For some time now, we (as well as several other reviewers) have been predicting a convergence of the color inkjet and color laser printer marketsâ€”that the day would come when deciding between a multifunction color laser and a business-ready inkjet all-in-one (AIO) no longer constituted such a clear choice.
Looks like that day is here.
With each new manufacturing cycle, the distinction between these two imaging technologies (in terms of speed, output quality, and print volume) has become increasingly less…distinct. Nowadays, several higher-end business-centric inkjet models, such as HPâ€™sÂ OfficeJet Pro 8600 Plus e-All-in-One Printer, churn out prints as fast as (or, in some cases, faster than) some of their similarly priced laser counterparts. Plus, often, thereâ€™s no significant difference in output quality between the two technologies. As a matter of fact, inkjets frequently do a better jobâ€”especially when printing photographs and intricately shaded graphics.
Where most color lasers have held on to their supremacy, though, has been in their lower per-page operational costs, or cost per page (CPP). Traditionally, that has made them a better value over the long haul. In other words, laser machines are typically cheaper (often,Â muchÂ cheaper) to use. Small offices and businesses with high-volume print demands rely on them to help keep day-to-day printing costs down.
Enter Epsonâ€™s WorkForce Pro WP-4590 ($433.99 at TheNerds.net). This $499-MSRP inkjet AIO not only delivers one of the lowest per-page costs of ink weâ€™ve seen, but itâ€™s also one of the few inkjets we know that delivers CPPs close to or below those of several high-volume lasers. That makes the WP-4590 one of the most-economical-to-use multifunction printers on the market today for small and medium-size businesses.
In addition to the low per-page operational cost, the WP-4590 comes with a few other features that place it in direct competition with high-volume color lasers. It supports, for example, both of the two most common page-description languages, HPâ€™s PCL and Adobeâ€™s PostScript, used by the majority of laser printers. (We discuss why this is important in the Design & Features section on the next page.) In addition, its performance on our print-speed benchmark tests matched or exceeded the print times of several color laser models weâ€™ve tested.
Not only is the WP-4590 fast and inexpensive to use, it prints great-looking documents and photographs. We were also impressed with how well it scanned and copied our test document pages and images. In fact, aside from its $499 list price, which is hefty for an inkjet AIO, and the lack of support for wireless networking and flash memory cards, we couldnâ€™t find much to quibble about with this printer.
And in fact, when we wrote this, a few online outlets were offering this printer for more than 10 percent off the list price. Sure, $450 to $499 may seem like a lot to pay for an inkjet machine. But if you useÂ this one for what itâ€™s designed forâ€”to print and copy hundreds, even thousands, of pages each monthâ€”what you save on ink will quickly make up for (and surpass) the difference in cost between the WP-4590 and most other high-volume inkjet AIOs.
When all else is equalâ€”print quality, speed, ease of use, convenience features, and so onâ€”our advice is to choose the model with the lowest CPP. In this case, the WP-4590 delivers the speed and economic benefits of a color laser, as well as the stellar photograph printing youâ€™d expect from an inkjet. Unless you simplyÂ mustÂ have memory-card and Wi-Fi support, we canâ€™t think of any reason not to recommend this printer.
See full review at Computer Shopper.