Epson’s New EcoTank System

Thousands of pages at a fraction of the CPP

Epson EcoTank printer
Epson's new EcoTank printers, inexpensive ink for life. Epson

Two of the most common complaints about inkjet printers, especially the smaller, less-expensive models (Epson’s WorkForce WF-2660 All-in-One Printer comes to mind), is that they run out of ink too quickly and that replacement cartridges themselves cost too much, on a per-page basis. Well, Epson has invited us to put our money where our mouth is—with its new EcoTank ink system, announced today, August 4, 2015.

That printer makers make most of their profit from selling replacement cartridges is common knowledge. With EcoTank, Epson now offers customers a new way to buy ink, with the understanding that if you’re willing to make a meaningful investment upfront on the initial price of the printer (and a substantial amount of ink), the company will provide you with plenty of ink at a very reasonable cost per page, or CPP.

What is EcoTank?

Before going into exactly what EcoTank is, I should make a couple of things clear. When I say that EcoTank is new, I mean that it’s new to North America. Epson has been hawking it in Europe, the UK, Asia—just about every place else on the globe—since last year some time. Second, the EcoTank concept of putting deep ink wells on printers isn’t new, by any means, but it is new to consumer-grade, small, and medium-size (SMBs).

That said, what Epson has done is taken some of its more popular Expression and WorkForce AIOs and tacked good-size ink wells on the sides.

With EcoTank printers, instead of loading ink cartridges into the machine, depending on the model, you either fill the ink wells from bottles or replace big empty bags with full ones.

Again, the benefits are that you don’t run out of ink often (if ever) and that by buying in bulk, you get a highly competitive per-page price.

The EcoTank pricing model

If you’re one of those users that prints only a few pages a month, or perhaps even every other month, EcoTank is not economically beneficial. EcoTank benefits people who use their printers. Epson began by releasing five EcoTank models, ranging from entry-level Expression home-office models equivalent to the Expression Home XP-420 and WorkForce WF-2660, as well as a WorkForce Pro model much like the popular WF-4630.

The printers themselves sell for about three to four times the equivalent non-EcoTank machine. For example, the WorkForce ET-4550, which is an upgraded WF-2630, lists for $499.99, while the WF-2630’s MSRP is $129.99. The most interesting, the best deal, and by far the most expensive EcoTank model is the WorkForce Pro WF-R4640 EcoTank. It sells for $1,199 and comes with enough ink for 20,000 black-and-white pages and 20,000 color pages. Replacement ink, too, is quite reasonable, making the CPP for both monochrome and color well under 1 cent per page.

So go ahead, use that printer. Epson says that these packages represent “2 years’ worth of ink.” That, of course, depends on how much you print.

Ecologically sound

Epson says that these ink bottles (and bags) are the equivalent to, depending on the printer, as many as 50 or more ink cartridges.

Your trash contribution to the world should take a good hit, not to mention all the electronics and printheads built into the average ink tank—doing away with all those cartridges can’t be anything but good, for everybody, unless, of course, you don’t print much.

The end

Few journalists squawk louder than I do about high consumables costs. You know where I stand on this… If you’re not an EcoTank candidate, have no fear, Epson is not doing away with its cartridge-based machines.

Watch here for reviews of the different EcoTank models as Epson makes them available. The printers themselves are due out in September, but I should have a review of at least one of them today, the day of the EcoTank announcement.