Epson EcoTank ET-2850 printer – no cartridges, just economical ink (review)

The Epson EcoTank ET-2850 joins the rest of the Epson EcoTank range that can print thousands of pages using economical ink tank refills – no expensive per-page costs and no cartridges to throw away.

Epson is a leader in EcoTank – not to take away from Brother and Canon that have their takes on tank printers.

That leading edge is its heat-free MicroPiezo print head using pulsing piezo crystals to pump ink instead of a heated cartridge head. The result is lower power use, more consistent droplet size and clear, sharp prints. Epson is so convinced that MicroPiezo is the way to go that it no longer produces energy-guzzling lasers.

EcoTank describes a complete range of home, photography, small/home office and enterprise printers. So this review of the Epson EcoTank ET-2850 ($499) is just one that will suit your needs. There are essentially three different print engines using the black, cyan, magenta and yellow tanks –

  • T502 – 10.5/5 pages per minute (ppm) mono/colour (duplex print reduces this to 6/4) – this review printer
  • T522 (also has Photo Black for some printers) 10/5 ppm
  •  T542 25/12ppm

Then you have options like copy, scan, fax, Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi Direct, USB, LAN in a price bracket from $299 to $649.

The EcoTank Pro range in mono or colour is from $249 to A3+ at $1699. Finally, the EcoTank Photo range with a 6-colour ink system from $999 to A3+ $1499

Epson EcoTank ET-2850 model C11CJ63501

WebsiteProduct range and Product Page
Warranty1-year extendable free to 2-years with registration
Country of ManufacturePhilippines
CompanyEpson is a Japanese electronics company. It is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of inkjet printers for consumer, business and industrial use. It also makes scanners, video projectors, watches, point of sale systems, robots and industrial automation equipment, semiconductor devices, crystal oscillators, sensing systems and other associated electronic components. 
MoreCybershack Epson news and reviews

First impression – basic black

It’s a typical breadbox design in basic office black with an A4 10.5/5ppm print, copy and scan function (has a flatbed scanner). Overall size is 375 (W) x 567 (D) x 259 (H) mm x 5.5kg.

This model has a rear (up to) 100 sheet A4 (max size 215.9 x 355.6) paper input tray and front output tray. You need to keep some room behind and in front of the printer – a 600mm desktop is fine.

It connects via USB 2. (cable not supplied), Wi-Fi N 2.4Ghz or transmits its own Wi-Fi Direct SSID and login to print from Windows, Mac, Android and iOS devices. There is a small 1.44″ colour LCD screen and navigation buttons at the front.

It comes with initial ink bottles: 1 each T502 Black, Cyan, Magenta and Yellow. In theory, that is good for up to 6500 mono or 5200 CMYK colour prints.

Setup – easy 9/10

First, tip each ink bottle into the same-coloured tank. I suggest you place newspaper under the tank area if you spill any, and you should not, but ink stains.

Epson printers need a driver which supports Windows, Mac and Linux PCs. Other Android or iOS devices use the Epson Smart Panel App and print via the cloud.

The driver selects one connection type (you can use all three by selecting each when needed) and connects to home Wi-Fi if required.

You can also use the LCD screen to change the setup defaults. You can also access the printer via a web browser and its IP address – easier.

The online guide is 221 pages – you should not need it, but it shows what the printer can do.

Paper – reliable with plain paper

While you can use photo quality, matte or glossy inkjet paper (up to 100gsm) and envelopes (10).

We found that you can only reliably stack plain bond in the rear tray. Heavier stock may require single-sheet feed.

You can use Epson photo stock in 4×6, 5 x 7, and A4.

Print quality – excellent

The trick here is to select the right paper and resolution. It defaults to ‘standard’ that is fine for most printing. You can choose fast or high quality (for premium paper) and grayscale if you are printing mono. Double-sided print is turned off by default.

We printed on A4 80gsm bond a mix of Word documents (with text and photos), PDF (one big picture) and webpages (combination of text and graphics). There was no colour banding or bleed.

We also used Burrows A4 100gsm Premium digital gloss and silk papers, and the result was excellent. These are coated stocks, and 500 pages (one ream) costs a reasonable $19.95.

Print speed – all within specification

Epson quotes ISO 10.5/5 mono/colour pages per minute, and on that basis, they are correct. But we use a 10-page, mixed media print test and found that including time first to page out was closer to 8 (greyscale) and 4 (colour).

A 4×6″ photo print took just over 1 minute, and the A4 glossy coated stock took nearly three minutes for a full photo.

We tested Apple Airprint and Epson Smart Panel on Android and flawlessly printed PDF and JPEG. There is a Mopria Cloud option for Android (not tested). There is also an Epson Cloud (not tested).

Scan  – you can also scan and print

It is a CIS 1200dpi, 10200×1404 pixels LED light flatbed scanner. Don’t be impressed by specs that it outputs from 50-9600 dpi – the scanner has to interpolate the scan to get that. Select 200-300 dpi and PDF for most use.

We scanned various images, and the scan is at best competent. By that we mean it is is adequate at 200-300 dpi and you would need to scan at say 1200 dpi to make a perceptible quality difference. You can scan a pre-set area or combine two A4 sheets into one.

It supports scan to computer, smartphone and cloud with Epson ScanSmart software (supplied)

Ink – Officeworks prices but shop around

The T502 black costs $30.89 for 7000 sheets. The Cyan, Magenta and Yellow tanks cost $15.44 each for 5200 prints. That is $77,21 or less than a cent a page.

Warranty and build

It has one year with a second if you register it online.

Build-wise, it is all plastic, and it will last years if you respect it. Our strongest advice is to leave it on (it will engage sleep mode) as that helps prevent ink clogging. There is a suite of head cleaning and alignment options that we did not use over the 4-week test.

The most important issue is to keep the paper friction rollers (under the top cover) clean, especially if you use a lot of double-sided printing. A cotton bud and sparing use of water/detergent is perfect for stubborn ink. Don’t use a cloth that may leave lint or other window cleaners.

Clean the scanner glass with a glass cleaner like Windex.

In the event of a paper jam, you can remove the back cover for access.

Power use is minimal – .7W in sleep mode and up to 12W in use.

Cybershack view – Epson EcoTank ET-2850 is perfect for home or small office

As we said initially, there are a few variants, so if you want Ethernet, Fax, 250-sheet cassette, or other options, you will find them in the range. PS:

  • ET-2820 ($479) exclusive to Harvey Norman is essentially the same
  • ET-3800 ($549) from Officeworks adds Ethernet
  • ET-4800 ($499) adds 35-page ADF/fax and Ethernet
  • ET-4850 ($649) adds 250 sheet cassette, ADF/fax and Ethernet

It is well made and will be ideal in the home or small office. At under a cent a page, it won’t take long to recoup capital costs over a cheap inkjet printer at 1-20 cents a page (or more).

Would I buy it? Well, I know what the Epson EcoTank Pro range is like and I may shell out $140 more for the ET-5150 – just saying is all!

Epson EcoTank ET-2850








Ease of use





  • Easy set-up
  • Epson quality
  • <1 cent a page print cost


  • Boring black design