Review of the Canon Pixma TS9020 Wireless Inkjet All-In-One at Computer ShopperFor years now, we’ve been reviewing slightly different iterations of the same “MG”-family Pixmas from Canon. (The MG family is, or was, Canon’s consumer line of photo-centric Pixma printers.) Like most printer makers, each year Canon simply added a feature or two, up-ticked the number in the printer’s name (say, from Pixma MG7620 to Pixma MG7720), and then offered it as a new, or more precisely, an “updated” product.

Even though this is common practice among the printer set, reviewing more or less the same printer over and over can get monotonous. We’re happy to report that those days are, at least temporarily, over, where Canon’s Pixma MG-series photo printers are concerned.

Enter the imaging giant’s new Pixma TS series, the MG series’ replacement. The first round of TS Pixmas consists of four all-in-one (AIO) print/scan/copy models. From the least expensive, with the shortest list of features, to the most expensive and feature-rich, the new TS series AIOs are the Pixma TS5020 Wireless ($99.99 MSRP), the Pixma TS6020 Wireless ($149.99 MSRP), the Pixma TS8020 Wireless ($179.99), and the topic of this review, the flagship Pixma TS9020 Wireless. (Computer Shopper will be reviewing most or all of these models in the coming weeks.) The Pixma TS9020 lists for $199.99, though as we were writing this, we found it at Canon U.S.A. and various Canon resellers for $179.99.

The differences in features among the new models include smaller LCDs and paper capacities as you slide down the list. Today’s test unit, the top-dog Pixma TS9020, for example, has a 5-inch touch screen, while the Pixma TS8020’s display is 4.3 inches. This top-of-the-line model supports Ethernet and Near-Field Communication (NFC), but some of the less-expensive AIOs in the series do not. (Of the lot, only the Pixma TS9020 has Ethernet, and both the Pixma TS9020 and TS8020 support NFC.) The three top models have two paper trays, while the Pixma TS5020 has just one—you get the idea. The bottom line in all this is that the Pixma TS9020 is the best-equipped of the four.

Canon Pixma TS9020 (Angled)

While the MG series Pixmas had their issues (no printer is perfect, to be sure), they printed some of the best-looking photos among consumer photo printers. That was especially true of the six-ink Canon Pixma MG7720, the model that the Pixma TS9020 replaces. The Pixma TS9020, like that earlier model, uses six ink cartridges—the same six cartridges, in fact, which unfortunately translates to the same high per-page running costs. As we’ll get into later on, it’s not unusual for consumer-grade photo printers (or any grade of photo printer, for that matter) to have a high cost per page (CPP). Even so, this Pixma’s per-page ink cost carries over and diminishes its value as a document printer, especially if you print more than a couple of hundred document pages per month and are hoping to use this printer as a dual-purpose photo/text workhorse.

Even though the Pixma TS9020 is somewhat expensive to use with all kinds of output, it does offer the best of both worlds from a quality perspective, in that it prints high-quality documents and photos. In keeping with the light-use concept, though, like the MG-series Pixmas none of the models in this new series comes with an automatic document feeder (ADF). Not being able to send multipage documents to the scanner without user intervention will make this a key omission for some home and small offices.

In the end, we have to make the same general statement about this printer that we have about more than a few MG Pixmas in the past. We like the Pixma TS9020 as a photo printer, but the ability to print documents and perform limited scanning and copying should be considered add-ons, conveniences. If you need these features regularly, you’ll want to consider another photo-centric AIO, such as the Epson Expression Photo XP-860 Small-in-One or one of Epson’s other consumer photo AIOs. If printing photos is your primary concern, though, and you need quality prints, you can’t go wrong with the Pixma TS9020, so long as you can stomach the cost of its ink.

Read the entire review at Computer Shopper

Share

Review of the Canon Pixma G4200 Wireless MegaTank All-in-One at Computer ShopperYears from now, we’ll look back at the current era in inkjet printers, and call these times The “Big Ink” Years. Supplying bulk ink with your printer, or making it available in bulk, is definitely the in thing.

It took a while, but inkjet giant Canon finally responded to rival Epson’s “supertanker” EcoTank inkjet printers, and to a lesser degree, to Brother’s INKvestment models. These are two inkjet-printer lines with different ways of delivering bulk ink. The difference between the Epson and Brother approaches is that Epson’s EcoTank printers take their ink from relatively large reservoirs that you fill from bottles (or snap in as sealed bags), while Brother’s INKvestment models use ink cartridges that are inexpensive on a per-page basis, sometimes bundled in multiples with the printer.

The idea is that you pay more (often significantly more) for the printer up front, but the per-page running costs are much lower. From a printer-business standpoint, you lock in more of your profit with the purchase of the printer outright. That’s the idea with both the Brother and Epson approaches. And now with Canon’s G-series MegaTank machines, like the $399.99-list Pixma G4200 Wireless MegaTank All-in-One Printer we’re looking at today, another big inkjet name joins the trend.

Canon Pixma G4200 (Front)

When the printer manufacturer makes much of its profit from the sale of the machine itself, rather than on the subsequent sale of ink, you as a buyer need to be sure that the ostensibly lower ongoing cost of operation makes that initial purchase sensible. Like many of Epson’s EcoTank printers, Canon’s MegaTank machines deploy the filling-the-reservoirs-from-bottles method, as opposed to Brother’s inexpensive-cartridge approach. Brother, with its approach, is able to offer two versions of its INKvestment products, dubbed XL and non-XL. The less-expensive non-XL machines, such as the Brother MFC-J985DW, come with only one set of four ink tanks, and the relatively high-yield replacement cartridges come at a low per-page price. The more-costly XL models (the Brother MFC-J985DW XL$249.99 at Amazon, for instance), come with multiple sets of cartridges in the box, and the further replacement tanks are priced for competitively low running costs.

The bottles of ink that come with the EcoTank and MegaTank printers could last you up to a year, or even more, depending on what and how much you print. Epson, in fact, claims that its WorkForce ET-4550 EcoTank All-in-One$491.27 at Amazon (an AIO with a feature set similar to that of the Pixma G4200) and other EcoTank models come with two years’ worth of ink for the typical user of that model of printer, good for thousands of pages. In a similar vein, Canon claims that the Pixma G4200 and the other three G-series models ship with enough ink to print 6,000 monochrome pages or 7,000 color pages. As we’ll get into later on, these are document pages with a low percentage of overall ink coverage, not full-coverage photographs or pages laden with graphics.

The first round of Canon’s MegaTank machines consists of one stand-alone, print-only non-AIO model, the Pixma G1200 MegaTank, and three AIOs: the Pixma G2200 MegaTank All-in-One, the Pixma G3200 Wireless MegaTank All-in-One, and the flagship model we’re reviewng here, the Pixma G4200.

Canon Pixma G4200 (G Series)

While they all use the same print engines and come with the same amount of ink, the differences in the feature sets among these four printers are major. The first two, for example, don’t offer Wi-Fi network connectivity or support for mobile devices, while the Pixma G4200 we are looking at here is the only one of the four with an automatic document feeder (ADF) for passing multipage documents to the scanner. And, of course, the least-expensive, non-AIO Pixma G1200 doesn’t even have a scanner. Even so, as we’ll get into near the end of this review, the Pixma G4200’s text and print quality is exceptional, and the G4200 (and its siblings) deliver some of the lowest running costs on the inkjet-printer market.

That last item is a key thing. For a low-volume printer designed for home offices, excellent print quality and low running costs are really the bottom line for us—so long as the machine has a reasonable feature set, too. The inclusion of an ADF on a bulk-ink model at this price is a huge plus. To get an ADF from an Epson EcoTank model, you’ll have to march up the Epson line to the $500 WorkForce ET-4550 EcoTank All-in-One model we mentioned earlier. Granted, that printer comes with more ink, but not enough to make up a $100 price difference.

That Epson model, too, is more geared toward small businesses, small offices, or workgroups, as the name implies. What we really like about the Pixma G4200 and the lessers in its line, though, is that they print photos very close in quality to Canon’s new photo-centric Pixma TS9020 and Pixma TS8020 models. But the ink costs a lot less, making the Pixma G4200 an exceptional choice for homes or home offices—and an Editors’ Choice pick.

Read the entire review at Computer Shopper

Share

Review of Brother MFC-J6535DW at Computer ShopperBrother’s contribution to the inkjet ink-pricing wars that we’ve been reporting on for the past few years is its line of INKvestment all-in-one printers. The INKvestment idea is simple but effective.

Unlike Epson’s EcoTank models, which come with large ink reservoirs or saddlebags coupled to the sides of the chassis, or HP’s Instant Ink subscription service (or Canon’s soon-to-be-reviewed MegaTank Pixmas, also with built-in ink tanks of their own), INKvestment printers simply supply you with bundles of relatively high-capacity ink cartridges at low prices. Like Epson EcoTank and Canon MegaTank printers, though, to compensate for the manufacturers’ loss of income from ink sales, you pay more for the printer itself up front.

With INKvestment, how much more you pay for the printer depends on which version of the specific printer you choose. Take today’s review machine, the Brother MFC-J6535DW. It’s a small-business-minded inkjet that can handle tabloid-size (11×17-inch) paper and scan media. You can buy an MFC-J6535DW “XL” version of the product for a list price of $549.99, or the non-XL version (the model we’re reviewing here) for a $279.99 MSRP. Why that $270 difference?

With the MFC-J6535DW XL, you get five sets of relatively high-volume ink cartridges (that’s 20 total cartridges) that Brother claims should last you two years, while with the non-XL version you get only one set (four cartridges). Note that we say “relatively high-volume” because nowadays some printers, such as the HP PageWide Pro MFP 577dw, support cartridges that yield up to 17,000 pages. Brother’s ink tanks are only a fraction of that size.

Brother MFC-J6535DW (Front and Left)

As we’ll discuss later on, which version of this printer you should choose depends on your print and copy volume. In most cases, if you can afford the initial $550 outlay, the MFC-J6535DW XL will save you money in the long run, compared to non-INKvestment Brother inkjets and several other competing printers. With either version, you’ll realize some of the lowest per-page running costs in the business.

That said, while they’re certainly important, per-page ink costs are not the only consideration when buying a printer. Output quality matters, too, and the MFC-J6535DW prints well enough for most business applications. But its so-so graphics and image output could limit those possibilities for pickier home-office and small-office users. Also, the MFC-J6535DW’s automatic document feeder doesn’t support auto-duplexing—that is, automatic two-sided scanning for making copies or digital files.

One special perk of this printer, though, does involve duplexing of a different kind. The MFC-J6535DW does support not just printing but duplex printing of tabloid-size pages, and it can scan pages up to that size, too. And, as with most printers these days, you get a bushel of mobile- and cloud-connectivity options.

Also in the bundle is a two-year limited warranty. Brother printers are traditionally pretty hardy when it comes to build quality and longevity. That, combined with its highly competitive cost per page (CPP), makes the MFC-J6535DW and the ink-stacked MFC-J6535DW XL both good values. Which one you should choose, again, depends on how much you mean to print and copy, and what you can afford.

See entire article at Computer Shopper

Share

Review of the HP Officejet Pro 7740 Wide-Format All-in-One Printer at Computer ShopperJust a few years ago, wide-format printers—which print to tabloid-size (11×17-inch) or larger paper—were seldom seen, and usually expensive. Nowadays, though, all of the major makers of inkjet printers (Brother, Canon, Epson, and HP) offer at least one in their consumer- and small-business-priced lines. Brother has gone in the biggest on wide-format, in that nearly all of its Business Smart models can print pages up to tabloid-size. And several such models, such as the Brother MFC-J6535DW, also scan and copy 11×17-inch pages.

So can the machine at the center of today’s review, HP’s $249.99-MSRP Officejet Pro 7740 Wide Format All-in-One. The ability to handle tabloid-size pages greatly increases your design options across a host of scenarios. It allows you, for example, to create spreadsheets twice the width of standard letter-size (8.5×11-inch) paper, as well as four-page (and larger) letter-size booklets, by simply printing two pages on each side and folding the sheet in the middle.

However, as we’ll get into later on, unlike some Brother models, the Officejet Pro 7740’s cost per page (CPP) is high—too high, in fact, for any kind of real printing in volume. On the other hand, the Epson WorkForce WF-7620 (a two-drawer version of the WorkForce WF-7610 that we reviewed a while back) has even higher running costs than the Officejet Pro 7740. The printer’s maximum monthly duty cycle (the number of pages HP says you can print safely each month) is 30,000 pages, but the recommended monthly page limit is a mere 250 to 1,500 pages. That said, that’s less a cause for concern than it might seem at first. Given this Officejet model’s CPP figures, printing a few hundred pages (say, up to 500) each month is the only practical use for it in terms of value for money.HP Officejet Pro 7740 Wide-Format (Front and Right)

A major difference between the Officejet Pro 7740 and competing Brother tabloid-capable models is that the former churns out better-looking business graphics and photos. Epson’s wide-format models, on the other hand, have comparable output to the Officejet Pro 7740, and they support pages up to 13×19 inches (also known as Super B or Super A3), making those machines’ output all the more versatile. (That also applies to the company’s much more expensive—$999.99 list—WorkForce Pro ET-16500 EcoTank Wide-Format All-in-One Supertank Printer.) The 13×19-inch format makes a decent-size poster, for instance.

Nowadays, finding a wide-format printer isn’t the issue; it’s finding the one that suits your needs, such as whether quality output supersedes the cost of use. In addition to superb print quality, the Officejet Pro 7740 has a wide range of mobile- and cloud-connectivity features, as well as a single-pass automatic document feeder (ADF) for faster, more efficient two-sided (duplex) scans.

We like this Officejet as a relatively low-volume tabloid printer, but you’ll get much more value from it if you can make use of some of its other features, too, such as scanning oversize media, employing the optical character recognition (OCR), and using the printer from your smartphone and the cloud.

See the entire review at Computer Shopper

Share

Review of the Canon ImageClass MF249dw at Computer ShopperFor those of us who have been watching the printer industry for decades (and we have), it’s amazing how much office machine you can buy for less than $300 nowadays.

That’s demonstrated by the monochrome-laser multifunction printer (MFP) that we’re reviewing here today, Canon’s $299-MSRP ImageClass MF249dw. Not that long ago, monochrome printers, copiers, and scanners (as well as fax machines) were all separate devices, and depending on how far back in office-machine history we look, all of them were expensive. We can remember when quality monochrome laser printers and black-and-white scanners cost $2,000 or more each.

That’s all changed, of course. Today, almost any home-based office or small office can afford its own monochrome-laser MFP, and machines like these make good personal printers, if your typical applications require laser output (or, for whatever reason, you prefer it). Otherwise, compared to their inkjet counterparts (as we’ll dig into later on in this review), inexpensive laser printers tend to be costly to use, especially when you use them to their full capacity. And in this case, that full potential is a 15,000-page maximum monthly duty cycle and a recommended monthly volume of up to 3,000 pages. (A printer’s monthly duty cycle is the number of pages that the manufacturer suggests you can print each month without premature wear on the printer; consistently going over this amount could void your warranty.)

The ImageClass MF249dw replaces the Canon ImageClass MF227dw we reviewed in 2016. With the update comes support for the mobile peer-to-peer protocol Wi-Fi Direct, as well as a larger automatic document feeder (ADF), and the ability to scan two-sided originals without you having to turn them over manually. As you’ll see in the section coming up next, that last feature (the auto-duplexing ADF) can make a huge difference when you are scanning two-sided documents.

Canon ImageClass MF249dw (Front and Right)

Of course, all of these features are moot without good output quality. And while yes, everything you print or copy will come out black-and-white, the ImageClass MF249dw certainly steps up here, with above-par output quality across the board—whether that’s text, graphics, or gray-scale photos you’re printing.

Our bottom line on the MF249dw is the same as our stance on most entry-level printers, inkjet or laser. If your print and copy volume is relatively low (say, a few hundred pages each month), this compact monochrome laser will provide good value. The more you print, though, the more you should consider a costlier midrange or high-volume machine with lower running costs, such as the OKI Data MB492 (a monochrome laser MFP), or perhaps a midrange-to-high-volume inkjet MFP, such as the Brother MFC-J5920DW.

If, however, occasional monochrome laser output is all you need, we suggest the Canon ImageClass MF249dw, our new Editors’ Choice for entry-level monochrome laser MFPs for home-based and micro offices. (To make the value even sweeter, while writing this review, we found it on Canon’s site and elsewhere for $209.99.)

See the entire review at Computer Shopper

Share

Review of the Dell Smart Printer S5830dn at Computer ShopperWith HP’s forthcoming acquisition of Samsung’s printer business (Samsung makes laser printers and multifunction laser printers for Dell), Dell’s place in the laser-printer market a year or so from now may be a bit up in the air. (The HP/Samsung deal is expected to close in September 2017.) At the moment, though, Dell is providing some of the most economical to use laser printers available. And that includes today’s review focus, the $999.99-MSRP Dell Smart Printer S5830dn, a very high-volume single-function monochrome laser printer.

A thousand bucks may seem like a lot to pay in 2017 for a print-only, black-and-white-only laser machine. (And unlike many Dell printers, it’s not been discounted by all that much, at least yet. At this mid-January 2017 writing, we saw it around the e-tailer circuit for $900 to $950.) But then, given its 300,000-page maximum monthly duty cycle (with a 50,000-page workload recommended), highly competitive running costs, and multiple expansion options, this is no ordinary beast. If, as we’ll elaborate on later, you use it to anywhere near its ultra-high-capacity potential, you’ll quickly regain (and surpass) in toner savings the few hundred dollars more that it costs, compared to most other laser printers we’ve reviewed.

Dell Smart Printer S5830dn (Front)

But that doesn’t mean that the Smart Printer S5830dn is perfect, by any means. Wireless connectivity, for example, is optional; we get the reasoning for that, because this kind of printer is meant to live on a wired network. But more concerning: Unlike most Dell printers we’ve looked at lately, the output quality is merely so-so, especially when printing business graphics. Photos and text came out fine for a monochrome printer, making this an ideal machine for printing reams upon reams of all-text pages and black-and-white renditions of Web pages. But, say, presentations that begin as color documents? We ran into some issues there.

We’ve reviewed many business-minded laser printers in recent months, but none with the potential output volume of this one. Only its sibling, the like-priced Dell Color Smart Printer S5840Cdn (and its 150,000-page monthly duty cycle) comes close, but even that model, not really. And then there’s the consumables cost. Apart from several high-volume inkjet multifunction printers (MFPs), such as the Epson WorkForce Pro WF-R4640 EcoTank All-in-One and Brother MFC-J5920DW, we don’t know of any laser machines with monochrome running costs lower than these two Dell single-function machines. So this machine does have some key strengths.

Of course, those Epson and Brother color inkjet MFPs don’t come close in capacity to today’s Dell; both have much lower maximum monthly duty cycles, of well under 100,000 pages. (Also, the Epson machine actually costs $200 more than our S5830dn review unit, on a list-price basis.) Our bottom line for this machine is that, as we’ll get into in more detail near the end of this review, we can’t suggest it for printing Excel bar charts and PowerPoint handouts, if that’s your main aim. But if, on the other hand, you print tens of thousands of plain-text and/or text-document pages containing photos each month, the Smart Printer S5830dn was built for just that. We don’t know of a more economical-to-use, focused solution for mass monochrome laser printing, month in and month out, of up to 50,000 pages or so, and even as much as 250,000 pages, on occasion.

See the entire review at Computer Shopper

Share

Review of Epson’s $649.99-MSRP FastFoto FF-640 High-speed Photo Scanning System at Computer ShopperAfter living with digital cameras and scanners for decades, we can’t help but wonder: Just how many shoeboxes of snapshots are left in the world?

There must be many. Why else would Epson’s market research indicate that a relatively expensive high-speed photo scanner would be a viable product almost 17 years into the 21st century?

Enter Epson’s $649.99-MSRP FastFoto FF-640 High-speed Photo Scanning System, a sheet-fed scanner with a robust automatic document feeder (ADF) front and center, augmented by image-editing and -cataloging software. It looks like any number of other sheet scanners, especially Epson’s own, meant for scanning text documents. And that’s a departure, because most photo scanners are flatbeds, not snapshot-feeders.

Some higher-end photo scanners come with a detachable automatic document feeder (ADF) for moving images past the platen, but even so, in that design images lay flat while the scanning mechanism moves under them. Sheet-fed scanners like the FastFoto FF-640, on the other hand, pass the originals over the scanning sensor (as well as under one, with single-pass scanners like this one), scanning as the image moves by. And that hasn’t always been considered the best way to scan photos, for a number of reasons, but primarily because an ADF can damage your original prints.

Epson FastFoto FF-640

That said, as we’ll get into later, the scan quality here is better than acceptable, except when scanning documents for optical character recognition (OCR). While it can scan images and documents at multiple sizes, it’s best suited for scanning piles of snapshots of the 4×6- and 5×7-inch variety. However, as we’ll get into in detail, its first-version scanning and cataloging software is a bit light on features and not very forgiving.

That’s not to say that the FastFoto FF-640 isn’t good at what it’s designed to do. It’s highly useful and well suited to exactly what it’s designed for: scanning vast stacks of snapshots. But we, like a few other reviewers (including Tony Hoffman at our sister site PCMag.com) found ourselves wishing for several other features and greater flexibility, as well as a lower price.

And that’s the rub. At this scanner’s $649.99 list price, you’d need to have a lot of photos (in the several thousands, minimum) to scan to make this purchase worthwhile economically. (Depending on how many you have, there may be less expensive ways to get your photos scanned in bulk, which we’ll detail at the end of this review.) The ideal situation, we think, would be passing the FastFoto FF-640 around between friends and family members who have lots of photos to digitize, or perhaps keeping it on hand as a document scanner after you get all of your photos in the digital realm.

Epson needs to do some work on the non-photo document side of this scanner, though. Overall, the FastFoto FF-640 is a capable scanner good at what it’s designed for, but it does suffer from some first-version blues. And we’d like it a lot better if it cost a few hundred dollars less. (At this writing in mid-December 2016, we hadn’t seen it discounted off its MSRP yet.)

See the entire review at Computer Shopper

Share

Huawei MediaPad M2 10.0 Review and RatingsA few years ago, the Android-tablet market was flush with slates in two or three different screen sizes—and economy levels—from most of the big players in PCs. Nowadays? The pickings are pretty picked over.

Whether you’re talking about compact (7-to-9-inch) or full-size tablets (models with screens around 10 inches), we just haven’t seen that many new ones in recent months to choose from—or review, for that matter. Acer, Samsung, and Lenovo have trickled out a few, but most of the full-size Android tablets that have debuted over the past year or so have been upscale, premium multimedia devices with exceptional displays and sound.

In fact, while they can do many things, most of today’s full-size Android tablets are designed primarily for watching digital video. And, much like today’s review unit, Huawei’s $419-MSRP MediaPad M2 10.0, most of these slates are quite good at it—which requires, above all else, two predictable things: good speakers and good screens. (It’s also important to note here that our review unit was near the top of its family in both components and features. As we’ll discuss in a bit, you can buy a reasonably equipped MediaPad M2 10.0 for around $349 MSRP.)

Huawei MediaMate M2 10.0Another thing that most recent full-size tablets have had in common: a tendency to be durable and look upscale, even elegant, in appearance. Dell’s $629 mid-2015 Venue 10 7000 (Model 7040), with a detachable keyboard and touch pad) is an excellent example, as is Lenovo’s solidly built, $499.99-MSRP Yoga Tab 3 Pro. As you’ll see in the section coming up next, the Huawei MediaPad M2 10.0 comes with not only an excellent 1,920×1,200-pixel screen, but also an excellent Harman/Kardon sound system with four loud, clear-sounding speakers.

But this MediaPad isn’t a one-trick tablet; media playback isn’t all it can do. It also supports 2,048 levels of pressure sensitivity that, when coupled with Huawei’s active stylus (in the box with our review tablet), lets you annotate, draw, and take notes with Huawei’s bundled pen-enabled apps. Unfortunately, not all of the MediaPad M2 configuration options include the stylus, which we’ll address in some detail in a moment. Suffice it to say here that the differences in what you get for $349 and $419 are significant.

In either case, whether you buy the least expensive version of the MediaPad M2, the most expensive, or one in between, you’ll get a tablet that’s impressive in appearance (a dead ringer for the iPad Air 2) and build quality for a reasonable price.

Read the entire review at Computer Shopper.

Share

Epson WorkForce Pro WF-R4640 (Ink)Inkjet printers are amazing technology—microscopic nozzles spraying tiny droplets of ink in precisely manipulated patterns. That R&D isn’t cheap, though, and a whole other set of elaborate endeavors on the side have sought to maintain the sky-high cost of that ink. It’s printer manufacturers’ main path to profit. In some ways (and much less conspicuously), it’s akin to the pricing shenanigans of the gasoline market.

Recently, though, a few printer makers—HP, Epson, and Brother—have, by reinventing each of their respective ink-distribution models, set out to change the ink dynamic. As we’ve explained in our reviews of a couple of Epson EcoTank models (the Expression ET-2550 EcoTank All-in-One Printer and WorkForce ET-4550 EcoTank All-in-One Printer), EcoTank printers are a new approach to ink delivery in business inkjet printers. With those printers, large EcoTank “supertanker” ink containers come fastened to their right side. Unlike in the cartridge-based inkjet world, with these, you can open the EcoTank containers and replenish a given color of ink from an Epson refill bottle.

Today’s EcoTank all-in-one (AIO) review unit, the $1,199.99-MSRP WorkForce Pro WF-R4640 All-in-One Printer, is a bit different, and a bit bigger. It has compartments for holding huge bags of ink on both sides…

Epson WorkForce Pro WF-R4640 (Angle View)The flagship model of the EcoTank series to date, the WorkForce WF-R4640 is, like the other printers in this series, essentially an existing AIO retrofitted with the EcoTank ink storage and plumbing. In this case, rather than refilling reservoirs from relatively large bottles of ink, here you simply swap out an empty ink bag for a full one. We’ll look closely at this configuration, how well it works, and the economics a little later.

In this case, the WorkForce Pro WF-R4640 is at the core Epson’s $399.99-MSRP WorkForce Pro WF-4640 All-in-One, the two-input-drawer version of one of our Editors’ Choice recipients, theWorkForce Pro WF-4630 All-in-One. (We should point out that at the time of this writing in late April 2016, we found the WorkForce WF-4640 for as low as $270 and the WF-4630 for as low as $200.)

In our analysis, the WorkForce WF-4640 was a good choice for upgrading to an EcoTank model. Keep in mind, though, that what Epson has essentially done is retrofit the WF-4640 to use the EcoTank system and then multiply the price by a factor of three or four, from a $399.99 list price (or $270 typical street price) to $1,199 (which was both the MSRP and street price when we wrote this).

When viewed from the perspective of the past couple paragraphs, the WorkForce WF-R4640 mightsound like an economic enigma—who would pay four times the price for essentially the same printer? Our analysis so far has said nothing about the huge, 20,000-page ink bags that come with the printer—enough ink, according to Epson, to last for two years.

Two years? Really? Well, that all depends on where and how you might be using this printer. One office’s first two years’ worth of ink is another’s first two weeks’ appetizer.

If you printed 20,000 pages over the course of two years (730 days), that comes out to about 27 pages per day. If you back out weekends, holidays, and any number of other reasons you might not print on certain days, let’s be generous and say the ink bags will print 50 pages per day.

The printer can certainly handle that. A 50-page-per-day load, even on every day of a 30-day month, is far, far below the WF-R4640’s 45,000-page monthly duty cycle (Epson’s rating for the most pages the printer ought to handle in a given month). In other words, if you actually pushed it to or close to its monthly rating, you would run out of ink in the first few weeks.

Epson SureColor P800 (Front View)The good news in all this is that when it comes time to buy new ink bags, as you’ll see a bit later in this review, the per-page cost of ink is quite low. Even color pages come in well under what we consider competitive cost-per-page (CPP) figures. But then the CPPs, while certainly impressive, aren’t the only reason to buy this high-volume workhorse. Remember that the WorkForce model from which it has been adapted is a fine office-centric AIO in its own right. It had plenty of reasons—good print speed and print quality, mobile connectivity options, not to mention a strong set of productivity and convenience features—to make it a Computer Shopper Editors’ Choice recipient, too.

It just comes down to the price, and how soon you think you might burn through 20,000 pages of printing. We liked this printer, but we recognize that $1,200 is a lot to pay for an inkjet printer of this caliber, in essence, a printer that at the core has the features of a $300-to-$400 model. If you use your printer—and we mean churn out thousands of prints and copies each month—when it comes time to buy new ink, and every time after that, you will save big. The cost per page is far more economical after you’ve exhausted that first set.

The more and the longer you use the WF-R4640, the better a value it is compared to some other competing models capable of the same print volume. But if it’ll take you years and years to drain the first set of tanks, this is not the right printer for you.

Read the entire review at Computer Shopper.

 

Share

HP Color LaserJet Enterprise M553dn Review and RatingsEven though they’re often more expensive to purchase and use, all else being equal, HP’s LaserJet printers earn it. The technology inside is field-leading, and they tend to be more modern- and stylish-looking than most of their competitors. And that’s saying something when you’re talking about most single-function laser printers, which favor the “plain cube” look. Most wind up box-shaped and bland-looking.

The topic of today’s review, HP’s $799.99-MSRP Color LaserJet Enterprise M553dn, can’t quite escape that, though the company does add a few curves to give it a distinct look. It’s a single-function color laser printer meant, as the name suggests, for businesses with large workgroups to serve and a need for managed print resources. We’re catching up with this model in April 2016, but it’s been on the market for a while. And it hasn’t followed the usual price trends for a midlife product.

We should point out that as we wrote this in early April 2016, that everywhere we looked on the Internet, this specific LaserJet model sold for its full manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP), or more. Indeed, at Amazon, it sold for $200 higher than the MSRP, or $999.99, which is something that we don’t often see. That this LaserJet has been on the market for nearly an entire year and still commands such pricing suggests that it has been well-received so far.

HP Color LaserJet Enterprise M553dn (Front Angle View)In fact, everywhere we’ve looked, the M553dn has received high ratings. Like most of the HP laser printers we’ve reviewed recently, such as the Color LaserJet Pro MFP M477fdw, the M553dn comes with the company’s latest JetIntelligence toner cartridges and reformulated ColorSphere 3 toner, which (according to HP), delivers a bunch of advantages compared to earlier LaserJets and other, competing laser printers.

As we noted in our reviews of some other recent LaserJets, the claims about the new JetIntelligence cartridges and ColorSphere 3 toner include the ability for the toner particles themselves to melt at a lower temperature. (In a laser printer, the toner dust that gets arranged on the page is melted in place by a hot roller.) This, along with a few other enhancements, allows LaserJets to burn—again, according to HP—53 percent less energy, take up to 40 percent less space, and wake up and print two-sided (duplex) pages faster than previous LaserJet models could. (The wake-up speed is tied in with the need for the fuser to hit a lower relative temperature to do its job.)

HP also says that the enhancements done to toner and cartridge alike deliver many more prints from a cartridge, compared to previous LaserJets. As we pointed out in our review of the Color LaserJet Pro M477fdw (and other LaserJets), while this also allows for smaller cartridges and, therefore, smaller printers, it does nothing to reduce the per-page cost of the toner. We’ll get into that issue in some detail in the Setup & Paper Handling section later on.

HP Color LaserJet Enterprise M553dn (Open)Even though the Color LaserJet Enterprise M553dn has an 80,000-page monthly duty cycle (the maximum number of prints HP says the printer can handle each month), if you actually pushed it that hard—even by as much as, say, a third of the rating—this MFP, compared to many other laser and laser-class (LED-based) printers we’ve looked at, would cost a bit too much to use in terms of toner.

That factor—the somewhat high cost per page—plus a purchase price that seems impervious to discounting and a lack of built-in Wi-Fi connectivity, are our only real complaints about this printer. Other than that, it did what we expected it to, and well.

Read the entire review at Computer Shopper.

Share