Epson EcoTank ET-18100 Review: Captivating Prints
- Inexpensive photo printing
- Excellent print quality
- Mess-free ink refills
- No display
- No scanner/copier
- Expensive to buy
The ET-18100 delivers excellent print quality and, when required, very fast printing. But it’s expensive to buy, so only for those who really need to print a lot of A3 images.
Price under consideration
Not available in the US
The Epson EcoTank system has been around for almost a decade. This solved the problem of low-yield cartridges, which resulted in relatively high page costs, by introducing high-capacity ink tanks into the printer that could be refilled individually.
It also solved the problem of having to throw away unused ink in color cartridges that combined all three colors into one.
The downside, of course, is that EcoTank printers are more expensive and need to be used fairly regularly to keep their nozzles from getting clogged with dried ink.
The new ET-18100 is for photographers (and other creatives) who want to print more than A4 and don’t want their printer to be an office workhorse. That’s why this particular EcoTank doesn’t have a scanner or document feeder and doesn’t print on both sides of the paper.
Features and design
- Six inkwells
- Works with media up to A3+
- Can print ID cards and CDs
Given that this is an A3+ printer, the ET-18100 is not as big as you might expect. However, with the paper trays fully extended, sufficient table space is required.
Unlike some EcoTank models, there is no display. Instead, you must set up and print from your mobile device, and your phone or tablet will replace the printer’s screen.
Of course, you can print from a PC or Mac, and you can go old-school and connect the ET-18100 to USB if you want, though Epson doesn’t include it in the box.
You get a full set of “107” ink – six 70 ml bottles – more than enough to fill the reservoirs with the remaining ink.
They include: black, cyan, magenta, yellow, light cyan and light magenta.
Jim Martin / Foundry
The paper tray is on the back, but because it’s not closed, it’s best to insert photo paper only when you’re ready to print. The advantage of rear feed is that the paper does not need to be rotated 180° towards itself, as with front feed, and this allows you to use thicker media.
As you’d expect, the ET-18100 can print photos right to the edges of the paper, no matter how small they are.
One of the unusual inclusions in the box is a plastic tray that can hold a CD/DVD and two PVC ID cards. This seems like an anachronism in 2023, but if you’re still burning CDs or home movies, this might prove useful.
When you unbox the ET-18100, you see a lot of folded documents with no obvious quick start guide. But once you find a sheet in your language and realize you can scan a QR code, you can download the Epson Smart Panel app to guide you through the setup.
Jim Martin / Foundry
It works like a chatbot, explaining each step and warning you not to leave the printer alone. Transferring ink from bottles to bottles is very easy: each one has a coded pattern and only fits the correct slot for that color, so it’s impossible to accidentally pour the wrong color.
The ink does not leak from the bottle when you turn it upside down: it only empties when inserted into the slot and automatically stops when the ink reaches its maximum level. line.
Jim Martin / Foundry
After that, the printer will initialize the ink supply system, which refills the printer – you will see how the level of ink in the tanks will drop a little. This happens the first time the printer is new and you will get even more photos from subsequent bottles.
The app somehow turns the Wi-Fi setup into a 30-step process, but once that particular annoyance is gone, you can get to work printing.
It is worth noting that you do not need a smartphone or tablet: you can follow the instructions on the attached sheet to fill the tanks and fill the system.
After that, you can go to the website in the last instruction and download the software for Windows or Mac that you will need to set up Wi-Fi.
However, if you set up Wi-Fi through the phone app first, Windows will find the ET-18100 on your network and install the driver automatically, so no additional software is required. You’ll probably want to install at least Epson Photo+ as it makes it easy to print photos and also allows you to print photo collages and of course those CDs and IDs.
Jim Martin / Foundry
- A3 print in less than two minutes
- Print 6×4 inches in 30 seconds
- 7 pages per minute for standard quality A4 pages
Even if speed isn’t your priority, the ET-18100 is impressively fast in its “Standard” mode, which is the default in both the mobile app and Photo+ desktop software. A 6×4″ borderless photo takes just 30 seconds, while a full A3 photo takes just 1:50.
Turn it up to the highest quality and a 6×4-inch photo takes 60 seconds and an A3 print in about five minutes, faster than other A3 printers we’ve tested.
Jim Martin / Foundry
If you need to print A4 documents on plain paper, they will display at about seven pages per minute at standard quality (an eight-page document took 70 seconds), but this speed increases dramatically if you only need draft quality.
It slows down if you choose to match multiple copies of a document, but since this is a photo printer, it’s unlikely you’ll be doing this very often.
This also explains why there is no automatic two-sided printing: you can print on both sides of the paper, but you will need to re-insert the pages into the input tray.
Because all ink, including black, is dye-based, text isn’t as dark as black, but to put it simply, if document printing is a priority, this printer isn’t for you.
Jim Martin / Foundry
The important thing is that the photo quality is excellent. Give it an image with a high enough resolution (at least 300 dpi) and you will be able to see an amazing level of detail in the prints. Colors are accurate too, with grass, skies, and skin tones looking exactly the same as they do on my iPhone screen.
If you are printing from a laptop or PC, you should make sure your screen is calibrated with a colorimeter if color accuracy is important to your final prints.
And whether you’re using a phone, tablet, laptop, or PC, remember that screen brightness affects how images look: it’s easy to think they’re bright enough, but prints look too dark. There is a histogram (found in a competent photo editor) to help you.
When printing from Windows, you will see a warning that enabling borderless mode may cause smearing of the edges (a message that does not appear on mobile devices), and there have been a few cases where a small amount of black ink has appeared in isolated places on the edges. Although, of course, nothing particularly noticeable.
I tried to print some images that weren’t photographs to see if the color blocks matched their on-screen counterparts. In general, yes, but the yellows tended to be a bit darker and more orange than they should have been.
Overall, though, the ET-18100 is a fantastic photo printer.
Initially, the lack of a screen seemed like a disadvantage. But after printing over Wi-Fi from a phone or PC, I didn’t miss anything at all: apps offer precise control over exactly how to position the image you want to print, so even if it doesn’t match the paper size ratio, you can control what cut off.
Wireless printing is also absolutely reliable.
If there’s a criticism, it’s that the templates offered in Photo+ are pretty basic and non-editable. It’s fine if you like the layout, but while one template looks like it could be for passport photos, it’s not named as such, leaving you to try and decide which paper size to use to get the right photo size.
Price and availability
Epson’s official price for the ET-18100 is £699.99. However, in March 2023, it could not be purchased from the Epson website.
Since it was brand new at the time of review, many retailers did not stock it online. Park Cameras, Harrison Cameras, Carmarthen Cameras and Camera Center bought it for £649.
It’s not for sale in the US, Canada, or Australia… at least not yet.
If the ET-18100 is too expensive for you, you can choose an A3 4-color printer (like the ET-14000, though it’s more suitable for documents than photos) or an A4 sized model like the ET-8500 (although it’s not much cheaper).
If you like the ET-18100 but also want a scanner, the ET-8550 is also an A3+ model and sold direct from Epson for £729.99.
You can also check out our recommendations for other models in our roundup of the best printers.
EcoTank printers may be expensive to buy, but they are cheap to run. Each bottle of ink costs £9.99 and can print 2,100 6×4 inch (10×15 cm) photos. You can get multipacks (a full set of all six), but the ones I found were more expensive than buying the bottles individually.
So each 6×4 costs just under 3d, not counting the paper.
Epson doesn’t give an outlet for A3, but A3 is about 8.3 times larger than 6×4 inches, meaning you can print about 250 borderless A3 photos before you need another set of inks.
Using this estimate, each A3 photo costs 24p in ink, again not including paper.
The included Starter Kit has a lower yield (1,500 6×4-inch prints) because some ink is used to initialize the system.
If you print only documents with 5% coverage, each bottle will last for 5700, that is, an A4 black and white document costs only 1p.
If this page had 5% coverage with all six colors, that’s 6p.
Those prices are higher than the Epson A4 ET-3850, but if you need a printer to print lots of A3 photos, it’s competitive.
The ET-18100 is an unusual printer because it focuses entirely on low cost photo printing and does nothing else. Home users are likely to find the printer’s price a barrier, even if the operating costs are low, because they simply won’t need to print photos at the volume that the ET-18100 is designed for.
Indeed, Epson only offers a one-year warranty on it, or 50,000 pages, whichever comes first.
But if you have a side job on Etsy or ebay and want to print images and photos larger than A4, this is a great choice.
- 6 color inkjet printer
- Ink type: Ink tank filling
- Print resolution: 5760 x 1440 dpi
- Borderless: Yes
- Maximum paper size: A3+
- Input trays: 1 (80 sheets)
- Output Trays: 1 (100 sheets)
- ADF: No
- Duplex printing: manual
- Connectivity: USB, Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi Direct
- Dimensions: 523 x 369 x 150 mm (W x D x H)
- Weight: 8 kg
- Power consumption: 0.6W (sleep); 19W (printing); 0.2 W (power off)
- Warranty: 1 year