Epson introduced its first ink- tank printers a few years ago. Instead of conventional ink cartridges, these printers have, attached to their sides, an ink tank which can be refilled with relatively inexpensive bottles of ink.
The company launched them in response to users modifying their printers with external ink tanks that use third-party bottled ink. Epson says it has sold more than 15 million ink-tank printers worldwide since their debut in emerging markets such as Indonesia and Thailand.
Each set of ink for the Epson L605 all-in-one ink tank printer is good for up to 6,000 standard black-and-white pages and 6,500 colour pages.
Epson also claims that the L605 offers the lowest cost of duplex printing for an inkjet.
A glance at an Epson brochure from the Sitex show in November appears to bear out the company's claim: a bottle of black ink cost $9.90 while colour ink went for $29.70. In comparison, original black-ink cartridges for HP's all-in-one inkjet printers ranged from $50 to $60 and produce around 600 to 2,000 pages.
To be fair, ink cartridges from other manufacturers often come with the printhead built-in, which increases the cost.
But Epson's ink tank printers seem more cost-effective.
Refilling the L605 is as simple as opening its ink-tank cover, pulling out the seals for the four types of ink (black, cyan, yellow and magenta) and plugging in the ink bottle. But, even with the utmost care, you will probably get some ink stains on your fingers.
YIELD: Up to 6,000 standard pages (black and white) and 6,500 pages (colour) per set of ink
PRINT RESOLUTION: Up to 1,200 x 4,800 dots per inch
SPEED: Up to 33 pages per minute (black and white), 20 pages per minute (colour) in draft mode
VALUE FOR MONEY: 4/5
However, I was unimpressed with the L605's print speed. In my testing, the printer managed 11 black-and-white pages per minute in standard mode compared with 15 for the Canon Maxify MB5470, and 20 for the HP OfficeJet Pro 8720.
Lowering the print quality to draft increased the L605's speed to 18 monochrome pages per minute, though it is still much lower than the 33 monochrome pages per minute touted by Epson.
Colour pages were even slower, with the printer producing just four colour pages per minute at standard quality.
In addition, the printed documents looked slightly less sharp than those of some of the other printers in this price range that I have tested.
Colour printouts look fine, and there is almost no sign of banding or streaking.
The L605 has Wi-Fi functionality. It supports Wi-Fi Direct, so you do not need a wireless router or network to send documents from a mobile device to the printer.
Simply install the Epson iPrint app (for iOS and Android) and connect to the Epson printer's own Wi-Fi network, which can connect up to four devices at the same time.
This app may look a tad old-fashioned, but it works well and has useful features, such as integration with most cloud services, including Evernote and Dropbox. I found it convenient that you can save scanned documents from the printer to your smartphone or cloud service as well as send them to others via e-mail.
Unlike some of its rivals, which have colour touchscreens and a modern interface, the L605 has a tiny 2.2-inch monochrome screen instead.
Its interface is functional enough, though you may have to click through quite a few screens to get to what you want.
•Verdict: The Epson L605 is a cost-effective multi-function inkjet printer with decent features. Its print speed, however, falls slightly short of those of its competitors.