Following the discontinuation of Epson ET 2720, two new models were launched namely ET 2800 and ET 2803 that grabbed the attention of many crafters looking for the cheapest convertible sublimation printers. The two new models pack improvised features taken from their long-lost brother, ET 2720 along with printing a wide variety of sublimation transfers.
For considering a purchase of either of them, you need to study them first, and that’s what I’ve done for you. You’ll get the conversion process with its technicalities, printing setup, features and specs, list of sublimation blanks you can print with it, lifespan, and performance rating of both Epson ET 2800 and ET 2803 in this article.
- 1 Epson ET 2800 vs 2803
- 1.1 Unboxing:
- 1.2 Features
- 1.3 Drawbacks:
- 1.4 List of substrates you can sublimate with ET 2800 and 2803:
- 2 Epson ET 2800/2803 Specs:
- 3 Epson ET 2800 and 2803 Setup:
- 4 Why should you buy ET 2800 or 2803?
Epson ET 2800 vs 2803
Epson EcoTank ET 2800 and ET 2803 are the replacement model for ET 2720 (discontinued in 2021). These printers are the cheapest convertible sublimation printers you can buy two of them at the cost of one basic sublimation-ready printer. In fact, I bought them coincidentally, when I had to buy Sawgrass 500. Unfortunately, it was out of stock and these two units were new + well-suited to my budget.
Ecotank ET 2800 and ET 2803 are cartridge-free printers that use ink bottles instead of chips and cartridges. Regarding the features and compatibility, both 2800 and 2803 are the same. The only difference between them is the price and color options. ET 2803 is a pricier model than ET 2800, whereas ET 2800 is available in two colors, i.e. black and white. ET 2803 is only available in white.
During the early times of their launch, one more difference between them was the channel of distribution. Epson kept the ET 2903 exclusive to Walmart and Target only. Now, both these models are available on Amazon for retail.
I usually order through Amazon, where I get discounted prices and prompt delivery. Back in early 2022, I ordered both ET 2800 and ET 2803 and received them after on the 4th day. On first look, both printers looked very small–the same as my mini microwave (from Commercial Chef Countertop). The design and colors were sleek. Plus, it was made of plastic. I’d rate outlook 9/10 for its improved design from its predecessor. Besides the laptop, I got the following accessories:
- Manual guide for printer setup
- Power Cord
- 4 65mm bottles of CMYK ink
Since I was familiar with the setup, I didn’t need the manual. But I suggest you must read it for once to understand and acknowledge the technicalities of your printer. The CD ROM is supposed to install and set up the printer. However, it requires Wi-Fi, so it’s pretty much of no use. You can download it directly provided that you have an internet connection. I normally connect the printer to my laptop through a USB cable to my old printer. And yes, Epson doesn’t provide USB cables, which I think they should.
The last thing is the ink bottles and as soon as you discard them, the better. Epson printers won’t function for sublimation if they had pigment ink, even for once. You need virgin bottles in the printer for the conversion. However, you can use these extra inks if you’ve got a regular inkjet printer.
Spoiler Alert: Epson 2800 and 2803 won’t have many features compared to bigger EcoTank models and the entire WorkForce series. Still, it has everything you’d need to do sublimation starting with various print sizes available, great connectivity and compatibility, bearable print speed, and a compact design. Other than for sublimation, it also has a copier and a flatbed scanner that you can alternatively use.
The EcoTank 2800/2803 offers the following media sizes:
Optionally, there’s one more size available, and that you can unlock by an added tray. You can print a complete paper roll of 8.5 x 47″. In addition, there’s an option of borderless printing, but that’s only limited to a 4 x 6” size.
When working on small-volume prints, I’d always consider the Ecotank 2800/2803 because of its resolution. It prints on the market-leading resolution, i.e., 5760 x 1440 dpi backed by MicroPiezo printing technology. It gives high-definition prints with no pixel issues, provided that the printer is synced with the ICC profiles of the Monitor or Screen you’re printing from.
The speed of the printer is a real patience tester. I usually put the printer to work and manage my press work to utilize the time. However, converted printers normally take over 2-3 minutes to print at the highest resolution offered by the printer. Here the time is doubled, taking 4-6 minutes. If you’re continuously printing it might even take 10 minutes–no surprise!
Regarding speed, there’s one option in the printer known as Bi-directional printing. Many rookies turn this option on as they get too excited by the “quick printing” written in the description. Bi-directional printing does increase the speed, but at the same time, the design doesn’t get enough time to get dried which results in a messier and ghosted design, because the wet ink leaves its parts on the roller, and the next print carries it on which is called printer ghosting.
So, give yourself a favor and bear a minute or two with your printer but don’t tick mark the “bidirectional print” on the printer setting.
Design and Dimensions:
The size and design are one of the best things about this printer. Even the youngest one in your home can lift this printer up and move it around with no hassle. My 14 y/o nephew can easily hold it. It just weighs 9 lbs and has the following dimensions.
- Height: 7”
- Width: 15”
- Length: 13.5”
Since it’s made of plastic, don’t put your printer and press near to each other.
Connectivity and Compatibility
Epson Ecotank ET 2800/03 is compatible with either Windows or Mac OS. For connectivity, you can either connect your phone or laptop via Wi-Fi or a data cable. I never had any connectivity issues only except in the setup. The Printer requires Wi-Fi to download the software and there’s no option for you can enter your password. If you don’t have a printer’s data cable, buy one and use it for connectivity.
Your warranty is gone!
Epson strictly prohibits using third-party sublimation ink and when you convert the printer to sublimation, you’ll lose the warranty. After the conversation, you can’t call their tech support for any issues. You’re all on your own.
Not a high-volume sublimation printer
The speed of the printer is relatively slow compared to high-end models, adding the jammings and technical issues you’ll face in the printer–printing over 20 pages is still a dream for many 2800/2803 users. If the printer’s working so well, you’ll have 10-15 prints in a day after which the printer will heat up. Even the 10 prints will take no less than an hour.
A headache when it’s jammed:
When using the printer, refrain from getting the paper jammed. The rollers are built far from the access, having several components in between, so getting the paper out is the toughest and might as well ruin your day.
It’s just the basic box!
Well, the printer is just basic. It lacks so many features, such as a touchscreen, ADF (you don’t need this in sublimation), no Ethernet connection, and a fax option. There’s an LCD but the 1.44” makes no difference whether you have it or not. It’s so hard to read from it. Also, the paper tray is extremely tiny, catering to just 100 sheets. Although these aren’t mandatory in a sublimation printer, they still count when buying a convertible printer.
List of substrates you can sublimate with ET 2800 and 2803:
Ideally, ET 2800/2803 is best for mug sublimation and printing other ceramics and rigid substrates. This is because the printer naturally has bright colors and looks incredible when pressed against a hard substrate. I’ve sublimated so many blanks and here’s the list of them that turns out the best.
When pressing fabrics, I usually have to set the colors and take the brightness and sharpness to a little low, to match the original colors.
Note: Don’t use this printer for pressing cotton fabrics, even after polymer treatment. The transfers won’t keep it for a longer time.
Epson ET 2800/2803 Specs:
9.8/10 – Our Score
5760 x 1440 dpi
Windows & MAC OS
Wi-Fi and USB
Paper tray capacity:
15” x 7” x 13.5” (W x H x D)
4 x 6 – 8.5 x 14
Only in 4 x 6
Epson ET 2800 and 2803 Setup:
The Epson ET 2800 setup is way easier. They provide you with guides and manuals anyone can easily comprehend. First, there’s an agreement, installation of some drives, creating an account, and connecting to your device. These are easy tasks you just have to click agree/okay and move forward in each step. The thrill begins when you’ve to install the inks and set it up. This is where everything depends on–either miss or hit, either a sublimation printer or a junk box.
It goes without saying, you won’t install the box-packed ink that came with the printer. So throw it in the bin if you don’t have any alternate use. Otherwise, keep it in a separate place, away from the workspace.
First things first, let’s convert. Get the third-party sublimation ink on the table along with syringes and gloves. Later in this article, I’ve explained which third-party ink to trust and inject into your ink bottles. Open the Printer’s Printhead and fill up all the bottles in full while wearing gloves. Now, close the Printhead and switch the PC to proceed with the complete setup.
Once you’ve downloaded the drives and required software, run the printer nozzle check on regular papers, and then follow the complete printing guide. As said earlier, use a USB cable instead of Wi-Fi and continue the setup. You need print settings in accordance with the device connected to it to achieve quality results.
After running the nozzle check and all the printer’s settings in aligned, take a design, send it to the printer, and make the necessary adjustments. As my print didn’t have any text, so I’m not mirroring the image. The paper type I selected was Premium Presentation Paper Matte. Also, I’m using borderless printing using a 4 x 6” size option and it took a minute only, since my page layout was already small.
Now, I took up the design and pressed it on a ceramic coffee cup. As you can see in the image, the colors are absolutely crisp and sharp, and the picture itself is well detailed and defined!
Best sublimation ink and paper for ET 2800 and 2803:
When it comes to sublimation printing, there are third-party sublimation inks you’ll need, and here’s a bummer: not every sublimation ink is going to work in every converted sublimation printer. The ink colors and settings are different and that’s why only those ink types that complement the printer’s very own setting will work the best. The same is the case with sublimation papers.
The right sublimation ink:
I tested three ink types with them. Printer’s Jack, Cosmos, and Hiipoo. Hiipoo is, so far, lived up to my expectations. The flow was smooth and the colors came out brighter. Cosmos and Printer’s Jack aren’t that great for these printers. The colors come out extra sharp, while I was required to clean my printer because…whoosh! the ink was stuck. However, these two inks are in my Epson WorkForce and Ecotank ET 1500 where they never showed these tantrums. So, be aware that it’s not really about the ink but the combo you’re making out of it.
Besides these famous brands, I tested this new E-Z Ink Sublimation Ink that I came across through an ad on Amazon. Not going to lie, their packaging really drew me. These turned out to be the true soulmate of both my ET 2800 which I use to print rigid substances. Plus, they’re affordable and comes packed with gloved and syringes; although you won’t need syringes for these modes. For printing on fabrics, plastic, and vinyl, Hiipoo sublimation ink is a more reliable option.
The right sublimation paper:
After choosing the ink, selecting the paper is pretty much easy. All of the sublimation papers are the same with A-sub being the leading brand. You can opt for A-sub like everyone else. However, if you want to stand out and have much better results out of your Et 2800/2803, Hiipoo sublimation papers are the perfect ones.
Choosing the right ink type has a certain formula. If the ink’s density is thin, the best papers will have the same characteristics, i.e., they’re thin too. Again, there aren’t much difference sublimation papers make if they’re from renowned brands.
Why should you buy ET 2800 or 2803?
In my opinion, ET 2800 still takes the cake, despite being entirely similar to ET 2308. It has been more reliable and of course, you’ll get a $50 cut for the price. If you’re a seasonal crafter with a minimal or small printing volume, ET 2800 is a worth-having in your arsenal that’ll always bring you value. This is the simplest inkjet printer that’s convertible with just a set of new sublimation ink bottles and syringes. With it, you can print any polyester, metal, ceramic, or acrylic sublimation blanks in the highest quality possible. Although it lacks secondary features, the affordable price and top-notch resolution can make you stand out among your competitors!
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