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Epson EcoTank ET-M3180 review: The laser printing king

Expert Reviews Staff
5 Dec 2019
Expert Reviews Recommended Logo
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
406
Inc VAT

If you want the benefits of a mono laser MFP, Epson’s EcoTank ET-M3180 is a good pick

Pros 
Great running costs
Handy ADF function
Impressive printing speeds
Cons 
Scanning speeds could be improved
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The Epson Ecotank ET-M3180 is the latest model in a range of inkjet devices designed to compete with entry-level mono lasers in small and home offices: a range that also includes the EcoTank ET-M2140. That MFP’s strengths were diluted by the lack of essential office features, such as an automatic document feeder, network interface and fax modem. The ET-M3180 has them all, so does that make it strong all round?

Epson EcoTank ET-M3180 review: Features

While a competing laser device might cost less than a third as much to buy as the ET-M3180, its higher running costs would soon leave you worse off overall. This MFP’s sole ink tank is refilled without fuss from high-capacity bottles of black ink. There are two 120ml bottles included, which Epson says will last for about 11,000 pages – at least four times as many as you’d get from the startup toner of a competing mono laser. Once the bundled ink is gone, replacement bottles work out at less than 0.2p per page, far cheaper than the 2-3p per page typical of cheap lasers.

Like most inkjets, you can’t set up the M3180’s wireless network connection until it’s finished priming its ink system – a frustrating waste of 10 minutes that could otherwise be spent installing software. The same problem doesn’t apply to USB and wired Ethernet connections, at least.

Epson EcoTank ET-M3180 review: Performance

Once installed, it’s clear that this is a serious alternative to entry-level mono lasers. It could produce a first page of black text from standby in just nine seconds, before going on to hit almost 20ppm over our 25-page text test. Mono graphics printing was also quite speedy, reaching 14.8ppm over 24 pages, but at 7.3ipm, duplex graphical prints were slower than most lasers. The same could be said for multipage photocopies, with a 10-page copy taking nearly two-and-a-half minutes. Sadly, the ADF doesn’t support duplex scanning, so automatic double-sided photocopies and faxes aren’t possible.

While the quality of scans is up to Epson’s usual high standards, scan speeds are comparatively slow. There’s not much wrong with a preview time of 11 seconds, but taking nearly 30 seconds to scan an A4 page at low or medium resolutions isn’t particularly impressive. We wondered if the 100Mbit/s network interface was acting as a bottleneck, but scan times were unchanged over a USB connection. The speeds were all the more odd given that the cheaper ET-M2140 was fractionally faster across our print tests, and significantly more so when scanning.

Even so, this is arguably the better printer overall, and definitely the better-featured. The addition of an ADF is particularly valuable, as this will allow you to make copies of long documents much more easily. It doesn’t have duplex printing capability, but there’s still much more here than the ET-M2140.

Epson EcoTank ET-M3180 review: Verdict

As such, the ET-M3180 is a more sensible buy even with its higher price. It’s as fast when printing as a typical entry-level mono laser, its print quality is a match in most ways, and its scans are better than we would expect from a typical laser MFP. Despite its high purchase price, it destroys competing mono laser printers when it comes to running costs, with the added bonuses of less plastic waste and lower electricity consumption. Apart from faster scanning and a duplexing ADF, the ET-M3180 has everything a home office or micro business needs from a mono MFP, and we’d choose it over any entry-level laser equivalent.