Review and Ratings of the Epson WorkForce Pro WF-4720 All-in-One at Computer ShopperIntroduction, Design & Features

It’s been some time (late 2012!) since Epson has updated its WorkForce Pro 4000 series of all-in-one business printers, and the new ones bear little resemblance, in terms of features, price, and appearance, to their predecessors.

The WorkForce Pro WP-4590, for example, had no Wi-Fi connectivity and listed for $499.99, whereas the relatively new WorkForce Pro WF-4720 All-in-One Printer—today’s review model—does support Wi-Fi and it lists for just $199.99. The earlier model was white and way larger, with a control panel dominated by myriad buttons and a keypad. The WF-4720, in contrast, is black, much smaller than the 2012 model, and equipped with a control panel that’s primarily just a color touch screen.

Part of a multi-unit release a few months ago, the WorkForce Pro WF-4720 is the smallest new 4000-series model, in terms of capacity, features, and several other key features. At the same time, Epson also released the more robust WF-4740, as well as a smaller 3000-series model, the WF-3720—which we’ll be reviewing soon. It’s important that you pay attention to their individual feature lists; what you give up for the relatively small difference in list prices among them is significant. Today’s review unit, for instance, comes with only one paper-input source and a manual-duplex-only automatic document feeder (ADF), meaning that the scanner can’t scan two-sided pages without your help. The $299.99-MSRP WF-4740, on the other hand, has two paper cassettes and a larger, auto-duplexing ADF, as well as some other significant differences.

All three WorkForce Pro models do, however, deploy Epson’s now-familiar PrecisionCore inkjet print-head technology, which Epson touts as endowed with “performance beyond laser.” That may sound like huffed-up marketing, but as we’ll get into near the end of this review, this is not an idle boast. Few printers, inkjet or laser, print as well—be it with text, graphics, or photos—as this one.

Epson WorkForce Pro WF-4720 (Output)

As we’ll also get into later on, it does so at fairly reasonable per-page ink costs. The numbers are not quite as low as you’d see from one of Brother’s INKvestment Business Smart or Business Smart Plus all-in-ones (AIOs), such as the Brother MFC-J6535DW, or one of Epson’s own EcoTank WorkForce AIOs, such as the WorkForce ET-4550 EcoTank All-in-One. But, compared to the WF-4720, there are drawbacks to both of those. The Brother model doesn’t print as well, for one thing, while the EcoTank AIO costs significantly more. In addition, since the ET-4550 is not a WorkForce Pro machine, it comes with only two PrecisionCore print chips, instead of the four chips in the Pro models, making it slower, with slightly inferior print quality. We’ll look into all of this—print quality and running costs—a little deeper as we progress through this review.

Depending on your needs, the WF-4740 may be a better value for your home office or small office. We’ll look more closely at the differences in a moment. Meanwhile, if you don’t print or copy a lot—say, no more than 500 to 1,000 pages per month—and you don’t scan a lot of two-sided multipage documents, the WF-4720 will be an excellent printer choice. It’s small, light, and easy to install and put to work, and it’s not overly expensive to use. Its running costs are, in fact, lower than some close competitors, such as the Canon Maxify MB2120 Wireless Home Office Inkjet and the HP OfficeJet Pro 6978 All-in-One, and it prints a little better than both. The main thing that held it back from becoming an Editors’ Choice is its lack of an auto-duplexing ADF. (Of the two other machines just mentioned, the WorkForce ET-4550 EcoTank also lacks one, but the OfficeJet Pro 6978 has the goods.)

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  • Review of the Epson WorkForce Pro WF-4730 at PCMagPROS

    Excellent print quality overall. Relatively fast. Competitively low running costs. Supports Wi-Fi Direct and NFC. Light and compact.

  • CONS

    No multipurpose tray. Non-auto-duplexing ADF.

  • BOTTOM LINE

    Epson’s WorkForce Pro WF-4730 all-in-one inkjet is fast and capable, and it supports just about every mobile connectivity feature available, but an auto-duplexing ADF would make it more attractive.

Positioned between two Editors’ Choice recipients, the Epson WorkForce Pro WF-4720 and the WorkForce Pro WF-4740, the WorkForce Pro WF-4730 ($199.99) is a step up from the former and a step down from the latter. Like its siblings, the WF-4730 inkjet all-in-one (AIO) printer produces great output, and it is fast for its class. It provides higher paper input capacity than the WF-4720, but its automatic document feeder (ADF) is smaller than the WF-4740’s, and it’s incapable of automatic two-sided scanning, whereas the WF-4740’s auto-duplexing ADF scans, copies, and faxes two-sided multipage documents without intervention. As is the case with its siblings, the WF-4730 is a highly capable solution for moderate-volume printing and copying in a small workgroup or micro office, but it lacks the auto-duplexing ADF of the WF-4740 and the lower price of the WF-4720.Read entire review at PCMag


 

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  • Review of the Epson WorkForce Pro WF-4740 at PCMagPROS

    Excellent print quality overall. Auto-duplexing ADF. Competitively low running costs. Supports Wi-Fi Direct and NFC. Fast for its class.

  • CONS

    No multipurpose tray. Small output tray. Slightly expensive.

  • BOTTOM LINE

    The WF-4740 prints well and fast, and it supports just about every midrange business-centric inkjet feature available, including Wi-Fi Direct, NFC, and two-sided scanning.

The Epson WorkForce Pro WF-4740 ($299.99) is a more robust version of the Editors’ Choice WF-4720, a business-centric inkjet all-in-one (AIO) printer. For the difference in price (about $100), you get twice the paper input capacity, a larger automatic document feeder (ADF) that supports two-sided scanning, and a bigger color touch screen. Like its less-expensive sibling, it prints well and quickly, and comes with a wide range of connectivity options.

The WF-4740 is more expensive than our current Editors’ Choice, the Canon Maxify MB2720 Wireless Home Office All-in-One Printer, but it’s faster, prints a little better, and comes with several additional useful features, making it our new first choice for low-to-moderate print volume in a small workgroup or micro office.

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Review of the HP PageWide Pro 750dw at Computer ShopperLet’s say that your organization (or your very, very busy home office) needs to churn out 20,000 or so high-quality prints each month, and some of them (perhaps all of them) must be tabloid-size (11×17 inches). You’re considering purchasing one of Brother’s Business Smart Plus all-in-one (AIO) printers—maybe our highly capable Editors’ Choice pick, MFC-J6935DW, or perhaps the HP Officejet Pro 7740 Wide-Format All-in-One. And why not? Both are logical choices: They print exceptional tabloid-size pages, and they both have maximum monthly duty cycles of 30,000 pages—10,000 pages more than what you need to print, right?

Well, not so fast.

Let’s start with that 30,000-page monthly duty cycle. The more important number—the one not printed on the box—is the recommended monthly page volume, which on the Brother machine we mentioned above is up to 2,000 pages monthly. The Officejet’s recommended volume is up to 1,500 pages per month. As well-built as these machines are, if you actually pushed them to their maximum monthly duty cycle rating each month, you’d likely be shortening their service life. But that’s not all.

Some rough napkin math: Printing 20,000 pages per month, excluding weekends and holidays, comes out to about 1,000 pages per workday. (30,000 pages per month equals about 1,500 pages per day.) If you used one of these midrange business printers to churn out these kinds of volumes, day in and day out, you’d have to fill their paper drawers several times a day, and—especially if you’re printing wide-format, which uses about twice the ink as a standard letter-size page, all else being equal—you’d be changing the ink cartridges twice a day, perhaps more. If you truly require this kind of volume, especially on tabloid-size pages, you need a machine designed to handle this much printing. And that is where a model like the $2,199 HP PageWide Pro 750dw we’re reviewing here today comes in.

HP PageWide Pro 750dw (USB)

Yes, that’s a lot of money for a printer, especially an inkjet printer. But as you read on, you’ll see that, first, HP PageWide printers are not ordinary inkjet printers, and the PageWide Pro 750dw is no ordinary PageWide machine.

In fact, given its size, volume, and some other specs, we think that it’s better suited to HP’s PageWide Enterprise line, like the HP PageWide Enterprise Color 556dn reviewed at our sister site, PCMag, a while back. The PageWide Pro 750dw is, for example, designed to support up to 40 networked users, rather than the five or so users recommended for the smaller inkjets we’ve been talking about.

In fact, the PageWide Pro 750dw is much more in line with a high-volume color laser printer, such as the Dell Color Smart Printer S5840Cdn we reviewed late last year. A primary difference between it and the 750dw is, of course, that the HP model can print at sizes up to tabloid, which is one reason the PageWide model costs so much. High-volume laser-class printers that can do wide-format, such as the OKI C831n ($1,699 MSRP) and OKI C831dn ($1,929), and wide-format laser alternatives (such as our 750dw), typically have high price tags. But the good news is, at least in the case of the HP model, is that its running costs are reasonable once you’ve bought the printer.

In addition, the PageWide Pro 750dw is highly expandable. You can boost the paper capacity, as we’ll discuss later on, over 4,000 sheets. Plus, according to HP, in the fall of 2017 numerous copier-like finishing options (among them a stapler and a collator) will come available.

The PageWide Pro 750dw is an immense, and immensely well-built, volume printer meant to endure blizzards of wide-format printing month after month. Our only real quibble with it is that it’s somewhat expensive. But then, if you plan to print upward of 10,000 pages each month, you need a Humvee, not a Chevy Silverado.

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Review of the HP OfficeJet Pro 8216 at PCMagEssentially a two-drawer version of the HP OfficeJet Pro 8210, the OfficeJet Pro 8216 ($179.99) is notably slower than its less expensive sibling, but overall print quality is markedly better. A single-function color inkjet business printer, it’s comparable in features and capacity to the Editors’ Choice Canon Maxify iB4120 Wireless Small Office Inkjet Printer, but it costs a little more. The 8216 and Canon iB4120 deliver similar running costs, but the former is eligible for HP’s Instant Ink subscription service, which can save you a bunch on ink. While it doesn’t quite live up to the Canon model’s superior print quality, the OfficeJet Pro 8216 has many assets that make it an excellent alternative to a color laser.

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Review of the Brother MFC-J6935DW at Computer ShopperIt wasn’t all that long ago that wide-format inkjet printers (models that handle paper larger than legal-size, or 8.5×14 inches) were not only rare, but also rather expensive. Even today, most of the major printer manufacturers—HP, Epson, Canon—offer only a few wide-format machines. But Brother has changed all that, offering most of its Business Smart and Business Smart Plus all-in-one (print/copy/scan/fax) models as tabloid-size-capable (11×17-inch) machines. Nowadays, you can choose from more than a handful of wide-format inkjet models, among them the Brother MFC-J5930DW we just reviewed, as well as today’s review unit, the $349.99-list Brother MFC-J6935DW.

Direct competitors with the HP Officejet Pro 7740 All-in-One, the difference between these two Brother models is that the MFC-J6935DW (like the Officejet model) not only prints tabloid-size pages, but can also scan, copy, and fax them. The MFC-J5930DW, on the other hand, can only print wide-format documents.

It stands to reason that some small and medium-size offices that need to print tabloid-size documents will need to process them in other ways, too. If your day-to-day work calls for scanning, copying, or faxing wide-format pages, the $50 upgrade from the MFC-J5930DW to the MFC-J6935DW is a bargain.

Brother MFC-J6935DW (Right Angled)

What really makes these Brother Business Smart Plus AIOs attractive is that, compared to their Officejet competitor (as well as Epson’s WorkForce WF-7620 All-in-One, a two-paper-drawer version of the WorkForce WF-7610 we reviewed a while back), the Brother AIOs are part of that company’s INKvestment line. INKvestment printers, similar in broad concept to Epson’s EcoTank and Canon’s MegaTank (in that you pay more up front for cheaper ink later), deliver low-per page costs, although Brother’s approach is somewhat different. Where EcoTank and MegaTank printers are “bulk-ink” models that take their ink from reservoirs you fill from bottles, INKvestment printers deploy ink cartridges with high yields and modest prices (on a per-page basis, that is).

To our knowledge, aside from Brother’s INKvestment products, the only other wide-format printer designed around this pay-more-now-to-pay-less-later concept is Epson’s $999-list WorkForce ET-16500 EcoTank Wide Format All-in-One Supertank. The advantage that the WorkForce ET-16500 holds over the Brother MFC-J6935DW is that the former prints wide-format pages up to 13×19 inches, and it has significantly lower running costs. But it’s also much slower. (We’ll look more closely at the difference in running costs between these two printers in the Cost Per Page section coming up.)

In any case, like the MFC-J5930DW, the MFC-J6935DW is an excellent multifunction business machine. It’s reasonably fast, loaded with features, prints well, and costs much less to use than its most direct competitors. As you read on, assuming you need the big inputs and outputs, you’ll see that there’s just not much to quibble about in this wide-format winner.

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Review of the Brother MFC-J5930DW at Computer ShopperBrother’s inkjet multifunction printers just keep getting better and better, as demonstrated by today’s review unit, the $299.99-list MFC-J5930DW, and the Brother MFC-J6935DW we reviewed alongside it. As one of the company’s INKvestment models, the MFC-J5930DW is one of the least expensive business-oriented all-in-ones (AIOs) on ink costs—especially for the price. It is loaded with features, has a high paper-input capacity from three separate sources, and is capable of printing tabloid-size (11×17-inch) documents, posters, and flyers.

Over the years, a common quibble across our reviews of Brother’s Business Smart and Business Smart Plus series machines has been with their photo quality. While they print great-looking text and graphics, their photo output has typically been, compared to their HP and Epson competitors, just so-so—more than passable, but slightly lesser than the others. For example, the HP Officejet Pro 7740 Wide-Format All-in-One, as well as the wide-format Epson WorkForce WF-7620, cost more to use than Brother’s Business Smart Plus models, but their print quality was somewhat better. We’re pleased to report (as we’ll get into in more detail near the end of this review), that that was not our experience with the MFC-J5930DW.

Brother MFC-J5930DW (Front)

A primary difference between the Officejet model and the MFC-J5930DW is that in addition to printing tabloid-size documents, the HP model can also scan and copy documents of that size. To get those features from a Brother INKvestment model, you’ll have to step up to the $350-list MFC-J6935DW. This is a key distinction. Not all small businesses and home offices need to scan and copy tabloid-size documents, but it is best to know what you are getting (or not) when weighing closely related models like these.

The MFC-J5930DW is an update of the Brother MFC-J5920DW we reviewed a while back. Aside from a new body style and a color change (from black to off-white, to conform with Brother’s latest design motif), and the improved print quality we mentioned earlier, this new model isn’t all that different, feature-wise, from its predecessor. That said, given the MFC-J5930DW’s strong feature set, ink-cost efficiencies, and excellent print quality, it’s our new first choice for tabloid-size multifunction inkjet printers, as its MFC-J5920DW predecessor was.

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Review of the HP OfficeJet Pro 6978 All-in-One Printer at PCMagThe HP OfficeJet Pro 6978 All-in-One Printer ($179.99) offers a wealth of features, including an auto-duplexing automatic document feeder (ADF), which many of its competitors lack. Should you opt for HP’s Instant Ink ink subscription service, it delivers competitive running costs. These perks, along with good output quality for text, graphics, and photos, elevate the OfficeJet Pro 6978 to our new Editors’ Choice midrange all-in-one printer (AIO) for low- to medium-volume printing in small or micro offices and workgroups.

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Review of the Epson Expression Home XP-440 Small-in-One Printer at Computer ShopperWe remember, about four or five years ago, when the first Epson Small-in-One printers appeared on the market. Then as now, their key selling point was, of course, size: You could buy an all-in-one (AIO) machine with a very small footprint that printed, copied, and scanned, and tuck it on the corner of your desk. The Expression Home Small-in-Ones have been a mainstay for many years, like the Expression Home XP-410 Small-in-One we reviewed back in 2013, a distant predecessor to the $99.99-MSRP Expression Home XP-440 Small-in-One we are reviewing here today.

This is actually the fourth iteration of the XP-400 series. The XP-410 mentioned above was followed by the Expression Home XP-420 and the Expression Home XP-430; we reviewed that last one less than a year ago. Aside from a new feature here or there and some performance tweaking, the XP-400 series really hasn’t seen much change over the years. And, as you can see in the image below, its physical appearance has stayed remarkably consistent, too…

Epson Expression Home XP-440 Small-in-One (Left Angled Alternate)The XP-440 is the one on the right; the XP-410 is on the left. Making a few tweaks to a product, up-ticking the name, and releasing it as a new product is common practice among printer makers. Not only does releasing slightly iterated machines with incrementally higher model numbers, year after year, keep the products themselves fresh to an extent (generating new reviews, like this one!), but it also gives us technology journalists something to do. We’re not complaining.

Like the first XP-400 series model, the XP-440 delivers top-notch quality across all of its prime functions. It churns out stellar prints, especially photos, and it scans quite well. This is, however, an entry-level, low-volume AIO printer designed for home and family use. It’s meant for environments that will demand only light usage, and that’s evidenced by its lack of an automatic document feeder (ADF) for sending multipage documents to the scanner without user intervention. That omission is expected in this price range, but it severely limits your scanning capabilities.

Like most other entry-level AIOs of its class, this one, like its predecessors, costs a lot to use, in terms of the per-page price of ink. That’s always a critical issue for us. Historically, we’ve always recommended expensive-to-use machines like this one with the caveat that, because of the running cost, they are practical for only minimal use (say, no more than a few hundred prints or copies per month). Our beef is that the buyers of these entry-level AIOs who actually use their printers day to day end up getting taxed, and heavily, for doing so.

Epson Expression Home XP-440 Small-in-One (410 vs 440)

Epson Expression Home XP-440 Small-in-One (Right Angled)Nowadays, though, with the advent of “supertank” printers like Epson’s own EcoTank models and Canon’s MegaTank AIOs (such as the Epson Expression ET-3600 and Canon Pixma G3200), users have more choices. If you need to print hundreds of pages on your entry-level AIO, you can opt to pay more for the printer itself, with the aim being to pay less for the ink to keep it going. If, on the other hand, you need a printer but will use it little, you can spend less than $100 on a small AIO like the XP-440, in exchange for higher per-page ink costs over its life. If you print only a few pages each month, then the cost of ink is less important. Hence, our perspective on the cost per page typically seen in low-cost entry-level AIOs like this one has changed with the times.

That said, the Epson Expression XP-440’s running costs are, as you’ll see in the Cost Per Page section later on, quite high. Even so, if all you need is to print and make copies on a small scale, the XP-440 is designed to do just that, and it does it quite well.

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Review of the Epson Expression ET-2600 EcoTank All-in-One at Computer ShopperHere we are a year and a half (or so) after Epson first released its consumer- and small-office-grade EcoTank “supertank” printers in the United States, It’s a product introduction that, if you believe what the Japanese electronics giant tells us, has met with huge success.

While we complained for years about inkjet-printer makers selling ink for exorbitant per-page prices (and like to think that we did our bit to spur change), when EcoTank printers came out, we wondered whether U.S. consumers would recognize the benefit of paying more for the printer up front to save on the ongoing cost of ink. EcoTank printers, like the Expression ET-2550 EcoTank All-in-One, after all, are priced at four or five times more than their non-“supertanker” counterparts.

If what Epson told us about EcoTank printer sales is accurate (and we have no reason to believe that it’s not), consumers indeed have embraced this new way to buy printers. The release of the $279.99 Expression ET-2600 EcoTank All-in-One (today’s review model) and its $20-more-expensive ET-2650 EcoTank  sibling marks round two in what we have recently dubbed the “big ink” wars. (Both are upgrades to the Expression ET-2550.) Epson, by expanding the EcoTank product line, has co-signed this pay-more-now-to-pay-less-later approach to selling printers, while Brother, with its INKvestment product line, came onboard a while back. And Canon recently joined the fray with its new MegaTank Pixma G-series machines. It’s clear: This battle of the ink bottle is on.

Epson Expression ET-2600 (Three Quarters View)

Instead of using standard ink cartridges, Epson’s EcoTank printers, like Canon’s MegaTank machines, deploy relatively large reservoirs that you fill with ink from bottles. (Brother’s INKvestment products continue to use cartridges.) In either case, the idea is the same: lower running costs, higher initial purchase prices.

Which brings us back to the Expression ET-2600. As mentioned, Epson offers two Expression ET-2600-series models. The difference between them: The Expression ET-2650 comes with a slot for printing from SD cards, and it supports Wi-Fi Direct (a peer-to-peer protocol that allows you to print from and scan to mobile devices without a network). If you need either of these features, spending the additional $20 for the Expression ET-2650 seems like a no-brainer to us.

Aside from rock-bottom running costs, what the Expression ET-2600 and ET-2650 have going for them is excellent print quality; we’ll discuss that in more detail in the Output Quality section later on. In fact, graphics and photo quality are exceptional, with only one caveat: The Expression ET-2600, like its predecessor, can’t print borderless documents or photos. We’ll look at why that’s important, also, later on.

Epson Expression ET-2600 (Angled)

As we’ve said about other EcoTank (and Canon MegaTank) models, don’t let the price fool you. This is above all else a low-volume, entry-level printer priced to save you money on the ongoing per-page price of ink. And from that perspective, it works. It prints well and costs very little to use, and it provides the ability to scan and copy, also on a low-volume basis. If that’s all you need, the Expression ET-2600 should serve you well.

Read the entire review at Computer Shopper

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