A printer is a pretty integral part of any home office, whether you buy one or opt for printer leasing. I know I couldn’t manage without one; I use it for work and for keeping up with running the household filing and finances. Ours also needs to cope with the kids’ regular requests to print out something homework-related, or a masterpiece that they’ve created on the computer.
Our current printer is a bit of a dinosaur, and I’ve been thinking about changing it for a while now. It’s really basic, and the ink cartridges are so expensive. I’d also love to be able to print out photos, but it just can’t produce high quality prints worthy of putting into a picture frame.
I like the idea of moving away from ink cartridges, so when Epson asked us to try out their latest EcoTank ink tank printer, the ET-3600, it was a great opportunity to see how it performed in our busy family home.
An ink tank printer has a number of tanks which you fill with different colours of ink from a bottle – so there are no ink cartridges involved. The tanks have a much bigger capacity than a typical cartridge, so you don’t need to refill them very often, and you benefit from economies of scale when it comes to buying ink.
The Epson ET-3600 is a 3-in-1 inkjet model which will print, copy and scan. It retails at around £400 and comes with two complete sets of ink, which apparently equates to 84 ink cartridges and will print up to 11,000 pages. That’s a lot of printing! When you do need to refill, a full set of ink costs around £39, which is really good value for money when you think just how much you can print from it. In fact Epson claims that you can reduce printing costs by 74% on average.
I have to admit, I was a bit nervous about filling up the ink tanks, but it was really straightforward. All the bottles are colour co-ordinated with the tanks, and the nozzles are designed to fit neatly into the neck of the tank. You just remove the seal underneath the lid, snap off the cap, and squeeze the bottle into the tank.
I would advise putting some newspaper under the printer when you’re filling up the ink, as inevitably there will be a few drips when you take the empty bottle away.
The setup process is also quite simple. We have an Apple desktop and had to connect the printer via the usb cable, then visit the Epson website and go through a step-by-step process to complete the setup. If you have a Windows computer there’s a CD provided for the installation process.
The ET-3600 is wi-fi enabled, so you don’t have to position it close to your desk (it comes with a usb cable if you’d like to connect it though). As it’s a 3-in-1 model that scans A4 paper size, it’s quite a large printer, but the paper holder flips away neatly when not in use and I don’t think it’s any bigger than other 3-in-1 models. It is a bit noisy when printing, so I think we’ll be making the most of the wi-fi function and keeping it off the desk.
The first thing to say is this machine is fast. It prints 13 black and white pages per minute, and over 7 colour pages per minute. The black ink produces really high quality text, and I was seriously impressed at the print quality on photos.
The display screen has a fairly simple menu, which is easy to navigate using the arrow buttons. From here you can copy and scan directly, and also change the setup options. There are also dedicated buttons to stop printing, and select black & white or colour printing. We haven’t explored a lot of the elements that you can customise when printing – we’re very happy with the standard settings – but you can change them easily via the print dialogue box on your computer.
The paper holder flips away neatly when not in use, and the paper drawer holds a generous 150 sheets. I did struggle with the paper drawer in the first few days of using the ET-3600. It has adjustable guides to accommodate different paper sizes, and it took me a while to get the hang of setting these correctly, which caused a couple of paper jams. These were really easy to sort out via the hatch at the back of the machine though.
I like the fact that the ET-3600 has some eco-friendly features built in. Obviously, using larger bottles of ink reduces waste packaging, but it also automatically prints in double-sided mode to cut down on paper usage. It will enter sleep mode and turn off the LCD screen if it isn’t used for a period of time; you can even change that time period, and select other options such as auto power-off to save energy.
As well as connecting the printer to your main computer, you can also print and scan from your smartphone or tablet, using the free Epson iPrint4 app. This function is brilliant when someone is using the desktop and another family member wants to access the printer.
You can also use Epson Email Print to print from any device that can send email. You just attach whatever you want to print to an email, send it to your printer, and the email and attachments print automatically. I’m not sure we’ll be using this feature, but anyone who visits us will be able to easily send something to print from their devices without having to install the iPrint app.
SCANNING & COPYING
You can operate the scanner via the control panel, or the Epson Scan utility which is installed on your computer. Copying is super-simple; you just place the original in the scanner, select ‘Copy’ and press ‘Start’. You can play around with other settings such as borders, paper size, zoom and orientation if you need to as well.
I’m impressed with the ET-3600. It’s well-made, it’s intuitive to use, and the print quality is excellent. The fact that it’s going to save us money on ink is brilliant too. Having moved from a standard printer to a 3-in-1 model, I’ve had to find some extra office space for the ET-3600. It’s forced me to tidy up a bit though, which can only be good thing!
If you’re looking for a good quality 3-in-1 printer that can cope with a busy family home, the ET-3600 will fit the bill. Having explored all the benefits of the ink tank system, I can’t think of any reason why you wouldn’t move away from standard ink cartridges to an ink tank printer; we certainly won’t be going back any time soon.
Could the Epson ET-3600 ink tank printer make your home printing quicker, cheaper and more efficient?
Epson provided the ET-3600 printer for review purposes, all opinions and comments are honest and genuine.