Printing beautiful photos on a variety of media is an art in itself, and one that the Epson Ecotank ET-8500 masters admirably – from classic photo formats to printing on fine art paper. The versatility of this multi-functional tank printer is what sets it apart – and makes it fun to try out. And, thanks to the ink tanks, the photo costs remain low.
Hobby photographers often spend a fortune on prints – especially if they use a cartridge device with lots of photo inks for printing. The Epson Ecotank ET-8500 is tailored precisely to this target group. Thanks to the tank system, you’ll save a lot of money per printout. While initial investment is high, it pays for itself quickly.
What it costs to print
The Epson Ecotank ET-8500 has six tanks that can be refilled with the 114 series of bottles. One tank is for pigmented black ink. The remaining five tanks are reserved for dye inks – more precisely for the colours photo black, cyan (blue), magenta (red), yellow (yellow) and grey. All tanks offer the same filling capacity. There isn’t a larger black tank for text.
Photo prints are produced by the ink-tank multifunction printer from a maximum of five colours. The costs are calculated on the basis of a 10 x 15 centimetre photo. All ink quantities should be sufficient for 2,300 photos when purchased.
The manufacturer charges $17.49 /£15.99 /17.99 euros per bottle for 70 millilitres. On this basis, the price for a 10 x 15 photo is 3.4 cents/ 3.4p/3.9 cents – although please bear in mind that UK and US prices are a rough estimate.
Twice as much is charged for an A4 photo – 7.5 cents/ 6.9p/ 7.8 cents. Compared to cartridge printers, these are unbelievably low prices. You can print your photos as you please. The only thing that gets expensive is the paper, which you have to add to the ink costs.
But even in standard printing on plain paper, the Epson Ecotank ET-8500 won’t ruin you. Here, the refill inks offer a range of 6,700 pages for text black and 6,200 pages for the other colours. With prices of 0.25 cents/ 0.23p/ 0.27 cents for a black-and-white sheet and 1.4 cents/ 1.24p/ 1.45 cents for a colour ISO page, the ET-8500 is a little higher than other tank models, but leaves any cartridge or toner model far behind.
At the same time, it is frugal in its power consumption: in idle mode, the Epson Ecotank ET-8500 switches down to 0.7 watts with a USB connection and 0.9 watts via WLAN. But there’s a shortcoming – when switched off, the ink tank multifunction printer does not disconnect completely from the mains. In the test, the meter still showed a consumption of 0.4 watts.
The Epson Ecotank ET-8500 proves that even a six-colour multifunctional printer is easy to set up. The driver CD and the clearly laid-out leaflet – both included in the scope of delivery – are helpful. In addition, there is an ink bottle set that corresponds to the refill bottles in terms of filling quantities.
Since the line system has to be filled once, the range is reduced to 18,00 photos (10 x 15 centimetres). The ink tanks are coded. This means that only the correct ink-tank combinations fit. Incorrect filling is thus ruled out. Drip stops and an automatic stop of the filling process ensure that the ink ends up in the tanks without splashing or overflowing.
Pressure adjustment is more extensive on the ET-8500 than on other printer models. This shows that it is a more specialised device whose print head needs to be aligned a little more precisely.
Features: Aimed at photo fans
The large number of paper feeders alone makes it clear that Epson wants to fulfil as many photo wishes as possible with the Ecotank ET-8500. And it succeeds with a paper cassette for 100 sheets, a second cassette for 20 photo papers up to 13 x 18 centimetres, a rear feeder for up to 50 sheets, a cut-sheet feeder for thick media and a print template for printing on CDs/DVDs.
Some paper feeders are only ready for use after a few manual operations. For example, for the straight sheet feeder you have to remove the rear cover, click in the paper guide inside the housing and align the sheet exactly with the arrows. To print on a DVD, remove the document holder from the bottom of the paper cassette and insert it into the front of the case at the designated position. With a little practice, both procedures are easy to perform.
The foldable touch display on the Epson Ecotank ET-8500 is remarkable: it has a diagonal of almost 11 centimetres and can therefore be operated easily at the touch of a finger.
Connecting to Wi-Fi networks is also quick and easy. The ET-8500 can also be connected via USB, LAN or Wi-Fi Direct. Mobile printing works via Apple Airprint, Mopria or the manufacturer’s own apps, Epson Smart Panel or Epson Print Layout.
For direct printing from storage media, the tank multifunction printer offers an SD card slot and a USB host port on the front of the device. Both interfaces disappear behind the front cover for the paper cassette when folded. In addition, the Epson Ecotank ET-8500 can automatically print on both sides thanks to the duplex unit.
There are two features that are really design elements rather than functionally important. When a print job arrives at the Epson Ecotank ET-8500, the output tray automatically moves out. It can be retracted again by pressing a button on the device. And when a print job is in progress, the paper output is illuminated with white LEDs.
Quality: Great photos, high-quality everyday prints
The Epson Ecotank ET-8500 prints, scans and copies. Even though it is tailored to photo printing, it handles everyday tasks to a high standard. The pigmented black ink, for example, ensures very legible text with a balanced coverage. Colour PDFs with images, graphics and text also turned out impressively well in the test.
There is little to complain about in the test scans. However, you should not expect miracles, because Epson relies here on a CIS scanner (Compact Image Sensor) – similar to other ink tank models. However, the performance is absolutely fine for digitising common originals. When it comes to copying, the ET-8500 is more in line with normal office and home office tank printers. Here, its performance is absolutely decent, but not exceptional.
The Epson ET-8500’s strength is clearly in photo printing, where it impresses with rich detail, superb transitions and natural skin tones. Those who want to print black-and-white photos will appreciate the grey ink. As with the colours, the results on paper here are excellent. You don’t have to worry about annoying colour casts, which often occur with four-colour printers.
If you print from a mobile device, the Epson Smart Panel app is a good helper. The colours turn out even more natural when the Epson Print Layout app is used. The colour management is even finer here. However, we were not able to achieve borderless printing. But the margins are very small.
Working speed: Fast, but not overhasty
In our test, we noticed how quietly the Epson Ecotank ET-8500 works most of the time. It only becomes more audible when printing monochrome text in standard resolution. Here it produced 10 pages in 45 seconds via USB – a decent result, which is also similar via Wi-Fi. Ten colour pages from Acrobat were printed in 2:14 minutes – again, very fast.
The ET-8500 also maintains this reliable mode of operation when printing photos. We measured almost 3 minutes for an A4 photo, and 1:32 minutes for a 10×15 photo, almost exactly half the time. In scanning, too, the ink-tank multifunction printer completed tasks at a decent pace. We measured 6 seconds for an A4 preview and 10 seconds for a colour scan. A copy took 19 seconds in colour and 14 seconds in black and white. Many competitors are considerably slower.
Price and availability
There are lots of buying options for the Epsom Ecotank ET-8500 but it’s a good idea to shop around as prices can vary. If you’re in the US, its MSRP is $699.99 and you can get it at this price from Best Buy but it’s available for much less on Amazon.
In the UK, you can buy direct from Epsom, but you’ll be paying the full RRP of £649.99. At the time of writing, John Lewis and Amazon have much better offers – by a whopping £100.
The Epsom Ecotank ET-8500 is an excellent choice for people who want to print photos – especially those who want to print them regularly. It’s fast and your prints will be high quality. Yes, you’ll be paying more in the initial purchase but over time its speed, reliability and cost per print will prove better value.
This review originally appeared in PC-Welt and was translated for inclusion here.
For more options and to see which printers we recommend, have a look at our round-up of the best printers we’ve tested.
Epson Ecotank ET-8500: Technical specifications
Printer, scanner, copier
USB 2.0, Wi-Fi 802.11ac, Wi-Fi Direct, Ethernet LAN, USB host, SD card slot
foldable touch display (10.9 cm diagonal)
Windows XP, Vista, 7 , 8, 10, 11; Server 2003 SP2 or higher; MacOS X 10.6.8 or higher
Mobile printing via
Apple Airprint, Mopria, Wi-Fi Direct, manufacturer apps
Six colours (BK, C, M, Y, Photo-BK, Grey)
Epson 114 (6 bottles of 70 ml each)
1x plain paper, 1x photo paper up to 13 x 18 cm
Rear paper feed
1x for a maximum of 50 sheets; 1x single sheet (straight; for thick media and banners)
Automatic Document Feeder (ADF)
Maximum paper weight
Media up to 1.3 millimetres thick
5760 x 1440 dpi
Resolution scan function
1200 x 4800 ppi
aut. Duplex printing; borderless printing up to A4; CD/DVD printing function; banner printing up to 2 metres long