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Epson's EcoTank inkjet printers go big and go 'pro'

The company adds a wide-format model for home offices and a new generation of small-biz models to its lines of bottle-fed printers.

Epson's printers are expensive up front, but save you money post-purchase with their high-capacity ink refill system.

Epson's EcoTank bottle-refillable inkjet printers have been slow to catch on in the US. That's unsurprising given that the US seems a lot more upfront-price sensitive than some other regions, and these don't appear when you search for "printers under $100." Even rolling out an ad campaign featuring Shaquille O'Neal only managed to help eat a slim percentage from HP's market share overall. It's too bad, because while purchase prices can be hard to swallow, a solution like the EcoTank is probably a lot more cost-effective in the long run. But one group of folks who might be swayed by that calculation are small- and medium-size business and the growing number of work-at-homers; Epson's targeting them with its new lineup of EcoTank Pro all-in-one printers and a new 13x19 model in its base EcoTank line.

As is usual with printers, the EcoTank Pro models, which range in price from $799 for the ET-5800 to $1,129 for the ET-16650, differ from the not-Pro models by their 500-sheet paper capacity, faster speeds, higher duty cycles (the volume of pages a printer is designed to comfortably print) and Wi-Fi support (2.4GHz only vs. 2.4GHz/5GHz for the Pro models) among other features. One thing that doesn't differ is the rated yield from a bottle of ink: 7,500 for the black bottle and 6,000 for each of the yellow, cyan and magenta inks. 

Epson says the cost per page for both color and monochrome prints is about 2 cents. And as a launch deal through March 31, Epson is offering unlimited ink for 2 years (up to four T542 bottles per claim, plus some other stipulations). All of these are the first models to use Epson's DuraBrite pigment-based inks.

At the top of that lineup are two 13x19-inch printers, the ET-16000 and ET-16650. Epson's also adding the ET-15000 to its SOHO EcoTank line, a 13x19 for $599. My only quibble with those is that the larger pages feed through the rear rather top or front, which means you need a lot more clearance there than I can ever make room for. 

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Correction, March 27: Fixed the terms of the free-ink offer.