Epson's EcoTank ET-4700 All-in-One Supertank Printer ($279) is an entry-level bulk-ink color all-in-one printer designed for small and home offices with monthly print and copy requirements ranging from about 400 to 800 pages. By "bulk ink," I mean that this machine—like other Epson EcoTank, Canon MegaTank, and HP Smart Tank Plus printers and AIOs—gets its ink from reservoirs that you fill from bottles instead of cartridges. This results in some of the lowest running costs per page in the consumer printer market. However, you also give up a lot, such as print speed and automatic two-sided printing, compared to its PCMag Editors' Choice sibling, the flagship EcoTank ET-4760 ($499.99). But then, the ET-4700 costs much less than that and several other competing models.
At 10 by 14 by 22 inches (HWD) and weighing a meager 11 pounds, the stripped-down ET-4700 should fit easily on most desktops. While it's similar in size to rivals such as the Canon Pixma G4210 MegaTank Wireless, the HP Smart Tank Plus 651 Wireless, and the Brother MFC-J805DW INKvestment Tank, the Epson is several pounds lighter.
Like those competitors, the ET-4700 comes with an automatic document feeder (ADF)—in this case, a 30-sheet manual-duplexing feeder, meaning that to scan or copy two-sided originals you must flip them yourself for the second half of the job. The HP's feeder also holds 30 pages, and the Brother and Canon machines only 20. All feature manual instead of automatic duplexing.
You configure and perform walk-up tasks, such as printing to the cloud or making copies, via the ET-4700's somewhat busy multi-button control panel, which contains not only an array of navigation and command keys but a number pad and a 1.44-inch color display.
These types of controls are somewhat last-century and not as convenient as larger, full-blown graphical touch screens, but they get the job done. In addition to lacking a touch panel, you also give up an auto-duplexing print engine, which means that to print two-sided pages you'll need to take the one-sided prints from the output tray, flip them, and put them back in the paper tray—a process the Epson walks you through step by step, making it tolerable but not as convenient as an auto-duplexing printer.
Paper handling consists of a 100-sheet tray that pulls up and out from the back of the chassis, as shown here.
The tray can also be configured to hold up to 10 No. 10 envelopes or 20 sheets of photo paper, card stock, or label media. Epson rates the ET-4700's maximum monthly duty cycle at 5,000 pages and its recommended monthly print volume at 800 prints.
The Smart Tank 651 and Pixma G4210 also offer 100-sheet paper capacity, while the MFC-J805DW holds up to 150 sheets. The EcoTank ET-4760 has a single 250-sheet drawer. The HP's rated monthly print volume is 500 pages; the Brother's 1,500 pages; and the ET-4760 matches the ET-4700. Canon doesn't publish a recommended volume for the Pixma.
Standard interfaces on the ET-4700 are Ethernet, 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, and connecting to a single PC via USB 2.0. You can also print and scan with Wi-Fi Direct, a peer-to-peer protocol for connecting the printer to a handheld device without either being part of a network. Other mobile connectivity options include Google Cloud Print, Apple AirPrint, Mopria, and Fire OS support, not to mention the mobile utilities contained in the Epson Connect set of services. These include Epson Email Print, Epson Remote Print, Epson Scan to Cloud, and the Epson iPrint App.
You don't get a USB port for printing from or scanning to flash drives, but the ET-4700—like most other Epson, Canon, and HP consumer inkjets over the last two years or so—supports voice-activated printing via Amazon Alexa and Google Home gadgets, as well as working with any other voice technology that uses IFTTT scripting.
Epson rates the ET-4700 at 10 monochrome pages per minute (ppm). I tested it over an Ethernet connection from our standard Intel Core i5 testbed running Windows 10 Pro. The all-in-one printed my first test, a 12-page Microsoft Word text document, at the rate of 8.4ppm. That beat the Canon Pixma G4210 by a negligible 0.1ppm and trailed the Brother MFC-J805DW and HP Smart Tank Plus 651 by 1.7ppm and 0.4ppm respectively. Epson's ET-4760 was almost twice as fast as its lower-priced sibling.
Next, I printed several Adobe Acrobat and Microsoft Excel and PowerPoint documents, spreadsheets, and presentation handouts comprised of charts, colored text at various sizes, and some complex business graphics. I combined these results with those from the 12-page Word file to come up with a comprehensive score of 5ppm for printing our entire collection of test documents.
That's about 0.5ppm faster than the Pixma and 0.2ppm faster than the Brother. The HP managed 5.1ppm, while the Epson ET-4760 at 7.6ppm was half again as fast as the other AIOs here.
I also timed the ET-4700 as it printed two highly detailed and colorful 4-by-6-inch snapshots. It averaged 28 seconds apiece, which was within a second or two of the other models mentioned above except for the Brother, which was only half as fast.
I haven't come across an Epson (or any) inkjet that didn't print well for quite some time. The ET-4700 is certainly no exception.
The text samples I printed showed well-shaped, highly legible characters down to about 6 points, which is more than acceptable for most home and small office applications—including those where you need to put your best foot forward.
My test Excel graphs and spreadsheets printed with solid dark fills and backgrounds, as well as gradient fills that flowed evenly from color to color or from light to dark and back again. Hairlines (rules under 1 point) and other intricate details reproduced superbly, and colors were bright and accurate.
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The 4-by-6-inch and 8-by-10-inch photos I printed also showed brilliant, vibrant, and accurate colors. Detail, too, was excellent. To be sure, the four-color ET-4700's images are not up to the same standard as a five- or six-ink Epson or Canon consumer photo printer, but they're easily good enough for embedding in your business reports, handouts, and other promotional material.
Epson's EcoTank and Canon's MegaTank and HP's Smart Tank Plus AIOs all deliver essentially the same cost per page of 0.3 cent for a monochrome page and 0.9 cent for a color one. Brother's INKvestment Tank models, including the MFC-J805DW, are more expensive, at about a penny per black page and just under a nickel for color.
The issue for any bulk-ink printer is its operating costs versus purchase price. With these machines, you trade off speed, capacity, volume, and other features for lower running costs. In other words, an ink-cartridge printer with a feature set similar to the ET-4700's would typically cost you one-third to one-fifth as much up front.
The point? The ET-4700 and its ilk make sense only if you plan on printing and copying several hundred—say, 400 or more—pages each month. The more you print and copy—up to this model's 800-page recommended monthly print volume, that is—the greater the value, and the more sense a bulk-ink machine makes.
For the difference in list price between the EcoTank ET-4700 and our top pick, the ET-4760, you give up greater capacity, automatic two-sided printing, and a few other less notable convenience and productivity features. You do, however, get the same operating costs of under a penny per page. If you can do without the deluxe model's amenities, that $200-plus difference in price is a lot, making the ET-4700 a sensible alternative for printing and copying hundreds of pages each month for your small or home office.