Epson L100 is a unique printer and what makes it unique is the company fitted continuous ink supply system (CISS). This CISS has been in the market for quite long as an extra fitments available for various models of inkjet printers. So here we have a printer with branded factory fitted CISS and obviously the ink tank system means very low cost of printing. So what’s the catch? Well there are two catch:
1. At the price of Rs.6500, we think the cost of printer is high. It’s almost three times of a normal inkjet printer of this class.
2. The Epson provides ink bottles with special codes that you have to enter after refilling which means Epson does not want to you use even cheaper after-market ink. Four bottles of Epson genuine ink (70 ML) cost about Rs.1800 while other brands are available for as low as Rs.600 for 100 ML bottle! Again its three times costlier.
Epson L100 uses four colour ink (CMYK) which means you can refill only that colour whose level go down in ink tank. One of the advantage of ink tank system is you can constantly monitor the ink level and fill before you run out of ink. Also filling ink in CISS is easier and special ink bottle shape of Epson allows filling without any use of syringe.
Talking of the two catches above, the Epson is taking higher price for this printer because you will be saving on printing cost which is nothing new in the business of printing. Printers start at very low rates because companies know you will need cartridges later and they can make profit from it. It’s like buying something on instalment In case of L100, Epson is giving you a top quality CISS system which can to some extent justify the cost of printer but still we think price could have been slightly lower. However users will be saving by using non-genuine ink as there are reset codes available on various websites which will allow you to use other brands of ink*. For users buying non-genuine ink, please make sure you buy dye based ink only and not the pigment one. Pigment based ink can be thought of as a gel pen ink which gives smooth text and dye based ink as fountain pen ink which blots. When we print on normal white paper (non glossy) we can notice the text printed as fine dots and not smooth like you will get with inkjet printer with pigment ink. If you fill pigment based ink in Epson L100, its head will clog and printer will stop working, this is because the pigment based ink tend to crystallize while dye based ink is like water which is best for any CISS system. We have compared text printouts of both the inks.
Talking about printer itself, it’s a beautiful unit with everything rock solid. Packaging of printer is good and everything comes wrapped in good plastic, taped and in proper box. Printer does not come filled with ink but inside you will find one box of 5 colour bottles of 70 ml each. Out of these 5 bottles, 2 are black and other 3 are Cyan, magenta and yellow. Let me describe a summary of installation of this printer:
1. Unbox everything.
2. Attach the tray, power chord (don’t switch it on yet) and USB cable (do not plug in PC).
3. Take the ink bottles and fill them completely in the printer ink tank. Turn the lever (marked with big red arrow symbol on tank) to print position. You can turn it to transport position when you have to move the printer for any purpose to avoid any spilling of ink. Don’t throw the bottles, keep them at safe place.
4. Install the printer software using the CD provided with printer, it will prompt you to enter the codes printed on ink bottles.
5. Installation wizard will then prompt you to connect the printer. Now connect the USB cable and power on the printer by pressing power button for 2 seconds.
Now the printer will recharge itself with ink and this takes about half an hour. During this half an hour printer will make noise as if everything inside will break apart, but don’t worry as this is considered normal with this printer. While we were waiting, the installation wizard tried to keep us busy by asking to register the product on Epson website and we did say yes. However on clicking yes button it opened a URL which led to 404 error page! What a pity. Once the printer is done with recharging ink, the green LED near power button will stop blinking. Now you can start using the printer.
We printed some text files on normal A4 size paper and the result was nothing brilliant but satisfactory. If you need bulk printing for office or other requirements which does not require very good text quality, this printer is a good option.. However the colour photos that were printed on glossy photo paper almost matched the studio quality! Overall a very good product from Epson and I am sure this will be a hit among various small office owners and home users as well.
* Epson warning: Using unbranded / non-genuine ink will void your warranty and can even damage your printer.