Tech review: Epson EcoTank can print for a year or so before you need to refill the ink

If the ink lasts as long as Epson claims, you should be adding ink just once every year or so.

I’ve gone through almost every brand of inkjet printer over the past 15 years.

Every time print quality starts to degrade, usually from heavy use, I start looking at what’s new and then jump to another model or brand.

Luckily, printer manufacturers use the same business model as razor manufacturers: Printers are pretty affordable. It’s the ink cartridges — like replacement blades — that are expensive.

My current printer at home is an Epson Expression Home XP-420 all-in-one. Epson is now selling that printer’s new model, the XP-430, which sells for $59.99. A full set of ink cartridges costs $59 from Amazon.

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It’s not hard to see where the profit is.

But Epson has meanwhile done something unheard of in the inkjet printer market: It’s introduced a line of printers that use refillable ink tanks instead of ink cartridges.

I’ve been testing the Epson Expression ET-2650 EcoTank All-in-One ($299, epson.com), which is a printer, copier and scanner.

The 2650 pumps ink from tanks instead of cartridges. The tanks hold enough ink to print up to 4,000 pages black and 6,500 pages color, which is about two years’ worth of use or 20 sets of ink cartridges, according to Epson. The company also says users can save up to 80 percent on ink.

So what does the ink cost?

The 2650 uses four colors (black, cyan, magenta and yellow), and each 70-milliliter bottle costs around $12, meaning it’s $48 for the set. If the page yields are accurate, using an EcoTank printer will bring significant savings to my house.

The 2650 looks like previous Epson all-in-one printers except for the ink tanks, which are visible on the right side.

It has a 100-sheet capacity and can print up to 10 pages per minute in black or 4.5 pages per minute in color.

The 2650 allows users to connect and print from a computer through USB or wirelessly from their computer, iPad, iPhone or Android tablet or phone. The printer also does Wi-Fi Direct for network-free printing.

Interacting with the printer is done through buttons on the adjustable front panel, which has a 1.44-inch color display. The front of the printer also has an SD card slot for printing photos directly from your camera’s memory card.

The two big steps to setting up the 2650 are getting it configured on your wireless network and filling the ink tanks.

You’ll fill the tanks first. There is great potential for mess here, so take the time to put the printer down on some newspaper and put on a pair of rubber gloves. There are warnings about the ink permanently staining surfaces and clothing, and I’m guessing it’d take awhile for it to wash off your skin.

The ink tanks are small plastic reservoirs with rubber stoppers. The sides of the reservoir are visible on the right side of the…

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