Review of Epson L355 Continuous Ink System Printer


epson-l355-printer
Epson L355 Continuous Ink System Printer with WiFi

Colour Printing on inkjet printers is an expensive affair. Even well-heeled businesses find the cost concerning with Printer Manufacturer’s inks costing more than gold. As with everything, larger quantity supplies are cheaper, buying in bulk is cheaper. HP Cartridges carrying 15ml Inks work out cheaper than cartridges carrying 5ml ink.

One way to reduce cost of printing is to use cartridges manufactured by third parties that are compatible with your printer. Such cartridges are industrially manufactured with good quality components, cheaper than Printer Manufacturer’s cartridges and generally offer the same number of pages that can be printed. In practice, I have found that over a period of time, such cartridges end up clogging inkjet heads. Printers where printing-heads are separated from ink-tanks are at greatest risk and I ended up junking my Epson printer after using 4 – 5 such ink-tanks.

Another way to reduce cost of printing is to get the cartridges refilled or reconditioned. This process is even more dangerous and causes ink-leaks, head-clogging and immediate warranty invalidation.

For the techie armed with a syringe full of alcohol, another option exists where he can buy the refill ink (3rd party) in 500 ml / 1 litre quantities and perform the refill at home. So what if the printer-head gets clogged? Nothing like spending an hour or two flushing the cartridges with alcohol or progressively stronger solvents. A word of advice: Do not use Carbon Tetra-Chloride in closed spaces.

epson-l355-ink-tanks
The printer features 4 tanks for CMYK inks using a CIS system.

Continuous Ink Systems (CIS) have been a boon to those whose printing requirements and money making potential is far higher than the risk of junking the printer. I have known people who have purchased Epson printers and promptly performed the required surgery on them to install third-party Continuous Ink System filled with Third Party inks. Due to continuous printing and regular flushing, these printers do work long enough to recover their cost many times over.

When Epson launched a printer series featuring CIS, I was immediately interested. My client who requires full-page colour printing, was fed-up with buying ink-tanks every week. Since he was already done with futzing with the cartridges (with unsatisfactory results), he chose to bite the bullet and buy HP Tri-Color ink tanks and it was costing a pretty penny.

For the first time, a Printer Manufacturer was offering a Continuous Ink System Printer, capable of printing low-quality draft text to high quality 5000 dpi images. To top it, the manufacturer’s ink cost was unbelievable. Only Rs. 370/- for a bottle of 70ml ink (per colour, 4 colours). Compared to it, HP Tri-Color 678 Cartridge contains approx. 5ml ink and costs Rs. 450/-

At approx. 150 pages (according to HP) for Rs. 900, cost per page works out to Rs. 6/page. Epson CIS claimed 4000 pages for Rs. 1480, giving cost per print of Rs. 0.37/page. That’s an 8x reduction in cost.

Note:

  • epson-l355-ink-levels
    Ink levels can be checked visually and topped-up at will.

    HP claims Deskjet 2515 printer can print 150 pages from Tri-Colour 678 Cartridge (Rs.450/-) and 400+ pages from Black 678 Cartridge (Rs.450/-). Both are required for printing.  Hence the assumption that maximum 150 Colour Pages can be printed at a minimum cost of Rs. 900/-

  • Epson claims that L355 printer can print 6500 pages from 3 ink-bottles (Rs. 370/- each for Cyan, Magenta and Yellow) and 4000 pages from Black ink bottle (Rs. 370/-). All ink-bottles are required for printing. Hence the assumption that maximum 4000 Colour Pages can be printed at a minimum cost of Rs. 1480/-

Epson is currently the only one in the market offering such a product and there is a such a demand for this product, my local IT Market ran out of stock and I had to wait a full-week before I could get my machine.

The Good:

  • The printer’s single biggest USP is it’s Continuous Ink System and very very budget friendly inks. With inks so cheap and cost of printing being so less (high quality colour prints at half the cost of your neighborhood photocopy center’s bad quality B&W copies), who will ever have to consider buying third party inks or playing with syringes and swabs?
  • epson-l355-aesthetics
    Plastic it maybe, the faux carbon-fiber finish is beautiful.

    The device is almost entirely made of plastic and very light-weight (approx. 4.5 KGs). Easy to cart, easy to install. The device is also very compact. The CIS tanks do add to the overall width of the device but it is something I can live with.

  • The printer features in-built transformer and does not require an external adapter that has weird combination of Voltage and Amperes (hint: HP Printer Adapters) or have really thin output power cables with non-standard headers (Hint: Again, HP). Just plugin the supplied AC cable (VCR Cable) and you are good to go. On the other hand, if you want to use the printer in a country with different voltage, you will have to carry a step-up/step-down transformer.
  • The printer features a straight paper-path. Paper dropped in the tray at the top, slides in and emerges from the front, relatively unmolested. This should make it easier to print on card-stock without cracking the surface of the paper. The paper guide is not notched. As a result, it is easy to slide it to the right position.
  • The printer supports WiFi (802.11n) and can be hooked into the network with a little effort. Once on the network, the printer enables Bonjour, LPPR etc. services and supports printing from Windows OS, Mac OS, iOS & Android. Apparently, Blackberry is already dead for Epson.

The Bad:

  • epson-l355-rear
    220V direct input and USB ports are only sockets at the back. The paper-tray is foldable (slides in).

    The Printer is no speed demon. Even draft mode printing is considerably slower than HP Deskjet printers (basic model like 2515).

  • Print quality on Plain Paper in Standard Mode is inferior to HP Deskjets. The printout appears to be far lower density (180 dpi ?) and has faded colours (versus rich saturated colours on HP). Photo Printing is very slow (nearly two minutes for A4 size) but this is where the printer shines. Where HP prints tend to get really saturated, the Epson gives a very balanced image which looks detailed.
  • The printer may fail to pick up thick paper or card stock unless you set the paper-size and paper-type correctly in the ‘Printer Settings’ dialog at the time of printing. The printer also has issues picking single sheets. You are advised to stock the paper input tray with more than a few sheets.
  • The buttons on the printer seem delicate and must be handled with care. At my friends office, where employees typically take out their frustration by damaging company assets, I wonder how many days will pass before the buttons give way altogether and Epson claims that “buttons cannot be repaired, printer must be replaced”.

The Ugly:

  • epson-l355-scanner
    The printer features a Contact Image Scanning head. Scanning of objects is not supported.

    Setting up WiFi is complicated. Epson does not provide a software utility for it. The printer does not have an interface for that. It’s NOT like you can select the SSID of the network you want to join, type the WiFi password and you are good to go. The printer can only be configured via WPS (WiFi Protected Setup) and if your router does not support WPS, you are out of luck. The printer does not feature a RJ-45 LAN port as backup Network Interface either.

  • The printer does not support common protocols like DPOF (print directly from camera), does not come with a automatic Duplexer option for printer or a Automatic Document Feeder for scanner.
  • The in-paper-tray holds only 100 sheets and the output tray holds only 30 sheets. The printer also does not support a straight paper-path (for printing on cardboard, canvas, cloth) or continuous paper.
  • The scanner on the printer is of CIS (Contact Image Scanner) type. Such scanners have the light source and the image-sensor elements placed adjacently. The advantage is the near instant start-up and good scans of paper that is placed against the glass. However, CIS is no good for scanning 3D objects. The Depth-of-Field of the image sensors is near zero and only scans surface that are held against the scan-bed.

Closing Remarks:

epson-l355-wifi
Setting up WiFi requires WPS supported Router.

My client purchased this scanner for the purpose of preparing Jewellery Certificates (on Card Stock), scanning jewellery and occasional photocopy. The printer performs admirably well in printing Jewellery Certificates and fails miserably in jewellery scanning. While the Epson L355 scanner is no worse than it’s predecessor (HP F4200), our inability to scan rings-bangles-necklaces is disappointing.

I have counter-argued that a $20 fixed-lens Digital Camera will any day take better images of our jewellery, the challenge that has been set for me now is to make a fool-proof setup for it.

One chapter (print at less cost) closes and another one opens (take better pictures of jewellery).


22 responses to “Review of Epson L355 Continuous Ink System Printer”

  1. Hey I just was reading some internet reviews about the L355 and almost decided to not buy it because you mentioned it was not compatible with a non WPS routerb but you know what, i went to the dealer and asked about setting up the wifi without WPS and they show me how to do it.
    In the setup CD there is the installation wizard and guides you trough the installation.
    They successfully installed the printier over wifi without WPS}

    i found this video in spanish
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q0oXVENtMlw

    i found this one very similar in english
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I9bFLM9ySDM

    • Dear Gamaliel,

      Perhaps Epson has listened to it’s customers and decided to change the software included with the printer. In fact, the driver CD we received with the printer had old drivers and we had to download new drivers from the Internet.

      Thanks for Youtube links.

      Regards

  2. I want to print lots of photo at low cost.I also want a scanner and printer for xerox copies.Should I buy epson l355.How reliable is this.what about after sell service.

    • Dear Boby,
      My personal experience with Epson inkjet printers has been positive as long as you use genuine supplies and treat the hardware with care.

      These devices are not built ruggedly and must be handled with care.

      Epsons service is bad. Not enough service centers, too many warranty exclusions, unavailability of parts and supplies are common.

      That said, it is easier to recover your investment from Epson devices than other brands like HP or Canon.

      Hth

  3. i am going to buy a AIO printer for my home use, had fixed hp m1136 vs epson l355. what do you say will be a better option considering my print volume medium but a hassles free printer.

    • For a few pages a month, you can buy a HP printer at 5K. If your print volume is larger (more than hundred pages per month), you can invest in the Epson L Series.

      As stated in my article, the Epson printers are considerably slower than the HP and have inferior print quality too. But for business color printing, you can beat the Epson’s running cost.

  4. I was almost about to buy an epson l355 but in the last minute, I decided to look for a review on the net. I am thankful to you for posting an unbiased review. You mentioned that it prints slowly. That’s the cue for me. I have decided not to purchase. I wanted speedy prints and in good quality.

    • It’s not like you are going to grow old watching the printer print a page. It’s fast enough for day to day use. Just that compared to the HP, it seems slow.
      If you are only printing a couple of pages per month, stick to the HP. Else, consider the Epson. For heavy print users, the you will recover the cost of printing in a few months.

  5. By the way, you didn’t mention……I mean you did mention that it prints ‘considerably slower than the HP’. Can you tell me how many pages it prints (black n white) per minute in standard mode (not draft mode)?

    • Hmmm….I do need the answer to my question above. If it prints 15 or 16 pages per minute in standard mode (black n white), I will go for it.

      • Hi,

        Here’s a video I made for you to show the Epson L300 in action:
        http://youtu.be/LJuE2yOEhL0

        The document being printed is a text-only EULA document. The document is A4 size, 14 pages long, 1″ margin and 10 point condensed text. The document resulted in a print speed of approx. 10.5/seconds per page giving you a throughput of approx. 6 pages/minute.

        HTH

        • That was really nice of you to upload a you tube video. Yes, printing is on the slower side.

          I think your review on Epson L355 is the best on the the internet.

  6. whats types of paper can be used for printing in this printer?
    im planning to print brochures using this printer will this be a good option for that?

  7. Hi. I have a budget of maybe 12-13k. I am looking for an AIO printer. This is primarily for home use. I need a printer that gives good quality prints, can print through Wi-fi and also the ink cost as well as changing ink shouldn’t be prohibitive. Can you suggest a printer? One will the capability of printing automatically on both sides as well as a good scanner would be preferred. If we only print a few pages every week, it should clog the head (as I read in a few cases). Much appreciate your time and help.

    • update on the above query:

      The shortlisted printers are HP 6525 (12k on HP Online), Epson L355 (14,5k) and Canon pixma 6470 (12.5k). Printer is for home use. However, I do not mind a slightly higher printer cost but would like one that has relatively economical ink costs as well as ease of maintanence (easy of changing ink and one that DOES NOT clog the head easily due to lower and irregular printing volumes). I think the HP allows auto printing on both sides while in epson you have to do it manually. Am i right?
      Which one would you recommend?

  8. On seeing the advertisement of the HP 2515. Because I do a lot of full paged color printing, my experience is that 5 colored 678 cartridges and a black 678 cartridge combine to give you ONLY about 200 to 250 color prints which translates to roughly 10-12 rupees per print. I plan to switch over to EPSON L300 now. (I have about 100 empty 678 cartridges)

  9. I came across this post when I was at my wit’s end to configure the Epson L355 over my office wifi. To put it simply, it was a nightmare of epic proportions.

    I started out with the installer on the packaged CD. The first installation didn’t pick up the printer over the wifi network. The second time around, I downloaded the latest installation from Epson’s website. This time, it detected the printer over the wifi. In order to check the stability of the connection, I shut down the printer and the router and restarted to see if the printer would get detected again. It didn’t. And that was the beginning of the nightmare. I spent close to two days reinstalling the software, but the installer would never pickup the printer over the wifi. I tried both the ADHOC mode (the recommended mode in the installation) and the WPS mode to connect to the printer. The AD-HOC mode would never detect the printer at all. The WPS mode would connect the printer to the router. In order to detect the printer in the WPS mode, the printer needs to be connected to the computer using the USB cable. (This was never clearly mentioned in the installation procedure; I figured it out myself.) The printer would get detected by the installer in the WPS mode over the USB, and it would try to pass the network information over the USB cable. But the printer wouldn’t get added to the network. I kept repeating the steps, using several options, such as disabling the firewall in the router, adding the MAC address to the router, etc. But none of it seemed to work.

    Finally, I gave a call to the Epson helpline. They send a technician over, who had no clue about what he needed to do. He said that the TPLINK router used on networks such as ours, usually gave these troubles. His solution was to replace the router or to remove the wifi security. I was surprised that an Epson technician would suggest such stupid solutions. He then suggested that I register the MAC Address to the router, which also didn’t work. He kept on reiterating that the issue was with the router and there was nothing wrong with the printer.

    So, I then reset the router to factory defaults to see if that would help. It didn’t. I checked to see if there was a firmware upgrade available for the router, thinking an upgrade to the router, might resolve any communication issues, since the printer was a relatively new model compared to the router. The router indeed had a firmware upgrade, which among other fixes had a fix for a channel bandwidth adaptation issue. I installed the firmware upgrade and then reset the router to factory defaults, and reconfigured the network. I then uninstalled the printer application and then reinstalled the printer software. I opted to go for the WPS mode since it was the only mode in which the printer was connecting to the router. I figured that this would be easier, since in my earlier attempts, this was the mode that met with partial success, in the sense that the printer was at least connected to the router through WPS. This time, the installation went through without any hitch at all. In order to be double sure, I switched off the printer and the router and restarted them to see if the printer would get reconnected. This time it did. And it did for multiple times after that. Everything seems to be fine after that.

    I wanted to share this experience, in case someone else is facing the same issue with the L355 and is not able to figure out the cause. If the router is a TPLINK router, please go ahead and check if there is a firmware upgrade for the model of the router that you have. The model number can be obtained from the label that is stuck to the bottom of the router. Make sure that the version number of the firmware matches the version number of the router. Follow the instructions about the upgrade procedure carefully, otherwise you might end up with a inoperable router.

    I hope this was useful information for anyone with a TPLINK router and is about to purchase an Epson L355. The technician told me that this was only with these brand of routers and other routers didn’t give any issue. I suspect that this will be the case with routers whose firmware predates the release date of these new printers. I also hope that Epson really trains their technicians properly. In my case, the firmware upgrade and the network reconfiguring was my idea; the technician didn’t have a clue at all. In the end, I had to show him what I had done so that he can use it in a similar situation elsewhere.

    Cheers..

    Mohan.

  10. I have to disagree that a continuous ink system shortens your printer life.
    I had just retired my Epson R200 printer, that I bought exactly 10 years ago (it was the week after my son was born, that’s why I remember). I’ve bough the continuos ink system immediately. And it benn printing and printing and printing. Great printer. I had to retire it because it’s having problems picking paper sometimes, and I have to go through several head cleaning circles very often.
    But hey, 10 years of cheap printing!!!!!
    Cheers.

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