Epson has figured out a way to get you to pay more than $300 for a printer again: a two-year supply of printer ink, built-in. The company recently announced a lineup of “EcoTank” all-in-one printers that offer 24 months of printer yields based on the average use case for each class of printer, thanks to their use of a large ink tank, rather than smaller ink cartridges.
In other words, if you spend a bit more to upgrade to Epson’s EcoTank series, you won’t have to buy new ink for a long, long time. Another way to think of it—especially if you use more ink than the average for your class of printer—is that one EcoTank equals about 20 standard ink cartridges.
Even crazier, Epson’s ink tanks are refillable on almost all EcoTank printers, allowing you to buy refill bottles starting at $13 a pop or $52 for a set—EcoTank printers are of the 4-color CMYK variety.
Epson will offer five EcoTank models when the printers roll out in September, with prices starting at $380 for the consumer base model, the Expression ET-2500. That printer offers yields of 4,000 black pages and 6,500 color. Epson says it arrived at its two-year estimate by figuring the average home user prints about 150 pages a month.
Here’s the complete EcoTank printer lineup:
Expression ET-2500 ($380): ink yield of up to 4,000 black and 6,500 color pages and print speeds of up to 9.2 ISO pages per minute (black) and 4.5 ISO ppm (color).
Expression ET-2550 ($400): ink yield of up to 4,000 black and 6,500 color pages and print speeds of up to 9.2 ISO ppm (black) and 4.5 ISO ppm (color).
WorkForce ET-4500 ($430): ink yield of up to 4,000 black and 6,500 color pages and print speeds of up to 9.2 ISO ppm (black) and 4.5 ISO ppm (color).
WorkForce ET-4550 ($500): ink yield of up to 11,000 black and 8,500 color pages and print speeds of up to 13 ISO ppm (black) and 7.3 ISO ppm (color).
WorkForce Pro WF-R4640 ($1,200): ink yield of up to 20,000 black and 20,000 color pages and print speeds of up to 20 ISO ppm (black) and 20 ISO ppm (color).
The impact on you at home: Printer companies are notorious for screwing over the average customer with low-priced printers and high-priced ink—also known as the razor and blades model. This new line-up appears to do away with that old strategy. I don’t know about you, but I keep waiting for the catch. Has Epson figured out a way to prevent you from buying generic refill ink? Are the refills only a month’s worth of ink? Will the yield models turn out to be more bogus than usual? Stay tuned, ink fans—printers just got interesting again.