This review is based on the UK model, the Epson WorkForce Pro WP-4535. This model is identical to the Australian WorkForce Pro WP-4530, and we have substituted Australian pricing for the printer and its consumables.
Despite its successful ranges of laser printer, Epson has spent plenty of time over the last few years trying to prove that an inkjet really can do the job of a laser. Inkjets are still generally considered to produce better colour images, but their fuzzy text quality, indecent running costs and lack of speed (once you get beyond the fast but deeply unsatisfactory draft mode) has made them a traditionally poor choice in offices. The Epson WorkForce Pro WP-4530 is one of the more expensive inkjets we’ve seen. But it might just prove a rather adept office all-rounder that can take the place of many a laser.
Visually it’s closer in design to a laser — and a rather bulbous one, at that. It’s no mere slip of a printer, and its 13.8kg weight makes it a heftier proposition than a good many laser models. That’s probably not surprising when you look at just what the Epson comes equipped with.
Epson WorkForce Pro WP-4530: Features
Besides printing, the Epson WorkForce Pro WP-4530 includes scanning, copying and faxing facilities. The 1200dpi scanning component is impressive, with a well-built lid that offers plenty of flexibility for covering larger magazines and books. Its scan quality is good too, with strong reproduction of colours, and the Epson WorkForce Pro WP-4530 will double up very nicely as a photocopier.
You also get a duplex ADF (Automatic Document Feeder), so you can easily copy both sides of your source material. Two paper sources are provided — a substantial 250-sheet tray is situated at the front, while another 80 sheets can be fed in from the back. This makes for versatile paper handling that allows you to almost seamlessly move from one paper size to another.
Unusually for an inkjet — although not perhaps surprising, given its laser aspirations — an optional 250-sheet tray can be bolted on to the Epson WorkForce Pro WP-4530, totalling up to 580 sheets in all. For an inkjet that’s very impressive figure.
Both Ethernet (albeit old-school 10/100) and 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi connections are included, so the Epson can be added to virtually any network within minutes. In addition, Epson Connect lets you tap into iPads and smartphones for extra versatility. Inevitably, given the sheer wealth of options (especially the presence of fax facilities), the control panel of the Epson WorkForce Pro WP-4530 is vast. The navigation system is adequate, even if its button-aided navigation is slightly old-fashioned.
The 2.5in screen is quite nice too, but we didn’t find it quite as easy to jump backwards and forwards between the many menus as we would have liked. Overall, though, the menu is solid given how much it has to pack in. No memory card slots are offered, although you can use the PictBridge port to plug in a USB drive, should you want to print off pictures without using the PC.
Epson WorkForce Pro WP-4530: Performance
Although the Epson WorkForce Pro WP-4530 can hit top speeds of 15.4 pages per minute, for decent text you’ll want the 14.6ppm standard mode. The quality here falls short of emulating that of a good laser, although its text is still crisp enough to beat that of every other inkjet on the market. It’s only when you look at the lettering with a magnifying glass or get to the very lowest font sizes that the letters become less than beautifully defined.
The text is even more crystal clear at the top mode, although the rate of 2.3ppm may preclude you from relying on this too often.
Auto Duplex printing is included with the Epson WorkForce Pro WP-4530, and the standard mode comes down from 14.6ppm to 8.6ppm. This is a fall of 41%, which is by no means excessively high, although whether this paper-saving option gets used extensively will depend on whether or not the users mind the overall speed dropping to single figures.
The Epson WorkForce Pro WP-4530 is very capable at colour printing. Ignore its fastest 7.5ppm rate, and you may find its standard 6.7ppm mode offers decent colours. The palette is a little light compared to the intense palettes boasted by some of the better photo models from Epson. But the colour printing is very decent, particularly if you can wait for the great results with photo paper at the slowest 1.9ppm mode.
Inkjets tend to be more expensive to run than lasers — but the Epson WorkForce Pro WP-4530 is very much an exception to that rule. Epson's high capacity 676XL cartridges are $36 per colour and $52 for black, with 2400 sheets from the monochrome cartridge at 1200 from all three colours. This translates into a running cost of 2.1cents per black page and 9cents per colour page. These costs are very low, making the WorkForce Pro WP-4530 a good value printer in the long term. The cartridges are also easy to replace, with their convenient front-mounted compartment readily accessible.
The Epson WorkForce Pro WP-4530's RRP of $379 may seem high, but you can get it for $50-80 less if you shop around. More importantly, the sensational running costs will quickly make up for this. The extensive features set also makes it one of the most versatile models we’ve ever seen. Our only concerns are that the text quality isn’t quite on a par with good lasers, and that colour graphics quality isn’t quite comparable with the best photo inkjets. However, if you don’t need the absolute best in photo quality, the Epson otherwise has the overall brilliance needed to accomplish every task.