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Printing at home: My take on the Epson EcoTank ET-2850 printer

My thoughts on the Epson EcoTank ET-2850: setup, performance, ink use, print jobs, and more
Sid Metcalfe

Cartesian Mathematics Foundation


October 23, 2023

Why the Epson EcoTank ET-2850

The Epson EcoTank ET-2850 promises cartridge-free printing and associated cost savings. I was intrigued by the idea of an ink tank system which seemed quite promising for my frequent printing needs. So, I decided to acquire one and see if the printer could live up to its economical (and eco-related) promises. Below’s my hands-on experience with it.



Click on photos to enlarge them:

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Property Value Property Value
Connectivity Wifi, USB Brand Epson
Printing Technology Inkjet Color White
Model Name ET-2850 White Printer output Color
Maximum print speed 5 ppm Max printspeed monochrome 10.5
Features Refillable Ink Tank Special Feature Auto 2-sided Printing

Setup Experience with the ET-2850

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After unboxing, the first task was the physical set-up. I placed the printer in its designated spot, and then turned to the process of filling the ink tanks. Epson provides bottles that are keyed to fit only their corresponding wells, eliminating the risk of catastrophe stemming from color mix-ups or spills. Each bottle’s seal broke with a satisfying pop, and the ink glided into the tanks in a controlled manner. Watching the ink levels rise was a new experience to me, a clear visual guarantee of long-lasting supply. The initialization phase, where the printer primes itself with ink, was straightforward, requiring little more than a press of a button.

Assembling the printer went without hitch, the only hiccup being the installation of the software. The modern tendency for devices is to default to mobile-first configurations, guiding users to set up through their smartphones. While convenient for some, I prefer the traditional route of setting up with a computer since that’s where most of my printing happens. Despite this preference, it became clear that the software was favoring mobile use.

Nevertheless, I was determined to forego the app and set up the printer using my laptop. After a short bout of internet searching, I came across a GitHub repository hosting the drivers needed for a manual installation (Link to Epson Drivers on GitHub). These open-source drivers are a godsend for those of us who relish a more hands-on approach to device setup. With drivers installed, the printer was recognized immediately by my laptop and ready for action.

The initial test prints were a delight. The dual-sided printing etched crisp text onto the pages without missing a beat. And the output, while predicted to have some ink marks based on other users’ experiences, was pristine. For those interested in printer efficiency and quality, Why Brother printers are such good printers (2023) offers additional insights into what makes a reliable printing solution. This was a pleasant surprise and a strong positive point for someone who values a printer’s efficiency and ease of use.

In terms of design aesthetics, the ET-2850 doesn’t dazzle but satisfies. The printer’s interface is spartan, with a small screen that can feel restrictive if you’re used to more substantial displays on your devices. However, keeping in mind that the screen is not a frequently used feature once the setup is complete, this is a minor inconvenience at best.

The true test of any printer comes over time, as does the test for efficiency and ink economy. However, as far as unboxings go, I came away from the experience with the Epson EcoTank ET-2850 feeling hopeful. It’s a printer that promises to respect your time, space, and wallet. And if the setup is any indication of the printer’s overall performance, those promises stand to be well kept.

Ink Economics and Printing Quality

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This printer is a game-changer in the ink economics; the upfront cost seems steep but calculating the cost per page brings a gratifying smile to my frugal side. The promise of thousands of pages from one ink set was met with some skepticism, yet here I am, months into heavy use, and the ink levels have barely nudged, making the days of wincing at cartridge prices a thing of the past.

Beyond the cost, there’s the crispness and precision each document is graced with. The sharp text and vibrant graphics seem to leap off the page. For a device situated in a home office that doubles up for personal and work-related use, it doesn’t compromise on printing quality. When it came to photos, though they may not rival specialized photo printers, the quality was respectable given the printer’s all-round use case. The caveat, of course, being the choice of paper; the right gloss or matte finish can elevate a picture from mundane to frame-worthy.

I noticed the double-sided printing feature is a notable energy and paper saver, turning what used to be a manual chore into a seamless automated process. Teachers or small business owners, especially those intent on instructional materials or brochures, would appreciate the feature’s convenience and environmental nod.

Let’s talk ink reservoirs. The thought of refilling them might evoke fears of an ink apocalypse on your hands and desk, but the process is surprisingly mess-free. The bottles are keyed to fit only their corresponding color tank, which is brilliant and idiot-proof. And they lock in place to prevent any spills—another win in the typically stain-prone task of handling printer ink.

Some might note the absence of high-tech features, but I prefer the streamlined experience. In a world where screens dominate, it’s refreshing to have a tool that simply does its job well without unnecessary bells and whistles. The small screen on the printer is functional; anything more robust would be like putting a spoiler on a minivan - unnecessary and slightly comical.

In terms of longevity, I haven’t reached the end-of-life phase just yet, but by all accounts, the durable build hints at a long-term relationship. This is not the printer you replace; it’s the one you refill. On the question of ecological impact, it’s relieving to contribute less plastic waste thanks to the tank system. No more guilt-inducing cartridges stacking up in landfills.

It’s not perfect—the occasional line in a photo or a hiccup with specialty paper, but show me a printer that is. And if needed, the support is dependable and generally resolves issues promptly. Sites like Epson’s own support page can guide you through most issues without picking up the phone. For the particularly tech-inclined, a hop over to forums like Reddit’s r/printers can provide crowd-sourced answers to more obscure troubleshooting.

Adding up the inks’ longevity, the machine’s reliability, and the print quality, I must tip my hat to Epson for crafting a printer that hits the sweet spot for someone craving efficiency and quality in a single machine. What started as a hesitant purchase evolved into a savvy investment. It’s no surprise that it consistently garners nods from users who celebrate the EcoTank ET-2850 for its cost-effective and dependable nature—virtues any printer enthusiast would gladly echo.

Connectivity and Compatibility with Devices

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The wireless capabilities of the ET-2850 are great. This machine supports Wi-Fi Direct, meaning it can establish its own network for devices to connect directly, which I found to be incredibly seamless. Whether I’m sending documents from my Windows laptop or printing directly from my Android phone, the process is genuinely hassle-free. The printer’s WiFi connection has been consistently reliable, which is more than I can say for past devices that seemed to drop offline at the slightest whiff of network issues.

I must admit, the lack of a LAN port initially gave me pause. I’m partial to a wired connection for the stability it offers. However, the ET-2850 has yet to falter over the Wi-Fi, even when I’m working on hefty, graphic-intensive documents. It’s not just about being able to print without cables either—the remote capabilities are a real perk. I can send jobs to the printer while cozied up on my couch or sitting in the garden, and let’s not forget the possibility of printing from literally anywhere via remote print-enabled services.

A pleasant surprise came in the form of cross-platform compatibility. Having an eclectic array of gadgets, from Linux-driven systems to Apple devices, I need a printer that doesn’t discriminate. The ET-2850 integrates smoothly, even with my Linux setup, which I’ve found isn’t always a given in the printing world. For those interested, the open-source community frequently updates CUPS and related Epson printer drivers, which you can find on repositories like GitHub.

Setting up wireless scanning is another feature I appreciate in the ET-2850. Once connected to my home network, scanning documents to any of my devices is a piece of cake. Also, the Epson Smart Panel mobile application acts as a control center in my palm, enabling scanning straight to my phone—which is perfect for those moments when I find a forgotten document that needs to be digitized pronto.

Moreover, I’ve also noted that the ET-2850 handles cloud printing services like Google Cloud Print with a level of grace that I wish other devices would emulate. I’ve executed more than a few jobs from my Google Suite with no hitches to speak of. It speaks to the universality that Epson is aiming for in their design ethos—a principle that I, as a user and tech enthusiast, hold in high regard.

What I’ve mapped out here is just my day-to-day dance with the ET-2850 where it comes to device interaction. Its reliability in maintaining connections and the broad compatibility across operating systems has made it a silent hero in my home office. With a roadmap laid out by Epson that highlights enhanced interoperability, the future of printing at home looks to marry convenience and capability—exactly what the ET-2850 delivers.

Handling Specific Printing Tasks and Troubleshooting

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Starting with photo printing, I noticed that the colors seemed washed out initially. My breakthrough came when I tweaked the settings. I discovered through a helpful YouTube tutorial that by choosing ‘matte paper’ as the media type in the Epson app, the printer was coerced into using the black ink more effectively, which substantially improved the print quality. It reminded me that understanding your printer’s settings is key to optimized results.

Speaking of ink, one of the ET-2850’s strong suits is the EcoTank system. The difference in longevity is night and day compared to traditional ink cartridges. However, I did encounter the essential practice of maintaining minimum ink levels - a lesson I learned early to avoid damage to the print heads from running dry.

Another area that posed a challenge was printing on specialty media like Cricut’s Printable Sticker Paper. The ET-2850 initially had trouble recognizing the media, resulting in the paper feeding straight through without ink. After some trial and error, and not finding a solution online, I managed to find a workaround by attaching a strip of regular paper to the leading edge, which helped the printer’s sensors detect the paper. It was a hack, but it worked!

The transparency printing saga was another curious episode. Here too, the transparency film would just sail through the printer untouched. My workaround – the same trick used with the sticker paper – taught me that sometimes you’ve got to be a bit MacGyver to get things done. This is not unique to Epson; many printers struggle with non-standard media.

From a software perspective, the Epson app needed a few updates to iron out connectivity bugs I experienced. Despite that, I didn’t let it deter me. The app’s functionality, once operational, has been integral to printing directly from my devices. For insight on software improvements, I often check Epson’s official support site to download the latest firmware updates.

The Epson ET-2850 also doubles up as a sublimation printer, a fun exploratory journey that has enhanced the printer’s value in my eyes. Users in the sublimation printing community have shared settings and profiles to achieve the best possible results, which underscores the importance of collective knowledge and experience.

In conclusion, the Epson EcoTank ET-2850 is a multifaceted machine. It handles a broad range of tasks fairly capably. Sure, the journey had its bumps — occasional troubleshooting, software quirks, and learning the ins and outs of specialty printing. However, the positives outweigh the negatives. The printer’s ecological ink system, user-friendly interface, and versatile capabilities make it a sound investment for home printing needs. Through experience, community advice, and some creative problem-solving, I’ve found myself enjoying the printing process more and fretting less about the operational costs and complexities. The ET-2850 isn’t just my printer; it’s a tool that continues to adapt and evolve along with my printing adventures.