In the previous post I mentioned we'd retired our old HP DJ1220C on the grounds of feebleness and frailty and the high cost of care. The lively new replacement is an Epson Workforce WF-7110DTW, an A3 colour inkjet printer with built in duplex printing. Here's our initial review. We like it.
However following an incident with Epson's "logistics partner" during parts supply we cannot recommend this product for a business environment. You'll not find spare consumables (ink cartridges, etc) in high street stores or retail parks. You have to rely on Epson to supply or hunt around the internet. Epson's choice of partner makes cartridge renewal an uneconomic reality.
The printer is clearly designed, as it's name implies, to work in an environment where it is shared between family/co-workers. It has a USB connection which was useful during set-up, but the main connectivity is over a local area network. It also supports cloud printing by 3-4 different methods. It makes it relatively easy to print from mobile devices with LAN or Internet connection. You can also print by sending a document via email to an account at Epson which then sends the formatted print to your printer via the internet.
The print quality is fine for most business usage. It is not really a photo quality printer, though it does a reasonable job at printing photo's when run at its "high quality print" setting. The colours on the photo prints look a bit washed out compared with our Oki colour LED printer. If we'd wanted to print a lot of photographs we'd have chosen a different, more expensive, inkjet printer.
So far the paper handling seems to work just fine on A4 and A3 paper. We're mostly using 80 gsm office printer paper and there have been no mis-feeds. The duplex printing is achieved by dual-pass of each sheet but requires no user intervention other than changing the print setting to specify double sided printing. There was a slight vertical offset between the two sides of each page which needs manual intervention during the print layout design, for example a block of colour specified on two adjacent pages will appear about 2mm out of register if you hold the printed page up to light.
When printing double sided at high quality the printing speed drops considerably from the advertised rate, though for routine office printing it is just fine. Having two separate paper trays/cartridges as standard is a real gain for network printing, we keep one loaded with A4 paper and the other with A3 paper.
We like the Epson Durabrite Ultra inks used by this printer. They are oil based pigments for all of the CMYK inks which gives a smudge free, effectively waterproof result. There is very little ink creep even on lower quality paper. The black is not as dense as a laser printer, but it is perfectly acceptable for day to day business use.
The starter cartridges supplied with the printer don't last long, so be sure to order extra spare cartridges when ordering the printer, changing the cartridges is easy. So far we cannot comment on the number of pages we'll print for each cartridge, but having separate cartridges for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black will save money in the longer run if the use of colour is unbalanced (using one colour more often during printing). The "maintenance cartridge" is an additional unit, a small plastic tank filled with absorbent material. As the printer cleans/charges the printer nozzles the scrap ink is dumped into the Maintenance Cartridge. I've seen no prediction from Epson as to how frequently it has to be renewed, at £18 retail it is an additional operational cost, let's hope it doesn't need frequent changes.
The network administration and monitoring of the printer works well. Setting up for WiFi was straightforward and changes after the initial set-up were not difficult. It is possible to password protect the admin settings. We use Google cloud print and this printer includes the interface as standard. There is a similar facility for the Apple cloud printing system, but we haven't used that facility.
Edit 7th June 2014: We've come across what looks like a persistent problem with Google Cloudprint/Epson printers. There are quite a few reports of this over a sustained period when we searched for solutions. It is an annoying rather than serious problem, but Epson do need to get together with Google to create a proper lasting fix. It appears to be at the printer firmware level. This problem has been evident too long.
The nature of the problem is when left unused for a few hours the printer appears to drop off-line so far as Google Cloudprint is concerned. We have to use the printer's web based Admin interface to Suspend then Resume the printer service to get the connection running again. We still like the 7110DTW printer, but would not recommend it for businesses who wish to make extensive use of Google Cloudprint in their operations.