Mobile inkjet printers have been around for some years now, and—like everything else tech—they have gotten better and better with the passage of time. However, unlike most other devices, their makers have only been able to miniaturize them so far. Case in point: If you want to print letter-size business documents, a mobile printer must be at least 8.5 inches wide. There’s just no getting around the basic physical size of paper!
Plus, printers require at least a modicum of moving parts to function. That precludes miniaturization beyond a certain point—but that hasn’t stopped printer makers from trying.
Take the topic of this review, Epson’s WorkForce WF-100 Mobile Printer. Epson claims it is “the world’s lightest and smallest mobile printer.” As we discuss in the next section of this review, that just may be the case—we couldn’t find a comparable model (apart from some snapshot-only models) to disprove that. But as we pointed out in our recent review of competitor Canon’s newest mobile inkjet, the Canon Pixma iP110 (a photo-centric model), miniature printers like this one are costly. Not only are the purchase prices for the printers high, but the operational costs are also off the chart, in terms of cost per page (CPP), compared with full-size printers.
At a $349.99 MSRP, the WorkForce WF-100 costs about the same as the above-mentioned Pixma on a list-price basis—assuming you factor in the Pixma iP110’s optional $99.99 battery, a component that comes standard with the WF-100. (Also, note that while the list price on the WorkForce WF-100 may be $349.99, it was on sale on Epson’s Web site and several resellers for $100 off, or $249.99, when we wrote this in mid-March 2015.) That battery is a big deal: On the WF-100, it’s not an optional add-on, but built-in and included in the price. Furthermore, as the WorkForce WF-100’s name implies, it is part of Epson’s office-centric WorkForce line of printers; others of its kind are designed to print business documents. Canon’s Pixma iP110, on the other hand, is a photo printer with an emphasis on printing images first and business documents as a fallback position.
Whether you’re printing photos or documents, though, the WorkForce WF-100 is, like the Pixma iP110, undeniably expensive to print on. As you’ll see in the Setup & Paper Handling section later on, depending on what you print, the WorkForce WF-100 can be a little more expensive to use than the Pixma. But that’s somewhat hair-splitting: In either case, neither of these models, nor any other mobile printer we’ve tested, is economical to use for mass printing. (That includes HP’s offerings, the most recent of which is the $399.99-list Officejet 150 Mobile All-in-One, which also performs scans and makes copies.) While these miniature machines are very handy for certain applications, you pay dearly for not only the machines themselves but also the day-in, day-out upkeep.
As with full-size desktop printers, which type of mobile printer you should buy depends on what you intend to do with it. The distinction here brings to mind the differences between standard desktop photo printers and desktop office printers. What are you more likely to be printing on the road: Photos? Business documents? Unlike the Pixma iP110’s output, which would most likely consist of one page per print run (i.e., a photo), the WorkForce WF-100’s print jobs might often be longer, seeing as it’s meant as a document printer first. But even despite that document bearing, this is still an occasional-use printer no matter what you’re printing, unless money is no object. Everything you print on it is expensive, comparatively.
Our bottom line? The WorkForce WF-100 is all about convenience, and just as you pay more for a beverage at the corner store, the convenience of a mobile printer has its price—both when you buy it and when you refill it. If you’re willing to live with that, though, this is a great little printer.
Read the entire review at Computer Shopper.