Press Releases

Toy box - Epson L-355 EcoTank

March 2015

The National Business Review [Technology], New Zealand, February 27, 2015

HOT: Great, long-term print value from EcoTank technology

NOT: High upfront cost of printer

TECH SPECS: Colour inkjet; copier/scanner; high capacity ink tank tech; wifi; print from mobile

PRICE: $449

That inkjet printer you picked up for less than $100 doesn’t look so cheap when you realise it came with "starter cartridges" with a small amount of ink. You’ll soon be back buying refills, which typically cost more than the printer itself. And even with regular cartridges, you’ll keep coming back to the well every few months.

The cost of ink has long been a sore point for users of inkjet printers. Expensive, relatively low capacity cartridges, coupled with proprietary form factors that often vary between models, let alone manufacturers, meant that customers were at the mercy of printer makers when it came to running costs.

An entire third-party industry supplying cheap alternatives sprung up around it – much to the chagrin of the big name brands.

Well, Epson has decided enough is enough.

The $449 L-355 EcoTank printer sports the first, high-capacity ink tank system to come out of one of the big name printer manufacturers (clumsy third party tank systems have tried this approach in the past). Epson touts 4000 pages of black, 6500 pages of colour, or roughly two years of ink right out of the box, thanks to a refillable ink tank system that does away with complicated, expensive, environmentally unfriendly cartridges.

It’s quite a shift in strategy as it represents a departure from the loss-leader approach all the name-brand printer makers have employed in recent years. Most of us will be familiar with it – sell a cheap printer up front, then make money by selling expensive ink at regular intervals. With the EcoTank, Epson are hoping people will stump up more cash in the first instance in return for better value over time. Given the fact refill bottles are well priced at $29.95, that looks to be a realistic goal.

The printer itself is a rather basic, multifunction machine that will print, copy and scan. It also offers wireless printing over wifi and can print directly from Android or iOS devices. Feature-wise, it’s all but identical – except for the big tanks – to the Epson XP 200, which retails for $99 but requires the lower-volume, older-style cartridges.

If you’re a high-volume user looking for value, the choice is easy – go for the EcoTank.

However, if your prints are few and far between, the cheaper upfront cost of something like the XP 200 may work better. Either way, Epson is to be commended for this newfound approach to supplying ink.

Scott Bartley
Scott Bartley is a former reviews editor for NZ PC World and home theatre and gadget title >>FFWD.

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