A remake of the Expression ET-2550, the Epson Expression ET-2650 EcoTank All-in-One Printer ($299.99) is a low-volume inkjet all-in-one printer (AIO) with a feature set that relegates it to light-duty home use. Like Epson’s other “supertank” EcoTank models (and now Canon’s G-series MegaTank printers, including the similarly priced Canon Pixma G3200 Wireless MegaTank All-in-One Printer), the basic principle behind the ET-2650 is that you pay more for the product upfront and much less for the ink to keep it running. The ET-2650 performs better than its predecessor, and like all EcoTank models, running costs are quite low. But like the ET-2550 before it, it lacks an automatic document feeder (ADF), an auto-duplexer, and a few other notable features. You give up a lot to print inexpensively, but if basic is all you need, this upgrade is more attractive than the model it replaces.
The Epson DS-1630 Flatbed Color Document Scanner ($299.99) is a low-volume document scanner designed for small and home-based offices. It combines the versatility of a flatbed and a sheet-feed scanner with an automatic document feeder (ADF), and supports automatic duplex scanning. But unlike many competing models, including the same-priced HP ScanJet Pro 2500 f1 Flatbed Scanner and the more expensive Editors’ Choice Canon imageFormula DR-2020U, the DS-1630 has only one sensor, making it slow at scanning two-sided pages. Even so, it’s buoyed by its generous software bundle and competitively accurate optical character recognition (OCR) capabilities.
The Epson WorkForce Pro ET-16500 EcoTank Wide-Format All-in-One Supertank Printer ($999.99) is the first wide-format inkjet printer we’ve looked at in Epson’s EcoTank line, which uses ink tanks or bottles in place of cartridges. As such, it can print pages up to supertabloid size (13 by 19), as well as scan, copy, and fax tabloid (11-by-17) pages. Overall, the ET-16500 is a fine printer, but it performed slowly during some of our benchmark tests, and, at $1,000, it’s expensive to purchase. Its running costs, though, are low enough to take the sting out of the purchase price—as long as you use it frequently, that is.
Epson’s EcoTank printers promise very low running costs over time, at the expense of a higher purchase price, and the Epson Expression ET-3600 EcoTank All-in-One Supertank Printer ($399.99) is no exception. In terms of price, capacity, and features, it fits between two of the previous EcoTank inkjets we’ve reviewed, the Epson Expression ET-2550 EcoTank All-in-One Printer and the Epson WorkForce ET-4550 EcoTank All-in-One Printer. These printers makes sense only if you print enough to justify paying a significant additional up-front cost for the initial bottles of ink that come in the box—in this case, what Epson claims is two years’ worth, or enough to print 11,000 black-and-white and/or 8,500 color pages. But if you do print enough, the ET-3600 can be a terrific deal.
Today’s better near-dedicated photo printers, including the Epson SureColor P800, produce remarkably good, professional-quality prints. The P800 ($1,295) is similar in price, capacity, and print quality to the Canon imagePrograf PRO-1000, which recently became our Editors’ Choice C-size (17-inch paper width) professional photo printer. The P800 offers the option to print on paper rolls measuring either 13 or 17 inches wide and up to 10 feet long. For those who need it, that capability is significant enough for the P800 to edge out the PRO-1000 to earn Editors’ Choice honors as well.
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.
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.)
Several entry-level single-function monochrome laser printers have debuted recently, including the Canon imageClass LBP151dw and the Brother HL-L5200DW, both Editors’ Choice winners. The Dell Smart Printer S2830dn ($279.99) is similar to the Canon LBP151dw in that it quickly churns out good-looking black-and-white pages, but it does so at a significantly lower cost per page. Although its running costs are slightly higher than those of the Brother HL-L5200DW, the S2830dn delivers better graphics quality. In fact, it brings enough to the table to make it our new Editors’ Choice mono laser printer for a micro or home office.
Read the entire S2830dn review at PC Magazine
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.
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…
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.
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.
The further you work your way up the Epson WorkForce Pro product line, the more impressive these high-volume all-in-one inkjets get. Over the past couple of years, we’ve awarded several WorkForce Pro models our Editors’ Choice award. Most recently, these were the WorkForce Pro WF-4630 Network Multifunction Printer (which earned a very rare perfect five stars) and the WorkForce Pro WF-5690 Network Multifunction Color Printer With PCL/Adobe PS.
Why did these particular high-end, high-volume printers score so high? For a number of reasons, but foremost: These are fast, robust machines with exceptional print quality and a highly competitive per-page cost of operation.
Add to that group the subject of our review today.
The $549.99-list WorkForce Pro WF-6590 Network Multifunction Color Printer is, with its 75,000-page monthly “duty cycle” and potential capacity of up to 1,580 sheets, an extremely well-built and capable all-in-one. (The monthly duty cycle is the number of pages the manufacturer says you can print each month without causing undue wear and tear on the machine.)
Essentially a replacement for (or an alternative to) a laser printer, this PrecisionCore-based workhorse comes with just about every convenience and productivity feature appropriate to this level of high-volume multifunction printer (MFP). As we’ve pointed out in past reviews of PrecisionCore-based MFPs, they hold some key advantages over laser and laser-class (LED) machines, including significantly lower power consumption, the ability to print higher-quality photographs, and—especially—a much lower cost per page for color prints, as we’ll get into in a later section of this review.
Midrange and high-volume laser models tend to churn out black-and-white pages at reasonable per-page costs, but printing color pages on them often costs two to three times as much as the same pages would on a WorkForce Pro or some other competitive high-volume inkjet, such as HP’s venerable, PageWide-based Officejet X576dw. Our point is that this WorkForce Pro model, several of its siblings, as well as HP’s PageWide Officejet X models outpace comparably priced laser MFPs in many ways.
For the most part, the WF-6590 is the next step up from the WF-5690 (which lists for $150 less), with capabilities and volumes increased by roughly a third. For example, the cheaper model has a 45,000-page monthly duty cycle, compared to the WF-6590’s 75,000 pages. Furthermore, the WF-6590’s print speed is slightly higher, rated at 24 pages per minute (ppm), as opposed to the smaller model’s 20ppm. Copy and scan speeds are somewhat faster, too.
In brief, as we said about the WorkForce Pro WF-5690 a while back, the WorkForce Pro WF-6590 is an excellent high-volume MFP, as are the other WorkForce models listed in the previous paragraphs. They are ideal picks if you need large amounts of text (and don’t require true laser quality), as well as a good bit of color printing with photo-output quality that beats what you’ll get on any color laser. The good news is that whichever WorkForce Pro model you select, each one delivers a very low cost per page for both of those kinds of output. As we see it, any of them will do a good job—you just need to decide on how much volume you need.
Read the entire review at Computer Shopper
It’s been a few months now since our first look at Epson’s relatively new ink-delivery system, EcoTank, in our review of the $499.99-MSRP WorkForce ET-4550 EcoTank All-in-One. (We reviewed it back in August of 2015.) Now that the EcoTank tech has been out in the wild for a while, we’ve had a chance to chew on it in light of other ink developments in the inkjet-printer marketplace, and users have chimed in. And our opinion of it has changed some—but not enough to reconsider the Editors’ Choice nod we gave to the WorkForce ET-4550.
EcoTank now plays in a field with HP’s Instant Ink service and Brother’s INKvestment, two new means of delivering and pricing inkjet ink. EcoTank, while it cansave you money on ink, as we’ll get to in a moment, is, of the bunch, a bit of an odd bird, at least when it’s applied to certain printer models. That brings us to today’s EcoTank review model, the $399.99-MSRP Epson Expression ET-2550 EcoTank All-in-One. For the $100 difference between this unit and the WorkForce ET-4550 we tested, you get a more robust machine in the WorkForce model. (So far, the purchase price hasn’t come down on either model from the list price, no matter where you shop.)
As we explained in our review of the WorkForce ET-4550, these recent EcoTank models really are just versions of earlier Epson AIOs with four big ink reservoirs added, encased in a housing attached to the right side of the chassis. In the case of the ET-4550, for example, it is, at the core, Epson’s WorkForce WF-2650 All-in-One; today’s review unit, the ET-2550, is actually the $89.99-list Expression Home XP-320 Small-in-One Printer, as shown here…
(If the AIO on the right looks larger, except for the EcoTank attachment on the right side, it’s not, actually; it’s just a question of perspective in the two images. The machines are the same size, barring the EcoTank hump on the ET-2550 model at right.)
Like the ET-4550, then, the ET-2550 is an under-$100 AIO with enough ink in the box, Epson estimates, to last you for two years—which is to say, enough ink to jack up the purchase price to $400. On the ET-4550, Epson estimates its 11,000 black-and-white pages and/or 8,500 color prints are the equivalent to two years’ worth of printing (comparable to about 50 ink-tank sets). Our ET-2550 review unit, on the other hand, comes with enough ink, according to Epson, to churn out about 4,000 monochrome pages and/or 6,500 color prints. That, according to Epson, is equal to about 20 cartridge sets. A cartridge set consists of, in this case, all four of the cyan, magenta, yellow, and black (CMYK) process-color tanks.
As you’ll see on the next page, the EcoTank system in itself can, if you’re willing to spend the additional money up front, save you money—if (and this is important) you use your printer often enough to justify buying all that additional ink. (We’ll get into that math a bit later on.) But the bottom line on EcoTank, at least as it is implemented with this entry-level AIO, is complicated by the fact that this is a very modest printer apart from the EcoTank stuff. So what about the printer itself? Is it worth $400?
That’s what this review will be all about. In short, though: Except for the four large bottles of ink in the box and the “supertanker” ink reservoirs on the right side, everything about this printer says low-volume, right down to its 500-page recommended monthly print volume (which works out to about 15 to 20 pages per day). Epson has provided enough ink to print about 167 black-and-white pages and/or 271 color pages each month. The good news is that should you require more ink, as you’ll see in the Cost Per Page section later on, refill bottles are remarkably cheap.
The key thing, though: Were you to require much more volume than what Epson suggests, the ET-2550 (and possibly your patience) probably won’t be robust enough to handle the day-to-day stress. This model’s small input and output options, and, as you’ll see next, its lack of certain key features, render it not up to the needs of a large number of would-be buyers. The Expression ET-2550 couldserve you well, but only if you match it closely to how much you print (and how little you scan). To do that, read on.
Read the entire review at Computer Shopper