The WorkForce Pro WP-4525DNF is a 4-in1 inkjet designed for companies with average monthly requirements around the 2000 page figure. With the WorkForce range, Epson is offering an alternative to the laser, promising to combine the advantages of laser and inkjet technologies to offer a 'high-performance' machine that 'saves time and money when compared to laser'. A real revolution as far as Epson is concerned.
Its memory of 128 MB means it can be shared easily within a group of twenty people.
With an inkjet positioning, Epson is hoping to offer more affordable products that are also more economical to run than lasers but without undermining performance. Does the WorkForce fulfil its promise?
HardwareAesthetically speaking, Epson has retained the lines of its MFP lasers for the WorkForce. It isn't any bigger than most domestic printers (46 x 42 x 34.1 cm for a weight of 13.8 Kg). The plastic buttons on the front look rather average but the semi-transparent coating and the machine’s finish inspire confidence. The letters at the end of the name of this Pro WP-4525DNF tell us that it does double sided (duplex), is network ready and will fax. For security reasons no wi-fi connectivity is available on this range. The 6 cm colour screen is surrounded with buttons. We like the layout and clarity of the controls. There’s a USB port very close to the front. Postscript and PCL languages are supported as standard on most laser printers but are not supported here, which does seem a tad strange for a product that's targeted at the enterprise sector. To make up for this and any language requirements users may have, Epson is also launching the the WP-4095DN (monofunction) and WP-4595DNF (4-in-1) next month, both of which support these languages.
The front of the WP-4525DNF
The loader, which you access from the front, has a capacity of 330 pages. Photo paper is loaded at the back (capacity: 80 pages). For those wishing to separate headed and standard paper, it's possible to add a second loader (250 pages),
which gives a total capacity of 580 pages.
The front loader
You access cartridges from the front, which is practical, and you simply press on them to eject.
As with most laser printers, the WorkForce Pro provides for the collection of used ink (Epson Maintenance Box: £20.32 for 50,000 pages).
The ink is collected at the back of the printer
SpeedEpson is claiming mono print speeds of 16 pages per minute (ppm) and colour speeds of 11 ppm. Our tests showed it to be even faster than this (21 ppm mono and 14 ppm colour). You can extend drying times if you wish but we didn't have any issue with this at standard settings. While print speeds are very close to those for the HP Photosmart 7510 e-All-In-One, double-sided speeds are a good deal faster at 10 ppm. The fastest duplex speeds we've measured up until now are around 4 ppm. Compared to the laser offering, the WorkForce doesn’t match up to the 5-star laser Brother MFC-9970CDW (30 ppm) but it gives a respectable showing and proves as fast as the Xerox Workcentre 6015 NI (21 mono and 14 ppm colour).
While not specially designed for photos, photo print speeds are also close to the HP machine (83 seconds for an A4 and 42 for a 4 x 6").
Photo print speeds in seconds
Office document prints are of excellent quality. While you can see the droplets slightly on the graph below – 3x enlargement – to the eye, it looks like laser. The shading is well rendered with good sharpness.
The dE 94 colour difference graph nevertheless shows that there’s an issue with the blue, red and grey and therefore that accuracy could be improved. This is an issue for those who need to print a logo with a standard shape and graphics.
Average deltaE 94 (colour difference): 11.7
The higher the value, the lower the accuracy.
For comparison, good screens score under 3.
While the dE 94 average is lower for photo prints than on office documents, the mediocrity of photo prints is there for all to see. The colour and the black & white prints generally tend towards blue and grey. Overall there’s a lack of sharpness, particularly on the contours of faces.
Average deltaE 94 (colour difference): 5.8
Scanner and copierThere's a CIS type scanner with a duplex option and you can send your scan to a PC (in pdf, mail or wsd format) or straight to a USB key.
The copy mode is full of features: duplex, assembling copies, customisation of format and size as well as the type of paper (4 x 6", A4, A5) and quality. Nevertheless watch out for the drying times for copies with a rich graphical component. Expect it to take 10 seconds to dry a black & white copy and 24 seconds for a colour: not too bad for the mono but only just okay for colour.
Average deltaE 94 (colour difference): 6
As is often the case with copiers, the quality is pretty average so it's best to confine yourself to copying text documents on this machine.
Energy consumption & Noise levelsThe WorkForce goes into standby automatically after twenty minutes. It’s a shame that you can’t set this yourself, as twenty minutes is rather long.
Epson is however advertising this model as giving an 80% energy saving on competitor laser printers, on which after all the standby average is 20 W, with consumption during printing averaging around 500 W. Nevertheless some lasers and most inkjets do now drop to around 1 W on standby. The WP manages 2 W. During printing it compares with other inkjets.
Noise levels of around 50 dB(A) just about put it in the 'quiet' category.
Cost per page: 3.5 pence, a record!With XL and XXL cartridges the cost per page is 3.5 pence. This is easily half the average cost per page calculated on other printers tested. The lifespan of cartridges is in line with what you get with laser products to avoid having to change them too often. If you compare the cost per page here with a colour laser such as the Brother MFC-9970CDW (8.9 pence per page with XL cartridges) or the Samsung CLX-3185FW (13.6 pence per page), you can see that this model really does bring print costs down.
A question that often comes up on our forum is whether it’s possible to force a print when a cartridge is showing empty. The answer is that you can’t and that you have to have some in reserve as if any of the colour cartridges are empty you won't be able to print any documents on the machine (including prints that don't use this colour). If however the black cartridge is empty, the colour cartridges can take over and give you a composite black though you should only use this as a backup solution as quality is affected. You will however still be able to use the scanner or fax.
ISO lifespan for text XXL Cartridges
|Cartridge||Price||ISO lifespan||Cost per page|
|T7011 (black)||£28||3400||0.8 pence|
|T7012 (cyan)||£30||3400||0.9 pence|
|T7013 (magenta)||£30||3400||0.9 pence|
|T7014 (yellow)||£30||3400||0.9 pence|
ISO lifespan for text XL Cartridges
|Cartridge||Price||ISO lifespan||Cost per page|
|T7021 (black)||£20||2400||0.8 pence|
|T7022 (cyan)||£18||2000||0.9 pence|
|T7023 (magenta)||£18||2000||0.9 pence|
|T7024 (yellow)||£20||2000||1 pence|
- Cost per page: 3.5 pence
- Double-sided / Ethernet
- Good office document quality
- Good duplex print speeds
- Epson Connect: gives printer own e-mail address and print services from mobile devices
- No PCL and Postscript support
- Standby can’t be set
- No double paper loader
With this robust, economical and easy-to-use 4-in-1, Epson is offering an alternative to lasers. Cartridge capacity is adapted to the enterprise sector and cost per page is half what you’ll pay on a laser machine. Those who require PCL and Postscript language support will have to wait for the launch of companion models (March 2012) before equipping themselves with a WorkForce Pro.