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Epson EcoTank ET-2800 printer review: the great prints keep rolling

Epson EcoTank ET-2800 can print for up to two years with the included ink.
Epson EcoTank ET-2800
MSRP $280.00
“The Epson EcoTank ET-2800 produces great photo prints and scans at high-resolution, making this a good family printer.”
Pros
  • Great photo print quality
  • High-resolution 1200 dpi scans
  • Great mobile app
  • Small footprint
Cons
  • Print speed is slow
  • No full-page borderless option

Epson’s EcoTank ET-2800 is an all-in-one printer with refillable ink reservoirs that last a long time and save you money. It’s not a new idea, and Epson makes several other EcoTank models, but this is currently the most affordable model. The question is whether it’s one of the best printers available.

I like the price, but wanted to verify the value of the Epson EcoTank ET-2800 to make sure it provides enough quality and performance for your needs. I’ll take a look at the design, print quality and speed, multifunction features, and ease of use to determine whether this is the right printer for you.

Design

The Epson EcoTank ET-2800 is one of the narrowest printers I've tested.
The Epson EcoTank ET-2800 is one of the narrowest printers I’ve tested. Alan Truly / Digital Trends

The Epson EcoTank ET-2800 stands out as a remarkably tiny all-in-one printer. Spanning just 14.75 inches in width, it’s one of the smallest I’ve tested. Depth is a more standard 22.8 inches with the paper tray and output bin open, and it’s only 11 inches tall with paper in the tray. As expected, it’s light, weighing 8.8 pounds.

Despite the diminutive size, the design is eye-catching, with the ink tanks extending over 2 inches beyond the front panel. The control panel tilts upward for easy viewing. I tested the matte white model, but it’s also available in matte black.

A small, 1.44-inch color display with large buttons on either side provides access to printing and settings. The mobile app proved reliable and full-featured enough in my testing.

A 100-sheet paper tray is at the back, but is easily accessible. Paper guides are clearly marked and can be adjusted to hold media as small as 4×6 photo sheets and No. 10 envelopes.

Epson takes a bit of creative license in the product photos, showing the black, yellow, magenta, and cyan ink tanks in color. I could see the ink levels through the translucent tanks, but the colors weren’t visible.

Printing performance

Epson's EcoTank ET-2800 handles pictures very well.
Epson’s EcoTank ET-2800 handles pictures very well. Alan Truly / Digital Trends

Epson’s EcoTank ET-2800 provides great picture quality on photo paper. Glossy, semigloss, and matte photo paper prints were crisp and vibrant with no color cast. A dedicated photo printer, like the five-color Epson Expression Premium XP-7100 or the six-color EcoTank ET-8500, offers greater dynamic range, but usually costs more.

The EcoTank ET-2800 can print on all standard paper types and sizes. It handles No. 10 envelopes with no problems, even from the mobile app.

Contrast is low when printing on plain paper since blacks appear dark gray and whites are duller. That’s not unusual, but some printers, like the Brother MFC-J1205W, handle plain paper photos much better.

Epson's EcoTank ET-2800 has impressive quality on photo paper, but blacks suffer on plain paper.
Epson’s EcoTank ET-2800 delivers impressive quality on photo paper, but blacks suffer on plain paper. Photo by Tracey Truly / Digital Trends

Fast printers cost more, and the EcoTank ET-2800 is a budget model. At just 10 pages per minute (ppm) for monochrome and five ppm for color, I had to wait a little longer than usual for documents and labels to finish. That might not be a deal-breaker if you aren’t in a rush.

Epson saved a bit on paper-handling costs by limiting the EcoTank ET-2800 to single-sided printing. Duplex printing on both sides of the paper is important for some businesses, so that trade-off is worth considering.

Special features

Scans and copies are very sharp with the EcoTank ET-2800.
Scans and copies are very sharp with the EcoTank ET-2800. Photo by Tracey Truly / Digital Trends

Epson is generous with scan quality for its all-in-one printers. Like several other models, the EcoTank ET-2800 supports up to 1200 dots per inch (dpi) for high-resolution scanning from a computer after installing Epson’s Scan 2 utility. That’s as good as some dedicated scanners.

The Epson Smart Panel app for iOS and Android allows up to 600 dpi. That’s impressive since many printers are limited to 300 dpi when using the mobile app.

There’s no automatic document feeder, but the flatbed scanner makes nice color copies, saving me a trip to an office store.

Scan and copy speeds are relatively slow, but provide good quality with nice detail.

Software and compatibility

The EcoTank ET-2800 comes with four full bottles of ink.
The EcoTank ET-2800 comes with four full bottles of ink. Photo by Tracey Truly / Digital Trends

Installation is easy with the Epson Smart Panel app for iOS or Android. The app guided me step by step, making the process simple. Set aside at least a half hour, though. You need to fill the tanks (about four minutes), charge the ink system (about 11 minutes), print the alignment page, and recalibrate.

In my case, the printhead alignment was perfect on the first print. The complete setup took about 20 minutes. That’s really not bad and only needs to be done when you print enough to empty one or more ink tanks, which last a very long time.

I disabled the paper mismatch warning to simplify operation of the EcoTank ET-2800.
I disabled the paper mismatch warning to simplify operation of the EcoTank ET-2800. Alan Truly / Digital Trends

Epson’s Smart Panel is a well-designed mobile app that lets you set up, print, scan, copy, and perform maintenance from your phone. One issue arose, but I found a solution. If you get tired of paper mismatch warnings that require choosing the size and type on both the printer and in the app, you can switch that warning off in settings.

Windows and Mac computers support the EcoTank ET-2800 without the need to download anything. Like most major manufacturers, Epson offers several utilities and creative tools to help you get more out of the printer.

Save now and later

Epson didn't reduce the EcoTank ET-2800's print quality despite the low price.
Despite the low price, Epson didn’t reduce the EcoTank ET-2800’s print quality. Alan Truly / Digital Trends

Epson’s EcoTank ET-2800 retails for $280 but can be found for as low as $200. That makes it one of the most affordable tank printers.

The savings don’t stop there. Epson estimates you’ll get 7,500 color pages and 4,500 black-and-white pages from the included ink bottles. That could last up to two years.

The cost per page for color documents is about six-tenths of a cent whether you buy individual bottles or the multi-color three-pack. To be precise, the three-pack costs two cents less at $41.95 than three separate bottles at $13.99. The per-bottle price is the same for black ink, and the cost per page is three-tenths of a cent.

Traditional inkjet printers like Epson’s WorkForce WF-2930 can only print a few hundred pages before it’s time to replace the cartridges. With an ongoing need for more ink, your running costs add up quickly.

You’ll pay a little more to buy a tank printer, but given the large amount of ink included and the ongoing savings, it’s worth the investment. The EcoTank ET-2800 has much lower long-term costs, wastes less ink, and minimizes plastic waste.

Is this the printer for you?

Epson’s EcoTank ET-2800 falls just short of making our list of the best inkjet printers, but for a family printer on a budget, it’s still a great deal and certainly worth considering. There are a few trade-offs to consider before making a purchase. If you print frequently, the slow speed could become annoying. For home use, the low cost and high quality might be worth waiting a few more seconds for output.

Business users might miss duplex printing and an automatic document feeder for multipage copies. they might want to check our guide to the best office printers.

Epson intends this to be a hassle-free family printer, a need it serves well. The EcoTank ET-2800 is easy to connect to any device, and all functions are available from the mobile app. Photo prints look great on 4×6 paper, while monochrome documents and labels have crisp text and graphics.

For photo enthusiasts, there are a few cautions. Like most inkjets, you get the best quality from photo paper. Color laser printers, like HP’s Color LaserJet Pro 4301fdw, maintain contrast and vibrancy even on plain paper.

If you need full-page photos, be aware the EcoTank ET-2800 can’t print letter-sized borderless images. A straight-edge paper cutter can remove the white edges quickly, but it requires extra effort.

Alan Truly
Computing Writer
Alan is a Computing Writer living in Nova Scotia, Canada. A tech-enthusiast since his youth, Alan stays current on what is…
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