Published on January 17th, 2013 | by Greg0
Have Space? Need A Serious Printer? Try The Epson WorkForce WP-4540
Rarely can we fit our overall opinion into a headline. There are typically more caveats and conditions than we can fit into a quippy sentence. But today’s piece of gear is big and bold, fast and capable, and was a great addition to our office for the new year. While our printing needs don’t go far beyond a hundred or so pages a week, we do a fair bit of color printing, and most of the time, it’s a last minute rush to get some presentation or materials ready. Speed matters, as do inks that won’t smear as we grab them from the printer and run to a meeting. And printing costs are always a huge factor as well, one which has led us to laser printers in the past.
But what many folks don’t know is that new inkjets not only stack up against their laser competitors, but can in many cases be cheaper (and they require much less energy as well). Most of us print a few copies at most, and need occasional color capabilities, where inkjets really get a chance to shine. And the Epson WorkForce Pro WP-4540 shines a bit brighter than most, as an all-in-one model that currently occupies the top of their small office lineup. All of Epson’s line comes with wireless capability now, and this one can copy, scan, and fax with the best of them. And it offers more features than you can shake a freshly printed page at- a front panel USB port for connecting to thumb drives, built-in ethernet, a duplex automated document feeder, and a touch panel for controls.
We’ve tried out quite a few Epson printers in the past, and they regularly occupy our workspaces and homes thanks to excellent photo quality and sturdy durability. They also generally look pretty sharp, and work well across multiple platforms- we test printing not only from Windows 7/8 and Mac OSX desktops and laptops but also, when possible, from iOS and Android devices. Epson Connect and Apple AirPrint might not be as widely used for business purposes as in your personal life, but we found it exceedingly handy for when we just needed to print a quick snapshot to have hard copies, or for when we were using our iPads and had a PDF open.
Unlike most of their printers we’ve tested out in the past, this one offers more options when it comes to paper handling, and a far larger capacity- up to 580 sheets! That makes it the largest printer that we’ve ever tried, and that does come with the corresponding downside: it is the largest printer we’ve ever tried, to the point where we had to find a special space for it in our Manhattan-sized dwellings. And we couldn’t take this one on the road for personal tests as easily, since it weighs in at nearly 40 pounds. Those with a small home office can probably pass it by, unless you truly print reams at a time- in which case, you’ll find the ability to print up to four reams without changing ink cartridges an excellent feature. Now, we didn’t test that (seems a shame to use that much paper and we aren’t quite a print shop), but we did take a closer look at another important number: the 16 page per minute ISO claim. On single-side mode, using default settings, we did see page rates at nearly that speed, and closer to ten when printing in mixed color mode. Those are serious numbers, faster than most any printer we’ve tested, and faster than most any laser.
Print quality is good too, with clear text that is easily comparable with any other inkjet. Photos are not quite as good as we’ve seen from other Epson models (they have a separate line aimed at photography), and photo printing is also fairly slow. Another set of numbers: using high capacity cartridges (which run under $40 for the black; not the smaller included ones) and estimating from their 2400 page yields, we get just under 1.6 cents a page. This is a great deal, and thus we definitely recommend the WP-4540 for anyone who needs serious printing capabilities and has space to fit the bulky body. Available now for $270 or so.