Review Epson L455 Ecotank colour printer: a new old idea

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Here’s a new old idea. I mean the idea is old as it seems obvious: a printer with ink tanks you can fill up  yourself instead of self-contained ink cartridges. It’s new because no vendors have really offered it. And you know how the economic equation works these days: you buy a printer for $79 because your last one broke and it’s not worth fixing these days, and you happily print for what seems like only weeks before the ink needs replacing. You buy four (or whatever) cartridges, and all up they cost more than the printer. Repeat, until the printer gets replaced again because it wears out fairly fast. And you think to yourself ‘these guys are making a mint from all these damn cartridges’ while trying to track down the particular ones for your particular model, as that hardly seems to be a standardised thing, either.
This purchasing model makes lasers seem good as the toner carts might be fiddly and you should recycle the old ones diligently, which isn’t always easy, and as with the colour cartridges above, that all adds up to travel time, and or time online finding the correct replacement – at least lasers got for months or more on one toner cartridge.
Of course, a laser printer usually costs hundreds rather than tens of dollars, and colour lasers more still.
So, Epson has created this: you pay $470 or so for the printer, but even that initial set of supplied inks lasts about two years and does reams of A4 before you have to buy more. Epson reckons you’ll get 4000 black-and-white pages and 6500 in colour – impressive. Want some even better news? Because you’re probably thinking at that point you run out of ink, you will have to trade an arm and maybe even some leg for one of those ink bottles, but no – they’re under NZ$20 each!

Setup and operation — The tank farm for this is on the right side of any of the three models available in now GodZone. This has a lid on top and the whole rectangular unit flips outwards for the filling operation.

Just squirt the right colours into the right tanks
Just squirt the right colours into the right tanks

Yes, you can do it without getting a drop of ink on your hands. No, it’s not very likely. Gloves – good idea. As even with Swarfega, this ink does not come off! On the good side, that proves it’s pretty permanent ink …
Don’t rush this job! Apart from general spill-and-messyness potential, you’d really hate to get the wrong ink into the wrong tank, assuming you’re not an abstract expressionist artist, anyway. Patence is a virtue anyway – and it’s a 20 minute process to ‘charge’ the inks after you turn it on and confirm the tanks are filled. (I’ve always wondered what ‘charge the inks’ means, apart from being noisy and lengthy.)
I had the lesser of the three models to evaluate. But the word  ‘lesser’ doesn’t really do it justice: the L455 has built-in wireless for cable-free printing – and this includes from mobile devices via Epson Connect, Apple AirPrint and Google Cloud Print. It has a 1200x2400dpi A4 scanner plus copy function, a little TFT (1.44-inch) LDC screen and even an SC card slot. It holds a 100 sheets of standard A4 paper and can manage smaller sizes plus 20x25cm envelopes.
The colour model is CMYK, for cyan, magenta, yellow and black tanks to fill.

Print quality — This is not a photo printer as such, it’s a home/small office printer for that kind of job: graphs, forms, letterheads, homework projects. You can put Epson photo paper in as stock, but it won’t do the marvellous job that modern, dedicated photo printers do these days. Or so Epson maintains, and so you’d think …

The difference between colour prints on ordinary A4 (right) compared to photo paper.
The difference between colour prints on ordinary A4 (right) compared to photo paper.

Colour — On ordinary A4 paper, the L455 does as well as you can expect: acceptable for letterheads and business graphics. Because of the dull, porous nature of bog-standard paper, you can’t expect much from any colour printer on this kind of paper stock. But printing to Epson Glossy Photo Paper is a revelation of clean, crisp, bright, detailed colour. But please note, this ink-tank ink does not have the colour fastness and long-life you get from dedicated photo printers. Your print will not last as long without fading, particularly if they’re on display and in the light.
Epson has been very clear to state this is a home/small business printer and not a photo printer, but I have to say, the results on good paper are remarkably and surprisingly very good. You can’t set up a proper colour/print profile, as the pros like to do, but for ‘just’ having a nice image for something, this thing has you covered in style.

I am very pleasantly surprised at the print quality on photo paper
I am very pleasantly surprised at the print quality on photo paper

What’s great — Two years without buying ink! Cheap ink! Surprisingly wonderful colour prints on photo paper! Wifi! Scanner!

What’s not — The ink tank really does kind of hang off the side. You wouldn’t want to knock it too much and break it off, so try and place it somewhere where knocks are less likely to occur. Don’t let the colour-blind fill it and don’t try this in a hurry – if you get the wrong ink in the wrong tank … ouch!

Mac NZ’s buying advice — If you can afford the initial entry price, you will love the quality, features and world-beating convenience of this line of printers.

Epson ecotank L455 colour printer, NZ RRP $479

System — Mac OS X 10.6.8, 10.7x, 10.8.x, 10.9.x, although drivers for 10.10x are online  (and Windows XP/XP Professional x64 Edition/Vista/7/8/8.1), wireless 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi and ethernet 100BASE-TX/10BASE-T plus USB 2 (but no cable is included).
Available from — Harvey Norman and other electronics retailers.
More info — Epson NZ Ltd.

14 thoughts on “Review Epson L455 Ecotank colour printer: a new old idea”

  1. I bought one of these – went to print my first picture and it printed a little bit of black and the rest was pink – same for photocopying. Logged a report with Epson and they initially offered a replacement, then came the email saying “please disregard our previous email, we will repair instead.”. It’s had hardly any use – clearly not reliable like they advertise.


  2. Three months ago, I bought L455 series Inktank inkjet printer.
    problem 1:
    After Installation, the print Quality was very poor. The letters are smudged in the paper. And the Epson Engineer said, the print quality will be only good on 80 GSM sheets. But as all you know, the 75 GSM papers are most commonly available. Even I tried with Bond sheets. No use.
    Problem 2:
    It is impossible to print colour photos in this printer. In advertisement, the company says, its photo print friendly. But the Engineer said, that was impossible in this printer.
    Problem 3:
    After 3 months, the Printing Head and PCB got failured. Thankgod. Its on warrenty period. I asked the reason for failure. The Engineer replied that, If we update the Epson printer software, the printer PCB will damage. Woww.. Its amazing no.
    Problem 4:
    Suddenly, the Black Ink tank was empty. I took only around 540 prints. (They promised for 1500 prints).

    Please don’t go fro Epson anymore.


  3. sir which printer is best between this- HP GT 5820 Or Epson L455?
    i want to purchase it for my hone.And i will print maximum 30-40 prints in moth .i am not heavy user i will use it rarely once in 2-3 days may be.i want best qualty plz tell me which ink tank wifi printer is best for me between this..


    1. Don’t choose Epson. Print quality is poor. This printer is not for colour photos as all printing comes out with light black lines from top to bottom. Now the black ink tank is empty and it won’t fill up for any reason. It spills and there’s no ink in the repository. Waste of money.


  4. I am using epson printers past 2 years I feel it is the best printer
    In market recently I bought l 455 it is ultimate


  5. I want to purchase this printer and I am not a heavy user of printer. I shall use this printer occasionally.I want to purchase it for my home.

    Will the ink dry damaging the printer?


    1. I can’t 100% vouch for the fact the ink would never dry up, but I’ve had mine 6 months and it gets used maybe 1 or 2 times per week and so far no problem (I do most of my printing on a black and white printer)


  6. this is a good printer , you save heaps , until you realize that it does not do double sided printing so you have to purchase more paper – Good on you Epson for being Eco friendly with Ink , but help the trees


  7. Having just spent $150 on cartridges for my colour inkjet, this looks like a real winner. Who cares if it doesn’t have a printer cable? It’s wireless!


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