Epson EcoTank Photo ET-8500 Wireless Color All-in-One Supertank Printer Review
Epson’s $599.99 EcoTank Photo ET-8500 Wireless Color All-in-One Supertank Printer is a small step down from a recent Editors’ Choice winner, the EcoTank Photo ET-8550 All-in-One Wide-Format Supertank Printer. The ET-8500 churns out stunning prints, especially photos, at some of the lowest running costs in the business, making it an excellent choice for a home office or family. It's our latest Editors’ Choice for consumer-grade photo printers.
Small Footprint, Flexible Paper Handling
The ET-5800 measures 6.4 by 15.9 by 14.5 inches (HWD) and weighs 18.5 pounds. That's comparable to most of its competitors, including Canon’s Pixma G6020 MegaTank All-in-One, HP’s Smart Tank Plus 651 Wireless All-in-One, and Brother's MFC-J805DW INKvestment Tank All-in-One.
That last one, the entry-level Brother AIO, is more business-oriented, so it comes with a 20-sheet automatic document feeder (ADF) for sending multipage documents to the scanner. The HP Smart Tank Plus 651’s ADF holds up to 35 pages, as does the one on the Canon Pixma G7020 MegaTank All-in-One. However, like the ET-8550 and the Pixma G6020, the photo-focused ET-8500 lacks an ADF, limiting scanning and copying to one page at a time.Our Experts Have Tested 53 Products in the Printers Category in the Past YearSince 1982, PCMag has tested and rated thousands of products to help you make better buying decisions. (See how we test.)The flatbed scanner facilitates short one- and two-page copy or scan jobs, but not bigger multipage stacks.
In addition to the standard cyan, magenta, yellow, and black (CMYK) inks, the ET-8500 has two additional inks: Photo Black and Gray. This increases the color gamut, improves color accuracy and detail, and allows for impeccable grayscale images. This is the same ink configuration as on the wide format ET-8550.
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Several of Canon’s consumer-grade photo printers, such as the photo-optimized Pixma TS9120 and Pixma TS8320, also deploy six inks. (Their additional inks are Pigment Blue and Pigment Gray.) However, it’s important to note that Canon’s TS-series models are not bulk-ink machines. As you’ll see, their running costs are several times those of the ET-8500 and most other bulk-ink printers.
A 4.3-inch color touch screen comprises the entire control panel.
You can operate most of the ET-8500's functions from a computer or mobile device, either through Epson's software or its onboard web portal. For walk-up tasks such as making copies, it's easy to use the control panel, a 4.3-inch color touch screen. Through either interface, you can create workflow profiles that provide shortcuts for common tasks. There's also support for voice-activation commands via Amazon Alexa, Apple’s Siri, Epson Connect, and Google Assistant.You can operate, configure, and monitor the ET-8500 from its onboard website.
Epson doesn’t publish volume ratings for the ET-8500, but its shallow paper input drawers and meager 50-sheet output tray suggest that it’s in no way a high-volume AIO. Paper handling consists of a 100-sheet plain paper drawer and, inside of that, a 20-sheet insert for snapshot-size (4-by-6 inch or 5-by-7-inch) photo paper. Unless you really enjoy reloading paper trays, you won't want to print more than 500 total pages and snapshots a month.Paper handling consists of a 100-sheet main cassette with a 20-sheet snapshot-size tray nestled inside.
Even though the ET-8550 prints pages more than twice the size of those the ET-8500 can handle, it has the same paper capacity. HP’s Smart Tank Plus 651 comes with one 100-sheet paper input source. The Pixma G7020 and G6020 can hold 350 sheets each from two separate sources, and the MFC-J805DW holds 101 sheets, with 100 in the main drawer and one in the override tray. The TS9120 and TS8320 hold 200 sheets each in two separate sources.
Copious Connectivity and Software Solutions
Like most Epson printers, the ET-8500 provides several connectivity methods: USB, Ethernet, Wi-Fi, and Wi-Fi Direct. Mobile devices can print through Apple AirPrint, Mopria, and Epson's own Epson Connect. You can also print from or scan to SD, SDHC, and SDXC flash memory cards and USB drives.You can print from or scan to a few flavors of SD cards or USB thumb drives.
The software bundle consists of Epson Scan 2, Epson ScanSmart, and Epson Photo+, as well as Twain and ISIS scanner drivers for connecting to and scanning into third-party applications such as Adobe Photoshop and Microsoft Word.
Epson Scan 2 is a full-featured utility with three levels of proficiency (Home, Office, and Professional) ranging from basic settings for beginners to the freedom to tweak your scans as desired. Epson Photo+ is a simple but handy photo layout and arrangement utility. Both apps are highly capable scanner interfaces.Epson Scan 2 has three different scanning expertise levels.
Epson ScanSmart is a combination scanner interface and modular app with several document management features, including optical character recognition (OCR), keyword indexing, document archiving, and sequential file naming. Generally, Epson Scan 2 works best with small teams of users with varying scanning skills sets, while ScanSmart is more suited to document management.ScanSmart provides document management and some other features for processing scanned data.
In theory, ScanSmart's modular design allows you to expand its capability. For $99, for example, you can add the ScanSmart Accounting Addition, or Invoice/Receipt Manager, a plug-in for scanning and archiving data from your receipts, invoices, pay stubs, and other financial documents. Unfortunately, this is the only ScanSmart add-on to date.The ScanSmart plug-in, Receipt Manager, scans and archives financial data and exports it to financial software.
Android and iOS smartphones and tablets can connect via Wi-Fi Direct or over a network with Epson’s Smart Panel mobile app. In addition to using Smart Panel, you can use your phone or tablet to print photos or manage the printer via Android Direct Printing, Apple AirPrint, Mopria, or the Epson Connect app.
So-So Speeds, Splendid Photographs
Epson rates the ET-8500 at 16 one-sided (simplex) pages per minute (ppm) and 12 one-sided color pages per minute. It came close to or beat its own ratings on our simplex speed tests, which I ran over an Ethernet connection from our standard Intel Core i5 testbed PC running Windows 10 Pro.
Typically, we report two-sided, or duplex, printing results only when the machine being tested defaults to duplex output. (In other words, when the printer comes out of its box configured to print two-sided pages.) Since Epson printers don’t default to duplex printing, the following results reflect only the one-sided speed tests.
The first test entailed clocking the ET-8500 as it printed a one-sided 25-page Microsoft Word text document. It churned out our one-sided monochrome text document at an average rate of 16.1ppm. That score beats all the other AIOs mentioned here by at least 3ppm, and some, such as the HP Smart Tank Plus 651 and Brother MFC-J805DW, scored as low as about 10ppm.
See How We Test Printers
For the next test, I timed the ET-8500 as it printed our colorful and complex Adobe Acrobat documents, Microsoft Excel spreadsheets with accompanying charts and graphs, and PowerPoint presentation handouts full of brightly colored, detailed graphics and text in varying weights and styles. Then, I combined these results with those from printing the text document in the previous test and came up with a score of 10.7ppm for printing our entire collection of business test documents. This time, the ET-8500 outpaced all the other AIOs discussed here so far—most of them by more than 5ppm. The ET-8550, at 7.9ppm, split the difference.
To finish off my tests, I clocked the ET-8500 as it printed two of our most colorful and detailed 4-by-6-inch snapshots. Here, our Epson test unit took an average of 58 seconds per image. This was about 20 seconds slower than most of the others in this group, with the Brother MFC-J805DW bringing up the rear at 1 minute, 4 seconds. It's still relatively fast for a consumer-grade photo printer, and it prints exceptionally well. For each of our test snapshots, as well as our larger 8-by-10-inch and bigger borderless images, colors were both brilliant and accurate, and details were fine, with little to no visible pixelation. For the most part, though, the same can be said for most of the bulk-ink photo-centric machines discussed here.
Chances are that you’ll need to print out the occasional text pages and business documents. Both standard serif (such as Times New Roman) and sans-serif (Arial, Calibri) fonts came out well shaped, attractively spaced, and highly legible. The several full-page/full-color charts showed very few issues. Dark solid fills looked good, and gradient fills displayed no obvious stepping, with colors and tints flowing evenly and attractively from one end to the other.
Fantastic Pics at Bargain Prices
Typically, an Epson EcoTank printer prints monochrome pages with about 5% to 20% coverage for around 0.3 cent each, and color pages for about 0.9 cent. (This does not include EcoTank Pro machines that are geared more toward small businesses; they print both black and color pages for around 2 cents each.) However, since the ET-8500 uses two additional inks, it’s difficult (if not impossible) to discern when and how much ink these two colors are used, making its exact cost per page (CPP) a bit elusive.
My educated guess is that during normal use, the ET-8500 delivers running costs at about 0.3 cent monochrome and 0.9 cent color. Epson says that it can print a borderless 4-by-6-inch photo for 4 cents, as opposed to 40 cents from a traditional cartridge-based consumer-grade photo printer.
The wide-format ET-8550’s running costs are about the same as the ET-8500’s, as are those of the Pixma G7020 and G6020, though keep in mind that those Pixma machines use only four inks. However, the six-ink/photo-optimized G series Pixma (the G620 Wireless MegaTank Photo All-in-One) prints photos for about the same cost as the ET-8500, as does the Smart Tank Plus 651. For Brother's INKvestment Tank printers, black prints run about 1 cent each, and color prints run just under 5 cents each.The ET-8500’s ink comes from bottles that you pour into reservoirs inside the printer.
Finally, Brother says that it puts enough ink in the box to last you for an entire year (6,000 monochrome pages and 5,000 color pages). Epson says something similar, suggesting that the ET-8500 comes with two years of ink in the box. A company PR spokesperson explained it to me like this: “The EcoTank Photo ET-8500 prints up to two years with each included and replacement ink bottle set (based on average monthly document print volumes of about 200 pages). In other words, if you print an average of 200 document pages or photos each month, you should get enough ink to last you two years."
The Epson EcoTank ET-8500 is an exceptional consumer grade photo printer with all-in-one features, especially if you don’t see yourself or a family member scanning or copying more than one or two pages at a time. If you do require multipage scans, the lack of an ADF should be a deal-breaker. The MegaTank-based Pixma G7020 has an ADF, but you give up the two additional inks.
If you want wide-format prints and six inks, the ET-8550 and the Canon Pixma TS9520 can do that. But the key to the ET-8500 is the low cost of using it. Under 1 cent per page for both monochrome and color pages, and only 4 cents each for 4-by-6-inch snapshots (values according to Epson), are cost figures as good as they come. If you print lots of photos, occasionally print documents, and want to copy scanned images with excellent color fidelity, the ET-8500 is a sound investment.
[Editors' Note: This review was updated on Nov. 10, 2021, to clarify with a statement from Epson regarding the ET-8500's ink delivery and per-page costs.]
Epson EcoTank Photo ET-8500 Wireless Color All-in-One Supertank Printer4.0Editors' ChoiceSee It$599.99 at Dell TechnologiesMSRP $599.99
The Bottom Line
The Epson EcoTank Photo ET-8500 Wireless Color All-in-One Supertank Printer churns out terrific-looking photos and the occasional letter or business document for pennies, making it a sensible choice for families and small offices that print lots of photos.
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