• notebookcomputer
  • 02/05/2022

Epson EcoTank Pro ET-5170 Wireless All-in-One Supertank Printer Review

Epson's $549.99 EcoTank Pro ET-5170 Wireless All-in-One Supertank Printer is an entry-level to midrange multifunction (print, copy, scan, and fax) machine designed for use in home-based and small to midsize offices. Another addition to the company's extensive line of bulk-ink or supertank printers, the device skips ink cartridges in favor of reservoirs that you fill from bottles. Models in the EcoTank Pro series, like the more robust and about $300 more expensive Editors' Choice winner the EcoTank Pro ET-5850, have the capacities and feature sets that high-volume business environments demand. The ET-5170 is slightly scaled down for smaller firms' printing, copying, and scanning needs, while delivering fair print speeds and great output quality from Epson's time-tested PrecisionCore Heat-Free printhead technology. Best of all, its per-page ink costs are exceptionally low, making the ET-5170 a tempting value for environments that print and copy several hundred to one or two thousand pages each month.

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Entry-Level EcoTank Pro

The ET-5170 measures 13.6 by 14.8 by 13.7 inches (HWD) and weighs 16.1 pounds, making it a close match for quite a few competing models. The Canon Pixma G7020 MegaTank All-in-One, for example, is a few inches shorter and weighs about two pounds more. The beefier EcoTank Pro ET-5850 mentioned above is several inches bigger in all directions, and weighs well over twice as much as the ET-5170.

At the bottom of the EcoTank Pro product line, the ET-5170 is more compact than its ET-5850 sibling.

While the two Epsons handle letter- and legal-sized stock, Brother's flagship inkjet and PCMag's Best of the Year 2019 the MFC-J6945DW INKvestment Tank Color Inkjet All-in-One printer can print, scan, copy, and fax tabloid-size pages, making it a better pick for organizations that require wide-format output.

When Epson first introduced the EcoTank brand in the U.S., I joined many other reviewers and IT pros in complaining that, while their running costs were wonderfully low, the printers themselves tended to be relatively slow and short on features considering that they cost three to five times as much as the company's ink-cartridge models. The EcoTank Pro series is more capable, but the ET-5170 is not immune to this shortcoming: While it has a 35-page automatic document feeder (ADF) to facilitate copying or scanning multipage documents, the ADF is not auto-duplexing, meaning that it cannot copy or scan the second sides of two-sided documents without your having to flip the stack of originals manually.

4.0Excellent$349.99See Itat Best BuyRead Our Canon Pixma G7020 MegaTank All-in-One Review 4.5Outstanding$379.99See Itat Office Depot® & OfficeMax®Read Our Brother MFC-J6945DW INKvestment Tank Color Inkjet All-In-One Printer Review 4.5Outstanding$849.99See Itat Dell TechnologiesRead Our Epson EcoTank Pro ET-5850 Review4.0Excellent$269.89See Itat AmazonRead Our HP Envy Pro 6452 All-in-One Review 4.0Excellent$409.98 See Itat AmazonRead Our Canon imageClass MF269dw Review 4.0Excellent$899.00See Itat Office Depot® & OfficeMax®Read Our HP Color LaserJet Enterprise MFP M480f Review 4.5Outstanding$1,379.99See Itat AmazonRead Our Epson EcoTank Pro ET-16650 Review 4.0Excellent$219.99See Itat Office Depot® & OfficeMax®Read Our Epson Expression Premium XP-7100 Small-in-One Printer Review 4.0Excellent$399.99See Itat AmazonRead Our HP Neverstop Laser MFP 1202w Review 4.0Excellent$269.99See Itat AmazonRead Our HP OfficeJet Pro 9015 All-in-One Printer Review4.0ExcellentRead Our Lexmark MC2535adwe Review4.0Excellent$633.54See Itat AmazonRead Our Canon Color imageClass MF746Cdw ReviewThe ET-5170's automatic document feeder holds 35 sheets, but can't scan or copy double-sided multipage documents without your flipping the stack manually.

To be honest, spending $550 on an AIO without an auto-duplexing scanner is hard to swallow. Getting an auto-duplexing ADF on an EcoTank Pro requires spending an extra $300 for the ET-5850, but if you print thousands of pages each month, it shouldn't take more than a couple or three months to justify the expense. (The additional bottle of black ink that comes in the box should help keep running costs down, too.)

Epson EcoTank Pro ET-5170 Wireless All-in-One Supertank Printer Review

Still, the ET-5170 outshines Epson's non-Pro EcoTank machines, such as the $500 Editors' Choice ET-4760. While that printer delivers both black and color pages for under a penny each, not only does its ADF lack auto-duplexing but so does its print engine. A $500 all-in-one that won't print double-sided pages without your intervention is highly unusual. Canon's Pixma G7020 does the job for $100 less, and its black and color page costs are just 0.3 and 0.9 cent respectively.

You're in Control

The EcoTank Pro ET-5170's control panel consists of power, Home, Help, and Fax buttons and a 2.4-inch color touch screen. It lets you configure and execute various walk-up tasks such as making copies, generating usage and security reports, and restricting access to users by feature or other parameters such as volume or permission to print in color.

The control panel consists of a handful of buttons and a 2.4-inch color LCD.

You can scroll through drill-down menus for configuring security, monitoring consumables, generating reports, and just about everything else via the control panel, but admins and IT pros often find managing security and viewing reports easier from the printer's web interface.

Also important is how and how well the ET-5170 handles paper. Some of the earlier, lesser-endowed EcoTank models such as the ET-3750 hold as few as 150 sheets of letter paper. This EcoTank Pro holds 250, or 50 sheets of legal paper, though its miniscule 30-sheet output tray will need emptying every 15 minutes or so. The printer's maximum monthly duty cycle is 33,000 prints, with a suggested monthly print volume of 1,600.

Paper capacity is 250 sheets up front with a single-sheet override slot in back.

By comparison, the Pixma G7020 holds 350 sheets split between two sources, a 250-sheet front cassette up front and a 100-sheet rear tray, while the Epson ET-5850 holds 550 sheets from three sources—two 250-sheet cassettes and a 50-sheet multipurpose tray. Brother's tabloid-size MFC-J6945DW holds a whopping 600 sheets split between two 250-sheet cassettes and a 100-sheet override tray.

The rival AIOs' maximum duty cycles are all over the board, with the Brother coming closest to the ET-5170 at 30,000 pages maximum and 2,000 pages suggested. The ET-5850's monthly volume, at 66,000 prints max and 3,300 suggested, double that of its sibling. Both the Canon G7020 and less expensive Epson ET-4760 are rated at a miserly 5,000-page monthly maximum, with the latter suggesting a limit of 800.

Connectivity and Productivity

Between its standard connectivity interfaces, which consist of USB 2.0, 10/100Mbps Ethernet, 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, and Wi-Fi Direct, as well as its mobile, cloud, and voice-activated features, you shouldn't have any trouble connecting to and using the ET-5170. A USB cable, of course, connects a single computer to the printer, while Wi-Fi Direct is a peer-to-peer networking protocol that connects your mobile devices without either them or the printer being part of the same local area network or connected to the same router.

In addition to Wi-Fi Direct, other mobile connectivity features include Epson Connect Solutions, E-mail Print, Epson iPrint Mobile App, Epson Remote Print, the Epson Smart Panel app for Android and iOS, Scan to Cloud, Apple AirPrint, and Mopria. You also get voice activation via Siri, Google Assistant, and Amazon Alexa.

Besides the printer and scanner drivers, Epson throws in Epson Photo+, Epson Scan 2, Epson ScanSmart, and Epson Fax Utility programs. Photo+ is a simple but handy photo layout and arrangement utility, and Epson Scan 2 is a comprehensive scanner interface with three levels of expertise (Home, Office, and Professional) ranging from basic settings for beginners to tweaking your scans as desired.

Epson Scan 2 provides home, office, and pro modes that increase in complexity.

Epson ScanSmart is a combination scanner interface and modular app with several document management features, including sequential file naming, keyword indexing, document archiving, optical character recognition (OCR), and more. Finally, the fax utility speaks for itself.

Midrange Print Speed, Fine PrecisionCore Quality

Epson rates the EcoTank Pro ET-5170 at 17 monochrome pages per minute (ppm). That's a bit faster than the Pixma G7020 and Epson ET-4760 but 5ppm slower than the Brother MFC-J6945DW and 8ppm behind the ET-5850. I tested it using ScanSmart over an Ethernet connection on our standard Intel Core i5 testbed running Windows 10 Pro.

For my first test, I timed the printer as it churned through our 12-page Microsoft Word monochrome text file. The ET-5170 averaged 18.3ppm, just over its rated 17ppm, with an average first-page-out time of 14 seconds. Both the Canon and the ET-4760 came within one or two pages per minute of this. Next, I clocked the ET-5170 as it churned through our collection of complex color Adobe Acrobat, Microsoft Excel, and Microsoft PowerPoint documents. Combining the results with those from the 12-page text file, the EcoTank Pro averaged a tepid 5.2ppm for printing our entire suite of business documents, beating only the Pixma and coming in almost 14ppm behind its ET-5850 stablemate.

Finally, I timed the ET-5170 as it printed our highly detailed and colorful 4-by-6-inch test snapshots. Any time under 60 seconds is about average; the Epson took 49 seconds apiece.

As I've said many times, Epson's PrecisionCore printhead technology consistently churns out great-looking output. The text samples I printed came out well-shaped, with highly legible characters down to about 6 points. That's more than acceptable for most homes and small offices, even in applications where you need to make the best impression. Excel charts and spreadsheets showed solid, unblemished fills and backgrounds, as well as gradient fills that flowed evenly from color to color or from light to dark and back again. Hairlines (rules under 1 point) and other intricate details reproduced magnificently, and colors were brilliant and precise.

The 4-by-6 and 8-by-10-inch photos I printed also showed bright, vibrant, and precise colors. Detail was excellent, as well. To be sure, the four-color ET-5170's images are not up to those from a five- or six-ink Epson or Canon consumer photo printer, but they're more than good enough for embedding in business reports and handouts.

The EcoTank Pro's 2 Cents' Worth

I suspect Epson's EcoTank Pro machines are the company's answer to complaints from home offices and small businesses about the first, feature-scarce EcoTank AIOs introduced in the U.S a few years ago. The most impressive thing about those consumer devices is that they print monochrome pages for about 0.3 cent and color pages for about 0.9 cent apiece. EcoTank Pro machines, on the other hand, will cost you about 2 cents per either black or color print but usually offer more features.

In addition, you get gobs of ink—enough, according to Epson, to print 7,500 black and 6,000 color pages. Epson is currently throwing in an additional bottle of black ink, essentially doubling the number of monochrome pages in the box to 15,000. Among the competitors mentioned here, the Epson ET-4760 and Canon Pixma G7020 deliver running costs under a penny per page, while the Brother MFC-J6945DW prints black and color pages for just under 1 and 5 cents respectively.

They Can't All Be Editors' Choices

Considering its $550 price, we'd be happier with the EcoTank Pro ET-5170 if it was a little faster, had more than one paper drawer, and its ADF scanned two-sided pages automatically. As is, to get these capacity and convenience features in an EcoTank Pro you'll have to plunk down an additional $300 for the ET-5850 (or $350 for the ET-5880, which adds PostScript and HP PCL for design and publishing applications). Still, if you don't need your AIO to scan and/or copy double-sided multipage documents automatically or print and copy more than about a thousand pages a month without worrying about the warranty—which increases from one to two years when you register—the ET-5170 can serve you well.

3.5See It$549.99 at Best BuyMSRP $549.99View More

The Epson EcoTank Pro ET-5170 all-in-one prints well and at low cost, making it a solid but not outstanding value for small businesses and workgroups.

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