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Epson EcoTank Pro ET-5850 review: a nearly flawless inkjet

Epson's EcoTank Pro ET-5850 is a big, heavy business printer.
Epson EcoTank Pro ET-5850
MSRP $849.99
“The Epson EcoTank Pro ET-5850 is an outstanding business printer and an inkjet that's as fast as many laser printers.”
Pros
  • An inkjet that's as fast as a laser
  • Excellent plain paper photos
  • Three paper trays so you rarely need to switch paper
  • Fast, accurate color copies
  • High-resolution scans
  • USB port for thumb drives
  • Two years of free ink
Cons
  • It's a big, heavy printer
  • High upfront cost

Epson’s EcoTank Pro ET-5850 is an inkjet that’s as fast as some laser printers, promising the performance that bustling businesses require. Whether you run a small business or a busy home office, it has some unique features that might catch your eye.

A business printer can be a big investment, so we put the EcoTank Pro ET-5850 through its paces to find out if it’s one of the best printers on the market or if you should look elsewhere.

Design

The EcoTank Pro ET-5850 is versatile but requires a lot of space.
The EcoTank Pro ET-5850 is versatile, but requires a lot of space. Alan Truly / Digital Trends

The Epson EcoTank Pro ET-5850 is a big, boxy all-in-one printer with two 250-sheet paper trays, a 50-sheet rear feed, and an automatic document feeder (ADF). The bottom tray holds plain paper, while the top tray can also accept 4×6 photo paper and envelopes. The rear feed is ideal for one-off specialty paper and thicker material since it takes a more direct path through the printer.

The EcoTank Pro ET-5850 is an inkjet tank printer that looks like a heavy-duty laser printer. Epson designed this model to compete with color laser printers, so that makes sense.

It’s built to last and I could feel that in the heft of this 39.2-pound printer. That’s heavy for an inkjet, but many color laser printers, like Brother’s MFC-L3780CDW, weigh more. It stands 13.8 inches high, but if I add paper to the rear feed, it requires 18.1 inches of space above my desk or printer stand. The footprint is 16.7 inches wide by 19.7 inches deep. When all trays are extended, the depth is notably long at 32.4 inches.

The EcoTank Pro ET-5850 looks nice with its off-white body and black accents. I like that the ink tanks show the actual colors, which is attractive and makes the remaining ink apparent at a glance. The Canon Maxify GX2020 is the only other inkjet tank printer I’ve tested that has this feature. A central control panel features a large 4.3-inch color touchscreen. The panel is continuously adjustable from vertical to nearly horizontal, making it easy to see while seated or standing.

Printing performance

Epson made the EcoTank Pro ET-5850 as fast as a laser with better photo quality.
Epson made the EcoTank Pro ET-5850 as fast as a laser printer, with better photo quality. Photo by Tracey Truly / Digital Trends

The Epson EcoTank Pro ET-5850 is very fast for an inkjet printer, reaching up to 25 pages per minute (ppm) for both color and monochrome documents. Duplex printing is fully supported and is nearly as fast at 21 ppm, which is impressive since it has to pull the paper back in to print the opposite side.

Some printers begin slowly, but the EcoTank Pro ET-5850 outputs the first page in as little as 5.5 seconds and, unlike laser printers, doesn’t need to warm up before printing. When I took a break from testing, it needed a few seconds to wake from sleep. If that becomes annoying, I could adjust the sleep timer from one to 60 minutes, so that isn’t a problem. I can spare a few seconds for the extra power savings.

Speed isn’t the only important detail in an office printer. Businesses need sharp text and vivid color for presentations and marketing material. And the Epson EcoTank Pro ET-5850 delivers outstanding quality, as well as quick performance.

Epson's EcoTank Pro ET-5850 prints great on glossy and plain paper.
Epson’s EcoTank Pro ET-5850 prints great on glossy and plain paper. Photo by Tracey Truly / Digital Trends

It even handles borderless photo printing with great color fidelity, crisp detail, and good dynamic range. The EcoTank Pro ET-5850 offers fast speeds and excellent quality on everything I tried, even on plain paper.

A dedicated photo printer like Epson’s EcoTank ET-8500 still handles high-contrast pictures and subtle shading better, but that’s to be expected since it’s a printer that uses six ink colors rather than the usual four.

Special features

A convenient USB port allows easy walk-up printing at the EcoTank Pro ET-5850.
A convenient USB port on the EcoTank Pro ET-5850 allows easy walk-up printing. Photo by Tracey Truly / Digital Trends

Epson’s EcoTank Pro ET-5850 is an all-in-one printer with fax capability that can take care of all your office needs, including printing, scanning, and copying in color or black-and-white. On the rare occasion you need to send or receive a facsimile, the EcoTank Pro ET-5850 has phone ports for fax lines on the back.

There’s a USB-A port on the front at the bottom left. I can plug in a thumb drive for walk-up printing and scanning. Cloud services are also easy to access from the large color touchscreen if my phone and computer are out of reach.

The EcoTank Pro ET-5850 has a fast, high-quality ADF.
The EcoTank Pro ET-5850 has a fast, high-quality automatic document feeder. Photo by Tracey Truly / Digital Trends

Scan quality is excellent and Epson consistently offers higher resolution than most competing printers. I can quickly scan at up to 1,200 dots per inch (dpi) from the flatbed and ADF. The scanner is also quite fast, and a stack of double-sided documents passes through the ADF to make duplex color copies at 20 ppm.

Software and compatibility

The Epson EcoTank Pro ET-5850 comes with two full sets of ink.
The Epson EcoTank Pro ET-5850 comes with two full sets of ink. Alan Truly / Digital Trends

Installation is simple, but takes about 30 minutes. Setup involves filling the ink tanks, priming the lines, connecting to Wi-Fi, and updating the firmware. The EcoTank Pro ET-5850’s touchscreen notified me of the expected time for steps that took a few minutes, so I could switch to another task while it completed those processes. I spent about 10 to 15 minutes at the printer during setup.

Note that a complete set of ink bottles only fills the EcoTank Pro ET-5850’s tanks about 75% and about a quarter of that is pulled into the printer during setup. That’s normal and there are thousands of pages’ worth of ink in those four bottles.

Epson launched the EcoTank Pro ET-5850 in 2019, so the manual mentions the older Epson iPrint mobile app. I’d recommend using the Epson Smart Panel app, which has a better design and is also compatible with this printer. Connecting to Wi-Fi was easy and I could print reliably from my iPhone and Android phone. Windows and Mac printing is as effortless as usual.

If you prefer a wired connection, the EcoTank Pro ET-5850 has Ethernet and USB-B ports at the left rear side beside the fax ports.

To scan to my computer, I installed the manufacturer’s software since it enables more features. Epson includes a CD-ROM, but the website will have newer versions of the Epson apps. From my computer, I can get the full 1,200 dpi scan quality. From the mobile app, that’s limited to 600 dpi. Epson is better than most, offering double the scanning resolution of most printer manufacturers.

Price

The Epson EcoTank Pro ET-5850 is designed to serve a busy office. The $800 price makes it expensive for many consumers, but affordable for small businesses. Long-term savings help justify the expense.

A bottle of black ink provides up to 7,500 pages of monochrome documents. Each set of three color ink bottles can print about 6,000 color documents. Epson includes two full sets, which is roughly 27,000 pages worth of ink.

The cost per page for an inkjet tank is always low and the EcoTank Pro ET-5850 comes in at four-tenths of a cent for a monochrome page and a penny per color document.

Is this the printer for you?

Epson offers unlimited ink for EcoTank Pro ET-5850 for two years.
Epson offers unlimited ink for the EcoTank Pro ET-5850 for two years. Alan Truly / Digital Trends

The Epson EcoTank Pro ET-5850 is a fantastic printer that’s nearly flawless. It’s an expensive printer, but you recover the cost quickly with the ink savings. Select retailers have a $100 trade-in offer on Epson EcoTank Pro and some EcoTank models.

If you register the EcoTank Pro ET-5850, Epson guarantees unlimited ink for two years. That means you can print anything and everything with no concerns about ink cost for the first two years. The warranty increases from one to two years when you register.

The EcoTank Pro ET-5850 is a big enough printer that you should check whether you have enough space for it on your desk, table, or printer stand. It’s also quick enough that the side-to-side motion of the printheads will shake a lightweight stand.

If you want an even faster, more compact solution that handles plain paper photos well, the HP Color LaserJet Pro MFP 4301dw is a good alternative. Inkjets will always win for photo quality, but laser printers continue to have the speed advantage.

I had fun reviewing the Epson EcoTank Pro ET-5850 and recommend it to anyone looking for a high-volume business printer that excels at photo printing.

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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