Review: Epson WorkForce 600

Print faster, or scan and edit photos with Epson WorkForce 600. (February 23rd, 2009)

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Product Manufacturer: Epson America

Price: $199.99 US

The Good

  • Fast. Quiet. Easy to set up and use. Wired or wireless networking. Water resistant prints.

The Bad

  • Copy and scan quality could be improved. Copy autofeed jammed occasionally.

Epson's new line of all-in-one printers, designed for small business and home offices, include scanner, copier, fax machine, built in Ethernet, and Wi-Fi networking. The Workforce 600 is an inkjet printer that Epson claims can print at nearly the same quality and speed as a laser printer. This all-in-one printer also includes a memory card reader and an LCD screen to select options and view pictures before printing.

The Look

The outer case of the WorkForce 600 is made of a mixture of matte and glossy black plastic. One problem with the glossy sections is that they seem prone to scratches, but since printers are generally kept in one place, this should not be much of an issue. The front of the printer sports the main controls on a tilting panel that you can be adjust to three different positions for viewing from different angles. All the printer's functions can be controlled directly from the device, including maintenance functions, such as head cleaning and alignment.

 WorkForce 600

I configured the printer to run wirelessly on several computers with no problems whatsoever. Initially, I set up the WorkForce 600 on an Intel iMac and later connected Windows XP and Vista laptops and desktops. The included well thought out instructions provide step-by-step guides to properly set up the printer. In less than an hour, I set up the printer up and ran it on five different computers with all of its functions working properly.
 WorkForce 600

The WorkForce 600 uses four separate ink cartridges, a black cartridge, and one cartridge for each color ink, magenta, yellow, and cyan. The separate inks make it easier to replace only the needed color, unlike multiple-color ink cartridges found in older printers. Epson's DURABrite Ultra inks are smudge, water, and fade resistant. Although I can't test their claim that the ink lasts up to 105 years without fading, I did test the water claims. Even while using a photo as a target for my water pistol, the ink did not run, although the paper got a little funky after a while. They recommend you use Epson paper for the best print results.

Epson offers three different capacity cartridges that range from standard to extra-high. You can buy each of the color cartridges separately in the standard ($13) or high capacity ($17) options while the black cartridge is available in standard ($17), high ($20), and extra-high ($29). Epson claims that the extra-high capacity option provides 3.5 times more prints than the standard black ink cartridge (About 835 pages) and my experience bore this out. I recommend buying the extra-high capacity black cartridge, because I printed over twice as many prints as the standard cartridge for less than double the price. The Epson WorkForce 600 ships with one extra-high capacity black cartridge and standard color cartridges.

Print Modes and Speed

One of the greatest advantages in the WorkForce 600 is its printing speed. Compared to other ink jet printers I have used, this one is easily the fastest and does not sacrifice quality for that speed. While it doesn't quite reach the speed of a laser printer, as Epson advertises, it does come close. In testing, I printed a 10-page text document in just under a minute, but when color was introduced, speeds did slow down. I also tested printing several color intensive Photoshop files and found that it took roughly 2-3 minutes to print a 20MB image. You can choose five different print modes, and speed varies with each mode. Draft, best used for text only, gives you the best speed, but you should use the slighter slower Text mode for documents you want to archive. The default Text & Image mode produces the best quality for mixed media documents. The WorkForce 600 also includes Photo and Best Photo modes, so you can print photographs for presentation or to frame. The Best Photo color output is stunning. Not all settings are available for all paper types, so choose your media and print quality wisely.

Copy and Scan

The copy and scan printer functions work decently, but are not as impressive as the print features. The copier was quick but in some cases added noise to the image. When you want to copy photos, the scan function should be used, not the copier. The copier also features an autofeed that copies multiple pages quickly but a few times during testing, it jammed and the original document was wrecked. When in doubt, do not feed your valuable original document into the paper feeder; place it on the scanner glass instead.
 WorkForce 600

The 2400 dpi scanner also works over a Wi-Fi connection, which is extremely handy in a location with several computers. The included software features three different scanning modes, Home, Office, and Professional. These same modes are found on their scanners and other printers with scanners. The Home mode provides basic settings for scanning items such as photographs, magazine pages, and newspaper articles. The Office mode provides settings for color, grayscale, and black and white images, plus it lets you use the document feeder. The Professional mode includes additional settings for fine tuning scans such as histogram adjustments, tone correction, and image adjustments. Overall scans were of average quality but colors didn't always come out as clear as I would like while using the default settings.

The WorkForce 600 is arguably one of the fastest ink jet printers on the market and produces professional quality output suitable for any office environment. The ease of set up and use also make this printer a great choice for integrating into a home or small office. With the addition of average copy, scanning, and faxing capabilities, the printer is more than worth the purchase price.

Epson also provides free project templates you can download from the Epson CreativeZone. Business users may not find much useful in that area, but if you need to send cards or want to try some fun activities with the kids, check it out. As of Feb. 12, Epson announced a discount program with "American Express OPENSM Cardmembers to shop at EpsonStore.com and receive five percent off their entire online purchase when using their American Express Business Card."

Edited by Ilene Hoffman, Reviews Editor

by Bradley McBurney


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