Printer ink in cartridges can work out as expensive as Chanel No 5. And it’s not just the cost that rankles, but the running out just when you have an important document to print. Good news, then, from Epson, whose new L355 Ecotank printer (and its £330 brother, the L555, with an automatic document feeder and fax) doesn’t have cartridges at all, but an ink reservoir that you fill up as and when you need it from old-school bottles. If you’re not extremely careful, you might get rather inky fingers performing this tricky transplant, but the tank takes sufficient quantities that you only need do it very rarely. Epson claims the Ecotank comes with two years’ worth of ink, but with my minimal printing needs, I think it would last longer. But even if you’re a heavy user, subsequent bottles cost just £8 each.
The Ecotanks are excellent multipurpose (print/scan/copy) machines and a commendable move to break the insane formula whereby you buy a printer for nothing and then pay through the nose for ink. The print quality for text is perhaps five per cent below a regular inkjet printer, but few will notice. And photos actually print a little better – but it can’t manage A4 prints, only the size below (A5).