Epson EcoTank ET-M1120 full review

Epson's EcoTank ET-M1120 has a high price tag, but promises great value for money in the long term. In our review we test out its claims for running costs as well as print speed and quality, and work out if this is the right printer for you. For more general buying advice, see Best printer for Mac.

Value for money: Short term vs long term

If you just need a cheap printer for the occasional letter or school report at home then Epson's EcoTank ET-M1120 will look outrageously expensive - especially as it's just a single-function mono printer that doesn't include a scanner, and only prints in black-and-white. In fact, the M1120 could save you a lot of money if you work from home or in a small office and need to print text documents on a regular basis.

It's always tempting to simply buy the cheapest printer you can find, but you also need to think about the 'total cost of ownership' (or TCO), which includes the cost of replacement ink cartridges over a period of several years. That's the sting in the tail with most conventional inkjet printers, as the printer itself might seem quite cheap, but you end up paying really high prices for the replacement cartridges. If you use the printer every day you can end up spending a small fortune on replacement cartridges.

Epson takes a completely different approach with its EcoTank printers. The printers themselves may seem pretty pricey, but they do away with expensive cartridges altogether, featuring instead a large internal tank that can be filled up with more affordable bottles (and, unlike cartridges, the empty ink bottles can be easily recycled - hence the 'EcoTank' label).

And while £266 might seem a lot for a small office printer, that price also includes a large bottle of black ink that should last for a whopping 5,000 pages before you need to refill. If you work from home or in a small office then that's probably enough ink to last for 2-3 years without spending a penny on ink.

When you do need to fill up with more ink you'll find that Epson's replacement bottles cost just £13.50 but contain enough ink to print a massive 6,000 pages. That works out at just 0.2p per page - far cheaper than the typical cost of 2-3p per page for mono printing with most conventional inkjet printers.

Features & design

In other respects, the M1120 is a fairly conventional inkjet printer. As we mentioned, it's a mono-only printer, with a resolution of 1440x720dpi, but doesn't include a scanner or copier.

The device includes both USB and Wi-Fi connectivity for your office or home network, and its compact design measures just 375mm wide, 267mm deep and 161mm high, so it's easy to place it on a small desk or nearby shelf if you're tight for space. The internal paper tray holds 150 sheets of A4 paper, which should be enough for day-to-day use in most small offices or for people who work from home.

There aren't too many extra features, though. There's no AirPrint support for iOS devices - although, of course, a mono printer like this isn't really designed for printing selfies from your iPhone, and Epson does provide a free iPrint app that can handle printing from iOS and Android devices if required.

Getting started is a little complicated, but that's mainly because Epson's manual isn't terribly clear, and using the large bottle of black ink to fill the printer up might have you worried about making a mess. Fortunately, the tank and bottle have specially designed nozzles that are designed to avoid spillage, and there are some useful videos on Epson's website to help you get started.

If you do need something a little more versatile then there are other models in the EcoTank range that include a scanner and copier, as well as colour models too. As with this printer, you're looking at high initial purchase prices, but low long-term running costs, thanks to the bottled inks.

Print performance

As the saying goes: "You only had one job." In the case of a mono printer like the M1120, that job is simply to churn out page after page of text, as quickly and efficiently as possible. Epson quotes a speed of 15 pages per minute for the M1120, and we were pleased to see that it lived up to that claim, snappily feeding out our test documents with smooth, finely detailed text.

We tried a few simple graphics documents as well, and the M1120's 'greyscale' printing was perfectly adequate for simple graphs and charts - but, of course, if you need to print colour graphics or presentations then you'll obviously need to look elsewhere.

Verdict

The initial purchase price of the M1120 is, admittedly, rather steep. But, with 5,000 pages' worth of ink provided with the printer, it could be a couple of years or more before you even need to think about buying any more ink for the printer. And, with Epson's low-cost replacement inks providing such low running costs, the M1120 can save you a lot of money in the long run if you work from home or in a small office.

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