Hands-on review: Epson Workforce ET-16500
The Workforce ET-16500 A3 multifunction printer adds Epson’s EcoTank cartridge-free printing as an option for the small business/home office.
A3 printing is essential for most businesses. With the ET-16500 able to cope with printing and scanning up to A3+ sized paper, it’s unlikely that you’ll need a larger format printer for normal day-to-day operations.
With the kit coming with two sets of black, cyan, magenta and yellow ink, there’s enough, according to Epson, for years of printing. They quote 10,500 pages of black/11,000 colour pages from the included ink, about 50 ink cartridges. If you get half that yield, you are still going to be laughing.
The downside of filling your own ink is that it can be messy and unlike the ET-4750, the bottles are not idiot-proof. You can put the wrong ink in the wrong tank, which would be disastrous.
The functionality of the printer is fantastic, though. The A3 document handler allows the printer to function as a colour, double-sided copier. The black printing is virtually indistinguishable from a laser printer. The colour printing quality, however, is very much dependent on your paper quality.
Printing on regular copier paper is going to output colour images with muted contrast and a general lack of vibrancy. You can compensate for this my adjusting the image in a software package, but it is a bit of messing about. Printing in duplex, with heavy colour, on copier paper will likely curl the paper and have the images visible through the to the other side of the paper. To be fair, all this is the same story with most consumer-grade printers and serves to highlight, despite the “Workforce” moniker, what class of printer the really ET-16500 is.
Printing in colour on high-quality and photo paper garners far better results. Crisp details and natural colours can easily be obtained being your images to life. The capability to achieve the same on A3+ paper makes the printer perfect for generating presentation literature and posters.
There are two paper trays, so you can load the machine with your copier paper for everyday use and you fancy paper for when you need it. Alternatively, you can, of course, just have one for A4 and the other for A3.
I did have some paper misfeeds from the paper tray when using high quality (i.e. thicker) paper, thankfully the feeder at the back allows you to bypass the paper tray for special jobs.
Network connectivity is provided via easy to set up via Wi-Fi, and also Wi-Fi direct for a direct connection to your devices. Epson Connect allows easy printing from smartphones and mobile devices. The printer is also compatible with Google’s Cloud Print service, allowing you to print directly from your Google photos no matter where you are in the world. Of course, you can also simply plug the printer into your network via an Ethernet cable. The printer also has a USB 2.0 port and a built-in SD card slot for printing directly from media.
Dinosaurs that are still waiting to catch up with things like the internet and email will be please to know that you can stuff a phone line into the machine and receive faxes. This means that you and the other hipsters left in the world that still send and receive faxes can enjoy a bit of retro document transferring together.
Of course, all this functionality takes up space. Whilst not the biggest printer I’ve ever used, it’s still a sizable unit. You are going to need a fairly big desk if you want to perch the ET-16500 on the end.
As an A3 multi-function printer, the ET-16500 is perfect for small business/home office use. Any operation that’s bigger than that I’d say that you probably need to look elsewhere. It’s a good all-rounder but doesn’t seem robust enough to handle heavy use. At NZ$1,899 it’s not cheap, but it does its job and you won’t need to worry about ink for quite a while.