On the whole, we’ve been impressed with Epson’s recent run of WorkForce Pro high-volume inkjet workhorses, starting with the $499-MSRP Workforce Pro WP-4590 All-in-One Printer back in 2012, up to the $299.99-MSRP WorkForce Pro WF-4630 a couple of years later in 2014. The WF-4630 was, by the way, the first printer to achieve a perfect 5-star score from Computer Shopper in recent memory.
Epson’s WorkForce Pro models are excellent machines for small and medium-size businesses, and the flagship model here at the start of 2015 (and the subject of this review) is no exception. This $399.99-MSRP printer has a bit of an unwieldy name: the WorkForce Pro WF-5690 Network Multifunction Color Printer with PCL/Adobe PS. (Now there’s a mouthful!) Like the WP-4590 of a few years ago, the WF-5690 is a fast, feature-rich multifunction printer (MFP) that’s efficient to use in terms of cost per page.
Both the WF-4630 and the WF-5690 were part of Epson’s PrecisionCore printhead technology rollout in June 2014. As we’ll discuss on the next page, PrecisionCore printheads allow for faster, cheaper-to-use printers. Pair them with ultra-high-capacity ink cartridges and mechanisms with laser-printer-like duty cycles, and business inkjets saw a shake-up of the kind that hadn’t happened since HP introduced its PageWide technology the year before. (“Duty cycle” is the maximum number of prints the manufacturer says the machine is capable of in a given time without subjecting it to undue wear. For more on that and other crucial printer terms, see our primer, Buying a Printer: 20 Terms You Need to Know.)
Of the 11 PrecisionCore-based machines that debuted last year, we’ve reviewed four of them; of those four, threeâ€”the WorkForce Pro WF-7610 (a wide-format model), the WorkForce Pro WF-4630 (our 5-star winner), and now the WF-5690â€”have been Editors’ Choice award recipients. Only the WF-3640, a non-“Pro” WorkForce model, failed to wow us enough to win, and that only by a sliver. In light of competing machines, such as some of Canon’s new Maxify printers, the WorkForce WF-3640 cost a bit too much too use.
Now, let’s stop here for a moment and talk about the “With PCL/Adobe PS” at the end of this printer’s name. Both are laser-printer languages: HP’s Printer Command Language (PCL) and Adobe’s PostScript. Certain applications benefit from these language emulations, but they’re relatively few and far between. They are used primarily in connection with high-end prepress and printing-press runs, as well as computer aided drafting (CAD) programs, and several other applications that require high-end imaging. In short, if you need support for these languages on your new printer, it’s almost certain that you already know it from long experience.
You don’t want to opt for it just to have it, though. The PCL and PostScript support costs you an additional $100 versus the next WorkForce Pro model down the line (the WorkForce Pro WF-5620, which is otherwise the same machine, but without the laser-lingo support). Then, too, there’s the $299.99-list WF-4630 we reviewed a few months ago, which was discounted on Epson’s site to $199.99 as of mid-January 2015. It, too, is quite similar to the WF-5690, except that it’s rated by Epson for a lower monthly capacity (30,000 pages, versus the WF-5690’s 45,000 prints).
Our point? While the WorkForce Pro WF-5690 is an excellent high-volume MFP, so are the other WorkForce models listed in the previous paragraphs. The good news is that whichever model you choose, they all deliver very low per-page operational costs, making each of them fine values assuming you need the volume. Granted, the support for the additional printer languages may seem expensive, but if you need it, having the ability to emulate either is well worth $100.
Read the entire review at Computer Shopper.