Epson EcoTank ET-18100 reviewon March 17, 2023 at 16:49 Tech Advisor
Inexpensive photo printsGreat print qualityMess-free ink refills
No displayNo scanner / copierExpensive to buy
The ET-18100 is capable of excellent print quality, and very fast prints when required. But it’s expensive to buy so is only for those who really need to print a lot of A3 images
Price When Reviewed
Best Prices Today: Epson EcoTank ET-18100
Epson’s EcoTank system has been with us for almost a decade now. It answered the problem of low-yield cartridges that led to relatively high-cost pages by introducing large-capacity ink tanks in the printer that could be refilled individually.
This also solved the problem of having to throw away unused ink in colour cartridges that combined all three colours into one.
The downside, of course, is that EcoTank printers cost more to buy in the first place and need to be used fairly regularly so their nozzles don’t clog up with dried-out ink.
The new ET-18100 is aimed at photographers (and other creatives) who want to print larger than A4 and don’t want their printer to double-up as an office workhorse. That’s why this particular EcoTank does not have a scanner or document feeder and doesn’t print on both sides of the paper.
Features & Design
Six ink tanksHandles up to A3+ mediaCan print ID cards & CDs
Considering it’s an A3+ printer, the ET-18100 isn’t as big as you might expect. However, it does need a fair amount of desk space when the paper trays are fully extended.
Unlike some EcoTank models, there’s no display on this one. Instead, you’re expected to set up and print from a mobile device, with your phone or tablet replacing the printer’s screen.
You can print from a PC or Mac, of course, and you can go properly old-school if you like and hook up the ET-18100 with a USB, although Epson doesn’t include one in the box.
You do get a full set of ‘107’ ink – six 70ml bottles – which is more than enough to brim the tanks with ink left over.
They comprise: black, cyan, magenta, yellow, light cyan and light magenta.
Jim Martin / Foundry
The paper tray is at the rear, but as it isn’t covered, it’s best to insert photo paper only when you’re ready to print. The benefit of a rear feed is that the paper doesn’t have to be turned 180° on itself as it does with a front feeder and this allows you to use thicker stock.
As you might expect, the ET-18100 can print photos right to the edges of the paper regardless of size.
One unusual inclusion in the box is a plastic tray that can hold a CD / DVD and two PVC ID cards. This feels like an anachronism in 2023, but if you still burn CDs or home movies then it could prove useful.
When you unbox the ET-18100 there’s a lot of folded paperwork with no obvious quick-start guide. But once you find the sheet in your language and realise you can scan a QR code you can download the Epson Smart Panel app which guides you through setup.
Jim Martin / Foundry
It works like a chatbot, explaining each step to take and warning you not to leave the printer alone. Emptying the ink from the bottles to the tanks is simple: each one has a coded pattern and will only fit into the correct slot for that colour, so it isn’t possible to accidentally pour in the wrong colour.
No ink escapes the bottle when you turn it upside down: it empties only when seated into its slot, and automatically stops when the ink reaches the max. line.
Jim Martin / Foundry
After this, the printer initialises the ink system which primes the printer – you’ll see the levels drop a bit in the tanks. This happens on the first time when the printer is new, and you’ll get even more photos from subsequent bottles.
The app somehow makes setting up Wi-Fi a 30-step process, but once that particular irritation is out of the way you can then start printing.
It’s worth noting that you don’t need a smartphone or tablet: it’s possible to follow the instructions on the included sheet to fill the tanks and prime the system.
After that you can go to the website in the final instruction and download the Windows or Mac software which you’ll need in order to set up Wi-Fi.
However, if you configure Wi-Fi via the phone app first, Windows will find the ET-18100 on your network and automatically install a driver so no additional software is needed. You’ll probably want to install at least Epson Photo+, though, as it makes it easier to print photos as well as letting you print photo collages and, of course, those CDs and ID cards.
Jim Martin / Foundry
A3 print in under two minutes6x4in print in 30 seconds7ppm 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 borderless 6x4in photo takes just 30 seconds and a full A3 photo only 1:50.
Crank it up to the highest quality and a 6x4in snap takes 60 seconds and an A3 print roughly five minutes – quicker than other A3 printers we’ve tested.
Jim Martin / Foundry
If you need to print A4 documents on plain paper, they’ll appear at about seven pages per minute at standard quality (an eight-page document took 70 seconds), but that speed increases dramatically if you only need draft quality.
It slows down if you choose to collate multiple copies of a document, but since this is a photo printer it’s highly unlikely you’ll be doing that very much.
It also explains why there’s no auto-duplex: you can print on both sides of the paper, but you’ll need to reinsert the pages into the input tray.
Overall, the ET-18100 is a fantastic photo printer
As all ink – including black – is dye-based, text isn’t quite as dark as you get from pigment black, but to put it simply, if document printing is a priority, this is the wrong printer for you.
Jim Martin / Foundry
What’s important is that photo quality is excellent. Feed it an image with a suitably high resolution (at least 300 dpi) and you’ll be able to see a stunning level of detail in prints. Colours are accurate, too, with grass, skies and skin tones appearing pretty much exactly as on my iPhone screen.
If you’re printing from a laptop or PC, you should make sure your screen is calibrated using a colorimeter if colour accuracy is important in the 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 appear too dark. There, a histogram (found in a competent photo editor) is your friend.
You’ll see a warning when printing from Windows that enabling borderless mode might lead to smears around the edges (a message you don’t get on mobile) and there were a few occasions where a tiny amount of black ink appeared in isolated places on edges. Certainly nothing really noticeable, though.
I tried printing a few images that weren’t photos to see if blocks of colour matched their on-screen counterparts. They did in general, but yellows tended to be a bit darker and more orange than they should have been.
However, overall, the ET-18100 is a fantastic photo printer.
Initially, the absence of a screen seemed like a drawback. But after printing over Wi-Fi from a phone or PC, I didn’t miss it at all: the apps offer fine control over exactly how to position the image you want to print, so even if it doesn’t match the paper’s aspect ratio, you can control what gets cut off.
Wireless printing is absolutely reliable, too.
If there’s a criticism it’s that the templates offered in Photo+ are pretty basic and aren’t editable. It’s fine if you like the layout, but although one template looks like it might be for passport photos, it isn’t named as such and you’re left to try and work out which paper size to use to get the right photo size.
Price & availability
Epson’s official price for the ET-18100 is £699.99. However, it wasn’t available to buy from Epson’s website in March 2023.
As it was brand new at the time of review, it wasn’t being sold by many retailers online. Park Cameras, Harrison Cameras, Carmarthen Cameras and Camera Centre had it for £649.
It isn’t sold in the US, Canada or Australia.. at least yet.
EcoTank printers might be expensive to buy, but they’re cheap to run
If the ET-18100 is too expensive for you, then you could opt for a four-colour A3 printer (such as the ET-14000, although that’s more for documents than photos) or an A4 model such as the ET-8500 (although that’s not really much cheaper).
If you like the ET-18100 but want a scanner as well, the ET-8550 is also an A3+ model, and that was on sale direct from Epson at £729.99.
You can also see our recommendations for other models in our roundup of the best printers.
EcoTank printers might be expensive to buy, but they’re cheap to run. Each ink bottle costs £9.99 and can print 2,100 6x4in (10x15cm) photos. You can get multipacks (a full set of all six) but those I found were more expensive than buying bottles singly.
Each 6×4, then, costs just under 3p, not including paper.
Epson doesn’t give yields for A3, but A3 is about 8.3x larger than 6x4in, meaning you can expect to print around 250 borderless A3 photos before needing another set of ink.
Using this estimate, each A3 photo costs 24p in ink, again not including paper.
The included initial set have a lower yield of 1,500 6x4in prints, because some ink is used to initialise the system.
If you only printed documents with 5% coverage, each bottle would last for 5,700, meaning a black-and-white A4 document costs just 1p.
If that page had 5% coverage of all six colours, that’s 6p.
These prices are higher than for Epson’s A4 ET-3850, but if you are after a printer for churning out loads of A3 photos, it’s competitive.
The ET-18100 is an unusual printer, because it’s entirely focused on low-cost photo printing and doesn’t really do anything else. Home users will probably find the printer’s price a barrier, even if running costs are low, because they simply won’t need to print photos at the kind of volume the ET-18100 is designed for.
Indeed, Epson offers only a one-year warranty on it, or 50,000 pages, whichever is reached first.
But if you have a side hustle on Etsy or ebay and want the option to print artwork and photos bigger than A4, it’s a great choice.
6-colour inkjet printerInk type: Dye tank fillPrint resolution: 5760 x 1440dpiBorderless: YesMaximum paper size: A3+Input trays: 1 (80 sheets)Output trays: 1 (100 sheets)ADF: NoDouble-sided printing: manualConnectivity: USB, Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi DirectDimensions: 523 x 369 x 150 mm (W x D x H)Weight: 8kg Energy use: 0.6W (sleep); 19W (printing); 0.2W (power off)Warranty: 1 year