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Review: Epson EcoTank -- an inkjet printer without cartridges

Brian Nadel | Sept. 30, 2015
Epson is attempting to rewrite printer history with its new line of EcoTank inkjet printers.

et 4550 tanks2
Beneath a hinged cover on its right side, the ET4550 has four ink tanks, each of which has a plastic window so you can see the ink level.

You also should be careful when moving the printer to prevent spills. In fact, the printer comes with a plastic bag to cover it while moving, although I carried it across an office and down two flights of stairs without any leakage.

To get all the ink into the tank, you'll need to give the bottle a gentle squeeze. If you don't use it all for any reason, each bottle comes with a cap. However, Epson warns that you should use any remaining ink in the bottle within six months to keep it from drying out; an unopened bottle has a three-year shelf life.

Once its tanks are filled, the ET-4550 takes 20 minutes to perform a one-time initialization that involves pumping ink and removing air bubbles.

Using the printer

For businesses with limited space, the ET-4550 should fit right in. It has a 20.0-x-14.2-in. footprint and is 9.5 in. tall. It includes a text-based 2.2-in. monochrome info screen, and can connect via a USB cable to your computer, or via wired Ethernet or Wi-Fi. Unfortunately, it has neither a USB slot for quickly printing the contents of a mobile drive nor a Near Field Communications (NFC) spot for touching a phone to print. The 8.7-x-12.1-in. glass platen can scan letter-sized originals.

The ET-4550's paper tray holds 150 pages of up to legal-sized paper; it also has a 30-page document feeder that can work with paper sizes ranging from 3.5 x 5 in. to legal size sheets, including a variety of envelopes and a banner measuring 8.5 x 47 in. It can use between 17-lb. and 24-lb. stock, a more limited range than many printers (since it excludes heavy card stock). I tested the feeder with several different inexpensive inkjet paper stocks as well as standard paper weights over three weeks of daily use without suffering a jam.

The ET-4550 can easily service a small office or workgroup with a duty cycle of 3,000 pages a month.

The printer's PrecisionCore 1S inkjet array uses micro piezo-electric pumps that lay down drops of ink that are as small as 3.3-picoliters (3.3 trillionths of a liter), which is smaller (and thus, provides more detail) than many other printers in the same market.

Able to create documents that are up to 4800 x 1200 dots per inch (dpi) resolution, the ET-4550 has printing modes for High (for photos), Standard, Standard-Vivid (offers best color balance) and Draft quality output. It can be set to automatically print on both sides of a sheet.


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