Epson WorkForce ET-4550 EcoTank Review

Rating:

The world of inkjet printers has existed for quite a long time, and it is often characterized and stereotyped by cheap printers, and expensive ink that doesn’t last very long. This world is rife for disruption, and the Epson WorkForce ET-4550 EcoTank might just be the answer.

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Form Factor

The Epson WorkForce ET-4550 EcoTank is a rather large machine, billed as part of the new class of Supertank printers, appearing to be wider than it is tall, which could very well mean that it occupies quite a bit of desk space, if that is a concern. You will find the usual multi-function printer accoutrements: a scanner and copy machine at the top, trays that feed paper or catch prints all over the place, and a console that allows for complete control over the printer. What will appear to be new is a very visible set of ink tanks on the side of the ET-4550 EcoTank, which allows for such ludicrously high number of printed pages per bottle of ink, and a very low cost per page number.

The ET-4550 EcoTank is a very functional machine, and was not too heavy before and after the ink tanks had been filled, but it does become rather immobile after ink tanks have been filled. At least, I was afraid of moving it for fear of dropping or tilting it like a clutz, but the machine can be easily moved as long as kept level.

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The control panel found on the Epson WorkForce ET-4550 EcoTank is quite sturdy and makes it simple to identify the different functions available at your fingertips, though I do find it relatively odd that there are two different start buttons for black and white and for colour. Odd, but completely understandable in its implementation. In addition, the display panel is purely black and white, but nothing more was necessary and made it feel very snappy and responsive when using it in concert with the on-device controls.

Setup and Installation

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Once unboxed and placed on a desk and removing all of the plastic bracing and tape, the instruction manual asks you to don some rubber gloves and fill the ink tanks. This process is quite painless but can allow for some messes if you aren’t careful. Safe to assume that swift and confident hands would be best, and to read the instructions on disposal of the ink bottles.

Plugging in the WorkForce ET-4550 EcoTank brings the machine to life, and walks through the process of connecting to your internet, connecting the fax line if available, and then it needs to take about 20 minutes to “charge the ink.” I’m still not sure what this really does, but this is the longest and most difficult part of the installation, though it does allow time for office jokes about what charging actually does, and that’s always a good time.

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Adding the Epson WorkForce ET-4550 EcoTank to the list of printers on your computer was a relative snap. On the OSX side, the printer appeared automagically in the list of available printers to add, and within 30 seconds I was up and running and ready to print. There is a similarly painless process on the Windows side, giving me the impression that the software setup aspect of the ET-4550 EcoTank is one of the easiest that I had ever seen.

Performance

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The loud whirs that indicate that the Epson WorkForce ET-4550 EcoTank is currently awake and performing an action usually mean that a print is happening, and it usually ends quickly. Prints are quick and swift, and are able to be controlled with the granularity that all printers should have at their command: level of quality, colour options, page options, and all of the other bells and whistles that multi-function printers should have available to them.

Looking at the ink levels after several hundred pages worth of prints, it feels like the ink supply has hardly moved, making it feel like it can actually get to the advertised number of printed pages per ink bottle. The Epson WorkForce ET-4550 EcoTank comes with enough ink to last for 11,000 monochrome pages or 8,500 colour pages, and at an MSRP of $599, that works out to roughly 5.45 cents per monochrome page, and 7.05 cents per colour page based on the initial purchase price with ink included. A full set of ink bottle refills (black + cyan + yellow + magenta) will cost, in total, $69.76 before taxes, which should yield about 5,500 monochrome pages or 4,250 colour pages. This gives us a cost per page, by ink refills alone, of 1.27 cents per monochrome page and 1.64 cents per colour page. That’s the lowest cost per page on any printer we have reviewed on TechHub, and that’s a fantastic number.

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The other functions work quite well – scanning and copying works as advertised and provided good quality, though I was unfortunately unable to use the fax functionality of the ET-4550. Given that the paper storage tray can only store about 150 pages of paper, the Epson WorkForce ET-4550 EcoTank is great for offices that don’t print more than 150 pages at a time, but still print a higher number of pages overall, as the cost of ink allows for great savings over the lifetime of the printer.

One minor issue experienced with the ET-4550 EcoTank was that after long periods of inactivity, and possibly a poor modem-router, sending prints into the queue would cause the printer to hang and require a hard reboot before picking up from the last job in the print queue. Very much a rare issue, but something to look out for!

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The print quality of the Epson WorkForce ET-4550 is quite good, providing fast and high quality prints that, at least with text, seemed to come from a laser printer. Business documents and coloured images embedded into documents looked great, and photos on premium glossy 4×6″ paper as well as illustrations on 8×11″ plain white and matte paper look good. The photos and illustrations seem a to exhibit a bit of graininess, even at higher quality levels, but would be acceptable for most use cases for personal and office usage.

The Bottom Line

The Epson WorkForce ET-4550 EcoTank promises to deliver a great printer that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg with respect to ink refills, and I believe that they have provided such a product. While a tad costly for the printer itself, the quality of prints and its other functions as well as the low cost for ink refills makes this printer great in value.

This product is perfect for: individuals or offices that need a cost effective and high-performance printer.

Key things to be aware of: the ink tanks on the side of the printer are great indicators of ink levels but also make it a bit harder to move the printer.

Final review score: 4.5. The Epson WorkForce ET-4550 EcoTank is a lovely printer that delivers its promise of low cost ink and high performance printing, with the only drawback being the higher cost for the printer itself.

Summary
Review Date
Reviewed Item
Epson WorkForce ET-4550 EcoTank
Author Rating
4
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Jon Lim

Jon Lim is a professional developer, writer, and an avid technologist. He has written creatively for the past 16 years, and professionally for 4 years.

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1 Comment

  • Bob Eskridge November 9, 2015 at 2:10 pm - Reply

    if nothing happens at initial set up, press the OK button for 3 seconds to start the “ink charging”

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