When it comes to speed, the Epson WorkForce 600 presents a printing experience with few compromises: It’s the fastest in its class, whether connected via Wi-Fi or a USB cable. It also sports a sleek design. However, with superior print speeds also comes mediocre print quality, particularly where photos are concerned.
Although it’s especially tall at 9.3 inches, the WorkForce 600 redeems itself in design with its piano black finish (save for the top surface), comprehensive control panel, and paper feeder, which has a lid that folds neatly over it when not in use. A series of card slots built into the front of the printer support CompactFlash, MS, MMC, SD, and xD Cards (it also has Ethernet and USB ports).
Setting up our printer was easy, but a bit tedious. The WorkForce 600 comes with an Ethernet cable, which you connect to your PC to set up the printer’s wireless network. Following the onscreen instructions was easy, but there were lots of screens to click through. Unfortunately, Epson doesn’t include a USB cable, which is a bit of a bummer, given the $199 price.
Performance and Print Speeds
By far, the WorkForce 600 is the fastest wireless, business-friendly all-in-one we’ve tested. Over Wi-Fi, it printed a two-page Word document in 13 seconds, a six-page PowerPoint presentation in 1:21, a two-page PDF in 32 seconds, a 4 x 6 photo in 16 seconds, and an 8.5 x 11-inch print in 47 seconds. On average, it took almost 6 seconds to start printing over Wi-Fi.
The average wireless printing time was 48 seconds, which was good enough for first place among the five wireless all-in-ones we tested and well below the 1:36 average. The next fastest all-in-one was the HP Officejet 6500 at 1:01.
Once we connected to our PC via a USB cable, the WorkForce 600 printed the above documents in 14 seconds (Word document), 1:23 (PowerPoint presentation), 32 seconds (PDF), 12 seconds (4 x 6 photo), and 21 seconds (8.5 x 11 photo), respectively. This showing was good enough for another first-place finish with an average of 41 seconds (versus 1:32 for the five all-in-ones tested). So, with the exception of photos, the WorkForce 600 is just as speedy, regardless of how you connect it to your PC.
We were impressed by the WorkForce 600’s relatively quiet operation. As for the print quality, that left something to be desired. The worst were our photos, whose color was off, and their quality was often pixelated. In contrast, we would have felt comfortable framing either set of pictures printed with the Canon Pixma MX860, or even the Kodak ESP 7, thanks to their crisp detail and strong, but accurate colors. Like the HP Officejet 6500, another all-in-one with weak photo quality, the images were underexposed. At least the WorkForce 600 delivered more accurate colors, as opposed to the 6500’s, which took on a blue-green overcast.
The rest of the WorkForce 600’s test prints weren’t objectionable; they just didn’t look as pristine as those made by, say, the Canon Pixma MX860. Our black-and-white Word documents showed more fading in the letters, and the colored graphics in our PowerPoint presentations looked streaky by comparison. Overall, though, the delta in quality was largest with photos, and much more subtle when it came to black-and-white and color documents.
The WorkForce 600’s ink supplies aren’t the cheapest of any brand, nor are they the most expensive. A standard black ink cartridge costs $16.99 while individual color cartridges (yellow, magenta, and cyan) cost $12.34. This translates to 7 cents per black-and-white document, and 4 cents per color page.
The WorkForce 600 also scans and copies wirelessly. It also faxes, but not sans wires. And this printer has a built-in duplexer for double-sided printing. The fax machine stores up to 60 speed dials, whereas the standard seems to be 100, but it can receive up to 180 pages at once, which is higher than average. Its 100-sheet tray capacity, 2400 x 4800 dpi scan resolution, 25 to 400 percent reduction/enlargement range, and maximum of 99 copies at a time are all standard as well.
If you want high-capacity cartridges, these prices jump to $19.99 and $16.99, respectively. Normally, color cartridges are more expensive. Moreover, some brands, particularly Kodak, offer them for less: its black and color cartridges cost $9.99 and $14.99, respectively. At least they’re cheaper than Lexmark’s prices ($27.99 for a black cartridge and $34.99 for a color one).
Software and Warranty
Epson includes ArcSoft Print Creations software, which allows users to print photos on a wide variety of media, including calendars and brochures. The problem is, these are the only two options you have when you enter the main screen; you’ll have to download templates (often free) to print other projects. The WorkForce 600 has a two-year warranty.
If you’re looking for a wireless all-in-one for your home office or small business and speed is a top priority, the $199 Epson WorkForce 600 should be at the top of your list. Just be warned that you’ll sacrifice some print quality, particularly when it comes to photos. For the best quality, go with the $199 Canon Pixma MX860 or our Editors’ Choice, the $199 Kodak ESP 7, which offers good photo quality and inexpensive supplies. If speed and wireless freedom are priorities, though, stick with the WorkForce 600.