Epson WorkForce Pro WP-4525 DNF review
The best of both worlds: laser speeds and inkjet image quality, with plenty of features and stunningly low running costs
Review Date: 22 Sep 2011
Reviewed By: David Bayon
Price when reviewed: £165 (£198 inc VAT)
Features & Design
Value for Money
When Epson came into the PC Pro offices to demonstrate its new WorkForce Pro line, it wasn’t at first clear if we were seeing an inkjet or a laser. It’s big and boxy like a laser, with a 250-sheet paper cassette, an ADF and both Ethernet and fax capabilities. It also has running costs far below what we’ve come to expect from an inkjet – but the Epson WorkForce Pro WP-4525 DNF is exactly that: an inkjet all-in-one that takes on lasers at their own game.
The first step towards that is the ink. One black and three colour tanks slot straight into a compartment on the front of the printer, with a choice of three capacities. Go for standard (1,200 pages of black, 800 of each colour) and your page costs will be 1.5p for mono and 5.9p for colour. But there are also XL (2,400 and 2,000) and XXL (3,400 and 3,000) sizes, both of which lower that to an impressive 1p for mono and 4.2p for colour, not to mention dramatically extending the time between replacements. The printer itself costs a reasonable £198 inc VAT to buy, so it effectively rebuts every cost argument in favour of a laser.
It’s also fast. We couldn’t get anywhere near the claimed maximum of 26ppm – even in economy mode it topped out at 15.6ppm – but the Epson consistently rolled standard-quality pages out at 14.6ppm in mono and 8ppm in colour. This isn’t going to trouble the 20ppm speeds of our A-Listed colour laser, the Lexmark C540n, but when you consider the Lexmark’s print costs of 1.9p for mono and 10.6p for colour, it’s certainly a worthy trade-off.
The quality question is more difficult to answer, however. Placed beside prints from a good laser, we found we could always pick out the Epson page, but that doesn’t mean it fails in this regard. It can’t quite match the crisp, sharp edges of a laser, or the smoothness of complex shapes, but it’s right up there at the top of the inkjet pile for text quality. Colour pages and diagrams were just as clean, although solid areas of colour showed slight speckling to give their inkjet source away.
Since it’s an inkjet, the WP-4525 is also capable of a bit of photo output on the side. Again, it won’t stand up against the best consumer inkjets, but it produced a 6 x 4in best-quality print in a decent 1min 5secs and our A4 test montage in 2mins 30secs. The quality was better than we expected, with only slight grain and some pale colours marking it apart from genuine photo devices.
The Epson’s scanner picked up detail in bright areas of our test photos that some scanners bleach out, and text was sharp once we upped the resolution above 150ppi – at that level edges were quite frayed. There was quite a bit of grain in solid areas of colour, but nothing too disastrous. It copies standard documents quickly, and we fired a four-page A4 colour document through the ADF in 1min 16secs.
There were a few glitches along the way here, though. There doesn’t appear to be a way to copy without the duplicate gaining a 5mm white border, and there’s no option to run off draft-quality copies to save on ink. The ADF copy also slightly distorted a few of the smaller images on its way through.
But all things considered, the Epson WorkForce Pro is a real best-of-both-worlds device: perfect for a small office that might want the speed and low running costs of a laser, but still has a need for the quality and flexibility of an inkjet. It doesn’t quite hit the heights of either, and we’re not entirely convinced it will stand up to the heavy workload of some office lasers just yet, but the fact it even comes close is hugely impressive for the price. For a small or home office trying to decide between inkjet or laser, the WP-4525 is the closest thing to a perfect compromise we’ve yet seen.
Author: David Bayon
Having had a few ink-jets over the years, and up until a few years ago only one HP4l circa late nineties laser b/w printer (it never really needed replacing). the issue has never been print cost or economy with the ink jets, it's the constant head cleaning, realignment and wasted ink that has put me off them. I am now the owner of a HP laser MFD and would never consider an ink-jet as a replacement. We can all show a little patience when it comes to low PPM times but having to send 13 prints to the thing just to clean the head make my blood boil.
By SimonCorlett on 23 Sep 2011
I use the excellent HP Officejet Pro 8500, which is a similar machine, with (according to your review) similar running costs. Why no mention of it in this review?
Richard Keys on 29th september 2011
By RichardKeys on 29 Sep 2011
Bulk tanks dry up heads
The problem here is to get the low costs you need the bulk tanks, and I can be confident of the fact these would dry up at some point before I'd used all the ink.
@Simon Yes I agree faffing about cleaning printers is a productivity drain.
Begun to move everything over to laser, except the large format A3+ Inkjet we use for Artworks and Photography.
Epsons have a terrible habit of going pear shaped just after the warranty runs out, so to get value out of the big A3's you also have to fork out for a long warranty and the rip off cost of ink.
It's a gravy train, we all know it, and Epson love it.
I'm looking at Canon more and more for Ink and HP for Laser.
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