Laptop Mag Verdict
It’s on the pricier side for a midsized all–in-one printer, but the Epson EcoTank ET-2850 pairs pure productivity with a printing process that’s more pleasing to the planet.
Compact, minimalist design
Accurate colors and details
Great for photo printing and scanning
Eco-friendly ink replacement
No SD Card slot or Ethernet port
Tiny 1.4-inch LCD screen
Very slow printing speeds
Why you can trust Laptop Mag
The Epson EcoTank ET-2850 All-in-One Printer is leading the charge for eco-friendly ink options in your family’s home office. Featuring an innovative cartridge-free ink system and impressive performance in a tidy, attractive package, the EcoTank ET-2850 promises to “exceed your vision” (according to the box, anyway) in terms of overall value and print quality. It’s an excellent all-in-one printer that’s accessible enough for the whole family, and way smarter than the inkjet printers of yesteryear. It easily slots into our best printers page.
Epson EcoTank ET-2850 All-in-One Printer pricing and availability
Printer Type: Inkjet
Features: Print, copy, scan
Display: 1.4-inch color LCD touchscreen
Ink/Toner: 4 cartridges (black, cyan, magenta, yellow)
Max Print Resolution: 4800 x 1200
Connectivity: 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, USB
Compatibility: Mac OS X 10.6.8 – macOS 10.15; Windows 7 through 10 (32-bit or 64-bit)
Print Speed (Rated): Up to 10.5 ppm (black), 5 ppm (color)
Print Speed (Tested): 6.8 ppm (black), 3.7 ppm (color)
Size: 14.8 x 13.7 x 7.4 inches
Weight: 11.9 pounds
Available in black or white, the Epson EcoTank ET-2850 costs $300, and that comes with a standard two-year limited warranty — though that second year requires you to register the printer with HP.
As of this writing, the ET-2850 was sold out on Epson’s website (not a bad sign in terms of gauging pure popularity for this particular printer), but both Amazon and Office Depot still had plenty in stock. That may change, of course, as the next round of holiday deals begin their looming, Mariah Carey-tinted descent.
The EcoTank ET-2850 is part of Epson’s new generation of cartridge-free printers, which feature refillable ink tanks to minimize waste. Depending on how much printing you and your family do on a regular basis, each of these new printers comes with up to two years worth of ink right in the box — and with every replacement ink set. There are six new EcoTank models to choose from, ranging from $250 to $500. The ET-4850 is nestled right in the middle, though it’s still a bit large to make a good stocking stuffer.
Epson EcoTank ET-2850 All-in-One Printer: setting up
Thanks to the wonders of mobile tech, the traditional tedium of setting up your printer is a non-issue. After unpacking the ET-2850, I just had to plug it in; download the Epson Smart Panel app; press the power button on the printer; and follow the instructions on my phone. (Epson also includes a Windows installation disk, if your machine happens to have a CD drive. In my testing, though, it’s just easier to use your smartphone if you can.)
This is where Epson’s new printer line stands out, since setting up involves manually filling those ink tanks yourself, like a bona fide techie. (Don’t worry, it’s easier than you think.) This process may take slightly longer than swapping out traditional ink cartridges, but the DIY nature of it all is surprisingly pleasing since you can literally watch the ink reservoirs fill up right before your eyes, one at a time. (Just make sure to put the right ink in the right reservoir!) Then it’s just a matter of connecting to WiFi, allowing “ink initialization” to finish — a ten-minute procedure — adjusting the printer head alignment; updating the firmware; and that’s about it. I had everything set up in less than 30 minutes. If you’re a Windows user like me, you’ll want to download everything for your desktop, too.
The reservoir for black ink is larger than the rest, which explains why replacement bottles cost $20 instead of $13. You can also pick up a three-pack of cyan, magenta, and yellow ink bottles from Epson’s website for $39. (More on ink costs later.)
The Epson Smart Panel app is intuitive and easy to navigate; there’s a nifty carousel on the customizable interface to help you print photos, documents, ID cards, borderless copies, and a whole bunch more. (The app is compatible with iOS, too, so iPhone owners aren’t left in the dark.) In my testing, it was a cinch to scan and print documents directly from my Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra as I organized press materials for upcoming projects.
Noticeably absent, however, is a fax function, but that practice is becoming more archaic with every passing tax season.
Epson EcoTank ET-2850 All-in-One Printer design and ease of use
Similar to other newish all-in-one printers, the Epson EcoTank ET-2850 has a 1.4-inch LCD panel for menu navigation, which is handled by pressing the soft-touch buttons to the right of the screen. The $250 HP OfficeJet Pro 9015e has a much larger 2.7-inch color touchscreen that can be tilted at 45 degrees for better viewing. Granted, you can access most printer controls right from your phone or laptop, so you shouldn’t have to fiddle with Epson’s diminutive screen too often if you don’t feel like it.
Turn the printer around, and you’ll find a host USB port, an AC adapter port…and that’s it. I appreciate the minimalism here, but a USB memory port or SD Card slot would be nice for speedy file transfers, especially since you can find such connectivity with cheaper printers like the OfficeJet Pro 9015e. The 100-sheet dual-sided document feeder is easy to miss, accessible via a hidden panel in the back. If you lift the main lid, you’ll find the glass scanning area underneath; there’s also an extendable output tray on the front. Overall, it’s a tidy, collapsible package that’s easy on the eyes and easy as hell to navigate.
While it’s hardly necessary, in my opinion, Epson does a nice job with aesthetics here. Heck, they just might have a future in the world of color photography or something.
I used the Epson Smart Panel app on my phone to complete most of my testing, and it’s dead-simple to use; I appreciate the carousel-style menu for navigation.
Epson EcoTank ET-2850 All-in-One Printer print speeds
Using standard printing paper in its (smallish) 100-sheet input tray, the Epson EcoTank ET-2850 holds its own when it comes to light productivity chores. It printed out my 5-page black-and-white text document in 43.6 seconds, or 6.8 ppm, which is roughly twice as long as the OfficeJet Pro 9015e (13.4 ppm), but as the latter’s name implies, that machine was literally built for office chores.
The Epson EcoTank ET-2850 was similarly laggy when it came to mixed text and color graphics. It printed out my 5-page test document in 1 minute 21 seconds, or 3.7 ppm. In duplexer mode (to create two-sided prints), it managed a measly 6.3 ppm in black and white, which is a far cry from the OfficeJet Pro 9015e’s 10 ppm.
Long story short: if zippy prints are a top priority for your day-to-day, look to laser printers instead.
Note: Epson rates the Epson EcoTank ET-2850 at up to 15.5 ISO ppm for black-and-white documents, and up to 8.5 ISO ppm for color, which amounts to the expected hyperbole when it comes to manufacturer testing. And not for nothing, but printing speeds are a somewhat subjective measurement, depending on how you test, what kind of paper you use, and what settings you tweak on the accompanying software. Plus, most printers achieve speedier outputs once they’re warmed up.
Epson EcoTank ET-2850 All-in-One Printer copy and scan speeds
A family-friendly all-in-one should make copies at a decent rate, and the EcoTank ET-2850 gets a passing grade in this department. It took 22.6 seconds to scan and print a singular multicolored text doc (11 seconds for black and white copies), which is fairly slow in comparison to the HP OfficeJet Pro 9015e (6 and 5.5 seconds, respectively).
Without customizing any settings, the EcoTank ET-2850 reproduced a Time magazine cover copy in 36 seconds; in High Quality mode (adjusted via the LCD screen), that print time skyrocketed to 2 minutes and 25 seconds. This is on par with the HP OfficeJet Pro 9015e, which copied the same magazine cover in 1 minute and 40 seconds when using Photo mode.
Epson EcoTank ET-2850 All-in-One Printer print quality
Overall, I was pleased as pie with the Epson EcoTank ET-2850’s print quality. Text was plenty sharp and crisp in both color and black-and-white documents; it was easy enough to make out all the finer details in my test printouts. Scanned images came out well, too, especially when using higher-quality photo paper. (Printing out colorful photos on standard office paper can result in streaking and/or fading.)
Epson is known for its expertise in photography, and this is where the ET-2850 really shines; it has a maximum print resolution of 4800 x 1200. To put the ET-2850 through its pixel-pushing paces, I bumped the quality settings up to “high” and printed out a variety of glossy photos, which included some outdoor shots (4000 x 3000), a portrait of my goofy mug (2736 x 2736), and a high-res wallpaper of some distant galaxy (5120 x 2880).
The ET-2850 produced accurate, well-saturated colors throughout; in the portrait shot (which took over five minutes to finish printing), I could easily make out the individual hairs in my scraggly beard, the TV’s reflection on the swimming goggles I’m wearing, and even the pores in my nose.
Epson EcoTank ET-2850 All-in-One Printer ink costs
Epson offers one 70 mL size for their color ink replacements, which cost $13 per bottle (cyan, magenta, yellow); you can buy a three-pack for $39. Black ink bottles are a little larger at 127 mL, and will run you $20 each.
Color ink bottles are rated for up to 6,000 pages each, and Black ink cartridges are rated for up to 7,500 pages. That averages out to 0.2 cents per page for color cartridges and 0.3 cents for black ink cartridges. Assuming these estimates are somewhat accurate, you shouldn’t have to reup on ink very often.
If you’re looking for an all-in-one printer that’s great for churning out color photos, most families will find something to like about the Epson EcoTank ET-2850 All-in-One Printer. It’s a lot of productivity in a fairly diminutive package, and the Epson Smart Panel app makes weekly office chores a snap. Slow printing, scanning, and copying speeds set the ET-2850 behind such competitors as the HP OfficeJet Pro 9015e, which is admittedly bigger and louder than the former, but if you’re never in a rush with your printing jobs, you should appreciate the overall quality Epson has to offer.
As a freelance journalist, TJ has over a decade of multi-medium storytelling under his belt. Leveraging a quarter century of collective coddiwompling amid the ever-evolving landscape of wireless gadgetry, his unique editorial background allows him to explore a variety of tech-centric subsectors on this fascinating planet. When he's not field testing new gear in the Catskills, Adirondacks, or an actual field, he can be found sipping Negronis in his living room and crafting Dr. Seussian poetry inside a tattered moleskin.