Read the entire review at About.com
The first question is, of course, what makes the S2810dn smart—compared to other single-function laser-class machines, that is? (First question or not, the answer is not so ground-shaking as to warrant disruption of the natural flow of this review.) Suffice it to say here that “smart” simply refers to an overall business-centric printer design consisting of several complimentary features, not some ground-breaking approach to entry-level laser design.
Read the entire review at About.com
Epson offers a range of Expression Small-in-One models, but the $99.99-list Expression Home XP-420 Small-in-One Printer is one of the smallest. It’s the direct descendant of the XP-410 Small-in-One, itself one of the most compact entry-level inkjet all-in-one (AIO) printers you could buy in its time. The thing is, despite the Small-in-One name, both of them are, for the most part, full-featured AIOs.
In this case, the XP-420 AIO can print, copy, and scan, but not fax; some much bigger AIO models don’t fax either, so that feature is not really a victim of this printer’s size. But perhaps the best news is that the XP-420 Small-in-One has been on the market a few months now, enough time for e-tailers to get their discounting hooks into it. When we wrote this at the tail end of August 2015, you could buy the Expression Home XP-420 from Epson (and many other online sellers) for $59.99, a full $40 less than the list price.
The Expression Home XP-420 is not the smallest Expression XP model Epson makes, but it’s close. The XP-300 series, which includes the XP-310 and its more recent replacement, the XP-320, are smaller still, but less capable in terms of volume and features than our XP-420 review unit.
As we’ve said about several other Small-in-Ones in previous reviews, you need to know these printers’ limitations. While these are capable compact printers, they have the same core issue as most competing models in this price range: a high per-page cost of operation, what we call the cost per page (CPP). And that relegates them to low-volume, occasional-use machines, which is fine if that’s what you’re looking for. If that’s the type of printer you need—one that sits around most of the time, waiting for you to use it—this one will fit the profile, and on the upside, $60 isn’t a lot to spend on it.
However, as you’ll see in the next section, the CPP is not the only thing about the XP-420 that makes it a low-volume model. The input and output trays are small and therefore hold only modest amounts of paper stock, and the scanner has no automatic document feeder (ADF) for processing multiple-page documents. You’ll have to place them onto the scanner’s platen glass manually, one at a time, and one side at a time.
As we said about the Expression Home XP-420’s predecessor, the XP-410, what this little AIO has going for it is excellent print quality and decent performance for the money. It’s hard to find much beyond that at so low a price. Granted, compared to the competition of its day, the Expression Home XP-410 was a little faster than the XP-420 is, but not by much.
What’s more interesting is how well the newer model holds up to its competitors, compared to the older one. It’s clear that Epson’s competitors haven’t been idle; two years after the introduction of the XP-410, the competition seems to have gotten stiffer. So while this is a surprisingly able printer for its price, the landscape has changed, which is likely also the reason we’ve seen the XP-420 discounted so far, so soon.
In any case, as we also said about the Expression Home XP-410, if a few hundred pages a month, at most, is all you need to print or copy, and you don’t do much multiple-page scanning, Epson’s XP-420 Small-in-One should get the job done.
Read the entire review at Computer Shopper
After working with a group of professionals recently who swore that laser-class output is superior to that of an inkjet printer, I’m reminded how uninformed much of the printer-buying public is about the current state of printer technology. The truth is that when it comes to overall vibrancy, brightness, and detail, most laser-class machines can’t come close to a good inkjet printer’s output.
Yet another myth that needs busting every now and then is that laser-class machines are faster and cheaper to use than inkjet models.
Read entire review at About.com
Even so, both kinds of printers have their admirers and adherents. Many, many offices and businesses, such as auto-repair shops, insurance agencies, and title companies, don’t need to print in color—and indeed, will garner real savings by opting for old-school, strictly mono lasers. At the same time, many of these types of businesses, small or large, often need to make copies, scan documents and images, and at times even send or receive a fax or two. That’s where the multifunction angle comes in, and it’s where these kind of printers deliver their value.
Granted, many businesses purchase single-function print-only laser models because either (1) the printer is too busy to stop for scanning or making copies, or (2) when it does need to print, what it’s printing is too critical to wait for a long copy or fax job to complete. (After all, you don’t want to keep your customers waiting.) But for those users whodo need all of an MFP’s functionality—print, scan, copy, and perhaps the occasional fax—and can wait for the various operations, Dell has recently released a revised cadre of laser-class machines, including the topic of this review, the $219-MSRP E515dw Multifunction Monochrome Printer. (We call these “laser-class” printers because, technically, these printers don’t use lasers inside to draw your page image onto a print drum; they use an array of non-moving LEDs. From the outside, though, they’re mostly indistinguishable from lasers.)
For those home-based and small-office users who need their MFP to print and copy in color, Dell has also put out an entry-level, color-laser-class machine, the $329-MSRP E525w Color Multifunction Printer, which we have on hand and will be reviewing shortly. Overall, these multifunction machines are part of a group of five printers the company offered up in mid-2015 to refresh its line. The other three are another MFP, the E514dw Monochrome Laser Printer (essentially, the same as our review unit, but rated for slower speeds and with no fax function, for about $50 less), and two single-function models, the Smart Printer S2810dn and the E310dw, both of which we have reviewed. (Hit the links for the skinny on those.)
While all five printers in this group have relatively low out-of-pocket prices, their comparatively high per-page printing costs (which we’ll cover in some detail later on) relegates them to low-volume, occasional-use machines. That’s downright fine, so long as you know that going into the purchase, and that is indeed the kind of printer that you’re looking for.
The E515dw has a maximum monthly duty cycle of 10,000 pages, which is low for a laser-class machine in general. (“Duty cycle?” “LED printer?” See our primer, Buying a Printer: 20 Terms You Need to Know.) But if you plan on printing anywhere close to that amount, as we’ll get into in the Setup & Paper Handling section, this is not the right printer for that. In fact, because of the relatively high cost per page (CPP), we suggest you don’t opt for the E515dw if you plan to print more than a few hundred pages each month—say, 300 to 400. The more you print, the more you should consider a higher-volume model.
But if your print volume fits that 400-pages-max profile, and all you need is the occasional black-and-white document copied (or you don’t mind if your copies are converted to gray scale), this printer isn’t a bad deal at all. The list price may be $220, but we saw the E515dw selling as low as $179.99 at a few non-Dell outlets when we wrote this in mid-August 2015. And, as mentioned, if you don’t need the fax functionality (many people and small businesses don’t, nowadays), there’s always the E514dw. We spotted that slightly stripped-down model as low as $129.99, down from an MSRP of $179.99.
In any case, on the whole, we liked this little MFP LED printer—especially as a low-volume, occasional-use machine for a small office or workgroup, or perhaps a personal-laser companion on your desk. It delivers good value so long as you set your page-output volume expectations appropriately.
Read the entire review at Computer Shopper
Epson recently announced a new line of printers (new to North America, anyway) known as EcoTank. In most ways, these all-in-one (AIO) printers are much like their Epson Expression and WorkForce counterparts. For example, the topic of this review, the $499.99 MSRP WorkForce ET-4550 EcoTank All-in-One Printer, is essentially the entry-level $129.99 MSRP WorkForce WF-2650, which strongly resembles the WF-2660 reviewed here a few months ago, with the EcoTank ink tanks attached to the right side.
The ET-4550 is one of five initial EcoTank offerings announced today. (For a description of the five models and a more detailed discussion of EcoTank in general,check out this About.com article.)
Read entire review at About.com
The Printer / Scanner section of About.com has recognized Brother’s Business Smart series of multifunction printers for a number of reasons, often including relatively fast print speeds, overall print quality, a relatively low cost per page, or CPP, and support for wide-format (tabloid, or 11×17-inch) paper. However, the level of support each machine has for tabloid paper varies from model to model.
Laser printers are as staid as modern PC technology gets. We’ve been saying for some time now that, aside from tacking on the occasional new productivity and convenience feature, or increasing speeds a smidge on occasion, we haven’t seen any heavy-hitting improvements to the laser printer in ages.
If something is going to change in lasers, though, HP is as predictable a source for that innovation as printer makers come. And what the company has done is not so much change the printer, as much as its diet.
That would be the toner. HP’s recent toner reformulation, dubbed ColorSphere 3, is part of an overall toner-cartridge and print-engine revamp that it is calling “JetIntelligence.” According to HP, between the toner reformulation and logic built into both the “new Original HP Toner cartridges with JetIntelligence” and the printer, your LaserJet will use up to 53 percent less energy, take up to 40 percent less space, as well as wake up and print duplex (two-sided) pages faster.
In fact, in a recent press release, HP’s vice president and general manager of LaserJet hardware and technology, Tuan Tran, claimed, “Today’s announcement represents our most significant laser printing re-engineering since the introduction of the first LaserJet in 1984.”
The biggest thing to hit the laser in 30-plus years? That’s worth a closer look to see whether there’s heft or hype there. HP sent us one of these initial printers based on JetIntelligence and the new toner tech, the $429.99-MSRP Color LaserJet Pro MFP M277dwBest Price at Amazon. Again, many of the JetIntelligence benefits come from reformulated toner and reengineered cartridges, which we’ll discuss in some detail in the next section.
What we will say here, though, is that HP’s JetIntelligence promotional material makes a lot of the idea that you get significantly more prints per cartridge (33 percent more, according to its estimates), rather than more prints for your money. And this is a key distinction: While that may mean fewer toner-cartridge swap-outs over the life of the printer, the technology doesn’t necessarily mean more money in your pocket. While this is a great little printer, as you’ll see in our Setup & Paper Handling section later on, it is somewhat pricey to use, especially for color pages.
Hence, as we’ve said about many an entry-level and midrange printer, no matter how attractive and up-to-date it is, this model just doesn’t compute for environments with heavy print loads. HP does offer some uncharacteristically high-volume toner cartridges (up to about 2,400 pages) for a printer this size. But, again, the actual per-page cost of using the Color LaserJet Pro MFP M277dw is too high for all but small and home-based offices with print loads of, say, just a few hundred pages per month.
Again, we’ll discuss why this makes sense as a low-volume, personal color laser printer later on. In the meantime, though, know that the M277dw is a sharp little color laser all-in-one (AIO), well worth taking a good look at if you’re not trying to outfit a business that prints all day, every day. As we wrote this in early August 2015, HP was offering a $100 discount off the MSRP, trimming the price to $329, so this model could make good sense for environments that need modest numbers of color-fast prints.
Read entire review at Computer Shopper
HP’s Envy line of printers have gone through a transition over the years, from somewhat high-end (price-wise) and elegant, if not all that practical. Over the past couple years, though, Envy printers have evolved in to sensible entry-level and midrange all-in-one (AIO) machines designed for home based and small offices, as my recent review of the Envy 5660 e-All-in-One Printer illustrates.
Today, though, we’re looking at the flagship Envy printer, the $199.99 Envy 7640 e-All-in-One Printer, which, by the way, I found for as low as $124.99 while writing this review.
How many industries can you think of that offer their products at a lowball price and make their profits on refills or replacement parts for those products—other than the printer industry, that is? One that comes to mind readily is the shaving razor business, perhaps because replacement razor blades are infamous for prices nearly as steep as those of printer ink cartridges. In fact, barring certain pharmaceuticals and perfumes, printer ink is one of the world’s most expensive liquids, and one of the more profitable.
Perhaps that’s the reason buying printer ink is so annoying to so many people: Many of us suspect that there’s no good reason (other than profit, a strong incentive indeed) that printer ink should cost so much—it’s not warranted from a raw-materials standpoint, anyway. Well, printer and imaging giant Epson, with its new (new to North America, that is) EcoTank ink delivery system, has set out to change all that, starting with a few of the company’s business-oriented WorkForce models—printers that cost more up front, but that won’t need ink refills for a long time.
To get us started with EcoTank, Epson sent us the topic of today’s review the $499.99 MSRP WorkForce ET-4550. In actuality, this is the WorkForce WF-2650 All-in-One Printer—a close cousin to the $149.99 MSRP WorkForce WF-2660 All-in-One we reviewed a few months ago—with a bulge on its right side for EcoTank ink tanks, as shown below. The WF-2650 lists for $129.99, but at this writing in early August 2015 is on sale for $79.99 at Epson.com and everywhere else.
Yes, you’re reading this right. Essentially, the new ET-4550 is an under-$80 printer transformed into a $500 machine by the inclusion of the EcoTank system. Well, make that the inclusion of the EcoTank system and, according to Epson, “up to two years'” supply of ink. In this case, keeping in mind that the WF-2650 is a low-volume printer, that’s about 5,000 black-and-white pages and 8,500 color pages. On top of that, Epson throws in an additional “bonus” 6,000 monochrome pages, for an in-box yield of 11,000 monochrome and 8,500 color pages.
Spreading that across two years comes out to just over 450 pages per month, which, while far below the WF-2650’s 3,000-page maximum monthly duty cycle (the manufacturer’s recommended volume without undue wear on the machine), is plenty for this low-volume printer. (Frankly, if you need to print much more than that, you should consider a higher-yield machine.) Even so, while EcoTank itself is a step in the right direction, when it comes time to purchase refills, you should be pleasantly surprised there, too.
We’ll look at EcoTank, the technology and how it changes the cost-per-page equation, on the next page, in the Design, Features, & EcoTank section. Before moving on, though, we should also mention the other EcoTank models, starting with two lower-yield Expression consumer-grade models, the $379 MSRP Expression ET-2500 EcoTank and the $399 MSRP Expression ET-2550. As for the WorkForce business-oriented models, they are the $429 MSRP WorkForce ET-2500, the $499 WorkForce ET-4550 (our review unit), and the flagship $1,199 MSRP WorkForce Pro WF-R4640.
The smaller and cheaper ET-2500 comes with less capacity and less ink (4,000 monochrome, 6,500 color), and the high-volume WorkForce Pro model comes with ink for 20,000 monochrome and 20,000 color pages (and, of course, replacement ink is less expensive on a per-page basis). We will look at these other EcoTank models as soon as Epson makes them available.
Of the pre-EcoTank WorkForce models, the 2000 series were the smallest and least capable, in terms of volume—and, like most under-$100 printers, their cost per page (CPP) was too high to support all but a modest print volume. From a cost-of-operation perspective, EcoTank (as you’ll see in the Setup & Paper Handling section later on) all but eliminates the excessively high CPPs incurred by users of low-volume models, and it greatly reduces the cost of using high-volume machines, too.
Granted, there’s a huge gap between the volume capabilities of this EcoTank model and the next one up, the $1,199 WF-R4640, which might, we suspect, convince some small and home-based offices to try to coax more pages from the ET-4550 rather than spring for an additional $700. In any case, now you can push your low-volume business-oriented AIO to its limits—without it costing you a small fortune in ink.
Other than that, the ET-4550 is your typical entry-level printer, complete with features you’d find on a typical beginner’s WorkForce AIO.
Read entire review at Computer Shopper.