The WorkForce ET-4550 EcoTank is a good printer — and a very good one if the ink usage claims are true

The Epson WorkForce ET-4550 EcoTank wireless all-in-one comes loaded and ready with up to two years of ink in the box. Or so says Epson. I can let you know in …. let’s see … about 23 months.

If true, that’s an incredible amount of ink — enough to print up to 11,000 black/8500 color pages, and equivalent to about 50 ink cartridge sets. The printer is designed for homes, home offices and small offices that print 300 to 400 pages per month.

If it lives up to the hype, the WorkForce ET-4550 EcoTank will be worth its $499 price tag. If it doesn’t, the price tag won’t be justified. My family goes through a LOT of ink each year as my wife and daughter print photos, recipes, coupons, etc. I need a printer that doesn’t threaten to break my bank account in ink cartridge purchases.

When replacement ink is needed, the cost for the WorkForce ET-4550 EcoTan will reportedly be as low as $12.99 per bottle, or $52 per set of bottles. For example, a standard home printer requires approximately 20 sets of cartridges to print the same number of pages included with the equivalent EcoTank printer.

I’ll have to give the Epson WorkForce ET-4550 EcoTank the benefit of the doubt as to the validity of the long-lasting ink tank claims. For now, all I can do is tell you about its other features. 

Powered by PrecisionCore printing technology, the ET-4550 is designed for the home office with an in-box ink yield of up to 11,000 black and 8,500 color pages, high-speed and print speeds of up to 13 ISO ppm (black) and 7.3 ISO ppm (color) . The ET-4550 features 2.2-inch LCD, auto 2-sided printing, a 30-page Auto Document Feeder, and a 150-sheet paper capacity. 

The Epson Scan scanning interface provides three performance levels—novice, moderate, and expert. Scan (and copy) quality was decent, though skin tones were a little too brown.

Setting up the ET-4550 was easy, though you’ll want to be careful in filling the ink tanks; Epson recommends you use gloves. Even if you don't mind the ink on your hand, since you’re pouring ink from bottles into the printer’s tank, it’s easy to spill a drop or two on your desk, tablet, whatever. You should place some newspaper or an old towel under the printer to prevent messy mishaps.

The ink comes in eight bottles, with two for each color. Both black ink bottles hold 140 milliliters (ml) of ink. Each of the other ink colors comes in one 70ml bottle labeled Initial and one 40ml bottle labeled Bonus.

Once set up, the ET-4550 is a speedy workhorse. It offers auto 2-sided printing and a 30-page Auto Document Feeder, plus easy wireless printing from tablets and smartphones.

The ET-4550 has support for mobile printing and scanning. If you install it on a network, you can print and scan through the cloud, using the Epson Connect service, to selected websites—including Box, Dropbox, Evernote, and Google Drive—assuming, of course, that the network is connected to the Internet. You can also connect to the printer by way of an access point to print from or scan to an iOS, Android, or Kindle Fire device.

The Epson all-in-one is fairly easy to move. IT measures 9.5 x 20.3 x 22 inches and weighs 16 pounds, five ounces. 

Print quality is reasonably good, especially when it comes to text. Black text has a near-laser quality. Photo quality is good but not great. The blacks are bold and the bright colors vibrant, though there’s a lack of contrast. Also, if you expect photos to have a glossy finish, you may not like the matte look of the Premium Presentation Paper Matte that Epson recommends for photos.

Also, for the price tag, you’d think the ET-4550 would have a flash memory card slot. You’d be wrong.

Despite its flaws, if your monthly printing needs run in the 300 to 400 pages per range, this “supertanker” printer could be just what you need — though, unfortunately, only time will tell.