Reviewed by David Savage
The environment and eco-friendly products are a massive topic these days, with everything from single use plastics such as straws, cotton buds and carrier bags right up to electronics and vehicles all looking to be much friendlier to the planet.
We are now into the summer holidays (although you wouldn’t know it with the amount of rain and flooding we have had over the past few days) and the schools are broken up, you may be starting to think about all those back to school items you have to start buying. It simply isn’t new uniform and you’re finished. Yes, there is school uniforms (and lots of it), P.E. kits, shoes, school bags, pens and pencils etc. but there are also the bigger purchases as well. If this your child is moving up to high school they will be getting a lot more homework, so that means they need a computer or laptop and a printer. Printers for the most part are not that eco-friendly, and some can be quite expensive to run.
The eldest in our house will be getting lots more homework when school starts (she had already started printing more before they broke up) and while we have a perfectly good and functional mono laser printer, a lot of the projects that school send home require colour. This meant that we were thinking about a new printer, but inkjets can be costly to run changing ink cartridges all the time. While you can get non-oem cartridges cheaper, do you really want to void the warranty and possibly ruin your nice new and expensive printer by buying sub-standard ink?
Well Epson have the answer with their EcoTank printer – which is perfect for any household – especially one with school age children. While most printers operate using a cartridge system, the Epson EcoTank doesn’t; it has refillable tanks meaning it is cheaper to run and has less wastage, so is much better for your pocket and for the environment.
The Epson EcoTank ET-2711 features:
- 3-in-1 printer (printer, copier and scanner)
- Ultra-low-cost printing, and can save up to 90% on the cost of ink
- Next generation ink filling system which can hold the equivalent of 88 cartridges’ worth of ink
- Comes with enough ink to print up to 4,500 pages in black and 7,500 pages in colour
- Easy mobile printing with WiFi, WiFi Direct, and the Epson iPrint app
Once you have unpacked the printer, I’d suggest you allow 40-50 minutes for the initial setup. There is lots of tape that needs to removed from the printer before you start – make sure you do this and get all of the bits off – even the hidden ones! While there is a Quick Start guide included, I recommend not using this, and using the supplied CD or the online setup video that is mentioned in the Quick Start guide instead, as they are so much more informative and it’s easier to understand, especially for a novice.
Before you can start printing, you need to fill up with ink. Anyone that has used inkjets before will be used to installing cartridges. The ET-2711 is different and I think much easier. The printer has a fixed ink tank compartment at the front of the printer which is accessed by pulling down the lid. Inside are four ink compartments for the different colours. The printer comes with four bottles of ink: black, magenta, yellow and cyan. To fill or top up the printer ink, lift the flap of the colour you are filling and insert the bottle (at an angle first and then move to a vertical position). The ink bottles will only fit in one way as they have notches on the top. The ink will stop filling automatically when reaching the right level, so if you do have ink left in the bottle you can just screw back on the cap and use it again when needed. When filling the ink just be careful of splatters as if the ink gets on your clothes (or carpet!) you won’t be able to get it out. Having said that, the system worked perfectly for us and there wasn’t a single drop of ink spilled, and it was so easy – nothing like the system from years gone by of refilling old ink cartridges with syringes and getting more on the carpet than in the cartridge. You can even see how much ink is left in each tank through the window on the ink tank, so you know when you need to refill or top up.
Once the software is installed and the printer is registered, you can start to use it. Please note, that on first use after filling the ink tanks, it does need to be initialised and this takes 10 minutes to complete.
I choose to use the wireless option for printing to reduce cables running around the desk. Wireless printers I have used in the past have always been complicated to setup (and I have always resorted to using a cable) but this one was simple – it can connect via your router or a direct Wi-Fi Direct connection to the printer. It works very well, and is quite a fast connection.
My favourite functions of the printer are that it can also be used remotely by emailing your documents to the printer as you can set up its own email address, which you can customise, and it can also be used with tablets and phones, so you can print from pretty much anywhere.
The quality of the print is excellent, even on standard GSM paper with standard settings. On photo paper it is even better.
Apart from printing, it is also a copier and scanner. You can scan and print directly from the front of the printer, basically using it like a photo copier. You can also use the same function to scan and copy to save to your computer. The only issue I had with this was setting up the scanner to use with the software on the computer as it wouldn’t take the settings and the help files were not hugely informative. It took nearly an hour to sort this out, but the scanner function now works perfectly, both via USB cable and wirelessly. It scans fast (11 seconds for A4 in mono, 28 in colour) with a scanning resolution of 2,400 DPI x 1,200 DPI.
The Epson ET-2711 isn’t a cheap printer with an RRP of £229.99, but as the bottles of ink cost around £8.99 each, it is approx. £36 to completely refill all the ink. When you can pay over £20 per colour for a genuine ink cartridge on other inkjets, this is a bargain and the printer will end up paying for itself in reduced ink costs. And because you are filling the tanks yourself, you are in control and can see the amount of ink going in any spare left in the bottle can be reused, reducing wastage as well as cost. It obviously also means that if the yellow is empty, you only need to fill the yellow, so you’re not binning empty cartridges for the sake of one empty colour.
The speed and quality of print is excellent, and the vastly reduced printing costs make it a very worthwhile investment for the home, especially with the amount of homework the kids will get.
This is an excellent quality printer and the cartridge-free printing is a brilliant feature that is so easy to use and will save an absolute fortune on ink, as well as reducing waste. If you are thinking on investing in a printer before the kids go back to school, then I can highly recommend the Epson EcoTank ET-2711 – even with the initial configuration problems with the scanner.