Epson EcoTank ET-3600 review

At first glance, the latest addition to Epson’s EcoTank range of multi-function printers looks pretty expensive – in fact, at £399.99 the ET-3600 is one of the most expensive inkjet printers we’ve ever come across. But, like the previous two generations of EcoTank printers, the ET-3600 - an A4 model - turns the traditional business model for printers upside down. Instead of selling the printer cheaply and then hitting you with high costs for replacement ink cartridges, the EcoTank approach is to charge more for the printer itself, while offering extremely low running costs in the years ahead. See also: Best printers to buy

The EcoTank printers achieve this by doing away with conventional ink cartridges that can only print a few hundred pages before they have to be replaced. Epson then bolts a ruddy great ink tank onto the side of the printers, which you can fill up using low-cost, high-capacity bottles of ink. The ET-3600 makes some amends for its high purchase price by now including two bottles of ink for each colour – cyan, magenta, yellow and black (CMYK). This means that the ET-3600 will allow you to print around 11,000 pages in mono and 11,000 pages in colour before you need to buy any new inks at all. That’ll be overkill for most home users, of course, but it does provide extremely low running costs for busy offices that need a shared printer for daily use.

Epson EcoTank ET-3600 review: Price and running costs

You can buy the EcoTank ET-3600 from Currys for £329.99, which is £70 off Epson's recommended price. Plus, you can claim £40 cashback off that price, which makes it considerably better value.

The bottles of replacement inks are much less expensive than traditional ink cartridges, costing just £12.99 for the black ink, which lasts for around 6,000 pages per bottle, while the three coloured inks last for 6,500 pages and cost £8.49 each (£25.47 for all three). That works out at 0.2p per page for mono printing and 0.4p for colour, which is drastically lower than the costs associated with conventional inkjet printers.

Epson EcoTank ET-3600 review

Epson EcoTank ET-3600 review: Features and design

Those costs are in line with previous Ecotank printers, but the ET-3600 also offers additional features and performance that make it more suitable for office use than its predecessors. As well as USB and wifi, the ET-3600 also includes an Ethernet interface for an office network, and supports Apple’s AirPrint for iOS devices, along with Google Cloud Print and Epson’s own iPrint app for everyone else. It’s the first Ecotank printer to provide automatic two-sided printing, which makes it a lot more useful for office work, and the 150-sheet input tray should be enough for most small offices. There’s a 1200dpi scanner/copier as well, which can scan an A4 magazine cover in 25 seconds, but no fax machine in this model.

Epson EcoTank ET-3600 review: Performance

None of the Ecotank printers seems to be particularly fast – perhaps because of the more complicated plumbing required by those large ink tanks - but the ET-3600 does outpace the other Ecotank printers that we’ve seen in the past. It turned out 13 pages per minute when printing plain text documents, with Epson’s pigmented black ink and 1200dpi resolution providing near-laser smoothness on our test documents. Colour printing is slower, at around 6ppm for our mixed text-and-graphics files, but that should still be adequate for printing presentations and marketing documents. Photo printing is quite speedy too, at just 12 seconds for a 6x4in glossy postcard, so it’ll be able to handle product brochures and flyers too. 

 

Epson EcoTank ET-3600: Specs

  • A4 colour inkjet printer with 1200dpi resolution
  • 1200dpi scanner/copier
  • paper input tray – 150 sheets A4
  • connectivity – USB, Ethernet, Wifi, Apple AirPrint
  • dimensions – 489x300x169mm, 4.7kg
  • A4 colour inkjet printer with 1200dpi resolution
  • 1200dpi scanner/copier
  • paper input tray – 150 sheets A4
  • connectivity – USB, Ethernet, Wifi, Apple AirPrint
  • dimensions – 489x300x169mm, 4.7kg

OUR VERDICT

The high purchase price of the ET-3600 means it’s obviously not suitable for home users who simply need an affordable printer for occasional use. And at its high price it could also be a bit faster. However, the Ecotank’s low running costs are unmatched by most conventional inkjet printers, and will offer genuine savings for office users who need a workhorse printer that can handle hundreds of pages every month.