When we see a fast printer that has three input sources, and two of those are big, roomy paper drawers, we assume: Business Printer. Our first impression is that we’re dealing with a high-volume machine designed to churn out hundreds, even thousands, of pages each month. However, you can’t forget the big intangible when talking about printers for small or medium businesses: CPP.
“CPP” stands for cost per page. And one of our biggest criteria for high-volume printers, in addition to being fast and having a lot of paper capacity, is that they deliver excellent-looking documents at a decent CPP.
In fact, to our eyes, a high-volume printer’s CPP is usually the most important figure to focus on. Depending on the printer itself (and sometimes a few other factors), a difference in CPPs of a few pennies between printers can cost you plenty if you print a lot. And printing a lot is, after all, the reason you purchase a high-volume model to begin with.
It was that shortcoming—an exorbitant ongoing cost of operation—that pained us most about last year’s WorkForce WF-3540 All-in-One Printer. Alas, as you’ll see a little later on in this review, the successor model we’re reviewing here, Epson’s WorkForce WF-3640 All-in-One Printer, also costs a bit too much, in terms of CPP, to use. (As for the printer itself, it lists for $199.99, though you may be able to find it $50 cheaper when you read this; more on that later.)
Alongside the WorkForce WF-3640, Epson also introduced a broadly similar model, the WorkForce WF-3630. The WF-3630 doesn’t merit a separate review; the main differences are that it has only one drawer-style paper tray (in addition to the same single-sheet override tray on the back), and, unlike the WF-3640, it can’t fax.
Often, with inkjet all-in-one (AIO) printers, not much changes from generation to generation. And at first blush, it might look like the WorkForce WF-3640 is merely an incremental upgrade over last year’s WorkForce WF-3540. They do look much alike, so just tack on a couple of features, and call it “new and improved,” yes? But that wasn’t the case here at all.
The WorkForce Pro WF-3640 is one of 11 models in Epson’s dramatically refreshed WorkForce line of business printers, released in a big surge in June 2014. The reason for the major rollout? All 11 models were built around Epson’s new, speed-enhancing PrecisonCore printhead technology. The first of these PrecisionCore-based models we reviewed, the wide-format WorkForce WF-7610, won an Editors’ Choice award, as did the next one, a WorkForce Pro model, the WorkForce Pro WF-4630, we looked at back in mid-August. (That Pro-model printer was, incidentally, the first 5-star printer we’ve tested in quite some years.)
The WorkForce WF-3640 is also quite a good printer, but it falls into the same CPP habits that some of its predecessors did. Despite its superior speed and feature set, it’s too expensive to use for much output beyond light-to-medium-duty printing and copying. That’s too bad, because the output of all kinds is very good. In addition to turning out decent-looking document prints in our hands-on testing, it produced great-looking, highly accurate scans. (At least the scans don’t cost you ink.) Copies looked good, too, as did the test photos we printed.
As we said about the WorkForce WF-3540 model before it, the per-page cost of ink nicks this AIO’s overall value, relegating it to an occasional-use machine—to the point where we couldn’t justify an Editors’ Choice nod for this model, despite all else that it can do so well. Still, this is a fine printer that gave us plenty of reasons to recommend it, among them exceptional print speeds and output quality.
If you need to print a lot, you should consider a more-expensive model with a consumables scheme that’s truly built for high-volume output. You don’t have to look far from this model, either, just up: Epson’s own WorkForce Pro WF-4630. That PrecisionCore model has a more efficient and much cheaper-to-use imaging and inking system, and that put it over the top. It lists for $299.99. For light to moderate use, though, the cheaper WorkForce WF-3640 is a fine printer, if you can manage the cost of upkeep.
Read the entire article at Computer Shopper.