Epson WorkForce Pro WF-5690 Network Multifunction Color Printer With PCL/Adobe PS Review and RatingsOn the whole, we’ve been impressed with Epson’s recent run of WorkForce Pro high-volume inkjet workhorses, starting with the $499-MSRP Workforce Pro WP-4590 All-in-One Printer back in 2012, up to the $299.99-MSRP WorkForce Pro WF-4630 a couple of years later in 2014. The WF-4630 was, by the way, the first printer to achieve a perfect 5-star score from Computer Shopper in recent memory.

Epson’s WorkForce Pro models are excellent machines for small and medium-size businesses, and the flagship model here at the start of 2015 (and the subject of this review) is no exception. This $399.99-MSRP printer has a bit of an unwieldy name: the WorkForce Pro WF-5690 Network Multifunction Color Printer with PCL/Adobe PS. (Now there’s a mouthful!) Like the WP-4590 of a few years ago, the WF-5690 is a fast, feature-rich multifunction printer (MFP) that’s efficient to use in terms of cost per page.

Epson WorkForce Pro WF-5690Both the WF-4630 and the WF-5690 were part of Epson’s PrecisionCore printhead technology rollout in June 2014. As we’ll discuss on the next page, PrecisionCore printheads allow for faster, cheaper-to-use printers. Pair them with ultra-high-capacity ink cartridges and mechanisms with laser-printer-like duty cycles, and business inkjets saw a shake-up of the kind that hadn’t happened since HP introduced its PageWide technology the year before. (“Duty cycle” is the maximum number of prints the manufacturer says the machine is capable of in a given time without subjecting it to undue wear. For more on that and other crucial printer terms, see our primer, Buying a Printer: 20 Terms You Need to Know.)

Of the 11 PrecisionCore-based machines that debuted last year, we’ve reviewed four of them; of those four, three—the WorkForce Pro WF-7610 (a wide-format model), the WorkForce Pro WF-4630 (our 5-star winner), and now the WF-5690—have been Editors’ Choice award recipients. Only the WF-3640, a non-“Pro” WorkForce model, failed to wow us enough to win, and that only by a sliver. In light of competing machines, such as some of Canon’s new Maxify printers, the WorkForce WF-3640 cost a bit too much too use.

Now, let’s stop here for a moment and talk about the “With PCL/Adobe PS” at the end of this printer’s name. Both are laser-printer languages: HP’s Printer Command Language (PCL) and Adobe’s PostScript. Certain applications benefit from these language emulations, but they’re relatively few and far between. They are used primarily in connection with high-end prepress and printing-press runs, as well as computer aided drafting (CAD) programs, and several other applications that require high-end imaging. In short, if you need support for these languages on your new printer, it’s almost certain that you already know it from long experience.

YEpson WorkForce Pro WF-5690 (Straight On)ou don’t want to opt for it just to have it, though. The PCL and PostScript support costs you an additional $100 versus the next WorkForce Pro model down the line (the WorkForce Pro WF-5620, which is otherwise the same machine, but without the laser-lingo support). Then, too, there’s the $299.99-list WF-4630 we reviewed a few months ago, which was discounted on Epson’s site to $199.99 as of mid-January 2015. It, too, is quite similar to the WF-5690, except that it’s rated by Epson for a lower monthly capacity (30,000 pages, versus the WF-5690’s 45,000 prints).

Our point? While the WorkForce Pro WF-5690 is an excellent high-volume MFP, so are the other WorkForce models listed in the previous paragraphs. The good news is that whichever model you choose, they all deliver very low per-page operational costs, making each of them fine values assuming you need the volume. Granted, the support for the additional printer languages may seem expensive, but if you need it, having the ability to emulate either is well worth $100.

Read the entire review at Computer Shopper.


Canon Pixma Pro-100 Wireless Inkjet PrinterWhen you think of photography and imaging (printing), probably only a few companies come to mind. Undoubtedly, Canon is one of them. Not only do they make great cameras, but also some of the best photo printers available—whether it’s one of the Japanese imaging giant’s consumer-grade Pixmas, such as the $199.99-list Pixma MG7520 (a six-ink machine), or one of Canon’s professional-grade Pixmas, like the topic of this review, the $499.99-list, eight-ink, Pixma Pro-100.

As Pixma Pro models go, the Pro-100 is the entry-level, or the beginner, in Canon’s line of professional photo printers, followed by the next model up, the 10-ink Pixma Pro 10($699.99-list), and then there’s the flagship of the Pixma Pro models, the $999.99-list Pro-1, which deploys 12 inks.

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Brother MFC-J4420DW Multifunction InkjetLeave it to Brother to bring us a line of no-nonsense, no-frills multifunction printers that print fast, provide reasonably good output, and a reasonable cost per page, or CPP—Brother’s Business Smart Inkjet All-in-Ones, and more specifically, the topic of this review, the $169.99-list  MFC-J4420DW Multifunction Inkjet. What these little workhorses deliver in abundance is decent performance, with a load of useful convenience and productivity features, at a price (both up front and ongoing operational) that your small- or home-based-business can afford.

Before I go on, though, I should point out that as I wrote this (nearing the end of January 2015), Brother was offering the MFC-J4420DW on its site at a $40 discount, or $129.99—making it great deal and a better value.

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HP Officejet Pro 276dw Multifunction PrinterSeveral $400 multifunction inkjet printers, such as Epson’s WorkForce Pro WF-5690 Multifunction Color Printer, have hit the streets over the past couple years, and most of them are pretty darn good high-volume business printers capable of print speeds and per-page operational costs far surpassing laser (or laser-class, LED) machines. Here’s one, though, that has been around for about a year-and-a-half now: HP’s Officejet Pro 276dw Multifunction Printer.

The good news is that as a result, many of last year’s machines (even though they do often support most of the most modern features) are deeply discounted—in this case (when I wrote this in mid-January 2015), by about 25%, or $100.

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Canon Maxify MB5320 Wireless Small Office All-In-One Review and RatingsYear after year, we looked on—and dutifully reported—as Canon’s Pixma MX series of office-centric all-in-one (AIO) inkjets floundered a bit in the small-office and home-office (SOHO) market. They certainly weren’t (and aren’t) bad products, by any means. But from model to model, they tended to be outclassed in one major way or another.

Therefore, it’s good to see that the Japanese imaging giant finally came to the realization—judging from its revised product line—that high-volume, inexpensive-to-use inkjets can be more practical than their color-laser and LED (laser-class) counterparts. Its competitors (primarily Brother, Epson, and HP) figured that out years ago. In response, in late 2014 Canon unveiled a new “Maxify” family of office-ready inkjets that hold up nicely—in terms of print speed, volume ratings, and cost per page (CPP)—to most other high-volume inkjet AIOs in the marketplace.

Canon Maxify MB5320 (Straight-On View)Perhaps we’re being a little disingenuous. We suspect Canon has known full well how important high-volume printers are to small and medium-size businesses (SMBs). After all, for quite some time, the company has been building laser-printer engines not only for its own customers and its ImageClass line, but also for HP. Possibly, Canon saw how high-volume inkjets could be a threat (and they certainly are) to its laser-printer interests—and the writing on the wall just couldn’t be ignored anymore.

In any case, the good news is that Canon’s new Maxify line of business-ready inkjets all look to be decent printers, although some may prove to be more decent than others. They range in price from $149.99 (MSRP) for the single-function Maxify iB4020 to $399.99 (MSRP) for the high-volume Maxify MB5320 Wireless Small Office All-in-One, the flagship model we’re reviewing here.

This first round of Maxify models consists of four MFPs and a single-function (print-only) workhorse. Of the four MFPs, two of them, the $199.99-list MB2320 and MB5320, have two spacious input trays, while the $179.99-list MB2020 and $299.99-list MB5020 have only one. In addition, the two MB5000 series models have twice the maximum monthly duty cycle (the maximum number of pages the manufacturer says you can print each month without premature wear on the printer) than the two MB2000 series machines: 30,000 pages monthly on the MB5000 series, versus 15,000 on the MB2000 series.

Versus the less-expensive MB2000 machines, the MB5000 series models are also faster; they have slightly larger touch screens, as well as auto-duplexing ADFs; and, most important, they sport a much lower cost per page (CPP). Where it counts, the MB5000 machines are essentially twice the printer of their parallel MB2000 models—at roughly double the list price.

Canon Maxify MB5320 (Printing)As high-volume inkjets go, the Maxify MB5320 is a good one. Not only is it loaded with productivity and convenience features, but, as described in the Setup & Paper Handling section later on, it uses high-volume, efficiently priced ink cartridges, greatly increasing its overall value. Overall, we found little to quibble with in this printer, but it does compete with a few well-established high-volume models from Epson, Brother, and HP. In short, this Maxify model is a very fine AIO, but then so are its primary competitors, which includes Epson’s five-star, $299.99-list WorkForce Pro WF-4630.

It would be tough to say that this Maxify is “better” than similarly priced MFPs—you can find some great high-volume inkjet machines out there, such as Epson’s $399.99-list WorkForce Pro WF-5690, which we’re in the process of reviewing. This Maxify is one of those well-built, feature-rich machines that does just about everything, and does each thing well. It excels at high-volume output, which is what it was built for.

What, eventually, may set it apart is price. Depending on how the pricing trends go on this machine, it could end up being an even better value than when we reviewed it. When we wrote this in mid-January 2015, the major online e-tailers were selling it at its full $399.99 MSRP, though we did see one, briefly, discounting it heavily—more on that at the end of the review.

Read entire review at Computer Shopper.


HP Officejet 150 Mobile All-in-One PrinterWhen traveling, most of us try to shed as many pounds as possible—especially when it comes to toting electronics. The computing device (laptop, tablet, smartphone) we take with us is often a compromise between convenience and productivity features and weight and size, and most of us would never consider taking along a printer, let alone an all-in-one (AIO) printer that can also copy and scan.

Unless, that is, it’s one of the rare true mobile printers of the world, such as Epson’s $349.99-list WorkForce WF-100, Canon’s $249.99-list Pixma iP110, or the subject of this review, HP’s $399.99 (MSRP) Officejet 150 Mobile All-in-One Printer. The difference, of course, between the first two and that last one is that the WorkForce and Pixma models are single-function (print only) machines, while our Officejet 150 mobile can also scan and make copies.

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2014 Printer Market HighlightsLast year, 2014, was a rather eventful year for the printer industry. Epson, for example, not only redid its entire small and medium-size business (SMB) WorkForce multifunction printer (MFP) line, but the revamps themselves were based on the Japanese printer giant’s new PrecisionCore printhead technology. In addition, Canon made an unprecedented move (for Canon, that is) by releasing a whole new line of SMB-friendly “Maxify” business office MFPs.

We also saw a slew of new mobile device-printing options, as discussed in this“Mobile Printing Features – 2014” article. While none of these features were actually new to 2014 (they’ve been lurking in the background for a few years now), a couple of them, namely Near-Field Communication (NFC) and Wi-Fi Direct, were widely deployed by a few printer makers last year—thereby providing direct access to MFP features without either the printer or the mobile device joining a network.

In any case, 2014 was, as I recall, the year of the high-volume business printer and easy-to-use wireless mobile protocols.

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A Guide to Multifunction Business PrintersBefore you venture out into the world to buy a new printer for your home-based, small-, or medium-size business, it’s always a good idea to determine what you need your new office appliance to do. Will you, for example, print a lot photographs? A lot of business documents? How about scanning and copying; how much of those functions will you do? Also known as all-in-ones (AIOs), multifunction printers (MFPs) come in various sizes with volume ratings ranging from a few hundred pages a month to several thousand and beyond.

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Epson Expression Photo XP-860 Small-in-One (Front)We’ve looked at a bunch of Epson’s Small-in-One inkjet printers over the past couple of years—everything from the budget-model, $99.99-list Epson Expression Home XP-410 Small-in-One Printer to the flagship of the line, the $349.99-list Epson Expression Photo XP-950 Small-in-One Printer. For the most part, we’ve found them capable machines with good-looking output, not to mention excellent engineering and strong feature sets.

Today’s Small-in-One up for review, the second in line after the XP-950, is another six-ink, photo-optimized model: the $299.99-list Expression Photo XP-860. Like the XP-950, the XP-860 is an excellent photo printer. For the $50 difference, you give up the ability to print on 11×17-inch, tabloid-size paper. (The XP-950 takes a single sheet of that big paper via the override tray.) On the other hand, the XP-860 comes with a 30-page auto-duplexing automatic document feeder (ADF) for scanning and copying multipage, two-sided documents, while the more-expensive XP-950 does not.

Both models also have the ability to print on appropriately surfaced “printable” CDs, DVDs, and Blu-ray discs. Optical discs may be fading in importance these days, but this labelling function comes in handy in a few different scenarios, such as cataloging high-resolution images for long-term storage, or making music CDs.

In addition to its excellent print quality, ADF, and ability to print to discs, this Small-in-One comes with a slew of productivity and convenience features. As you’ll see on the next page, it supports a wide range of mobile connectivity options, as well as printing from several cloud sites and kinds of memory devices, and much, much more.

Epson Expression Photo XP-860 Small-in-One (Printing)Like most other all-in-one (AIO) printers in this class, though, this one, while itcan print exceptional-looking documents, has limited document-printing support. As you’ll see in the Setup & Paper Handling section later on, not only does this photo printer have exceptionally small input and output trays, but it’s also expensive, in terms of cost per page (CPP), to use.

The XP-860’s closest competitor, Canon’s six-ink Pixma MG7520 Photo All-in-One, is also a low-volume, expensive-to-maintain printer, but it lists for about $100 less. To be sure, the Epson Small-in-One holds the edge on features, notably the ADF, and a few others. But the real balance has to do with the pricing, and whether you shop around. As we wrote this (in late December 2014), Epson was offering the XP-860 for a $70 discount off list, or $229.99 direct, bringing it well within striking distance of the Pixma MG7520.

Hence, like some of the other Small-in-Ones we’ve reviewed, while the XP-860 can print great-looking documents, the per-page cost of ink, as well as a few other things, limit it as a business document printer. However, if bright, detailed, high-quality photos, with the occasional business document thrown in, are what you’re after, we think you’ll like this printer. (You’ll also get easy, good-looking scans and copies of both photos and multipage, two-sided documents.) It may not be cheap for what it is, but we doubt you’ll have quibbles about any of its output, on paper or digital.

Read entire review at  Computer Shopper.


How are Ink Cartridge Page-Yields Measured?So you’ve dropped by the office supply store to pick up some ink for your AIO printer, but it has turned out to be not as simple as you thought it would be: Your high-end, high-volume, office-friendly AIO has three different-size tanks available for it, and depending on where you look, ink cartridges are widely priced, with an even wider page-yield per cartridge. In fact, depending on the type of printer and the cartridges it uses, I’ve seen ink tanks that lasted for only 100 or so pages—all the way up to ink cartridges that hold about 9,000 prints and beyond.

Page yields come from the manufacturers, but these companies don’t get to just assign a set of numbers to a product and move on. Instead, page-yields are derived by deploying a rather rigid set of rules laid down by the International Organization for Standardization, the ISO. The ISO provides guidelines not just for electronics, but for just about everything else you can think of, including information security, food safety management, and environmental management—you name it, the ISO can develop standards and publish them.

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