The Epson ET-5170 Ecotank is a SOHO (small office/home office class) printer that comes with enough ink to print an incredible 13,300 mono or 5,200 pages in colour. It may have a higher upfront cost at $649 but it slays ordinary inkjets in running costs – well under ½ a cent per page.
To position this, it is an A4, colour, duplex print, multi-function (Print, Copy, Scan, Fax) with USB 2.0, Wi-Fi, Ethernet and Wi-Fi Direct connectivity.
It passes all our tests except one – convenience. The paper ejects face down and can only be removed from the rear of the printer. No, you can’t try front removal as the paper guides make that impossible. Yes, I know it is to enable the smallest footprint possible, but it can be a trap if you are looking for a small printer to go against a rear wall.
1-year extendable free to 2-years with registration
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Note: The ET5170 is only from Officeworks. It has an ADF, Wi-Fi, Ethernet and fax over the base ET-5150.
What is an EcoTank?
In short, it uses permanent PrecisionCore Heat-Free Technology ink heads that last the life of the printer and large refillable ink tanks. Most brands have large capacity ink tank printers. They are gaining popularity because, after about 1500 pages, the EcoTank capital cost is paid for in ink savings.
Let’s do the math on T542 ink refills (price based on retail – shop around)
Black 7500 pages $29.95
Cyan, Magenta, Yellow 6000 pages $$24.95 each
Total cost per set $104.80
Let’s assume that Epson’s ISO standard calculations are correct, which means 6650 pages mono or 5200 pages colour (CMYK). That is almost nothing for black (assuming black ink only use) and 00.0002 cents for colour (assuming CMYK).
A typical sub-$100 inkjet replacement cartridge set costs $70-100. The Black cartridge generally has a 150-page yield and the colour 130-pages. Black only print cost is 13 cents a page and colour as much as 50 cents a page. You pay for the ET5170 in about 1000 pages! Sermon over. If you have the cash, splash it on the ET-5170 and pay for it in under three reams of paper.
Setup – easy and can be largely automatic
It has a usable 2.4” touch screen – not for big fingers. Paper is via s 250 sheet front cassette or a single sheet rear manual feed. The easiest is to use the USB 2.0 cable (not supplied). But that makes it a non-shareable resource. The best way is to use the Wi-Fi WPS push-button set up to connect to your router’s 2.4Ghz band. On modern PCs, it will automatically load the appropriate driver.
Wi-Fi Direct means you connect to the printers Wi-Fi SSID and print directly. You can also connect via a smartphone and print via Email Print, Remote Print Driver, Epson iPrint, Apple AirPrint.
Size-wise it is 375(W) x 347(D) x 346mm (H) x 7.3kg with the caveat that you can only remove printed sheets from the rear – silly design decision. It barely had a blip on our power meter – a few watts at best during print and <.5W in idle. We recommend leaving this on 24/7/365.
The key issue is paper. Standard A4 bond (up to 80gsm) is like a sponge, and the ink soaks in, taking any semblance of gloss off it. That is the crucial difference between an inkjet and a laser – the latter fuses toner onto paper for more brilliant colours.
All that aside, copy paper is fine for 99% of use. If you need presentation quality, you can manually feed heavier coated paper like 90gsm HP Colour Choice. Note that the printer does not support photo paper or stock over 90gsm.
Having said all of that, black text is crisp and clear, horizontal and vertical lines – ditto. Colours are muted due to the paper, but photos show no banding, so overall, it is very good. The ink is pigment-based and relatively smudge, and water-resistant.
Epson claim 17.5 ISO inches per minute mono and 9.5”.
Our tests are more real world. A typical A4 sheet with a 50/50 mix of text and images and a double-sided menu with images, blocks of colour, black text etc.
Ten pages single-sided – 120 seconds plus 8-seconds to first page out – 10 seconds per A4 page
Five sheets double-sided (10 pages) – 180 seconds plus 16 seconds first page out – 18 seconds per page.
These are pretty good for a SOHO Printer.
Copy a JB Hi-Fi catalogue page (lots of solid yellow background) with reverse lettering. The total time including scanning, was 30 seconds. We did not test on ten pages, but you can safely assume 20 seconds a page.
Fax – who uses that anymore?
It will store 180 pages and scan up to 35 A4 90gsm bond pages (uses the same memory). We did not test this.
It has a single-sided auto document feeder (35 pages). You can use the flatbed (under the lid) and manually turn the paper over to produce duplex prints.
Warranty and build quality
It is 12-months back-to-base (you take it back to Epson or your retailer). You can extend this to 2-years on product registration within 30 days of purchase. PS – the warranty is overridden by a 100,000-page print limit – that is 200 reams! Recommended Duty cycle is three reams a month. Build quality is better than a cheap inkjet and should stand up to the rigours of small office use.
Compared to a cheap inkjet, if you consider that the Epson ET-5170 EcoTank SOHO printer pays for itself in less than three reams, it is a no-brainer. It is well made, quite fast at 6/12ppm (our test for single and duplex print) and does everything a small office, home office needs. But it does not do photo prints, and that may stop a consumer from considering it.
Epson ET-5170 EcoTank SOHO printer
The Epson ET-5170 Ecotank is a SOHO (small office/home office class) printer that comes with enough ink to print an incredible 13300 mono or 5200 pages in colour. It slays running costs!
Value for money
Ease of use
Great quality multi-function printer with the lot
Printed paper removal from the rear makes placement an issue