Epson has announced a line of EcoTank printers for the North American marketplace, with availability scheduled for August 24, 2015. These printers are high priced, ranging from $380 for the ET-2500 to $1200 for the WF-R4640. Even the lowest cost printer includes wireless technology and the ability to copy and scan. The big selling point is that these printers have the ability to use low-cost bulk ink from Epson.
Does Epson know something I don’t? The economics make sense, but unfortunately this strategy has led to failure every time it has been tried. Most recently, Kodak’s inkjet printers were originally sold at high prices, with the benefit of low-cost refills. Kodak soon found out that consumers were unwilling to pay high prices for printers. They were forced to discount their printers and eventually exited the business.
Epson does have some information that I don’t have. Similar printers have been sold in Europe and Latin America for the past year, and perhaps they were successful. Perhaps consumers have changed their behavior and are now willing to pay more for their printer. Perhaps, but I doubt it. The appeal of the $99 printer is simply compelling.
Now for printer performance. I have no doubt that the EcoTank printers produce high-quality prints. Epson is a well-respected company, and they produce high-quality printers. EcoTank printers do not, however, produce durable, long-lasting prints. Henry Wilhelm has tested the related L355 and L800 printers and found “…the dye inks supplied with the printers have poor light stability and also have very poor resistance to atmospheric ozone. When used with plain papers, the waterfastness of the inks is very poor and is far inferior to the waterfastness of Epson DuraBrite pigment inks.”
I think I’ll stick with my HP Office Jet Pro 8100 for the time being.
For more on the Epson EcoTank printers see Finally, a Printer That Ends the Nightmare of Ink Refills and New Epson EcoTank Printers “Loaded & Ready With Up to 2 year of Ink”.
Note: I reached out to Epson for their comment for this post but did not receive a reply.