Confessions of a Printing Addict

2 minute read
| Dr. Mac's Rants & Raves

 Dr. Mac’s Rants & Raves
Episode #262

When last we spoke about printers in March of 2016 (March 2 and March 9, 2016), I compared and contrasted Epson’s EcoTank with HP’s also (then) new Instant Ink subscription plan. My conclusion on ink-cost was: “The bottom line is that the fewer pages you print each month, the more likely HP’s Instant Ink will be more economical. Conversely, the more pages you print each month, the more you’ll save by going with an Epson EcoTank.”

2016 ink-cost (projected)

Here are the results from that column: 

The results of my 2016 printer ink comparison.

These were the results of my 2016 printer ink comparison.

I like to print, so I went with an EcoTank (the WorkForce ET-4550), which has served me well since then.

2017 ink-cost (actual)

In two years I’ve printed many thousands of pages (with plenty in full color). My only costs were four bottles of Epson ink (around $60) in Spring 2017. For what it’s worth, the ink tanks are half-full almost a year later.

After almost two years of ownership, printing roughly 500 pages a months, Instant Ink would have cost me at least $239.76 at $9.99 a month. Plus $1 for every 25 pages over 500 in a month.

Four bottles of Epson ink cost under $60. It cost quite a bit more for the printer up front, but the savings on ink more than make up for it.

I confess—I’m a printing addict…

I realize I may be in the minority, but I’m old-school when it comes to printing and I print a lot of stuff every day. Of course I print lots of owner’s manuals and quick-start guides, but I also print recipes, business cards, greeting cards, and glossy photos regularly. The specialty paper aisle at Office Depot is one of my favorite places to shop.

So, when Epson asked if I wanted to test the latest, greatest EcoTank model, the WorkForce ET-4750, I asked what made it better than the printer I use daily (a WorkForce ET-4550), which still worked perfectly and had half-full ink tanks. They said, “just about everything is better,” so I moved the ET-4550 to my wife’s MacBook (since she also likes to print a lot), and then set up the new ET-4750.

Both printers are “all-in-one” models with identical feature sets—wireless or wired printing, copying, scanning, and faxing (not tested).

Now smaller and less messy

The first thing I noticed is that the new 4750 is way smaller than its predecessor—40 or even 50% smaller. And its paper tray holds more paper and is easier to insert and remove.

The WorkForce 4750 EcoTank all-in-one will save me hundreds of dollars on ink over the coming years.

The WorkForce 4750 EcoTank all-in-one will save me hundreds of dollars on ink over the coming years.

The second thing is that while refilling the ink tanks wasn’t difficult before, the new model uses redesigned “auto-stop” ink bottles. Now filling (or refilling) the ink tanks is even easier and less messy.

Refilling the ink tanks of the Workforce 4750 EcoTank is easier and less messy than refilling its predecessor.

Refilling the ink tanks of the Workforce 4750 EcoTank is easier and less messy than refilling its predecessor.

Print, scan, and copy quality are (as before), more than good enough for my needs (which means they were usually very good).

Priced at $499, it comes with enough ink for more than 10,000 pages and your replacement ink will be roughly 80% less expensive than traditional ink cartridges (not to mention a lot cheaper than a subscription).

There is one last thing­: The ET-4750 is currently on sale for $399 at both Epson.com and Amazon.com. [Update: After we published, the price rose to $426.99 on Amazon and back up to regular price at $499 on Epson’s site. – Editor]

Epson WorkForce 4750 EcoTank printer. $499.

2 Comments Add a comment

  1. John Kheit

    Dr. Mac, have you delved into the world of color laser printers? I know they are not as good as inkjets for photos, but I need the laser for other things and don’t want to have 2 printers at home.

    So I set off on an odyssey to find the color laser printer that does the best job (considering it’s a laser printer) of printing color photos.

    I tested a bunch and the best quality printer i found was the Xerox VersaLink C405, it was a 600x600dpi color laser, but with 8bit color depth, which effectively is better than even 1200x2400dpi color laser printers that are effectively 2bit color depth. The problem it had was an uncharacteristically (for Xerox) horrible printer driver that would disconnect the printer so bad, that you’d have to uninstall and reinstall the printer driver.
    http://www.office.xerox.com/multifunction-printer/color-multifunction/versalink-c405/enus.html

    I ended up going with the brother 9570CDW, which does 2400x600dpi, and frankly isnt anywhere as good on color photos. But it has built in dual sided scanner that does 104impressions per minute, so made it a good compromise device.
    http://www.brother-usa.com/MultiFunction/ModelDetail/4/MFCL9570CDW/review

    Anyway, even though the Xerox was the best color photo laser printer I’ve seen, it’s still far off from the good inkjet photo printers. Xerox used to make Phaser Ink Stick printers that were a great combination of both, but the warm up time and electricity usage of those this was horrendous. And they stopped making them.

    So after all that analysis, I was surprised at how little color laser printers have improved for color photo printing. If anything, they seem to have gotten worse.

    TLDR; have you come across any color laser printers that you found to be ok (or at least best for a laser printer)? There seem to be none.

    Also, thanks for the great article!

    • Robert LeVitus

      Hi John,

      I’ve never tested a laser color printer… I pretty much test printers only when it’s time for a new one… And with the number of pages I print, it’s been an easy call to go with EcoTank printers. So I can’t be any help (this time)…

      Good luck.

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