Color inkjet printers come in varying sizes and features but they’ve one thing in common: there’s always going to be an ink cartridge needing to be replaced before one of its fellows. So Epson’s ET-3600 EcoTank Wireless Color All-in-One Supertank Printer blows that right out of the water by having super-sized ink tanks as part of its pedigree. Instead of having to constantly get ink cartridges, the ET-3600 just uses low-cost replacement bottles (a cost savings of up to 80% ) to restore ink capacity. Obviously that’s going to cost less than having to buy ink cartridges over time but it’s also important to step back and consider exactly how much ink the ET-3600 is giving you.
There’s enough ink to print up to 11,000 pages of text or up to 8,500 pages of color which makes this printer extremely well suited for the home office along with the casual user. That’s a ton of printing and equivalent to about 50 ink cartridge sets. But what it really means in the real world is that you won’t be replacing the ink for about 2 years. Add double-sided printing to the mix and then even your paper costs go down. But one thing that doesn’t go down is printing speed: with over 13 bxw or over 7 color pages per minute.
So let’s look at what this printer is and can do. The first thing is that you have to have a way to connect it to a computer or mobile device sending it the data to print out. There are two choices here, with the first being WiFi for joining to a home network (it also means that you can use it with a Epson app on a mobile device). But there’s also an Ethernet port for a hard wired connection should the WiFi signal not be able to “reach” the printer in the chosen location. There’s also a USB slot, giving you yet another choice.
Unlike most Epson inkjets, the interface appears on a a 2.2″ mono LCD screen. This requires pressing any number of “hard buttons,” something that those weaned on touchscreens are going to have to get used to. But considering that you have to lift the lid in order to use the scanner anyway, just think of this as “retro.” Besides, most of the controls can be taken care of through the computer/mobile device that is sending the data to the printer. The wide range of options are readily accessible through the interface and simplified to the point where reading the manual is almost not necessary. (but when it comes to understanding how to refill the ink tanks, the manual will provide invaluable). It also explains why the ET-3600 has more length than a lot of inkjets — the ink tanks being located on the printer’s right side.
Running the software (included for PCs, Macs must download them) will provide what is needed to properly configure the computer and aid in the installation procedure. This ties in with the physical setting up of the printer and takes a bit more time than most, due to the need for the ink to be primed. FYI, the printer doesn’t care what source is sending it the data (be that PC or Mac or mobile), and the quality is exacting and what you’d expect from Epson.
The ET-3600 EcoTank Wireless Color All-in-One Supertank Printer is a bit bigger than some inkjets, but it’s offset by the extreme convenience of not having to replace ink cartridges like so much gone-bad milk. Add that into the equation of the amount of pages that the casual user or small home office user will be printing and it’s pretty obvious that the $399.99 retail is paying forward for all the ink you won’t be buying.