Epson EcoTank ET-1810 review: A runaway winner for running costs
The EcoTank ET-1810 is here to do one thing: produce pages at a ridiculously low cost per month
If you want to fax, copy or scan, look away now: Epson’s EcoTank ET-1810 didn’t get the multifunction memo. Instead, this single-function inkjet combines a relatively basic printer with the convenience of Wi-Fi, and Epson’s fantastic EcoTank system.
For the money, this may seem a simple device. There’s no display or memory card reader, no Ethernet port, and its minimal control panel is limited to four buttons and some elementary status lights. The ET-1810 doesn’t offer duplex printing, and there’s no enclosed paper cassette – just a simple rear tray that doesn’t do anything to protect the paper stack from dust. That’s not much for almost £190 after tax… until you consider running costs.
Instead of cartridges, Epson’s EcoTank printers use fixed ink tanks, filled by comparatively large bottles of ink. Refills are priced far more cheaply than a typical cartridge, and last for much longer, reducing the hassle involved in keeping an inkjet topped up. A secondary benefit is that there’s much less plastic waste, as you aren’t discarding cartridges every couple of hundred pages.
EcoTank isn’t a new concept. Epson brought it to the UK back in 2014, giving it plenty of time to tweak the details and make it foolproof. The ET-1810 arrives with a bottle each of black, cyan, magenta and yellow ink. You simply remove the cap, place the bottle on the relevant nozzle, and wait a minute while it disgorges its contents into the tank below. The nozzles and bottles are now physically keyed, so you can’t accidentally fill the wrong tank, and we’ve yet to spill a drop when using this revised version of the system.
The ET-1810’s high price begins to make sense when you consider running costs. It comes with enough ink to print 4,500 black pages and 7,500 in colour; that’s more than a lifetime’s work for a lightly used home inkjet. Given that a typical entry-level inkjet might have running costs of 3p per black page and 12p for colour, the ET-1810 will prove hugely cheaper to own; our calculations suggest you need to print 700 black and 1,200 colour pages for an EcoTank to “break even” compared to a typical entry-level inkjet. Even if you do use all the supplied ink, low pricing means ongoing running costs of just 0.16p per black page, and 0.29p in colour.
EcoTank is a great system, but it’s not quite perfect. Epson hasn’t yet worked out how to add a reliable level gauge to its tanks, so you need to visually check their levels and bat away frequent reminders to do so from the driver. Additionally, given that it might take a couple of years for a refillable tank printer to prove better value than a standard one, it’s disappointing that Epson doesn’t protect your investment with a multi-year warranty.
Strip away EcoTank, and the ET-1810 is exactly as it appears: a no-frills inkjet printer. It’s not fast, delivering black text at just 8.8 pages per minute (ppm), although we did double this to 16ppm at draft quality. It compares better for colour speed, but still delivered our taxing graphical test at only 2.9ppm. On plain paper, print quality was solid, but not spectacular. Our early prints suffered from missing horizontal stripes, easily fixed by aligning the print heads from the driver’s Maintenance page. With this fixed, print quality was comfortably good enough for everyday work.
We were pleasantly surprised by the ET-1810’s performance on photo paper. Again, it’s not quick, taking nearly 20 minutes over six postcard-sized photos. It was similarly slow when printing 10 x 8in photos onto A4 paper, taking 12mins 21secs over just two images. The results were as sharp and detailed as we’ve seen from a basic inkjet, though, so it’s a frustration that it will only print borderless photos on 10 x 15cm paper, and not anything larger.
Although it’s basic – and very light – the ET-1810 isn’t the most compact printer. Its tanks jut out at the front, and with the input and output trays extended its footprint is around 60 x 40cm. If you’re sharing a desk with it, the good news is that it’s about as quiet as inkjets get, and it won’t transmit strong vibrations through the desktop.
The EcoTank ET-1810 is a straightforward printer, with decent all-round performance and no particular weaknesses. Though basic, it’s a good everyday inkjet, capable of reasonable results across a range of jobs. Yes, it’s expensive, but in time it’s likely to prove far better value for all but the lightest of users. If you want a no-frills inkjet printer with low running costs, the ET-1810 is a runaway winner.
Epson EcoTank ET-1810 specifications
A4 5,760 x 1,440dpi inkjet colour printer
100-sheet input tray
375 x 347 x 169mm
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