Epson Workforce 600

PROS: Great price, great color quality, good features in a nice design.
CONS: Slow printing, slightly below average text quality, small paper capacity.

Features: B
Ease of use: A
Color accuracy: A-
Text quality: C-

30-page black-and-white text print time: 2:17
30-page color print time: 4:03

PRICE: $199

THE SHINY BLACK WorkForce 600 sports a very nice design in which the primary user interface panel slides out and into place from its tiny, 18.2-inch by-13.6-inch frame. And it only weighs 18.3 pounds, so setup is going to be a lot easier than with some of the huge units covered in this review.

In this report

The GCN Lab tested tests eight multifunction printers suitable for small, midsize and, in at least one case, even large workgroups.

Lead story: Colorful language
HP Color LaserJet CM3530
Oki Data C5550n MFP
HP Color LaserJet CM2320
Brother MFC-9450CDN
Lexmark X872e
Panasonic KX-MC6040
The ink option
Xerox Phaser 6180MFP/N

The WorkForce 600 can print several different paper sizes, including letter and legal, and has options for specialty printing such as envelopes and index cards.

The fax component is surprisingly robust and able to store as many as 60 numbers and contacts in its speed dial. It can receive as many as 180 pages in its memory at a time, so you probably won’t lose a document if you run out of paper — which is a real possibility given the tiny paper capacity.

The scanner is easy to use, and all of the functions are made easier by a bright LCD screen that clearly defines the available user options.

The WorkForce 600 would have gotten an A for its Features grade based on its interface, but the paper tray held that back. There is only a vertical slot in the back to load papers, and it can only hold about 40 sheets. The addition of a paper tray would improve the Work- Force’s usability, though this would probably add to the unit’s price and size. Also, documents end up backwards in the receiving tray, with the last page on top, which is normally the opposite of how most people want to receive their prints.

The WorkForce’s text printing time of 2 minutes, 17 seconds for our 30-page text document was surprisingly fast for ink. But the slow 4 minute, 3 second time for our 30-page graphical test file shows its speed limitations.

Its color accuracy is excellent, making this a good choice as a photo printer. There is even a media bay for xD-, CF- or USB-based digital cameras to directly interface with the WorkForce. And you can connect to it from any 802.11b or g compatible network, thanks to built-in wireless.

However, the quality of text printing isn’t very good. It will create readable text documents, but if you look closely you will see lots of jagged edges on the letters, which can cause a problem if your document contains any fine print. Although this is C- level text quality, it should be fine with normal 12-point text, adequate for most documents.

The WorkForce 600 is obviously designed for a single user or at most a small group of people. It could also be used as a network printer for photographs or even as a fax machine. But when you need to print, you probably want to go with a faster, toner-based system with a larger paper handling capacity.

Still, if this were a personal MFP for a person who only occasionally needed to print large documents, it would work fine, and look really nice doing it.

Epson America, 800-463- 7766, www.epson.com

About the Author

John Breeden II is a freelance technology writer for GCN.

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