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Printers reviewed: Canon and Epson refillable ink models – can they save you money?

Refillable tank printers claim to give you huge savings on ink, but how do Canon’s MegaTank and Epson’s EcoTank compare with conventional cartridges?

Buying printer ink cartridges can put a serious dent in your bank balance. Best Buy printers will be efficient with ink, but poor quality models will go through the black stuff like it’s water.

Epson EcoTank and Canon MegaTank printers both aim to address this problem with ink tanks that you refill with bottles. They cost a lot, but the idea is you make savings over the long term.

Below we compare costs between regular inkjet cartridge printers and refillable alternatives, and look at the most recent refillable models to make it through our test labs.

Best Buy printers – see all the very best models we’ve tested.

Can a refillable tank printer save you money?

Refillable ink tank printers don’t require traditional cartridges. Instead, they have individual colour tanks (magenta, cyan and yellow) and black ink tanks that you fill with bottles.

Although they are expensive, you can make substantial savings compared with traditional inkjet cartridge printers. The average cost of printing 10 black-text pages is 36p with a traditional inkjet printer, but only 2p with the average refillable tank model.

But that’s not the whole story, since it may take some time before the high upfront cost of a refillable printer is paid off.

As you can see, the low average three-year ink cost of the refillable printers we’ve reviewed is offset by a far higher average purchase price. But even when factoring this in, tank printers can be a fair bit cheaper than a cartridge-based inkjet over three years – and of course you’ll continue to save.

Bear in mind, though, that Best Buy inkjet printers are also efficient with ink and so could be a better – and cheaper – option overall.

Should I buy a refillable tank printer?

While the one thing that is consistent with refillable tank printers is staggeringly low printing costs, what’s less consistent is print quality.

From the 22 tank models we have tested to date, we’ve discovered eight Best Buys. However, scores range from 77% down to a poor 44%, with one model qualifying as a Don’t Buy.

Make sure you check our reviews first before splashing out on one of these pricey printers.

 

The latest Canon MegaTank printers on test

Canon Pixma G1510, £170

This is the entry-level model in the Canon Pixma G series and the replacement for the G1500. This model can only print, not copy, scan or fax. It doesn’t have wi-fi, either. Like the other new models in the series, it isn’t widely available but can be bought direct from Canon’s website. See how it has fared in our Canon Pixma G1510 review.

Canon Pixma G2510, £215

The next step up in the range is the G2510. This model again lacks wi-fi for using wireless printing features such as Apple AirPrint, but it can copy and scan documents. Our Canon Pixma G2510 review reveals all.

Canon Pixma G3510, £260

Now the G series goes wireless. The G3510 has built-in wi-fi so you can connect it to the internet. Unlike previous Canon Pixma G printers, this model supports Apple AirPrint for easier printing from Apple devices such a Mac or iPhone. It’s also compatible with Cloud Print for printing from Google programs and apps. Find out more about the Canon Pixma G3510.

Canon Pixma G4510, £285

The top-of-the-range Pixma G model comes with all the features and functions of the G3510, but it also has a 20-sheet automatic document feeder, which can be useful for multi-page copies and scans. It can also send faxes without needing to be connected to a PC – we look at how effective this is in our Canon Pixma G4510 review.

Other tested printers in our latest batch

Epson EcoTank ET-3700, £380

Epson was first with the refillable tank printer concept and its EcoTank ET-3700 is similar to the ET-3750 but without an automatic document feeder. The printer has wi-fi and supports AirPrint and Cloud Print. You get two sets of black and colour ink bottles in the box, claimed to be good for up to three years of printing.

Brother HL-L2310D, £90

This print-only mono laser printer from Brother is pretty basic, but it’s mostly built for printing black-text documents and letters. Find out if it does so in good quality and at a low cost by reading our Brother HL-L2310D review.

Epson Workforce WF-7720DTWF, £200

Epson brings another home-use A3 printer in the form of this Workforce model. It’s an all-in-one colour inkjet printer that can print, scan and fax up to A3 in size. It’s similar to the Epson Workforce WF-7710DTWF but has an extra paper cassette, increasing capacity to 500 sheets. Read more about the Epson Workforce WF-7720DTWF.

To see how all these printers fared, along with more than 200 other tested inkjet and laser printers, head to our Which? printer reviews.

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