The market for affordable, fast printers for small offices is on the rise, but it is laser printers – usually budget mono models – that have been making the most noise of late. This inkjet effort from Epson not only claims to be faster than its laser-based competitors for smaller jobs, but it’s also marketed as being cheaper to maintain.
That latter claim is worth considering; ‘up to’ 50 per cent cheaper, in terms of ink costs per page, could be hugely attractive to many small or home offices after a semi-professional printer. And make no mistake, that’s exactly what the WorkForce Pro WP-4025 is; a thoroughly advanced, and easy to maintain printer that easily versatile enough.
The core features are impressive. A total paper capacity of 330 A4 sheets (250 in the main tray, and a further 80 in a rear tray) will come in handy in large offices where printers can go unmaintained for days on end, though that high capacity comes at the expense of design; the WorkForce Pro WP-4025′s meaty 460x420x284mm, 11.9kg bulk take up a lot of space – so much that we had expected to find a scanner/copier on its lid.
Print quality is taken care of by its maximum print resolution of 4800x1200dpi, easily enough for most office-produced work (though this isn’t a suitable printer for photos). It’s very easy to use, too, with Wi-Fi setup simple – we had the WorkForce Pro WP-4025 on our home network in minutes. There are also hardwire options, with Ethernet LAN and USB ports on the printer’s rear. What the WorkForce Pro WP-4025 does lack, however, is any kind of touchscreen operation, while a USB port for instant printing from thumb drives and cameras would be useful (though perhaps not welcome in a big office environment).
The dominant software is Epson’s Easy Photo Print, which comes in PC flavour on a CD, or as a (almost instant) download to a Mac (via Epson’s Download Navigator software). It’s intuitive, fast, an improvement on native software in both Windows 7 and the Mac OS, and we especially liked its thumbnail presentation of photos that come complete with exhaustive technical information and the chance to make myriad positioning and layout changes.
Online dimensions & apps
Epson’s Connect software lends the WorkForce Pro WP-4025 an online dimension, though the smartphone app itself, Epson iPrint, is nothing particularly special; photos can be selected from a handset’s built-in camera and layout, paper size and print quality chosen, but the orientation of the page has to be changed manually, and there’s no option for printing anything less than full-page prints (besides, photos aren’t something this printer is designed for at all). PDFs, Word and web pages can also be printed. Apple AirPrint and Google Cloud Print both also work with the WorkForce Pro WP-4025. Away from smartphones and tablets, there’s also an email address available if you register online; email a document to that address and it will instantly print on your WorkForce Pro WP-4025.
Speed & print quality
In terms of speed, the WorkForce Pro WP-4025 is indeed fast. From standby, it takes around 20 seconds for the printer to warm-up and process a printing request (and around 11 seconds from warm), but we timed a 4-page colour A4 printout at 40 seconds. That average 10 seconds per page figure is reasonably good, though we did manage as low as 10 seconds in total (including 4 seconds communication/warm-up) for single page jobs. Just as impressive is the speed of two-sided duplex printing, a feature that’s becoming more and more in demand in eco-conscious offices. The WorkForce Pro WP-4025 managed to produce the same 4-page colour A4 document in a total of 110 seconds – that includes drying time, and works out at about 17 seconds per page. The quality is always excellent; text is bright, clear and detailed, with various colour and mono graphics displayed with precision. Images are also well produced – the WorkForce Pro WP-4025 is easily good enough for producing literature for clients. Images are detailed and saturated enough for such documents, though don’t mistake this for a photo printer – it’s not, and produces lacklustre glossy prints.
Ink & costs
XL versions of Epson’s DuraBrite Ultra inks – used across the WorkForce Pro range – Cyan (T7022), magenta (T7023) and yellow (T7024) are rated at 2,000 pages each, while the yield of the fourth, black ink (T7021) has a quoted yield of 2,400 pages. Based on a price of £100 for the lot, that works out at around 5p per page – a figure that will, in reality, edge downwards given the high yielding black cartridge. Better value XXL versions are also available for a total of around £156, which with identical yields of 3,400 pages achieve a cost of 4.5p per page.
Epson's WorkForce Pro WP-4025 lacks some core features - notably a touchsreen, scanner/copier and a USB/SD card slot for direct printing - but makes up for it in sheer speed and efficiency. Quiet, quick and with constantly impressive results, the WorkForce Pro WP-4025 fulfils its tight brief, with the added bonus of relatively low maintenance costs. Given its concentration on core print features only, we're not sure if its smart phone/tablet app features are strictly necessary, but they too bring some nice extra remote printing options.