Epson’s giant WorkForce WF-3530 looks every inch the business printer. The sturdy chassis has room for dual paper trays, each capable of holding 250 sheets. There’s a built-in fax modem, Ethernet, 802.11n Wi-Fi, automatic duplexing and a 30-sheet ADF. The only thing lacking is a touchscreen, which makes navigating the menus and entering wireless keys a slightly annoying experience. The 6.3cm colour LCD is clear and bright, however.
The Epson claims to rival laser devices for both running costs and speed. Affordable high-yield ink cartridges take care of the former claim, providing mono prints for 3.9c – close to the most affordable laser printers in this month’s test. At 11.7c, colour prints are also competitive, but 6 x 4in photos cost a pricey 31c each.
Not surprisingly, quality takes a back seat in favour of speed. Draft prints emerged at a nippy 18.8ppm, but the results were akin to that of an aged dot-matrix printer. Upping quality to normal settings improved matters, but output dropped to 14.6ppm, and still lacked clarity.
Copying is spritely, with acceptable draft-quality copies flung out in nine seconds, but scanning is the Epson’s strongest suit. Here it combines speed and quality, with 200ppi colour A4 scans taking only 16 seconds each.
As you might expect, photo printing isn’t one of the Epson’s hidden talents. Contrast is good, but prints lack the rich colours of the consumer inkjets here, and a thick grain obscures fine detail. Prints are slow, too, with 6 x 4in photos taking 2mins 9secs.
It’s no photo specialist, and it isn’t capable of producing the best-quality documents, but the WorkForce WF-3530’s priorities lie elsewhere. It’s quick, feature-packed and running costs are generally quite low. That makes the Epson a great choice for a small office.
Epson’s WorkForce WF-3530A is a feature-packed workhorse that sacrifices quality for low running costs and speed. Read the review.