The Epson EcoTank ET-M1170 ($349.99) may represent a game-changer for your home-based business. Yes, it's a basic, no-frills monochrome inkjet business printer that's a bit slower than its laser counterparts. But for the price, it comes with tons of ink and delivers fraction-of-a-cent running costs that are staggeringly lower than its competitors. And it does all this while producing terrific-looking text and grayscale graphics and photos. The ET-M1170 is our new top pick for small and micro offices and workgroups that need to churn out a few hundred to a thousand monochrome pages each month.
The ET-M1170 is the standalone, or print-only, member of a three-model series of monochrome EcoTank inkjet printers that Epson recently debuted. The ET-M2170 and the ET-M3170 are multifunction, or all-in-one (AIO), models that, in addition to printing, also scan, copy, and fax.
EcoTank is Epson's bulk-ink brand. Instead of using conventional ink cartridges, you fill the internal reservoirs from bottles that sell for a relatively low purchase price and at extremely low per-page costs.4.0Excellent $170.53See Itat AmazonRead Our Brother HL-L2370DW Review 4.0Excellent $299.99See Itat AmazonRead Our Epson WorkForce Pro WF-M5299 Monochrome Printer Review 4.0Excellent $335.99See Itat AmazonRead Our HP LaserJet Pro M15w Review 4.5Outstanding $1,462.00See Itat AmazonRead Our Brother MFC-J6935DW Review 4.5Outstanding $379.99See Itat Office Depot® & OfficeMax®Read Our Brother MFC-J6945DW INKvestment Tank Color Inkjet All-In-One Printer Review 4.0Excellent $899.99See Itat AmazonRead Our Canon Pixma TS9120 Wireless Inkjet All-in-One Review 4.0Excellent $349.99See Itat Dell TechnologiesRead Our Epson Expression Photo HD XP-15000 Wide-Format Inkjet Printer Review 4.0Excellent $299.99See Itat DellRead Our Epson WorkForce Pro WF-4740 Review Our Experts Have Tested 53 Products in the Printers Category in the Past YearSince 1982, PCMag has tested and rated thousands of products to help you make better buying decisions. (See how we test.)
At 5.9 by 14.8 by 13.7 inches (HWD) and weighing a slight 9.5 pounds, the ET-M1170 ($244.84 at Amazon UK) takes up very little desk space. But then, neither do most of its competitors, including the Brother HL-L2370DW mentioned earlier, which is only slightly larger, as well as the Editors' Choice HP LaserJet Pro M15w, which is somewhat smaller and even a pound or so lighter than the ET-M1170.
There's also Epson's much beefier monochrome inkjet laser alternative, the WorkForce Pro WF-M5299, which is about three times larger and heavier than the EcoTank model. And, while it costs significantly less than the ET-M1170, it's designed to print three or four times more per month than the entry-level machines mentioned above.
The ET-M1170 is a no-frills printer designed to receive documents from your PC or mobile device. And its simple control panel reflects that.
If you need to monitor consumables, generate usage reports, and more, you can do all that from the ET-M1170's built-in website, or the Embedded Web Server, as Epson calls it.
Paper handling on the ET-M1170 consists of a main 250-sheet tray up front and a one-sheet override tray in the back. That's the same paper capacity as on the Brother H-L2370DW and 101 sheets more than on the HP M15w ($244.84 at Amazon UK) . The WF-M5299, on the other hand, holds 330 sheets (in a 250-sheet drawer and an 80-sheet override slot) and expands to hold 830 sheets.
The ET-M1170's maximum monthly duty cycle is 20,000 pages, with a recommended monthly print volume of 1,500 pages. That's 5,000 pages per month higher than on the HL-L2370DW, more than twice that of the M15w, and less than half that of the WF-M5299's duty cycle.
Connectivity on the ET-M1170 is standard for a business-oriented printer. The interfaces include Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/ns, Ethernet up to 1000Mbps, connection to a single PC via USB 2.0, and Wi-Fi Direct. That last one is a peer-to-peer network protocol that allows you to connect mobile devices to the printer without either them or it connected to a local area network (LAN) or an intermediary router.
Other mobile connectivity options include Epson iPrint (iOS and Android), Epson Remote Print, Apple AirPrint, and Google Cloud Print. There is no port for printing from USB thumb drives. But for the most part, the ET-M1170's connectivity options should provide enough choices for everyone in your small or home-based office.
Epson rates the ET-M1170 at 20 pages per minute (ppm), which is a typical entry-level speed for monochrome business printers. When I tested it from our standard Intel Core i5 testbed PC running Windows 10 Professional, the ET-M1170 printed our 12-page Microsoft Word text document at the rate of 21.3ppm, or just slightly higher than Epson's rating.
That score is 11.7ppm behind the HL-L2370DW, 2.3ppm faster than the HP M15w, and 6.2ppm slower than the Epson WF-M5299.
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For the next test, I printed a suite of highly complex Acrobat documents, Excel spreadsheets and full-page charts and graphs, and PowerPoint handouts containing intricate business graphics. Then I combined these scores with the results from printing the 12-page text document in the previous test and came up with a score of 16.1ppm for completing our entire suite of test documents.
That score beat the HL-L2370DW by 1.7ppm, the M15w by 5.9ppm, and fell slightly behind the WF-M5299 ($244.84 at Amazon UK) by 0.8ppm. Also, the ET-M1170 showed an average first-page-out speed of 9 seconds. First page out is the time it takes from clicking or touching Print until the first page lands on the output tray. We use this score to assess a machine's viability for sales desks and other environments where quick one- and two-page documents are required. Nine seconds isn't the fastest I've seen, but it's fast enough for your parts counter or medical office front desk.
The ET-M1170 and its AIO siblings have several advantages over their laser competitors, among them exceptional grayscale graphics and output beyond what the average black laser machine can manage, and that's certainly the case here. The test handouts and full-page graphics I printed displayed attractive gradients, full, rich backgrounds, and excellent detail, as did the handful of photos and snapshots (ranging in size from 4 by 6 inches up to 8 by 10 inches) I printed.
But the reason that a lot of businesses buy monochrome printers is to print text, where laser printers typically excel. So does the ET-M1170. It churned out our test font documents with crisp, clear, and legible type down to about 5 and 6 points, and that's plenty small enough for the average business document.
In addition to its exceptional print quality, another benefit with the ET-M1170 is its 0.3-cent cost per page (CPP). It just doesn't get any better than that. Combine its very low power requirements with the hefty power consumption of laser printers, and the ET-M1170 is considerably less costly to use than the average laser machine.
The Brother HL-L2370DW, for example, costs about 3.5 cents, or about 12 times more, per page to use. You can do better than that by stepping up to a higher-volume laser printer, such as the Editors' Choice Brother HL-L6300DW ($244.84 at Amazon UK) (1.3 cents), but even they cost three to five times more to use, in terms of consumables, than the ET-M1170.
As for the other models mentioned here, the HP M15w runs about 5 cents per page. Epson's WF-M5299, when you buy its 40,000-page ink replacement pack, costs about 0.75 cents per page. There are many reasons to choose the WF-M5299 over the ET-M1170, including a lower purchase price and much higher volume and capacity, but low running costs is not one of them.
Finally, the ET-M1170 comes with 6,000 pages worth of ink in the box (500 pages monthly for one year). Most likely, you won't be buying ink for a while.
If you print a few hundred to a thousand pages each month, and face no government regulations (such as, say, HIPAA) or other requirements for toner-based laser output, we can't think of a good reason not to buy this printer—if, that is, you can stomach the initial high purchase price. But the more you print, the faster you'll make up that difference over the cost of an entry-level laser printer. If you do print 1,000 pages each month, we're talking thousands of dollars over the life of the printer.
Also, when you register the printer, Epson tacks a second year on to the warranty. Not to mention that the ET-M1170 prints better than many of its laser competitors. The more you print, the better value the ET-M1170 is for your small office or work group, and that's why it's our Editors' Choice entry-level monochrome printer for small businesses.4.0Editors' ChoiceSee It$378.95 at AmazonMSRP $349.99View More
The Epson EcoTank ET-M1170 is a standalone monochrome inkjet printer that produces excellent output and costs very little to use over time.
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