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Could Cheap Epson Ink Make Home Printing Worth It Again?

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The only thing worse than the obscenely high cost of inkjet ink is the fact that the teensy weensy cartridges have so little ink in them, the ink can dry up before you ever get the chance to use it all.

I have Canon inkjet printer sitting on my shelf at home, and probably two-thirds of its ink just evaporated, I used it so infrequently. Now I can't use it at all, and wouldn't go near another printer with a barge pole . . .

Except maybe for these new "EcoTank" printers that Epson has just announced, that have huge ink tanks in them that Epson says will last two years before you have to refill them.

And better still you refill them, with new pricey cartridges, but with whopping great bottles of ink that cost only $US13 each, or $US52 for a set that, according to Epson, gives you as much printing as 20 sets of traditional ink cartridges. 

Note the $US pricing there. The printers have been announced in the US, and it's not clear what their status is here in Australia. Some of the EcoTank lineup was launched in New Zealand earlier this year, and some has been released in Asia and Europe. I'm waiting to hear from Epson about exactly what will be coming here, and when.

You'd have to expect most if not all of the five super-tanker models launched in the US will come here, due to the fact that high-capacity printers with (relatively) cheap ink seem to represent the future for companies like Epson.

While regular inkjet printer sales have been flat or on the decline, depending on whose stats you look at, high-capacity inkjet sales have been going gangbusters. Epson had them up by 10.4 per cent in its most recent fiscal year, compared to the previous year.

Anyway, in the US, these are the models:

  • The 20-page-per-minute black, 20-ppm colour WorkForce Pro WF-R4640 EcoTank All-in-One, which is powered by PrecisionCore, the same high-end, high-speed print head Epson uses in its big industrial printers. It's for small business and costs $US1,199.
  • The 13ppm black, 7.3ppm colour WorkForce ET-4550 EcoTank All-in-One, also powered by PrecisionCore. It's for the home office and costs $US499.
  • The 9.2-ppm black, 4.5-ppm colour WorkForce ET-4500 EcoTank All-in-One with a not-as-good print head, for the home office, $US429.
  • The 9.2/4.5 Expression ET-2550 EcoTank All-in-One, for printing photos, $US399
  • The Expression ET-2500 EcoTank All-in-One, which seems to be like the ET-2550 expect without the WiFi connection to your home network. It's $US379. For $US20 more you should get the WiFi, no? 

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