Instead of small, individually purchased cartridges, tanks printers have big reservoirs of ink that you fill up from bottles that generally cost just $12 or so. Consumer Reports calculates that for a typical printer owner, ink replacements should cost only about $5 a year.
There are several reasons that now is a particularly good time to buy a tank printer. First, prices have dropped. Second, performance has improved. Early on, the tank printers we tested fell short of many inkjets when it came to producing sharp text and images, but that’s no longer true. And last, the tanks are much easier to refill than in the past.
“Replacing the ink on the first few generations of tank models used to be a messy affair—because the filler nozzles were just simple openings,” says Rich Sulin, a project leader for CR’s printer testing program. Better design has solved the problem.
Our printer ratings currently include 22 tank models, mostly from two brands: Canon MegaTank and Epson EcoTank. Both brands earn high owner satisfaction scores in research by Consumer Reports. However, we’re currently not recommending any Epson EcoTank printers because these printers receive only a Fair predicted reliability rating. Several Canon MegaTank printers are recommended; they earn a Good rating on reliability. (CR’s printer reliability and owner satisfaction ratings are based on surveys of 119,853 CR members describing 150,345 printers bought new between 2012 and 2019.)
Here are three tank printers, all Canon models, that Consumer Reports currently recommends.