Review: Epson EcoTank Photo ET-8500/ET-8550

ET-8550, shown with ink bottles.

I was intrigued last year with Epson’s announcement of the EcoTank Photo ET-8500 and ET-8550, the latest iteration of their “supertank,” high-capacity inkjet printers. These were the first EcoTank printers to offer a six-color print engine tuned for printing photos, while also offering high-quality document printing and scan/copy support. Reading through Epson’s lofty marketing language, which talked about “lab-quality color photos and graphics at an incredible value,” it was clear that, if the company followed through on its promise, the ET-8500/ET-8550 could very well usher in a new era of high-quality photo prints, at significantly lower costs than classic, cartridge-based, photo printers.

After working in-depth with the letter-size model, the ET-8500, for the past few months, I will say that these printers truly are the most exciting photo printers I have come across in a long time. They have excellent photo quality, flexible paper handling options and superb usability, with print costs that are a fraction of those found in specialized photo printers. The EcoTank Photo printers are not for everyone—you wouldn’t use one of these for gallery-ready prints, for example—but they are perfect if you want to get into printing your photos, and want great output with minimal hassle.


ET-8500/ET-8550 Review

  1. What is a supertank printer, anyway?
  2. Specifications
  3. Basics and setup
  4. EcoTank inks
  5. Paper handling
  6. Print quality
  7. Ink usage
  8. Other items of note
  9. Conclusions

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Epson RX680, HP C7280 all-in-ones reviewed

Macworld recently posted our reviews of two letter-size, all-in-one photo inkjets: HP’s Photosmart C7280 and Epson’s Stylus Photo RX680. While neither of those printers would be considered “pro-level,” they are both a good value for what they are: six-color photo printers that do additional duty as general-purpose printers and scanners/copiers. (While the reviews are understandably Mac-centric, we’ve tested both printers on Windows-based systems as well.)

Photosmart C7280: bargain utility printer with big features

The C7280 lists for $300, but you can find it on Amazon right now for $165 (with free shipping). At that price, it’s a very good buy, with multiple connectivity options (802.11n wireless, Ethernet, USB); a built-in duplexer; secondary tray for 4" by 6" and 5" by 7" photo paper; and a sheet feeder for the copier. We had a couple of minor issues with the wireless networking, but once you have it up and running, it’s a great general-purpose inkjet printer. And, if you use it wirelessly, you can still scan directly to computers on your network that have the HP driver software installed. This is a great feature, one we’ve found extremely helpful in the months we’ve been using the printer.

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