Epson ET-4550 Introduction
Most of us love ink jet printers except for two things. Ink cartridges must be replaced too often and the ink is too expensive. The Epson ET-4550 line of printers has addressed both of these complaints as they come with two years of ink and that can be economically refilled. The new Epson EcoTank line of printers come in five models ranging from $379 to$499, retail.
According to Epson, the ET-4550 that I reviewed includes enough ink to print up to 11,000 black/8500 color pages equivalent to about 50 standard ink cartridge sets. Assuming that you paid $60 for each cartridge set that would equate to $3,000 in ink over two years. No wonder people were complaining!! By the way, the ink refills for this EcoTank retail at $19.99 for the black and $12.99 each for the color. This is a lot more ink for a lot less money than you get with normal cartridges.
Epson ET-4550 Design
The ET-4550 is an average-looking all-in-one printer with average dimensions. (20.3 x 14.2 x 9.5 inches (W x D x H). The entire printer is made of matt black plastic which is nice for keeping fingerprints at bay. It is average-sized and average-looking with an automatic sheet feeder and a collapsible front-facing output tray. The scanner bed can hold up to an 8.5 x 14-inch sheet and the bed cover can be raised a little to accommodate books and slightly bulky items. The front paper tray can hold up to 150 letter-sized pages and can also accommodate 20 envelopes or smaller-sized papers.
This printer sports a 2.2-inch black-and-white display. While the display is readable, it is slightly grainy and displays black text only. The screen is flanked by the usually navigation buttons, fax number panel, and Start and Stop buttons. The navigation by pressing arrows is workable, but far from state-of-the-art. This is without a doubt, the place where Epson cut costs.
My first thought when seeing the display was “Do they want me to pay $499 for this?” Yes, Epson is regaining some of the cost of the ink in the initial cost of the printer. Without the EcoTank capabilities, the hardware for this printer would probably cost $149. When, however, I as a heavy printer-user, figured out how much I would be saving on ink, I was willing to accept the slightly sub-par display. If you want to know how much you will be saving on ink, Epson gives has an ink tank cost comparison calculator on their website.
On the far right-hand side of the unit is the ink compartment. It just out about 3 ½ inches and runs the depth of the printer. There are four partitions with the colors, black, cyan, magenta, and yellow clearly marked. Each has a transparent square where you can see the color of the ink and the amount of ink that is left.