Epson is shaking up the business-class color printer status quo with its inkjet WorkForce printers, which whittle the price of ink consumables to unheard-of lows. One of those printers is the Epson WorkForce Pro WF-R5690, which Epson says cuts the cost of color printing in half when compared with the economics behind color laser printing. Buy this printer, Epson estimates, and you won't need a refill for two years.
The CRN Test Center got its hands on a review unit of the Epson WorkForce Pro WF-R5690 and took it through its paces. Here is what we found:
Epson flips the ink economics of the WorkForce Pro WF-R5690 on its head by selling ink in bulk, as opposed to selling it by itsy-bitsy, expensive cartridges. With the WF-R5690, Epson customers buy ink similar to the way budget wine sippers buy their chardonnay -- by the bag. Epson charges about $100 to replace each of the three color ink pouches (yellow, magenta and cyan) and $150 for a black pouch.
The WF-R5690's Replaceable Ink Pack System (RIPS) can deliver up to 50,000 pages without changing the ink, the company says, in Epson's own version of the popular continuous ink systems being rolled out by the likes of competitor HP Inc.
Designed as an affordable option for offices that rely on one central printer, the WF-R5690 is positioned for small offices and enterprise work groups that need easy-to-maintain hardware and an affordable way to print in color.
The multifunction WF-R5690 prints, scans, copies and faxes. It's tested to deliver 20 pages per minute for color and black and white copies, and 11 pages per minute for two-sided printing. The WF-R5690 has a two 250-sheet-tray capacity.
Rear connectors include Ethernet, RJ11 and USB ports. On the front side is a 4-inch color touch-screen display along with a USB port for self-serve printing. Wireless support includes Wireless LAN IEEE, WiFi Direct and Epson Connect for printing directly from mobile devices.
Another standout features beyond Epson's unique Replaceable Ink Pack System: It's extremely easy to set up -- taking about 40 minutes from closed box to printing, scanning and faxing. Replaceable ink packs are also easy to add and remove -- not one mess.
Epson's real hope is to win the hearts of laser loyalists unwilling to consider inkjet as a viable and affordable alternative. Although we did not test for power consumption, Epson claims the WF-R5690 uses up to 70 percent less power than laser printers and can cut in half paper consumption with two-sided printing.
When CRN compared WF-R5690 prints with those of a comparable color laser printer, prints were noticeably more detailed with Epson.
There are also a number of partner- and service-friendly aspects to the printer. For starters, the WF-R5690 has fewer moving parts, reducing the odds of mechanical breakdowns.