Epson Ecotank L6270 multifunction printer review – Take it home

Ask anyone at Things if they can rate a printer and the answer is a worried “Yes”. That’s because while it’s perfectly possible to see one again, it’s not much fun. Printers are still less sexy than any other technology. Still, some, like the Epson Ecotank L6270 we had for review, have their moments.

The Epson Ecotank L6270 is a multifunction printer. It’s the kind of thing you buy if you want to print, scan or photocopy using one machine. They used to build fax capability into these things once upon a time, but that’s a thing of the past. Unless you’re in Japan, anyway. It’s primarily a printer, but instead of cartridges, you refill it with small bottles of ink. It’s cheaper, we are told.

Configuration successful

Aside from price, which we’ll come to, the main factor when considering a printer is how easy it is to set up. Epson’s entry can be screwed up, but if that happens, it’s your fault. You must really try to mess up the initial setup. There are remarkably few moving parts inside the box – it’s just the printer, a power cable and four shrink-wrapped ink bottles. There’s a bottle of cyan, magenta, and yellow, and two black inks, because that’s the one you’re most likely to use.

Remove all the tape used to protect your piece of black plastic and turn it on and you will be greeted with very clear instructions. Everything from connecting to networks, filling ink tanks and aligning printheads is taken care of in clear, concise steps. The process takes a while – it looks like the ink tank needs a bit of preparation before it’s ready to go. By then the Ecotank L6270 will have realized that it needs a firmware update. You can opt out of this, but your printer will not appear on the network until you do. Don’t fight the inevitable (or upgrade when shedding is pending).

Some tips

Initial setup can be done via the traditional LCD screen and a series of buttons. Epson has made the process as painless as possible on this front. If you feel the need for something more modern, there’s an app too. Called the Epson Smart Panel, it handles the initial setup, but it’s also used to print directly from your smartphone. It’s not a feature we really need since our devices like to sync at every opportunity, but it could have its uses. Maybe you just don’t want to start your laptop or something.

Smart Panel will not win any design awards. It looks about as attractive as you’d expect from a print app. However, it is functional and does not get in the way too often. It’s always nice to see. Most of the time, however, you’ll end up printing from your desktop. There are no surprises and there is no software to install. We think. Surprisingly, there was a real CD included with the Epson Ecotank L6270. We have no idea what’s on it. Things haven’t seen an optical drive in years. Since the printer worked just fine without it, it’s probably nothing major.

To print. It’s a wrap

Ecotank L6270 4Which brings us to the most important part of it all – how does the Ecotank print? In a word? Slowly. But that’s if you hammer it with full-color, double-sided images designed to squeeze the ever-loving shit out of the ink tanks in as little time as possible. If you print documents with the occasional colored letterhead, you can expect a much faster response. Yet, being an inkjet, the Ecotank L6270 is not designed for mass printing. Don’t expect the kind of crisp, smoky pages you get from toner-based printers. It will not arrive.

But it will last. We produced about 200 color pages and managed to knock the tanks down by about 20%. It looks a lot worse than it actually is, though. Most home prints include a lot more white space on the page. Our test files were more or less industrial prints made via inkjet.

Overall quality is about as good as your source material, with the usual inkjet hitches. Prints on standard A4 paper will never be transparent, but the reproduction of fine detail is good enough for you to see what we are printing. It’s not a photo printer, but it doesn’t try to be either.

Verdict Epson Ecotank L6270

The problem with printers like these is that they are more expensive upfront. In the long run, you’ll end up saving money on ink. This is especially the case if you plan to print anything in bulk. School notes and household management documents can chew up a good chunk of that precious liquid. If you’re replacing cartridges at R450 a pop, it gets terribly expensive. But opting for an R8 500 printer to have the option of getting ink refills for between R200 (for color) and R400 (black) a bottle only makes sense if you have the money up front . However, the prospect of cheaper ink refills may not be for everyone. If you’re on a budget, you might just take the ink cartridge route because it’s affordable. at present. Which is a shame. The Epson Ecotank L6270 is by no means an office machine, but it’s a decent piece of kit to have around the house.

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