Review of the Epson EcoTank Photo ET 8500 All-in-One Printer

Review of the Epson EcoTank Photo ET 8500 All-in-One Printer

Epson asked me if I was interested in reviewing the EcoTank photo ET 8500 all-in-one printer. I said yes and got the opportunity to use the printer for a month. Is it worth investing in this printer? Let’s find out.

The Epson EcoTank Photo ET 8500 all-in-one printer is not a cheap printer. It costs about $600, but for that amount of money, you will get a printer that is said to print photos in lab-quality up to A4 format. It is also suitable for every day document printing and scanning. The printer works wireless and uses the Epson Cartridge free ink system.

The Epson Ecotank ET 8500 printer can connect to a smartphone or tablet for direct printing. It also offers a SD card slot and USB port. Through a nice 4.3” touchscreen it is possible to browse and choose the images you like to print. It has a nice interface with a great help function built-in.

The Epson EcoTank Photo ET 8500 all-in-one printer in use.

Ink Bottles Instead of Ink Cartridges

Although the ink bottle system isn’t new, I haven’t seen it before. It eliminates the need for buying expensive ink cartridges which makes it more environment friendly. The printer has six reservoirs that need to be filled from large plastic ink bottles.

It uses the colors cyan, magenta, and yellow. It also has two reservoirs for black and one for gray. The latter is needed for a better way of printing gray shades. Each of the ink bottles have a unique design which makes it impossible to fill the wrong reservoir.

The ink system of the Epson EcoTank ET 8500  is much better compared to the traditional ink cartridges, I think.

Filling the reservoir is straightforward. Just place the bottle up-side-down wait until the reservoir is full. But don’t squeeze the bottle to speed up the filling. If you do, you will spill a lot of ink. Unfortunately, the bottles are all made of plastic. If it is an environmentally friendly system, why not glass bottles that can be refilled?

It is almost impossible to fill the wrong color in a reservoir. Every ink bottle has a unique form

Talking about an environmentally friendly system, the Epson EcoTank ET 8500 uses 17 Watt during printing. In sleep mode, the energy consumption is about 0.8 Watt. After a complete shutdown, there is still a small consumption of 0.3 Watt. If you want the printer to be always on standby, you will use at least 0.16 kWh per week.

Setting up the printer and connecting it to the WiFi network is easy and straight forward. You can also make changes to standby times and sleep modes.

The Design of the Epson EcoTank ET 8500

The Epson EcoTank ET 8500 looks good. 

The overall look is clean. The paper slides are hidden in the printer until it starts printing. The touch screen can be tilted for your convenience. On the top you will find the scanner. The complete top cover can be tilted for maintenance and adding ink to the reservoirs. The top is relatively heavy, but a couple of springs will keep the top open. Closing the top needs a bit of force.

The LCD screen gives all the information for maintanance. That's very handy.

The printer is about 403 x 369 x 162 mm (wide x depth x height) and it weighs about 8.4 kg without paper or ink. You need to keep some space at the back if you want to use the back paper feed. The normal paper trays are at the front of the printer. The top paper tray is suitable for photo paper and the bottom paper tray for normal A4 size paper. The Epson EcoTank ET 8500 has a motorized tray for the printed paper of photos.

All the different paper trays in one overview. If the printer is not used, the trays are retracted inside the printer.

Printing From the Computer

Connecting the printer to the WiFi network is relatively easy, just follow the instructions on the touch screen. I have used the Epson EcoTank ET 8500 from a Windows laptop which finds the drivers of the printer automatically.

Almost all the prints I made were from Adobe Photoshop. There is no specialized software available. The printer uses the built-in printing module from Photoshop or Window, as far as I could tell. It makes printing very easy but doesn't give a feeling of full control. The Epson website doesn’t offer any print software for this printer at all.

Print settings in Photoshop. It shows the ICC profile, but you cannot change anything. 

The only settings I could find in Photoshop were the paper size and paper quality. There is also the possibility to choose the paper feed. Color management is done by Photoshop, or by the printer itself. It determines the ICC profile based on the settings you have chosen.

I don’t have a way of determining the print quality. I also don’t have a way of comparing the results from other printers. But the photos I have printed look good. I haven’t seen any strange color shifts. I believe this makes the printer very easy to use, with the results that have the same color that can be seen on the computer screen.

Borderless printing in 4 x 6" size didn't seem to be possible. Strangely enough, printing from a SD card did allow borderless printing. 

Printing photos isn't making a lot of noise, even though it prints relatively fast. A normal 4” x 6” print will take only 15 seconds. There is also an option for silent printing. This results in a slower print speed, however. Duplex printing of a Word text document turns out to be time consuming. It takes seconds before the page is printed on the other side.

One of the options is printing in panorama format and it is possible to print up to 2 meters in length. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the paper available to try this.

Printing From an SD Card

The Epson EcoTank ET 8500 has an SD card slot and a USB connector. The touch screen makes it very easy to print the images from these media. But be aware, only jpeg images can be printed from SD or USB.

The large LCD screen makes printing from a SD card easy

The printer shows a gallery of thumbnails which to choose from. There are also some rudimentary options available to adjust the image before printing. The first thing I noticed was the ability to make borderless 4 x 6” prints, something that wasn’t possible when I printed from within Photoshop. I couldn’t find any setting which would make a borderless print from within Photoshop also.

Scanning With the Epson EcoTank ET 8500

You need to download some special scanning software before you can use the flatbed scanner of the Epson EcoTank Et 8500. Installation is easy, but finding the printer is a bit more difficult. After you found the printer, scanning is a piece of cake.

The results look good. There are some settings you can change if needed. You can also enhance a scan, change colors, and adjust luminosity. This can be particularly helpful when scanning photos.

Scanning a document is reasonably straight forward. You need to download the right software before you can use the scan ability of the printer.

My Conclusion

This is the first time I have reviewed a printer. As a result, I cannot compare the print quality to others I have reviewed, but simply judge the results on their own merits.

Every print I made looked good. Unfortunately I couldn't get rid of the white border.

The idea of ink reservoirs is something I find fantastic. It is so much better than ink cartridges, I think. It could be a reason to choose a printer like this. Another thing I like is the ease of use. It works almost plug and play, and when it gets a bit more complex, the menu helps you figure it out. The touch screen makes operating and printing easy and almost intuitive. Still, I miss the dedicated printing software that offers more customization and perhaps even the use of ICC profiles.

This is why I have mixed feelings about this printer. The possibilities are great and I love the flexibility it offers. On the other hand it lacks a full control of all the settings. The borderless printing that is possible from an SD card but not when printing from Photoshop is a good example.

A blue LED while printing is a nice touch. But in daylight it is difficult to see.

I am not convinced this printer is right for all professional photographers who wants the best quality while having full control over the printer. At the same time, amateur photographers might find the printer a bit too expensive. This way the Epson EcoTank ET 8500 falls somewhat between two markets.

What I Like

  • Ink system with reservoirs instead of ink cartridges
  • Ink level is visible at the front of the printer
  • Nice 4.3” LCD touch screen with a tilting option
  • Easy to operate and a good help menu
  • A lot of printing possibilities in sizes and paper thickness (up to 1.3mm)
  • WiFi connection and printing from smartphone or tablet
  • Printing from SD card or USB is easy
  • Replacement ink is relatively cheap

What I Don’t Like

  • Printing settings on a computer is limited
  • No control of ICC print profiles
  • Borderless printing (on 4 x 6”) is only compatible from SD card and not from a computer
  • Duplex printing is very slow
  • No button to close the motorized paper tray, this can only be done from the touch screen
  • Hefty price

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Nando Harmsen's picture

Nando Harmsen is a Dutch photographer that is specialized in wedding and landscape photography. With his roots in the analog photo age he gained an extensive knowledge about photography techniques and equipment, and shares this through his personal blog and many workshops.

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Thanks for your review! I always appreciate your articles!

The bottles vs cartridges is appealing to me, but as you said, I wish they could be a bit more environmentally friendly as well. The expense of cartridges is one factor that keeps me from printing more than I do.

Same here, I barely print anything for myself, long time fed up with the printing cost. Could be why they are attempting to get people like us re-motivated with the refill.

I have an EPSON 4760 which is more general purpose than this one (no photo paper tray, only 4 colors). My wife is in real estate and prints dozens of pages and color brochures at a time on high quality, and I use it to "quick proof" 5X7 and 8X10. I have had no issue with borderless prints out of Photoshop. Maybe he missed a checkbox? Don't know.

We have had it for 11 months and used less than 1/2 of the reservoirs. I bought a set of refill bottles as back up and it was $37.00 at COSTCO. The printer cost was about $350.00 from COSTCO. Considering a set Canon refill cartridge's is almost $90.00 at Staples now, for less than 1/2 oz. of ink each, this was well worth the expense to me.
Edit: the color bottles were 35.00 for the 3, and black was about $12.00.

Thank you for adding the costs of the ink.
About borderless printing from Photoshop with the ET 8500, if there is a checkbox I missed, it must be burried deep within the settings. If that's the case, many others won't find it... if it exists.

Once I use up the ink, what is the approx cost of full replacement cartridge's. Is there a formula how much one can print, for example 8x10 inch color prints?

Approximately 2300 prints before a refill in needed then 6 bottles will be required at a total cost of around $90

thank you

Thank you

Any word on longevity of the prints? I assume the ink is dye based and not the more archival pigmented ink. Dye based ink vs. pigmented ink is something photographers should definitely consider before purchasing any printer.

I'm afraid not. The prints I have are still good, but that's not a long time. I guess the longevity of a print is depending on the ink, but also the sort of paper.
Thanks for the comment

Regarding your comment on the dye-based ink vs pigmented ink, one of the black inks of this printer is pigmented ink for that very reason. I assume its the photo black. This I found on a photographer's review of this printer. It concerned me, because with the benefit, comes the possibility of clogging, if printer isn't used regularly. Let me know what you think.

A well thought out article. Thank you for taking the time to write it.

Printing has long been a major issue for me. Partly for deteriorating quality on printers, partly for poor access to service and partly for the high operating costs. Of course I talking about the situation here in Finland.

For me the most advantageous way to print my photographic projects has been to publish books about what I do. Two to three books a year from Saal or Blurb (with their most expensive models) have proven to be a great and reasonable way to print my digital images. It is absolutely amazing what quality these firms can produce.

Sorry I'm not so enthusiastic about printing at home anymore.

I can relate. I stopped printing also and find a good professional printing service easier and cheaper than making my own prints. And I'm not limited to a A4 size of these printers.

I wish there was an ink tank printer that printed larger than A4

It exists - 2 models from Epson around 1000 à 1500€ - only 4 colors though (intended for business usage).

Not too keen on Epson and its non-user-serviceable ink pad bricking issue.

Very good review of this ET-8500. I have always owned Epson printers. And the Best revised development is this ET for the inks. I am tires of ink cartridges going low on my XP620 unexpectedly. However, I noticed you didn't cover the Cd/Dvd printing feature. Any reason why?