Just Another A4 Ink-Jet MFP? This One Prints on 13″x19″ and Scans up to 11″x17″

We know first hand that end-users and small business owners don’t want to deal with sales people, sales pressure, service contracts, and leases when they’re trying to acquire an MFP for their office. Thankfully for them, a wide variety of A4 MFPs are available via a few clicks online or a visit to an office superstore. However, if they need A3 capability (print and scan on up to 11″x17″), like it or not the hard sell is something they’re forced to deal with, because nearly all printer vendors restrict the availability of A3 devices to their direct sales or dealer channel. The complaint among small-business users is that they know what they want and they just want to buy it, not be hounded by sales people, have strangers coming in to “analyze their workflow,” sign contracts, and be pressured to upgrade in just a few years.

If they require only A4 (print and scan on up to 8.5″x14″), the process of course is much easier – a visit to CDW, or Lexmark, Xerox or Hewlett-Packard’s Web sites is often all it takes.

Epson’s WorkForce WF-7520

For those small-business users who require A3 imaging, Epson has an alternative: the WorkForce WF-7520, a color MFP that prints on up to 13″x19″, and scans in color up to 11″x17″ via a  flatbed platen or 30-sheet automatic duplexing document feeder (however, the document feeder can’t duplex scan 11″x17″/A3 originals – it can only simplex scan 11″x17″/A3 originals). It ships with Epson Dura-Brite 127 high-capacity ink cartridges. It’s also got wired Ethernet and WiFi wireless network connectivity, duplex printing, duplex-scanning auto document feeder and dual trays with a total 500-sheet media capacity – the kicker is that you can buy it at Epson’s Web site with just a few clicks and it’ll show up at your door in about three days. It retails for only $299.99 and there’s no sales people, contracts or leases. And as we’ve seen over and over again in our test program, vendors of ink-jet printers and All-in-Ones continue to make it easier and easier to set up and install these products. We’ve also seen how much easier it is to maintain them and install their supplies (simply a set of four ink cartridges) versus laser-based units’ toner cartridges, waste toner units, and developing and photoconductor units. (With installing ink cartridges, it’s typically a no-brainer: unwrap the ink cartridge, lower a front door, and slide the ink cartridge into its color-coded slot. Plus, ink-cartridge capacity grows with each new ink-jet print engine, extending the easy maintenance intervals. With many laser-based units, you’ll need to carefully remove packing, shake the toner cartridge, and usually carefully fit it into place, along with the sometimes required photoconductor and developing units. And, if you have a conscience, you must save the packaging so that you can box the empty units up and mail them back for manufacturer recycling, adding to your cost. All in all, this isn’t a process that you’d want the summer intern or anyone who’s isn’t willing to take a little care attempting.)

The real kicker is that these office-level ink-jet products sell for substantially less than laser-based counterparts ($299.99 for Epson’s WorkForce WF-7250), and their black and color cost per page has become much more affordable and usually considerably more affordable than comparable laser units. Go to any BTA vendors’ Web site and try to purchase an A3 color All-in-One/MFP with just a few clicks and for under $5,000 – you basically can’t. You must click the “Where to Buy” button and enter your contact information. Then, sit by your phone and you know what happens next…

Obviously products like the WorkForce WF-7250 aren’t built for heavy page volumes – but in most offices and enterprises, A3 print and scan represents only a small portion of total page volume. The A3 WorkForce WF-7250, plus as many as needed A4 office ink-jet All-in-Ones and printers, might be all that’s needed. Plus, the cost savings using this setup would be considerable, if not remarkable.

Of course, these office ink-jet products are just for lower print volumes, and print speeds are still slower, right? That’s already changing. Last week, we got a look at Memjet’s 60-ppm A4 color ink-jet printer side-by-side with competitive laser products. With its single-pass, page-width print head, it effortlessly and quietly churned out prints (you can see a video of the office Memjet here), while its color laser counterparts labored along – often very loudly – with periodic delays for calibration checks. You can be sure there are other high-speed office ink-jets are in the works, too.

As we’ve said, we can easily see a scenario where an Epson WorkForce WF-7250 in conjunction with its B-510 color ink-jet printers could easily provide the digital imaging and distribution needs of most small companies. The only things missing from this setup are enterprise-level fleet management and secure workflow capabilities such as scan to an e-mail server and network folders.

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10 Responses

  1. Richard says:

    Unfortunately I’m returning my WF-7520 and will need to buy a Brother as I wish to double side print onto A3 but this won’t do it. The ‘Paper Handling’ section of specification lists A3 and other paper sizes and then states ‘double sided printing’ but I could not get this to happen and the Epson support advised double sided A3 printing is in fact not possible! (Under ADF it does exclude A3 from duplexing, but this is different to the Paper Handling section)
    Another gripe is that it does not seem possible to scan mutiple magazine pages to a networked computer as a single file, which is stupid as networked computers are typically not adjacent to the machine; to scan multiple pages it is neccessary to use the computer software so one must turn the page on the scanner, run to the computer and press scan, then ‘add page’, then run back to the scanner!

    • Thanks for pointing out that the WF-7520 does not duplex print or scan media larger than letter/A4. We missed out on that one big time and need to modify some posts and put it into the forthcoming Hands-On Test Report.

      As far as the scanning of multi-page documents is concerned, you need to use the PDF or Multi-TIFF scan setting. This is not an issue particular to the WF-7520, it is an issue with any scanner due to the nature of image files. You can easily select these settings when using the Epson Scan driver to pull scans to your PC. However, in a network scenario, it would be more convenient to push scans to your PC because you would only have to make a single trip to the WF-7520.

      Here’s how it’s done: Load up the Epson Event Manager utility on the target workstation and make sure that “enable network scan” is checked in “network scan settings.” Next, use “make job settings” to create a new “scan to pc” job that specifies multi-tiff output (and compression settings if desired) and scanning via the document feeder. Then, specify the destination folder on your workstation and name it something like “multi-page scan.” You can also use “job management” to create comments or show the settings of the scan job on the control panel of the WF-7520. Finally, use the “scan-to-pc” dropdown menu to assign this job to the Scan-to-PC event.

      Now, head over to the WF-7520 with your originals, insert them in the document feeder and select “scan to pc.” Next, select the name of your workstation from the list and press the color or BW start scan buttons. Wait until scanning stops and gather up your originals. When you return to your workstation, a multi-page TIFF file should be in the specified folder–be patient as it may take a few minutes to send and create the image file, depending on the size and complexity of the document.

      TIFF is the only image format that I know of that supports multiple pages. The only problem is that in order to split up a multi-page TIFF, you need to use a utility like tiff splitter or make a PDF out of it and split it up using Acrobat or an equivalent PDF tool.

  2. Richard says:

    Thank you for your comment Terry. I now have an update regarding the A3 duplex printing. When I purchased the WF-7520 the Epson website specification for my country stated the list of paper sizes it would handle (including A3) and it also stated that it duplex prints them (with no limitations entered). At the end of the day after I discussed my issue with their customer support, the web site was changed to read that duplex printing is A4 only!

    However my experience with the Brother MLC-J6910DW was no better. It does print duplex A3 as stated but when set to duplex it has a 22mm unprintable area (not stated in the promotional material) which meant that I either lost content or had to reduce the size, neither of which is suitable for my requirements. It is possible to print a full single side only with duplex de-selected, then manually turn iover the page, but this is also the case with the WF-7520. Unfortunately for the Brother, its colour intensity has a distinctly faded look (even when set to ‘vivid’) compared to the originals and Epson, and it was significantly slower at duplex A4 printing for a number of pages (I tested 20 sides on 10 sheets for colour with graphics and for mono) so I returned the MLC-J6910DW and took back the WF-7520. (The Brother did seem to print single pages as quickly though I didn’t time this as it is the larger jobs that will impact my schedule, and its scanning may be quicker too, but printing is my priority).

    With regard to scanning at the scanner, I was wanting to scan multiple pages of a magazine or book to a single PDF file, so the ADF cannot be used, I’ve been able to do that on an office laser multifunction and of course the laser has nothing to do with the scanning or network performance so why isn’t it possible on this machine (or the MFC-J6910DW it seems too, though I didn’t look deeply into it).

    • Thanks for more great information Richard! You may be interested to know that because of your earlier comment, we had to go back and change some specs in our posts and Hands-On Test Report. When I informed my Epson contact that we needed to revise the report that was in their hands for review, they acknowledged that duplex scanning was limited to Letter/A4 but said “However, you should be able to print two-sided up to 13” x19” with the built-in duplexer.” We had to inform them that they were misinformed because we went back and double-checked these items after receiving your comment. Automatic duplex printing is also limited to Letter/A4.

      However, I still contend that there’s a lot to like about the WF-7520. It is sturdy and quiet, image quality is as good as it gets, and the DuraBrite inks are very good. Plus, it’s creative and advanced scanning features are state-of-the-art (in-class). On the other hand, its software could be better organized, there are no solutions and there are virtually no management capabilites.

      The bottom line is that as far as affordable A3 printing/scanning is concerned, we feel that the WF-7520 is still the best choice as long as you don’t required management capabilities. Others may be cheaper to buy, but you get what you pay for.

      Thanks again for your input.

  3. Ben says:

    (This might be a double post as I’m not sure whether my last comment was successfully submitted.)

    Thanks for the review on YouTube. Does anyone know where I can purchase one in CA now? Both Epson and OfficeMax currently do not have any in stock. Staples and Office Depot only have WF-7510s. My 8-year-old HP printer needs to be replaced soon…

    • We received both comments and thank you for contributing to our community.

      The WF-7510 lacks the 7520’s duplex and 2nd cassette and it is odd that you can’t buy one. Maybe Epson needs to re-evaluate their distribution strategies? Anyway, a quick visit to Amazon.com revealed that they have 5 available at $329, $30 over MSRP. Methinks that since they are over-priced on Amazon.com, that there must be a supply shortage. Get ’em while they’re hot because you won’t get a better value on another A3/Super B printer from any other vendor.

      • benjasmine says:

        Thanks for the prompt reply. I believe the ones that are being sold on Amazon.com are sold by third party merchants, not by the official Amazon.com store, which is more reliable. I’m in an OfficeMax store now and they do have a few in stock. It’s not available on their website however. I’m going to grab one home now 🙂

        Ben from SoCal

        • Good luck with it because we enjoyed testing it. Tip: Go into your printer default settings and turn on draft mode and grayscale. The results are perfectly readable/archiveable and will save you tons of ink and $. When you need presentation quality, go into printer properties before you print and up the quality to the desired settings.

      • benjasmine says:

        Thanks for the tip!

        I’m still in the process of setting up this little monster… Everything (almost) is good so far.

        I did encounter a weird issue: I was following the set-up guide (Start Here sheet) carefully. But, after Step 4-8, the printer stopped operating in the same way as the guide suggested.

        According to Step 4-9, the printer should “prime the ink delivery system” for about 5 minutes. Well, that didn’t happen to my printer. Instead, my printer turned itself off, which is ironic because Step 4-9 also cautions that “Don’t turn off the printer while it is priming…”

        At first, I was thinking that maybe the printer was just rebooting and it would turn itself on again shortly. However, it just stayed off until I finally turned it on after like 15 minutes.

        After I turned it on, the printer apparently began priming, but I wasn’t sure if that was what the printer was really doing. I left for a while and when I got back, Step 4-10 (Wi-Fi Setup) didn’t show up on the LCD screen either. For a while, I wasn’t sure what to do with it because, obviously, the printer and the guide have separated… Finally, I decided to move on to Step 5 first as Step 4-10 suggested.

        Hopefully, this isn’t a bad indicator/sign… I’m going to install the software this week.

        Thanks again!

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