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Epson EcoTank ET-8500: a picture-perfect all-in-one printer

Epson's EcoTank ET-8500 is a high-quality photo printer with big ink tanks.

Epson EcoTank ET-8500

MSRP $700.00

“The Epson EcoTank ET-8500 effortlessly delivers lab-quality prints at home.”

Pros

  • Excellent photo quality
  • Fast document and photo prints
  • Easy setup and use
  • Fast and quiet scanner
  • Three paper trays with wide media support
  • SD card and USB drive support
  • Small footprint with automatic output tray

Cons

  • No automatic document feeder
  • High initial cost

The best inkjet printers are known for handling photos well, but a printer designed specifically for photographic quality prints takes things to the next level. Epson’s EcoTank ET-8500 is a photo printer with a built-in scanner and large ink tanks, making it a unique all-in-one solution.

We put Epson’s EcoTank ET-8500 to the test to find out how easy it is to set up and use, the performance on various paper types, and how quickly it prints documents and pictures. This is a specialized and more expensive printer, so we also check whether it’s worth the price, taking into consideration the long-term costs.

Design

The Epson EcoTank ET-8500 is a surprisingly compact all-in-one.
The Epson EcoTank ET-8500 is a surprisingly compact all-in-one. Alan Truly / Digital Trends

The EcoTank ET-8500 is a surprisingly compact printer measuring 15.9 inches wide, 13.7 inches tall, and only 14.5 inches deep with its automatic output tray retracted. When printing, the tray extends forward, adding six inches to the depth. With both the rear paper tray and front output tray open, the depth reaches 24 inches.

Epson gave the EcoTank ET-8500 plenty of media options, including printing directly on CDs and DVDs. The printer has three paper trays to accommodate card stock, a variety of photo print sizes, and up to 50 sheets of letter-size paper.

The off-white body and rounded edges work well in the home or office. The front right corner features a large, adjustable 4.3-inch color touchscreen that simplifies use while standing at the printer.

The design of the EcoTank ET-8500 is thoughtful. Despite having three trays, most operations are intuitive, matching my expectations for an expensive home office printer. I did misunderstand the envelope orientation icon until I noticed the flap had a dashed line, indicating the envelope should face forward, with the seal at the back.

Printing performance

Alan compares draft, standard, and hig-quality photos from Epson's EcoTank ET-8500.
Alan Truly compares draft, standard, and high-quality photos from Epson’s EcoTank ET-8500. Tracey Truly / Digital Trends

Epson claims the EcoTank ET-8500 delivers “lab-quality color photos and graphics at an incredible value.” In every print test I did on matte or glossy photo paper, pictures came out beautifully, with perfect color and crisp detail — and at a surprisingly fast pace.

On plain paper, contrast drops and colors lose saturation, as expected. Black-and-white and color documents are good. If you need the best-quality plain-paper color photos, a high-quality color laser printer might be a better choice. The EcoTank ET-8500 is intended for top-quality, vibrant, borderless photo prints worthy of framing.

Getting a hard copy that looks as good as what you see on a big, bright screen is difficult, but the EcoTank ET-8500 managed to do so again and again. The key to easily attaining photographic quality is having the correct colors and algorithms to reproduce an image accurately.

Epson’s Claria ET Premium is a six-color ink system made up of the traditional cyan, magenta, yellow, and black, along with gray and “photo black” to extend the dynamic range without losing color fidelity. Except for black, which uses pigment, all Claria ET Premium inks are dye-based.

The results are crisp, vibrant, and accurate. I agree with Epson’s claim that the EcoTank ET-8500 delivers lab-quality photo prints.

The speed is good also, as the printer rolls out up to 16 black-and-white or 12 color documents per minute. Photo prints are quick as well: under a minute for best quality 4×6 prints, about 30 seconds for standard quality, and just 15 seconds for a draft mode. I had to stare closely at the draft print for nearly a minute to find an area where fine detail was lacking. Between high quality and standard, the difference is negligible.

Special features

The Epson EcoTank ET-8500's scanner is fast and quiet.
The Epson EcoTank ET-8500’s scanner is fast and quiet. Tracey Truly / Digital Trends

Epson’s EcoTank ET-8500 isn’t just a premium ink tank photo printer. It also includes a scanner, card reader, and USB-A port for a thumb drive. The large touchscreen makes copying, scanning, and accessing drives and cards painless.

Epson limits scan quality to 600 dpi when using the mobile app or scanning to external memory. When connected to a Windows PC or a Mac, I could double the resolution to get crisp 1,200 dpi scans. Honestly, I don’t have any documents or photos that are sharp enough to benefit from such high resolution, but it’s nice to have the option.

The SD card reader and USB-A port, located behind the lower front cover at the left, offer quick access for walk-up printing and scanning without a smartphone.

As mentioned above, the EcoTank ET-8500 has three media trays, one at the rear for thick paper and envelopes and two at the front for paper, photos, and direct printing on a CD or DVD.

The Epson EcoTank ET-8500 includes a tray for printing directly on CDs and DVDs.
The Epson EcoTank ET-8500 includes a tray for printing directly on CDs and DVDs. Tracey Truly / Digital Trends

The lower tray has a CD/DVD guide stored underneath. The touchscreen and mobile app offer guidance on using this unique feature. While the use of optical discs has fallen off dramatically, photographers and videographers will appreciate the ease of custom printing a disc before handing it over to clients.

Software and compatibility

Epson's EcoTank ET-8500 uses six ink colors in large tanks, making refills rare.
Epson’s EcoTank ET-8500 uses six ink colors in large tanks, making refills rare. Tracey Truly / Digital Trends

Setting up the Epson EcoTank ET-8500 was easy using my Pixel 6a and the Epson Smart Panel app. The printer’s large touchscreen guided me along the way as well, so I could switch to whichever was more convenient at each step.

It’s worth noting that filling six ink tanks, charging the lines, and doing head alignment takes several minutes. Thankfully, this is a rare occurrence since the included ink supply should last well over a year. Epson thoughtfully gave each ink bottle a slightly different top, so you can’t fill the wrong tank.

Epson printers are common, so after setup is complete, it only takes a moment to connect to the EcoTank ET-8500 from devices running Windows, macOS, ChromeOS, iOS, and Android.

For best-quality scanning and to access every feature, I needed to install Epson software. For the basics, you can start printing, copying, and scanning right away.

Price vs. value

Walk-up printing is easy since the EcoTank ET-8500 supports SD cards and USB drives.
Walk-up printing is easy since the EcoTank ET-8500 supports SD cards and USB drives. Tracey Truly / Digital Trends

The Epson EcoTank ET-8500 retails for $700, so it’s worth taking a moment to consider the long-term value before making a purchase. Note that sale prices of $550 are common.

Epson includes six full ink bottles, supplying up to two years of printing, depending on usage. It doesn’t sound like an exaggeration since the estimated yield is 6,200 pages for the most frequently used color inks: cyan, magenta, and yellow.

Individual color ink bottles cost $17.50 each, and print about 6,200 pages. Black is $20 and lasts for 6,700 pages. Photo black costs $17.50 and delivers 7,300 pages. Gray is used least, but is an important shade that costs $17.50 per bottle and lasts for a remarkable 46,600 pages.

That means a color document should cost about 1 cent, on average, while a black-and-white document costs three-tenths of a cent.

In two years, Epson estimates that you can save up to $2,000 in ink costs. That’s compared to cartridge-based printers. There are more economical inkjet tank printers, but few can match the photo quality of the EcoTank ET-8500.

Is this the printer for you?

Photographers, historians, and technology enthusiasts are often frustrated by the good, but not great picture quality of many inkjet printers. If you have a discerning eye and notice color casts on photo prints, small print errors, lost detail, and other inkjet frustrations, the output of a nice photo printer is a joy to behold.

The Epson EcoTank ET-8500 is one of the best photo printers I’ve ever used. There’s no need to tweak pictures in a photo editor to adjust for print errors. Everything looks great on the first print. Even draft-quality photos have good color fidelity and sharpness. Prints are fast, reliable, and match the original picture.

Scanning is quick and quiet with good resolution. Copying is hassle-free and easy via the big, color touchscreen. I tried hard to find something I didn’t like, but the price is the only barrier to buying this printer.

Even the $700 retail price becomes reasonable if you print in volume, thanks to the large ink supply that’s included and low running costs. If you can afford the EcoTank ET-8500 and prioritize photo printing, this is a highly recommended printer.

Editors’ Recommendations








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