With ink-tank printers having a reputation for being expensive, this Epson model is light on features but a heavyweight for value
- Affordable to buy and run
- Decent print quality
- Hidden functions in smartphone app
- No scanner/copier
- No screen
- No automatic duplex printing
The Epson EcoTank ET-1810 is a tank-based inkjet printer with a difference. While all tank printers offer thousands of pages worth of ink in the box and superb-value refills, they tend to be expensive to buy – usually well over £200. However, Epson seems to have tossed aside the rulebook with the ET-1810.
Despite the fact that the cost of printing remains as phenomenally good value as we’ve come to expect from this type of printer, the initial cost is well below average at only £160. To be fair to other tank printers from both Epson and elsewhere, the ET-1810 is markedly light on functions and features but, if the cost of entry has so far kept you away from ink tanks in the past, this could be the printer to tip the scales.
Epson EcoTank ET-1810 review: What do you get for the money?
While most ink-tank printers are multifunction devices, the Epson EcoTank ET-1810 is restricted to printing only. There’s no built-in scanner, so it can’t create its own copies or scan to your computer. On-device control is limited, too, to four buttons and a few lights; there’s no touchscreen or information panel, either.
The ET-1810 is also relatively light on general luxuries, such as paper storage. There’s just the one paper input space at the rear feed at the back of the printer; this can accept up to 100 sheets but leaves the paper exposed while it’s being stored.
There’s also no automatic duplex printing, although you can still print on both sides of a sheet by using manual duplex mode. Here, you feed the paper back into the rear feed after all the odd sides have been printed and the printer then prints all the even sides on the reverse, the printer managing everything for you, even showing you which way up the paper should go.
The starting ink supply is as voluminous as you’d expect from a tank. It uses four inks (black, cyan, magenta and yellow), with a bottle of each colour supplied in the box. The black ink bottle holds enough to print 3,600 mono prints (according to the ISO 24712 standard), while the three colour inks contain enough to print 6,500 colour pages.
You can connect devices to the printer using Wi-Fi or attach to a single PC via USB. Wi-Fi is recommended, though, not least because it provides access to Epson’s Smart Panel app, available for Android and iOS.
Despite its limited features, the unit still looks a bit like an MFP and it will take a similar amount of space on your desk, with dimensions of 375 x 347 x 169mm (WDH). However, it’s remarkably light at 2.9kg.
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Epson EcoTank ET-1810 review: Is it easy to use?
Setting up the Epson EcoTank ET-1810 is gloriously straightforward and is best done using the smartphone app. It uses a clever conversational approach, a bit like a message thread with a technical helper, to guide you step by step through everything you need to do.
The concept of filling ink tanks from bottles can worry those who’ve only used mess-free cartridges in the past, but there’s nothing to fear. Epson has made it impossible to put the wrong ink in the tanks and the ink doesn’t start flowing from the bottle until it’s upended on the correct tank.
With so few options and functions on the printer itself, all the hard work is done by the software on the device you’re using. In Windows it’s a relatively standard printer driver, which provides the usual options for selecting paper size, print quality and other basic features. You can also set maintenance tasks from here, such as cleaning routines.
Printing from a mobile device is done through the Smart Panel app. This lets you print photos and documents from any app on your device and is also a handy way to print from cloud services such as Google Drive.
Even more interesting is the Document Capture tool, which lets you take a photo of a document and send it to the printer. It’s unlikely to rival the quality you might get from a flatbed scanner but there are a number of tools in place to help it get close, with options for straightening images and enhancing the contrast on mono documents. If all you’re looking for is to print a recipe from a book or copy the crossword from the newspaper, it’s plenty good enough.
Epson EcoTank ET-1810 review: How fast is it and how much does it cost to run?
Ink-tank printers don’t tend to be the fastest around and cheaper printers are generally slower than more expensive ones, so you might justifiably expect the Epson EcoTank ET-1810 to trail well behind the competition in terms of speed.
However, it isn’t far off the pace. When it comes to producing the first page in a print job, we timed it scrambling to completion in 14 seconds. That’s a second faster than the Canon Pixma G3501, a more expensive printer (mostly because it’s also an MFP), and 16 seconds faster than the HP OfficeJet Pro 9022e, a cartridge-based office specialist you’d expect to speed past it. However, it does lag a fair bit behind the Brother DCP-J1200W, another cartridge-based printer, which produces a first page in 10 seconds.
Things normalise somewhat when it comes down to churning out page after page. Tested by printing 25 copies of a simple mono letter, the ET-1810 reaches speeds of 9.2ppm (pages per minute). That’s still faster than the Canon G3501 but the cartridge printers race ahead, with the HP OfficeJet Pro 9022e proving particularly impressive in reaching 20.5ppm. Colour printing sees the ET-1810’s speeds drop to 2.8ppm, which is again faster than the Canon G3501 tank but behind the cartridge competition.
Canon’s system is much faster at printing photos, though. Printing six 10 x 15cm photos at high settings took more than 15 minutes on the ET-1810 and less than ten minutes on the G3501. HP’s photo printing is faster still, taking less than five minutes, but print quality isn’t as good.
It’s the cost of printing that’s really exciting, though. As with most of the four-colour Epson and Canon tank printers, the price of refilling has been kept to an absolute bare minimum. Once you’ve finished the ink that comes with the printer, you can buy refill bottles from Epson that are good for 4,500 pages of mono printing or 7,500 pages of colour printing. This works out to 0.2p per mono print and 0.4p per colour print, which is essentially as cheap as home printing gets.
Epson EcoTank ET-1810 review: What’s print quality like?
The Epson EcoTank ET-1810 prints text crisply, creating sharp and well presented characters. Under the magnifying glass, it doesn’t look quite as well crisp as we’ve seen from some of the best cartridge models, such as the Canon Pixma TS8350, but it’s a solid performance that won’t disappoint at normal reading distance.
Photos came out remarkably well, particularly in dark areas – the black sky in our test image, for example, is a solid deep black with no hint of a hue. It isn’t quite as good at paler tones, which printers with more colours can manage better. The Canon Pixma G650, for example, with its six ink tanks, is better here. Overall, however, the ET-1810 will have a good go at printing your holiday snaps in reasonable quality.
Business graphics and other general colour printing on plain paper also looked slightly lacklustre compared with rivals. However, it looks like there’s been a slight improvement in this area since I tested the Epson EcoTank ET-2850.
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Epson EcoTank ET-1810 review: Should you buy it?
There’s an awful lot to like about the Epson EcoTank ET-1810. I’m a fan of ink tanks printers in general, because of their superb value for money when it comes to running costs. However, the price of entry makes it harder to argue the case for them, particularly for those who don’t print that much.
The ET-1810, however, is the cheapest tank-based printer we’ve seen to date, dipping well below the £200 mark and getting tantalisingly close to £150.
What you don’t get from the printer are many extras, with even scanning and copying falling by the wayside in Epson’s charge to a lower price. There’s no proper paper tray, with the rear feed being the only place you can store paper, and it won’t automatically flip a sheet and print on both sides, although it will help you do this manually.
However, if you can live with these limitations and are simply looking for a basic printer with decent output that won’t come back and sting you when it comes to buying supplies, the Epson EcoTank ET-1810 is heartily recommended.
Having said that, if colour printing is high on your agenda, the six-colour tank-based Canon Pixma G650 is better for the job, and will produce richer prints. The cost of printing rises a little because of the extra colours, but photo printing is significantly improved. For the best photo quality, however, we still recommend the Canon Pixma TS8350.
On the other hand, if speed of printing is the most important thing on your list, consider the HP OfficeJet Pro 9022e. This doesn’t print such good-looking photos and is more expensive to run but it can churn out letters at twice the speed of the ET-1810.