Epson brags about its revolutionary EcoTank cartridge-free printing system. They have implemented it in many of their printers, and it involves using refillable ink tanks that can be refilled in minutes, with cheap ink bottles, instead of expensive cartridges. You also get to refill only the color that's missing, instead of several colors at once, just because one has run out in the color cartridge. Their EcoTank printers are more expensive than other cartridge-based printers with similar features, but Epson promises a lower total cost of ownership. We got our hands on the Epson Expression ET-2600 EcoTank All-in-One printer, which is a popular model for US home users. We tested it for about three weeks, and this is what we have learned when using it as our printer:
What is the Epson Expression ET-2600 EcoTank All-in-One printer good at?
The Epson Expression ET-2600 all-in-one printer is a suitable choice for home users whose top-priority is low-cost printing, and they prize this above other features.
Pros and cons
Epson Expression ET-2600 has the following strengths:
- Low-cost ink bottles that, in theory, should help you save up to 80% on refills, compared with traditional cartridge-based printers
- Refilling the ink tanks is straightforward. Even children can do it. We tested with a 10-year old. 🙂
- The Draft quality setting uses very little ink
- Good quality prints when using Standard or High-quality settings
- You can use it to print both from your PC and your smartphone or tablet (with iOS and Android)
Unfortunately, Epson Expression ET-2600 has quite a few downsides:
- If you don't pay attention when refilling the tanks, it is easy to dirty your hands or stain your clothes
- The Draft quality setting is unusable for documents with colored text and images. You have to switch to Standard
- You don't have an input paper tray for the scanner, and there is no display, only buttons, and LEDs
- It cannot do borderless prints
- Poor software and drivers that are not able to install the printer on the latest versions of Windows 10
- There is no USB cable in the box and that makes the initial setup even harder, because of the driver issues that we mentioned
- The Epson Connect feature doesn't work, and you can't print from anywhere, as promised by Epson
The Epson Expression ET-2600 EcoTank All-in-One printer is very much a one-trick pony: it is all about the price of refilling the ink. You pay more for the printer and a lot less to refill the ink. Also, you get good quality prints when using the Standard or High-quality settings. But, for the features that you get, Epson Expression ET-2600 is expensive. Printers from other brands, at a similar price, give you a screen that you can use when setting up and using the printer, an input paper tray for the scanner and borderless prints. To make things worse, Epson Expression ET-2600 has many driver and software related issues that ruin the user experience, especially if you are using Windows 10. Yes, the total running costs might be better with Epson Expression ET-2600, but we want a quality user experience to go with it. At the time we reviewed this printer, it doesn't deliver that. We recommend that you look at the more expensive models from the same Epson family or at printers from other brands and similar pricing.
Unboxing the Epson Expression ET-2600 EcoTank All-in-One printer
The Epson Expression ET-2600 printer comes in a large box which features a picture of the device on the top and some of its most important characteristics.
Inside the box, you will find the following items: the printer itself, four bottles of ink (Black, Cyan, Magenta, and Yellow), the power cord, the user manual and a CD with drivers and other utilities. Unfortunately, there is no USB cable inside the packaging, and this will make the installation way more difficult for some users.
The unboxing experience is quick and painless, as you would expect. There are no premium accessories. In fact, Epson has decided not to bundle a USB cable to connect the printer to a computer through a USB port. Some users will not appreciate this decision.
Hardware specifications and design
Epson brags that Expression ET-2600 comes with enough ink to print up to 4000 pages in black and 6500 color pages, using the draft quality settings. Supposedly, this is enough for two years after purchasing the printer, in normal home use. Epson says that home users tend to print, on average, about 150 pages each month. Unfortunately we, cannot verify these claims, as we have tested this printer just for three weeks, before publishing this review.
The maximum print resolution is 5760 x 1440 dpi (dots per inch). The print speed you get from Epson Expression ET-2600 is of up to 10 pages per minute when printing in black and 4.5 pages when printing in color. The input paper tray can take up to 100 sheets of paper, while the output paper tray can hold up to 30 sheets of paper. This is enough for most home users.
This all-in-one printer can also be used as a scanner or a copier. When you use it as a copier, it can copy up to 7.7 pages per minute, in black, and 3.7 pages per minute, in color.
When used as a scanner it has an optical resolution of 2400 dpi (dots per inch) and interpolated maximum resolution of 9600 dpi, which may be useful when scanning high-quality photography.
Epson Expression ET-2600 is a wireless printer and can work with the 802.11 b/g/n WiFi standards. Luckily, it also has WPS support, for faster connections to your home network.
Unfortunately, it doesn't work with modern networks that are using the 802.11ac standard and the 5 GHz frequency.
Regarding operating system support, it works with Windows (all the way from Windows XP to Windows 10), Mac OS X 10.6 or newer, Android and iOS (through the Epson iPrint mobile app).
The printer is relatively large, having 17.5" x 20.8" 11.96" or 44.45 x 52.83 x 30.37 cm in width x depth x height. It is also heavy, at 11 lb or 5 kg.
If you would like to see all the official specifications, including the types of paper it can print on, or the operating temperatures, go to this page and click "See Full Specs:" Epson Expression ET-2600 EcoTank All-in-One Printer.
Setting up the Epson Expression ET-2600 EcoTank All-in-One printer
Setting up the Epson Expression ET-2600 and other printers in the same Epson family is different than when dealing with conventional cartridge-based printers. After you unbox the printer and remove all the protection mechanisms, you need to fill the tanks with ink. This process is not complicated, and anyone can do it. However, it may get messy if you don't pay attention. Make sure that you don't dirty your clothes though, as the ink might not come out.
After you are done with filling the tanks, you should turn the printer on, wait for the power light to stop flashing and then press the Stop button for three seconds. The printer starts charging the ink, a process which takes approximately 20 minutes. During this time, you cannot use the printer, and you must wait for the process to finish, before doing anything else.
Next, load the paper and install the printer's software on a computer where you want to use it. We tried to install Epson Expression ET-2600 on a desktop computer with Windows 10 Creators Update freshly installed and then on another one with Windows 10 Fall Creators Update. Epson's setup program has repeatedly failed and kept saying that: "The IP address of the printer may be incorrect. Make sure that DHCP is valid in your network."
The same connectivity problems were also encountered when using the Epson Connect Printer Setup program, which helps you make an Epson Connect account that you can use to print from anywhere on the internet. No matter what we did, Epson's software was incapable of installing the printer. We tested two other wireless printers on the same network, from other brands, and all of them were installed without issues. This problem is a software one, caused by Epson's programming.
This issue is even more aggravated by the fact that there is no USB cable bundled. If there were, you could install the printer using that and then configure it to work on your wireless network. Luckily, we could use WPS to connect the printer to the wireless network and the setup wizard from Windows 10, for adding a printer. Windows 10 was able to detect and install the printer in seconds. After that, most of Epson's applications started to detect the printer, and we were able to use it, but without the Epson Connect feature.
We also installed the Epson iPrint and Epson Print Enabler mobile apps for Android and installed the printer on a Nexus 6P smartphone with Android 8.0 Oreo. We were able to install the apps, detect the printer and configure it for mobile printing.
Installing and setting up Epson Expression ET-2600 is a lengthier process than on traditional cartridge-based printers. Also, it is more difficult than it should be, because Epson doesn't bundle a USB cable with the printer and its Windows drivers and software have bugs and problems that need to be fixed.
Go to the second page of this review if you want to learn about the print quality and the experience you get when copying and scanning documents, pictures, and images.