For small offices and busy home offices, the new Epson EcoTank SuperTank ET-4850 All-in-One cartridge-free printer is a nice step up from ordinary. Print, copy, scan and fax from this true all-in-one, saving big money on ink throughout ownership. If fax capability is not needed, choose the ET-3850 with the same specs as the ET-4850 minus the fax, and costing about $100 less.
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As you will read later, I am conflicted about this printer, but not because there is anything wrong with it.
Here is a sample of its pedigree from Epson:
- Unique PrecisionCore Heat-Free Technology™ and Claria® ET pigment black ink produce extremely sharp text – plus impressive color photos and graphics – on virtually any paper type
- Built-in Scanner & Copier — High-resolution flatbed scanner and a 2.4″ color touchscreen for easy document copying and navigation
- Built-in Fax – Auto set-up using the Fax Setting Wizard to take advantage of robust professional office faxing capabilities
- Robust Paper Handling — Approximately 30-page Auto Document Feeder (ADF), paper-saving auto 2-sided printing and a 250-sheet paper tray for high productivity
- Modern Connectivity — Features Ethernet and wireless, plus hands-free voice-activated printing. Easily print from your smart device with the intuitive Epson Smart Panel® App
What about EcoTank SuperTank?
- Innovative Cartridge-Free Printing — High-capacity ink tanks mean no more tiny, expensive ink cartridges; Epson’s exclusive EcoFit® ink bottles make filling easy and worry-free
- Dramatic Savings on Replacement Ink — Save up to 90% with replacement ink bottles vs. ink cartridges – that’s enough to print up to 7,500 pages black/6,000 color, equivalent to about 90 individual ink cartridges
- Stress-Free Printing — Up to 2 years of ink in the box – and with every replacement ink set – for fewer out of ink frustrations
- Zero Cartridge Waste — By using an EcoTank printer, you can help reduce the amount of cartridge waste ending up in landfills
- Print speeds up to 15.5 ppm black and 8.5 ppm for color
- Scan resolution up to 1200×2400 dpi
- Print resolution up to 4800×1200
That’s what Epson tells us. Keep reading for my take!
**WHAT’S IN THE BOX**
- Epson ET-4850 (Buy from Amazon)
- Four bottles of Epson ink, with enough ink in the box for up to two years of printing
- Power cord
- Documentation, including Software CD for Windows, warranty, quick start guide
There are two ways to set up the printer. For users already part of the Epson ecosphere with the Epson SmartPanel app on their phone OR getting the product ready to use, setting up Wi-Fi through the printer’s display without first having the app. Both methods ask the user to follow the prompts either on a mobile phone’s screen or on the printer’s 2.4” color touchscreen display.
Users are asked at a strategic point to install the ink from the supplied ink bottles, the printer responds to the ink being loaded, and then we are asked to confirm that ink is installed. The printer finishes priming the print mechanism for printing.
Load some paper and set the paper size guides in the generous, 250-sheet paper tray.
When these basic settings are completed, the Epson can print a test page to confirm its print alignment settings are good and that’s it, ready to go, except for any needed firmware updates. Expect updates!
Loading about 100 sheets of plain paper in the tray, I chose to set up the printer for wireless only, though it has an Ethernet port for those who want a hard-wired connection to the network. There is also a standard USB Printer connection for those who want direct, hard-wired connection to a computer. Finally, there are a pair of standard RJ11 phone ports. One is for connection to the phone line. The other jack can accommodate a hard wired telephone. None of the requisite cabling is included.
Finally, with the printer on Wi-Fi, computers need software to access the ET-4850 to print, copy, scan and fax. As with virtually all new printers or all-in-one devices like this one, Windows and Mac computers will automatically download the software on the computer recognizes the connected printer. All our Macs and all our Windows computers were easily set up for printing and scanning, with one Windows PC set up for faxing.
Epson Remote Print was set up according to directions enabling the ability to print from a laptop or desktop computer to an Epson Email-enabled printer anywhere in the world.
Printing from mobile devices, from computers, including Chromebooks and as directed on the touch screen are all possible.
Scanning to a mobile device, computer and cloud services are available.
Tipping out the bottom of the display for best viewing angle, it is time to . . .
**PUT IT TO THE TEST**
From a Mac, I sent a Web page to print, then a 3×5 photo in digital form. The photo lacked the snap I was hoping for, so I loaded a sheet of Epson photo paper. Much better!
Copying (up to 100 copies) is easy both from the ADF or on the platen. Scanning, too, looked nearly perfect at all quality settings. Of course, higher resolution scans, as with prints and copies, take longer than at lower quality settings.
Printing envelopes loaded in the paper tray worked well as expected.
Scanning test – passed with flying colors.
Its stated printing speed of 15.5 pages per minute for black printing and 8.5 pages per minute in color are not achievable in everyday practice. In my tests, and as an ink saving exercise, unless I need archival quality, I set printing at the lowest quality, “draft.” NO affordable color inkjet printer will win a speed test. The speed at best quality for documents and for photos is not by any means fast, but that is not why we have a printer of this type or for this user group.
There is no bypass capability for straight-through printing of envelopes, iron-on patches or on any media that ought not to be bent and rolled through the normal paper path. All media must be picked up from the paper tray. Why would a bypass be needed? Instead of having to load a single sheet of specialty paper or a single envelope in the paper tray, a single sheet bypass fixes this. Some specialty papers are for iron-ons, and also for labels on such things as quilts. Some of these papers are heavy, and it sure is handy for these special needs to have a bypass.
For my needs, this is not an issue. I so rarely need this capability with one exception, envelopes. Either load one in the paper tray, write it by hand or choose a different printer here at Gadget Central.
As readers are aware, I recommend color printers as a secondary printer, with black & white laser printers the preferred main printer. My preferred, efficient, inexpensive-to-print brand is Brother. Brother monochrome laser printers sit idle until called to action, with no ink to wear out from disuse and the cost per page is so low as to not be worth the effort to do the math. Not all laser printers have so low a cost per page.
This Epson and other supertank-type color inkjet printers should fare better than older inkjet technologies in that the ink reservoirs are sealed, the jets primed and ready so there is little to no cleaning cycling. And this Epson promises to be super economical on a per-page basis. It is the buy-in cost that causes pause. Nearly $500 is a lot of money! Even the ET-3850 is rather pricey. Moving down the scale, the other EcoTank models do not include an ADF, which, to me, is an essential printer feature and, therefore, a deal breaker.
What to do?
I occasionally need to send a fax. The convenience of a built-in fax is still of value here. If this is not important to you, the ET-3850 may be an attractive alternative for those who need to crank out color pages.
Except for a non-existent single-sheet bypass pick-up slot, this is a well-executed all-in-one printer in the true sense of the term, as this one includes comprehensive fax capabilities. There is added value by virtue of inexpensive replacement ink bottles and the initial generous supply of ink included in the box. It’s a good deal if prospective buyers can get past the initial cost of the printer. Part of this inner discussion is the commitment to use the printer regularly.
If the ET-3850 is more your style, buy it from Amazon.
OR, here is another thought. If color is a necessity, home users and small offices may be better off with a color laser all-in-one/multifunction printer. The initial cost for a darn good one is less than for this Epson! Supplies are reasonably priced, especially for third party color laser ink where available. Brands include Brother, Canon Epson, HP, and Xerox among others. Interested? Let me know. If I receive enough email asking for reviews of color laser printers, I’ll look into reviewing one or more. Tell me your needs, the monthly volume and if you want fax in the mix or only the usual, copy, print, scan, with ADF and duplex printing.
One year manufacturer’s warranty increases to two years with registration, including full unit replacement.