Introduction, Design, Features
Of the four major inkjet printer makers—Brother, Canon, Epson, and HP—Epson, with its EcoTank onboard supertank containers you fill from bottles, has made by far the largest commitment to delivering its consumables in unconventional, presumably less expensive ways. With the Japanese imaging giant’s latest round of seven new EcoTank all-in-one (AIO) inkjets, including today’s review unit, the $399.99 WorkForce ET-3750 EcoTank All-in-One Supertank Printer, it now has more than three times as many bulk-ink AIOs than Canon’s similar (in concept, anyway) MegaTank machines.
While Brother’s and HP’s cartridge-based bulk-ink solutions (INKvestment and Instant Ink, respectively) are much easier for the manufacturers themselves to deploy, Epson now offers at least as many discounted-ink printers as its competitors. This latest round of EcoTank models (some we’ve reviewed already, and some are in the wings) consists of three Expression models (ET-2700, ET-2750, and ET-3700); two WorkForce models (WorkForce ET-3750 and WorkForce ET-4750); and two five-ink, photo-centric Expression Premium models (Expression Premium ET-7700 and Expression Premium ET-7750).
That last one, the ET-7750, supports wide-format (tabloid-size, or 11×17-inch) pages, which significantly increases the types of documents you can design and print, such as borderless photos up to 11 by 17 inches, spreadsheets up to twice the standard letter size, small booklets, or perhaps borderless brochures up to letter size and beyond. You can print similar documents with the ET-3750, too, except that it stops at legal-size (8.5 by 14 inches) pages.
Otherwise, as a WorkForce (business-oriented) AIO, you get a few features unavailable on the Epson Expression models, such as a 35-sheet automatic document feeder (ADF) for sending multipage documents to the scanner, as well as Epson’s PrecisionCore printhead technology, which prints faster, better-looking text and graphics. We’ll look a little closer at both features in the Design Features section, next.
Of course, the ET-3750 and its siblings distinguish themselves with EcoTank reservoirs, supertank plumbing, and bottles full of ink, which, as you’ll see in the Cost Per Page section later on, greatly affect the economics for purchasing and using this type of printer. Depending on what and how much you print, the ET-3750 and its ilk can be a terrific value. If, on the other hand, you (like many entry-level printer buyers) set it up in a corner and let it, aside from the occasional print or copy job, collect dust, the ET-3750 isn’t practical at all.
In the right setting, though—printing hundreds of pages month in and month out—the ET-3750 will deliver great-looking prints at very reasonable running costs, making it a sensible choice for small or home-based offices, micro workgroups, and even as a personal color inkjet AIO—as long as you use it enough to justify the additional up-front expense for the extra ink in the box.
It took an update or two over a few years, but Epson has finally transformed its EcoTank line of AIOs from awkward-looking, jury-rigged ink-bearing machines tacked on to the side of existing entry-level all-in-ones, like this…
Not only is this unattractive from a design standpoint, on these first EcoTank machines it made it difficult to check ink levels. Today’s ET-3750 and its siblings are, on the other hand, designed from the ground up as EcoTank machines, making them not only more attractive but also more user-friendly…
However, as you’ll see in the Setup section coming up later, these predominantly cosmetic improvements are not the only changes Epson has made to the EcoTank ink system; filling the ink reservoirs and keeping them topped off is now much easier, too.
In any case, back to features and design. The ET-3750 measures 10 inches tall by 16.4 inches across by 19.8 inches long, and weighs a slight 16.1 pounds. That’s a little bigger than the ET-7700 (7.7 inches high by 16.7 inches across by 23.5 inches from front to back, and weighing 18.1 pounds) and significantly smaller and lighter than the wide-format ET-7750 (17.8 by 20.7 by 29.3 inches and 24.3 pounds).
Canon’s most similar supertank AIO offering—in features, capacity, size, weight, and price—is its Pixma G4200 Wireless MegaTank All-in-OneMFC-J775DW, at 6.8 by 16.5 by 13.4 inches and 18.3 pounds, is a little shorter in height and length. As you can see, all three of these (and most other supertank and bulk-ink) models are plenty small and light enough for placement on an average-size desktop.
Not as prevalent on EcoTank and MegaTank AIOs, though, are automatic document feeders (ADFs). As mentioned, the ET-3750 comes with a 35-page ADF, compared to the Pixma G4200’s and Brother MFC-J775DW’s 20 sheets. None of the other three Canon MegaTank models have document feeders, nor do most of the new EcoTanks—only the WorkForce EcoTank iterations.
Connectivity options for the ET-3750 include Ethernet, Wi-Fi, connecting to a single PC via USB, and Wi-Fi Direct (a peer-to-peer protocol for connecting mobile devices to the printer sans a LAN). Unfortunately, neither USB thumb drives nor SD card memory devices are supported, which is highly unusual for a $400 AIO. (Okay, a $350-street AIO.)
Mobile connectivity, too, is extensive, consisting of the company’s suite of Epson Connect cloud apps: Epson Email Print, Epson Remote Print, Epson Scan to Clouds, and Epson iPrint (mostly, these names speak for themselves), as well as several third-party mobile connectivity apps, including Apple AirPrint, Android printing, OS printing, Fire OS printing, Google Cloud Print, and Mopria Print Service.
Setting up these services, as well as connecting to your network, or configuring and initiating walkup tasks, such as scanning to or printing from a network drive, are all handled from a control panel consisting of several navigation buttons and a 2.4-inch non-touch LCD…
Aside from filling the ink reservoirs, setting up the ET-3750 (and most other supertank AIOs), like most other small inkjet all-in-one printers, is simple. This Epson’s installation process is about as simple as it gets: you unbox it, remove a little packing material, and power it up. At this point, the machine starts walking you through the rest of the job—loading paper in the tray, joining the local network, loading the paper drawers, and then filling the onboard ink. Overall, the entire procedure, which includes a 9-minute initiation period while ink is pumped to the printheads, took us about 20 minutes.
And, as we pointed out in our review of the ET-7700, Epson has also greatly improved the EcoTank apparatus—the reservoirs and bottles themselves—so that filling the printer’s ink containers is potentially less messy and more foolproof…
Cost Per Page
As we’ve discussed, the price of the printer includes a ton of additional ink—in this case, two sets of four ink bottles, or colors (cyan, magenta, yellow, and black, or CMYK). Epson says that the four bottles are good for about 14,000 monochrome pages and/or 9,000 color pages or several thousand 4-by-6-inch photos, what the company says is the equivalent to two years’ worth of pages. As Epson sees it, then, over the first two years, users of the ET-3750 should print around 583 monochrome pages each month and/or about 375 color pages, which are decent numbers of pages for this printer. The more you print—within reason—the better the value. (Epson’s maximum monthly duty cycle for the ET-3750 is 5,000 pages, with up to 800 pages recommended.)
Where EcoTank really starts saving you, though, is after you burn through the original allotment in the box. Refill bottles for the black tank cost $19.99 on the company’s site, and according to Epson, are good for 7,500 pages. The three color bottles are $13.99 each, and are, when combined with the black ink, good for 6,000 pages. Using these advertised numbers and page yields for the ET-3750 (and all other EcoTank models), we calculated the black cost per page at about 0.3 cent (three-tenths of a cent) for monochrome pages and just under 1 cent for color pages.
For comparison’s sake, all four of Canon’s MegaTank printers (from the single-function G2200G4200 AIOMFC-J6535DW, comes with a 30,000-page monthly duty cycle and the ability to print, scan, copy, and fax tabloid-size (11 by 17 inches) pages—all the while providing those same running costs (a penny for monochrome and just under a nickel for color).
No matter what, though, if your print volume is around 500 to 600 pages monochrome and 300 to 400 pages color (or more), the ET-3750 will deliver the lowest running costs available.
The ET-3750’s input capacity is, well, sparse for a $400 AIO. You get one 150-sheet input tray, with no override or multipurpose tray. In other words, if you need to print or copy on media larger or smaller than the standard letter size, you’ll need to remove the paper tray, remove the contents, and reconfigure the tray, and then vice versa when you’re ready to return to standard paper size…
Output pages land on a 100-sheet tray that pulls out just beneath the control panel…
During our tests, we printed hundreds of pages and ran several stacks through the ADF, all without incident. The ET-3750 performed well, as expected for an Epson entry-level AIO.