Reviewed by Colin Hewitt
I recently received the Epson ET-M1120 Mono EcoTank to review, and I’ve been seriously impressed.
For most of my working life, I’ve written documentation. It’s ranged from engineering technical specifications to user guides and instruction books. In my spare time, I also write; mostly short stories, plays, and comedy scripts; and I’m moving ever closer to finishing my first novel. These days I work primarily from a small home office.
When I’m in the latter stages of document development, I prefer working with a printed manuscript. I know that’s a bit old fashioned, but it gives me a better impression concerning how the end-product appears visually. One of the most significant drawbacks to this method is the eye-watering cost of printing, especially when using a traditional cartridge-based colour printer. However, for my needs, I’ve discovered that there’s an economical and environmentally friendly alternative — the Epson EcoTank M1120 monochrome printer.
Considering how cheaply you can now purchase a multifunction colour printer (I’ve seen some on the high street for less than £50), you might think that Epson’s price tag of £169.99 for a single function black and white printer is rather steep. However, when you compare the running costs (a set of replacement cartridges can sometimes exceed the initial outlay for some printers), between a cheap printer and this model, after a while, the amount saved could be very significant.
The fundamental difference between this and other printers on the market is that it does not rely on costly replacement cartridges. Instead, there is a large built-in ink tank. The user tops this up as required, which, for general use, shouldn’t be very often as one refill of ink prints approximately 6000 sheets. Yes that is correct 6000! I had to double-check the machine’s specifications to ensure I hadn’t misread it. It should also be noted that most printer cartridges cannot be easily recycled, the empty replacement Epson ink bottles can. A replacement bottle of black ink costs £13.41.
This piece of equipment is a single-function monochrome printer. That means there are very few bells and whistles – it’s not a scanner or photocopier – it has one function in life, to print good quality black and white documents, and it does this exceedingly well.
So, how good is it, and how easy to setup?
The printer arrived in sturdy, but not excessive packaging. The box contained the actual unit (white with a black top), a power lead, a 120ml bottle of Epson black ink, a CD-ROM containing all the software, and a ‘Start Here’ instruction sheet.
When removing the item from the box, the first thing that struck me was how light (approx. 3.5Kg) and compact the unit was. It measures in at 375mm wide, 267mm deep and 161mm high when not in use. The depth is increased to 512mm when fully extending the paper tray.
The quick start setup sheet is well written, but there’s a very comprehensive manual (130 pages) available online if you so require.
Setting things up could not have been simpler. Although Epson provides a CD of installation software, I chose the online route.
Visit the Epson installation page. The user then enters the model number.
The instructions then guide the user through every step of the way. It’s some of the most unambiguous instructions that I have seen for a piece of technical kit. Every stage accompanied by a video showing you precisely what to do (I can’t think of anything else they could have done to make things easier).
There are primarily three stages to the setup:
Prepare – where you un-package everything, remove protective materials, and connect the power cable.
This stage also instructs you how to fill the ink tank to a maximum level; it’s a straightforward process. The resealable ink bottle has been designed to be drip-free and stops releasing ink when the ink tank has reached maximum capacity. The user can also see when max capacity has been reached by looking at a sizeable fluid-level window on the front of the unit. After filling there was some ink left in the bottle, store this for future use.
After filling, there’s a ten-minute ink initialisation/priming stage before you load some A4 paper and print a quality test sheet. In my case, everything was correct the first time; however, if the print quality isn’t as good as expected, there are explicit instructions regarding how to rectify matters.
Install – here there are links to Windows software, the Apple App Store or Google Play depending on what device you are installing the printer applications.
Connect – this stage gets everything talking to each other. Connectivity is via WiFi; therefore, after setting it up, the user can print from all their wireless devices, e.g. notebooks, iPads, and smartphones. You can also connect to your computer via USB although if you intend using this method, the cable is not included – throughout this review, I used WiFi.
For me, Windows and the Android App worked first time, connecting to my iPad took a little longer; however, I think this was because I work with Windows far more than iOS devices rather than anything fundamentally wrong.
While on the setup pages the printer was also checked for firmware updates, this was required, but it installed effortlessly.
And that’s about it ‘Setup Complete’. I had the printer working with my laptop, iPad and Samsung phone in less than 30 mins!
The test prints were, as expected, perfectly crisp and clear without any sign of smearing, as were all the subsequent sheets since I’ve been using the printer.
For the technically minded the resolution of the device is 1440x720dpi, and the print speed is approximately 15 sheets a minute.
The printer accepts A4, A5, A6, B5, B6, C6 (Envelope), DL (Envelope), No. 10 (Envelope), Letter and Legal paper.
There is a twelve-month warranty, but currently has an extended 3 year warranty.
If pushed to find something to criticise, my only minor gripes would be that the paper does not fully slide inside the base, and the paper tray could contain more sheets than it does (I think it’s approximately 150). However, this isn’t a problem for my home setup. The advantages of a smaller footprint far outweigh either of these points.
In my home office, the Epson M1120 meets my needs for one particular function perfectly. It obviously won’t replace my colour printer (however Epson do manufacture other, more expensive EcoTank models that could). Still, if your printing needs are extensively large volume, black and white documents, this could be the economical solution you are seeking. This would be a great addition to a home office, or small business where printing high volume text-based black and white documents is essential.
I’ll be recommending this printer to fellow authors and amateur dramatic organisations who require numerous scripts printed out, I genuinely think it would soon pay for itself.
Key features include:
- Reduce your printing costs: While refills are likely to be few and far between, you’ll be able to save over 90% on the cost per page with replacement ink bottles
- Reliable and durable: One-year or 100,000-page warranty
- Reduce energy usage: Save up to 95% in power consumption
- Mobile printing: print anywhere in the house with Wi-Fi connectivity and Epson’s mobile printing apps
For more information or to buy, visit www.epson.co.uk.