Epson’s New EcoTank SystemTwo of the most common complaints about inkjet printers, especially the smaller, less-expensive models (Epson’s WorkForce WF-2660 All-in-One Printercomes to mind), is that they run out of ink too quickly and that replacement cartridges themselves cost too much, on a per-page basis. Well, Epson has invited us to put our money where our mouth is—with its new EcoTank ink system, announced today, August 4, 2015.

That printer makers make most of their profit from selling replacement cartridges is common knowledge. With EcoTank, Epson now offers customers a new way to buy ink, with the understanding that if you’re willing to make a meaningful investment upfront on the initial price of the printer (and a substantial amount of ink), the company will provide you with plenty of ink at a very reasonable cost per page, or CPP.

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Epson’s WorkForce WF-7620 All-in-One PrinterAbout a year ago, reviewed several of Epson’s PrecisionCore-based multifunction printers (MFPs), including the notable wide-format WorkForce WF-7610 All-in-One. What impressed me most about it, aside from it being an excellent

It’s an excellent size for posters and oversize spreadsheets, and much more. Aside from a slightly too-high per-page cost of operation, the only thing we really didn’t like about the WF-7610 was that it had only one paper drawer, which really isn’t practical for an oversize printer, unless you plan to print only wide-format pages, that is.

Epson, of course, offers a solution in its $299.99 WF-7620—essentially the same wide-format printer with an additional 250-sheet paper cassette tacked on at the bottom, for (when you include the rear 1-sheet override tray) a total of 501 pages from three input sources, which isn’t bad for an under-$300 wide-format inkjet.

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HP Scanjet Enterprise Flow 5000 s2 Sheet-feed ScannerA while back, the Printer/Scanner section of looked at HP’s highly capable Scanjet Enterprise Flow 7500 Flatbed Scanner, which was rated at 50 pages per minute (ppm) simplex, or single-sided, or 100 images per minute (ipm) duplex, or double-sided, as well as a 3,000 pages per day recommended duty cycle.

Overall, that Scanjet was a highly impressive document scanner—fast and accurate—with tremendous optical character recognition software (OCR) for converting scanned text to editable text, and then sorting, cataloging, and saving it, much like the topic of this review, HP’s $799 MSRP Scanjet Enterprise Flow 5000 s2 Sheet-fed Scanner, but on a smaller scale.

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Dell E515dw Multifunction Monochrome PrinterI’ve looked at several monochrome printers recently, and a few of them were multifunction (print, copy, scan, and fax) printers, or MFPs. One that stood out was OKI Data’s MB492 Multifunction Printer. It printed good-looking black-and-white pages quickly and at a highly competitive cost per page—less than 1-cent per page in some scenarios.

That, of course, was a high-volume machine; even so, with its $599 MSRP, it was a darn good value.

This review, though, is of a low-volume monochrome MFP, Dell’s $219.99 E515dw Multifunction Printer. If yours is a low-volume monochrome printing volume with the occasional need for copying, scanning, and faxing, you should definitely take a closer look at this printer.

HP Color LaserJet Pro MFP M177fwA category of printers that has lost some ground recently is the entry-level, or “personal” laser printer, due primarily to pressure from highly competitive, high-volume inkjet multifunction printers (MFPs) that print faster, with higher print quality, and lower (a lot lower) per-page cost of consumables. In other words, in several ways, the inkjet model has snuck up and become superior.

If you’ve read any of my reviews here on or elsewhere, then you know that I’m a proponent getting the actual cost of using your printer down; therefore, if for security or some other reason (even personal) you are required to produce laser output, here’s a good little laser printer for doing just that.

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HP Envy 5660 e-All-in-One PrinterStarting with 2010’s HP Envy 100, the Envy line of inkjet all-in-one (AIO) printers—which can print, scan, and copy—has been one of the more interesting to watch evolve over the past few years. After the 2010 debut machine, consecutive models, such as 2011’s Envy 110 and 2013’s Envy 120, concentrated more on style and home-fitting elegance than on the more practical pursuits of what a printer needs to do.

As we pointed out in our July 2013 review of the Envy 5530 (one of the first Envys to break with the Envy-printer trend of style before substance), those first Envys, especially the Envy 120, were more fashion statements than nimble office appliances. When it came to capacity and practicality, they were really no more than entry-level AIOs, despite their elegant appearances and relatively high prices.

What we liked least about the early Envys, though, was how much they cost on a per-page basis to use. But then this has been true of all Envy-brand printers, including the much less costly Envy 5530 AIO. The good news here is that, as you’ll see in the Setup & Paper Handling section later on, the latest Envy AIO (and topic of this review), the $149.99-MSRP Envy 5660 e-All-in-One Printer$74.99 at HP, doesn’t have the same ink-price issue anymore—at least, with the advent of HP’s Instant Ink program, and assuming you sign up for it.

Even so, understand that this is a low-volume printer designed to churn out only a few hundred pages—at most—each month. HP’s ink program allows printer users who don’t print much to realize reasonable per-page ink costs, compared to the off-the-chart-high cost per page when buying ink cartridges off the shelf. And that’s a big feather in the value cap of this Envy model, as well as most (or all) of HP’s other low-volume, entry-level printers.

HP Envy 5660 e-All-in-One Printer (Printing)

Still, like its predecessor the Envy 5530, the Envy 5560 has no automatic document feeder (ADF) for feeding multipage documents to the scanner without user intervention. Instead, you must load your originals one page at a time, scan each one, and, if they’re double-sided, turn them over by hand and scan them again, repeating the process for each page.

A problem, then, for this Envy model is that some of the other major inkjet-printer makers, such as Epson with its comparably priced WorkForce WF-2660 All-in-One Printer ($99, factoring in a $50 discount that was available when we wrote this), offer ADFs and more in some of their like-priced models. As you’ll see later on, though, this HP model does print somewhat better photos than most business-oriented AIOs, in the event that’s important to you.

Really, though, if you need to do heavy-duty document processing, with the Envys you’re looking in the wrong place altogether. In the past, our main objection to this Envy would have been its high cost per page (CPP), but as mentioned, HP’s Instant Ink program makes buying ink a much more reasonably priced prospect. In fact, it goes a long way toward evening up the playing field between this entry-level model and higher-volume inkjets designed to print thousands of pages each month (at, of course, a much lower cost per page).

The savings that Instant Ink can bring—under the right circumstances—make this budget-minded Envy much easier to recommend, more so than any previous Envy, to users who don’t print much, or make many copies. It has a secret weapon when paired with Instant Ink: super-cheap printed photos.

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Dell’s E525w Color Multifunction PrinterIn all the years I’ve been reviewing printers, Dell’s entry-level and midrange color laser machines look much like they did several years ago. Take the 2010 Dell 1355cnw, for example. Aside from some minor physical size differences, you can’t really tell it from the model we’re talking about here today, Dell’s $329.99 E525w Color Multifunction Printer. (And to be truthful, I thought the design was somewhat archaic-looking five years ago.)

Nope. Not much about Dell’s latest round of laser-class machines helps you tell them from previous versions, but then most of us don’t buy printers based on how modern or stylish they look. (Although that does tend to have a sizable influence when folks are shopping for office appliances at the local electronics store.) Smart shoppers, though, buy printers based on what they do, and how well they do it—or at least they should…

Overall, this is a great little printer, and well worth the discounted price of $249.99 (for a difference of $80) on Dell’s site at the time I wrote this. It is, however, a low-volume printer, so the cost per page, or CPP, is high, but that’s pretty much expected when you buy an entry-level laser-class printer these days.

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Brother MFC-J6520DW Review and RatingsWith its Business Smart, Business Smart Plus, and Business Smart Professional Series families of printer, Brother was one of the first printer makers to support wide-format printing in a big way in multifunction inkjets for consumers and small businesses. Whether it’s simply printing the occasional oversize document, or delivering the ability to scan, copy, fax, and print them, a subset of these business-oriented all-in-ones (AIOs) adroitly handle tabloid, or 11×17-inch, pages at prices usually reserved for models that support paper no larger than letter- or legal-size.

The topic of this review, Brother’s $229.99-MSRP MFC-J6520DW, is one of these wide-load-capable models in the Brother line. A Professional Series model, the MFC-J6520DW does it all. It not only supports printing to tabloid-size stock, but because the scanner and the automatic document feeder (ADF) also support 11×17-inch pages, you can also scan, copy, and fax pages that big. (When you fax, of course, the document gets reduced on the receiving end if need be, since most receiving fax machines will be letter- or legal-size only.)

Brother MFC-J6520DW (Intro)Unlike the other major makers of inkjet printers, which by now have all come out with a wide-format model or two of their own, nearly all of Brother’s business-centric models support tabloid printing. We’ve reviewed several of them, including the MFC-J6520DW’s higher-volume sibling, theMFC-J6920DW, a late-2013 Editors’ Choice recipient that’s still going strong on the market.

Over the past couple of years, though, we’ve seen business-centric wide-format models from both Epson and HP, such as the WorkForce WF-7610 All-in-One and Officejet 7610 Wide Format e-All-in-One, respectively. (Canon’s most recent wide-format inkjet model, the Pixma iX6820, is a very different animal, a single-function photo printer.) However, while these two machines have several features in common with our Brother machine under review, they also differ in some very significant ways.

Both the Epson and HP wide-format models, for example, additionally support a slightly larger page size, the next size up from tabloid at 13×19 inches, also known as “supertabloid” or A3+. (We say “slightly larger,” but the fact is that supertabloid pages contain 60 inches of additional surface area versus tabloid.)

While support for these even larger papers may not matter to everybody, a feature we really like about this Brother multifunction model is its low per-page operational cost—the cost per page, or CPP. As you’ll see in the Setup & Paper Handling section later on, compared to other wide-format printers, this one is relatively inexpensive in terms of ink upkeep, making it an ideal candidate for high-volume print runs of both standard letter-size andtabloid pages.

Unlike the costlier MFC-J6920DW, though, we had a few concerns about this model that left it just shy of a Computer Shopper Editors’ Choice high-five. As we discuss in the Setup & Paper Handling section later on, there are some significant, perhaps obvious, drawbacks to a wide-format printer with only one paper-input tray. In addition, the MFC-J6520DW doesn’t print photos as well as some of the other wide-format models we’ve talked about here so far.

Brother MFC-J6520DW (Intro 2)But, then again, reconsider that this printer is part of Brother’s Business Smart Professional Series, as we mentioned earlier. Not all business printing calls for stellar photograph reproduction, and, frankly, this printer’s low CPPs, as we see it, should make stomaching the slightly subpar image rendering easier.

Overall, we liked this printer, but its somewhat limited paper-handling abilities might make it a better pick as a dedicated tabloid printer for light-to-moderate oversize output, as opposed to a general-purpose office machine. In any case, the MFC-J6520DW prints wide-format pages on the relative cheap, and that should be attractive to a wide range of small offices and workgroups.

Read the entire review at Computer Shopper


Epson WorkForce WF-2660 All-in-One Printer Review and RatingsHave you read any of our reviews of Epson’s latest round of PrecisionCore-based WorkForce printers, especially the WorkForce Pro models (notably, our Editors’ Choice recipient, the WorkForce Pro WF-4630 All-in-One Printer)? Then you know that, generally speaking, we’re fans of these models. We’ve liked the lower-volume, non-Pro WorkForce models we’ve tested, too. But like so many entry-level and midrange all-in-one printers (AIOs) that print, copy, scan, and fax, we were put off by these current-generation models’ per-page cost of ink.

Alas, that’s often the price you pay when opting for one of the budget-friendly models in an inkjet line. But then again, many small and home-based offices simply don’t need to print more than, say, 50 or 100 pages per month. Because of that, the office just doesn’t need, nor can it justify buying, a cheaper-to-use, higher-volume model.

Epson WorkForce WF-2660 (Fliers)

When you’re printing so little each month, what each page costs you—within reason, of course—isn’t quite as important. That’s especially true if the machine otherwise prints well and delivers a wide range of productivity and convenience features. (Of course, all this begs the question of why inkjet-printer makers can’t seem to deliver low-cost inkjets that also deliver a very low cost per page, but that should be obvious: It’s the business model for these printers.)

So, with that in mind, enter Epson’s $149.99-MSRP WorkForce WF-2660 All-in-One Printer, a low-volume multifunction printer. While most certainly an inexpensive all-in-one meant for light duty, this little office-centric model, as you’ll see in the Design & Features section on the next page, has more features than we’ve seen on most inkjet printers, period, let alone a model this small and low-cost.

When we wrote this review in early May 2015, the WorkForce WF-2660 was the top model (and most expensive) of three in Epson’s WorkForce WF-2600 series. The WorkForce WF-2660 and its siblings are the smallest WorkForce AIOs the company offers, and therefore also the smallest printers available based on Epson’s relatively new (mid-2014) PrecisionCore printhead technology, which has been confined to its business-oriented printers so far. As we’ve explained in several recent WorkForce printer reviews, in addition to providing several other benefits, PrecisionCore-based printers so far have proven to be relatively fast at their price points, and they print quite well on the whole.

In any case, in addition to the WorkForce WF-2660, with this line you can choose either the $99.99-MSRP WorkForce WF-2630 or the $129.99-MSRP WorkForce WF-2650. Before going into what these cost differences get you, we should first point out that as we wrote this in May 2015, all three models were discounted heavily from those list prices on Epson’s Web site, as well as elsewhere. Shop around, and you could save $30 on the WorkForce WF-2630, $40 on the WorkForce WF-2650, and $50 on our review unit, the WorkForce WF-2660, making the bottom-line prices $69.99, $89.99, and $99.99, respectively.

Epson WorkForce WF-2660 (Charts)

At these markdown prices, for the $10 difference between the WF-2660 and the WF-2650 you actually give up a lot: a 2.7-inch color touch screen for a four-line monochrome readout, as well as support for Near-Field Communication (NFC) and a few other mobile-connectivity features. The cheaper-still WorkForce WF-2630 is slower by Epson’s estimates by about 4 pages per minute (with black-and-white output) and 3 pages per minute (with color), and its input tray is 50 pages less capacious. But then again, bear in mind that its sale price is only $70, and that for a full-fledged AIO.

We like the WorkForce WF-2660 much more at the under-$100 price point than at its $149.99 list price. As we will get into in the Setup & Paper Handling sections later on, while we’re not at all thrilled with the cost per page (CPP) of the WorkForce WF-2660, if you don’t plan to print or copy on it all that much, its Swiss Army knife-like feature set and exceptional print quality make it a great little printer for occasional use, and a good value in that role. You may not use it often, but when you need to, it will most likely have everything you’ll need to complete the task at hand.

Before going too deeply into the WorkForce WF-2660’s design and features, we should say that when it comes to a well-rounded feature set, all that this AIO really needs is an auto-duplexing automatic document feeder, or ADF. Yes, it has a 30-sheet ADF, and a good one. But alas, in order to scan two-sided originals (i.e., to capture the second sides of the pages), you must manually turn over your stack of pages being scanned.

To be fair, it’s not that we can realistically expect to see an auto-duplexing ADF on an entry-level model like this one—that is what step-up models are for! —but it would have been a nice touch, rounding out the feature set in a way that might have offset some of the sting of this printer’s very high CPP.

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For The Most Accurate Scans, Calibrate Your Scanner

If you think about it, between your monitor, printer, and scanner, the different components of your color management system (CMS) usually, without proper calibration, define and display the same colors differently. In fact, it’s quite common for various colors to “shift” to other colors between two pieces of equipment. Hence, to get the best possible results, you must keep your equipment calibrated, so that each component defines the same colors the same as the others.

I showed you how to calibrate your monitor to your printer, so that these two devices define colors accurately between them, a few months ago. It’s just as important that your monitor and your scannerdefine and display colors accurately between themselves, too. Otherwise, the blues you scan might shift to purples and the reds to dark maroon.

Before going into this, though, I should point out that it’s usually more efficient to calibrate all three devices, the scanner, monitor, and printer, at the same time. You can do that easily enough by combining the procedure listed in this “Calibrating Your Monitor to Your Printer” article with the procedure laid out here.