo printing is slow, it is very impressive. There’s no NFC for one-touch communication with a mobile device, but the printer did connect readily enough using the office Wi-Fi network and via Wi-Fi Direct. 

Epson’s Windows software comes in the box and the Epson iConnect app is a free download for Android/Apple devices. It’s not an especially advanced app and doesn’t, for instance, join your printer with your Wi-Fi network for you at the installation stage.

Setup and operation

The user manual in this case is a mere leaflet, which is always a good sign. All you really need is the mobile app in order to follow the setup procedure and get the Epson EcoTank L7160 online and calibrated. Four test sheets are churned out for your approval, so it’s just as well you have so much ink included. Disappointingly, the app does not log the printer with your Wi-Fi network, so you have to type in your password via the cramped LCD and the buttons beside it. This makes the setup procedure rather longer than it needs to be. 

Filling the ink tanks, when prompted, is rather fun. The tops of the bottles have specific shapes so you can’t pour the cyan into the magenta tank for example. Presumably that would have caused a real headache. What’s more, they automatically stop dispensing ink when the tank is full, so you can simply invert the bottle with no fear of it running over. We put down newspaper for this job, but didn’t spill a drop and we needn’t have worn the included rubber gloves. 

In operation, the Epson is logical and easy to use, especially via the Epson iConnect app and it prints fairly quietly at 37dB when using photo paper.

How we test printers

Each printer we source for testing is measured on our test bench and the results are critically compared with every other model we have reviewed. Rather than relying on the manufacturer’s quoted figures, we time the first page out and print speeds in single sheet and duplex mode using a standard ten-page document and a stopwatch app. To compare print quality, we print out the same set of test documents on every machine. These twelve test pages include text of varying font sizes and colours, mixed image and text pages, a set of photos and a series of test patterns designed to assess sharpness, colour fidelity, contrast and grey scale. 

We also calculate running costs, compare functionality and consider each product’s versatility, design and build quality. The overall score reflects all of these parameters and overall value for money.

Performance

The Epson EcoTank L7160 passed all of our tests easily and although it would occasionally spit out two pieces of photo paper at the same time, the quality of print was high. 

Very small text was always clearly legible, while larger letters appeared well defined and consistent. Laser printers tend to manage finer lines, but there was certainly no smearing, or over inking going on.

The four dyes are applied evenly and quickly to produce vivid colour documents. But the Epson EcoTank L7160 is most impressive when turning out photos onto glossy photo paper at their highest quality. The amount of detail on show is remarkable and the advantage of using a separate photo black pigment in addition to the black dye is apparent in every shot. 

It’s fairly fast too, with print speeds that measure up to Epson’s quoted 5.5 pages per minute for mono duplex printing, or possibly 28ppm when flat out. It’s not as fast as a laser printer, nor is it the fastest inkjet, and with the paper tray limited to one hundred sheets, it cannot compete with a Xerox machine for efficiency. It performed reliably in the test however, and it certainly didn’t run out of ink.

Final verdict

The potential savings that can be made with the latest iteration of Epson’s EcoTank system easily outweigh that hefty initial outlay. By any measurement, it works out far less expensive than cartridges, while the five-colour system works especially well with photos on photo paper. 

Mono duplex printing is fairly fast and reliable on A4 paper, but don’t forget that you can also print documents in colour, not to mention envelopes and CD labels.

There’s denying that at a recommended retail price of AED 1,900, this is an expensive printer and it only really makes sense if you know you will be doing quite a lot of printing. Also, at that high price, it’s a pity there’s no NFC connectivity or a higher scanning resolution.   

Epson’s EcoTank system has come a long way and the range-topping EcoTank L7160 feels and prints like a premium inkjet machine. Photos on glossy photo paper evidently benefit from the fifth photo black pigment.

If you can get past that prohibitive initial cost, this ink system really does work out far more cost effective than any cartridge-based system. Given the high cost, however, and the high capacity of the ink tanks, it makes more sense in an office that prints in colour often, or a home with kids and frequent school projects.