Epson ET-16500, A3, MFP, WorkForce, EcoTank printer (review)
The Epson ET-16500 is its big gun in small workgroup printing. Its EcoTank kills the issue of inkjet running costs. It has 500 sheets of A3 or A4 in two cassettes, and it is built to withstand rigours of business use.
GadgetGuy did an overview here that covers important things like paper stocks you can use, ink costs, and specifications. You may wish to read that first.
Epson kindly lent GadgetGuy an Epson ET-16500 for use in our office. As we go ‘paperless’ our print requirements have reduced. But we still need the MFP (multi-function printer) for scanning, occasional faxing, and quality output. The Epson ET-16500 does it all.
Review: Epson ET-16500 Australian website here.
This is not a product you throw in the back of a car to take home. At 6.66 cm(W) x 4.86 cm(D) x 4.18cm(H) and 23kg it is a solid, somewhat large, printer. At $1,599 including free delivery, it may dent your credit card too but think of all those loyalty points you get.
In the box, you get the printer, and two bottles each of 70ml Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black (140ml) ink refill bottles for about 6-6,500 pages (per set) of mono or full-colour prints.
You buy this because ink costs are very low. Oh, and Epson quality.
Setup is easy – just a tad long
The concept is to pour the contents of the ink bottles in the corresponding coloured ink tanks. Filling is easy but place some absorbent paper towels on the ground in case an errant drop escapes.
You fill the permanent tanks to the marker line and then press initial setup to prime the pumps. That process can take 20 minutes or so. Once finished you pour the remainder of the ink into the corresponding tanks up to the fill line.
You can top up individual tanks if you are printing a lot of a particular colour. But never let a tank run dry as that means repeating the pump priming process and using more ink than is necessary.
It connects to a 2.4GHz Wi-Fi band or 10/100 Ethernet LAN. Use a LAN cable if you can as it works better in Workgroup environments where you may not all be on the same wireless SSID networks. You can also use a USB cable for setup on a computer.
It supports Access Point mode (acts as a Wi-Fi hotspot if connected to the LAN), and Wi-Di – direct print from a smartphone.
The setup guide is simple. The User Manual is 238-pages which demonstrates this unit’s flexibility. Frankly, you don’t need to read the manual if all you want to do is scan, print, fax or copy – that is idiot-proof from your computer or the printer front panel.
Setting up the software
Next, install the driver/software from the CD or download from Epson. I suggest the latter as it will be the most recent software.
You start with the Epson Printer and Scanner drivers and Epson Software Update. Depending on your needs it will install
- EpsonNet Print
- Fax utility
- Photo Print
- EpsonNet config utility
All up, software downloads are under 150MB. The process was flawless using Epson’s Wizard.
In the end, it offers Go Mobile! This is to print photos and documents using a smartphone, tablet or mobile computer from home, the office, or from across the world.
This includes email print (to an address provided by Epson cloud), iPrint, AirPrint, Google Cloud Print, Scan to Epson Cloud and remote print driver to print to any other Epson printer.
This is amazing flexibility. You can also set up presets for frequently used functions. System Administrators have central printer management.
Paper handling: A3 – just extend the cassette
It has two x 250 sheet 80gsm cassettes. Both can be A3 and/or A4 or any size down to 4 x 6”. There is also a manual feed flap in the rear.
The only thing to remember is to update the paper size on the LCD screen.
We tested a range of paper stocks from 64gsm to 256gsm. The cassettes will handle up to 150gsm, and the manual feed covers heavier stocks. Envelopes up C4, 120gsm will feed.
We tested inkjet compatible labels and overhead transparencies – all good.
ADF – for fax, scan and copy
The auto-document feeder supports up to 35 sheets of A3 to A5 from 64 to 95gsm. We tested with a variety of paper stocks from thin invoice paper to light card. All fed faultlessly.
Epson correctly advises that valuable originals should be scanned on the scanner glass instead. This is to avoid any damage from a misfeed. If this happens, the whole scanner mechanism opens for easy clearing.
The ADF does double-sided scanning copying in one pass and up to 2400 DPI, 48-bit colour.
Scans can be to memory, external memory, external computer/NAS or cloud. Text scans can be in searchable PDF format.
We tested with a variety of content from scanned photos to originals. The Moire reduction (descreening) was effective in reducing Moire patterns on scanned or printed photos.
Memory cards and USB input/output
It will accept all SD cards and microSD adapters up to 64GB. Capacity depends on the original media type.
USB flash drives can be up to 2TB. It will support USB hard disks/SSD if these can function off 5V/500mA power.
It will print standard Office documents, JPEG or TIFF under 2GB file size.
Fax may be dying, but you occasionally need it
Connect this to a PSTN telephone line (direct) or even a phone extension off a PABX. The latter only needs an outside line prefix attached to the number.
It supports both mono and colour faxes and can store up to 500 pages. We tested 10-page A4 fax, and it was complete from loading on the ADF to finishing the fax in under a minute.
Interestingly it will send and receive A3 sized faxes if the other machine supports that. Otherwise, it will reduce the fax to A4.
It supports all usual fax functions like group fax, caller ID, address book etc. Faxes can be sent electronically from connected Mac or Windows computers – no need to scan.
We printed a variety of content on a range of papers and weights.
This is not a laser that only prints 80-100gsm stock and uses heat to fuse toner to paper. There is a little more chemistry to getting a perfect print. The trick is to select the correct stock and the right print quality from the LCD screen.
On 80gsm bond, the text was crisp and black with no bleed. The print was matte given that ink soaks into this paper.
On 105gsm matte coated stock colours and blacks were punchy with no bleed.
On 135gsm gloss stock colours took on a depth and gloss suitable for presentations.
We were impressed that it prints A3+ (13 x 19”oversize) to allow for borderless A3 prints.
We did not experience any jams, but it is easy to clear the paper path via the rear cover.
It is capable of printing consumer quality photo prints down to 4 x 6”. We had good results on both HP and Epson photo paper including testing out colour correction and fix photo settings.
Quality is good enough for presentations.
It comes with two sets of ink refills.
Standard EcoTank Ink bottles for refillable reservoirs – Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black. Approx. cost of a full set is $75.96 for about 10,500 A4 pages (under a cent per page).
Ink does have a shelf life. If a refill bottle is unopened, it is several years. Once in the tank, it is about two years (if not more). If not used for a long time ink-heads can get clogged requiring a head clean (that wastes ink). Always leave the printer powered on.
The Black ink is pigment based and reasonably water and fade resistant. The colour inks are dye based.
Alcohol-based fluorescent highlighters and marker pens will smudge the print.
Office Noise and access
We measured continuous printing at 48dB – quiet. It will not interrupt an office.
Like most printers, you need front access to work the 4.3”LCD screen and remove cassettes.
You occasionally need side access for ink tank refill. You occasionally need to access the rear manual paper feed. In all, allow a few centimetres around it 666mm(W) x 486mm(D) x 418mm(H) – it fits on a standard 600mm benchtop.
Standard is 12 months return to Epson or your retailer. If you register online within 30 days of purchase it increases to 2-years.
GadgetGuy’s take – Epson ET-16500 suits small offices admirably
We use a large, expensive, if now dated, Xerox Docuprint A3/A4 Laser. Frankly, for the volume of print we now do the Epson ET-16500 suits our 10-person operation admirably.
I was initially sceptical that an inkjet could replace a laser. Print quality is similar, and running costs are a fraction of the Xerox.
I have not mentioned print speeds in the review. That is because the need for speed is dependent on your needs.
For example, if you print a lot of long A4 documents on bond paper, then you need 30+ page a minute laser. But these speeds are not conducive to quality or flexibility of print media.
The Epson ET-16500 prints at
- 18 ppm A4 mono normal mode
- 10 ppm A4 colour
- A3 and duplex print is about half that
- 4 x 6” Photo in top quality can take a few minutes
My point is that print speed needs to match your impatience levels. My advice is that this is suitable for 95% of a workgroup’s needs and for that extra 5% drop by Office Works with a USB stick. Or buy a fast, low-cost A4 laser as well.
- $1,599 is amazing value for what you get compared to an A3 colour laser at several times the price
- Refillable ink tanks are extremely cost-effective
- A3 is handy for design work, and printing A4 folded books. A3+ is a bonus
- Duplex print and scan offers paper cost savings
- Print quality is fine for office to presentation use – it depends on using the right paper and ink settings for each job
- Epson WorkForce build quality means it is a keeper
- Does everything a typical MFP does – only better
- Mac, Windows, iOS, Android and even Linux
- Get over laser!
- Make sure print speeds are commensurate with your needs. If not, you will have to spend several times this price
- Need to train staff in using the right print and paper settings for the job
- Reasonably smudge-resistant when dry but watch out for highlighter pens
Price – Epson ET-16500
Ratings – Epson ET-16500
We are rating this as an A3/A4 small workgroup office/home printer. As such low print cost and flexibility outrank speed.
- Overall: 4.4 out of 5
- Features: 5 out of 5 – it does everything a workgroup could want including flexible media and cloud print options
- Value for money: 5 out of 5 – If you amortise the purchase price and ink over a typical workgroup printer use it is way ahead
- Performance: 4 out of 5 – It meets or exceeds all specifications
- Ease of Use: 4 out of 5 – Very easy to set up but staff need to understand the need to change paper and quality settings to get the best results
- Design: 4 out of 5 – it is a big, black office printer. Oh, for some creative colours and designs for office machines.