Aimed at home offices, the $139 Epson WorkForce 845 takes advantage of its extra-large size to bring you paper capacity more than three times as large as competing all-in-one printers. This all-in-one also features quick wireless printing speeds, a bevy of mobile printing options and an intuitive setup process. Plus, the WorkForce 845 offers two-sided printing to save you time, in addition to copying, scanning and faxing capability. You won't find a more versatile all-in-one for the price.
Like the HP Photosmart 5520 and Canon PIXMA MG6220, the Epson WorkForce sports an all-black aesthetic. The sides of the lid and the LCD panel feature a glossy finish, while the top of the lid and the sides of the printer itself look slightly duller in matte black. Rounded corners and a gently sloping lid add an air of sleekness - although not enough that you'll fail to notice the size of the system.
The Epson WorkForce 845 is a beast of a printer. Although the 17.6 x 14.5 x 11.8-inch, 22-pound Epson has a smaller footprint than the HP Photosmart 5520 (21.5 x 17.5 x 5.6 inches) and the Canon PIXMA MG6220 (18.5 x 14.5 x 6.9 inches), its nearly foot-tall height makes the printer appear enormous and adds significantly to its weight. Although the surprisingly heavy PIXMA MG6220 weighs just a bit less (20.1 pounds), the 11.2-pound Photosmart 5520 and 11.5-pound Kodak ESP 3.2 are positively featherweight by comparison.
A 7.5 x 2.5-inch control panel, with a 2.75 x 2-inch capacitive touch screen in the center, dominates the face of the WorkForce 845. The control panel features buttons for home, back and Auto Answer, as well as left and right scroll buttons on either side of the touch screen. The power button is just to the left of the control panel.
Below the control panel are two trays, each of which can hold 250 sheets (Epson boasts that the WorkForce 845 can print up to 1,000 pages double-sided), ideal for offices with high printing needs. By comparison, the more consumer-focused Canon PIXMA MG6220 holds 150 pages, the Kodak ESP 3.2 100 pages and the HP Photosmart 5520 just 80 pages. The dual trays make up nearly half of the WorkForce 845's 11.8-inch height, but if you'd rather have more room for paper than less, the extra inches will be a bonus rather than an annoyance.
Pretty much every card format is supported by the Workforce 845: SD, xD, CF and Memory Stick Pro card readers sit the left of the cassette trays, while ports for wired LAN and Standard-B USB are on the left side of the printer. Ethernet, AC and phone jacks are on the back.
Setting up the Epson WorkForce 845 proved easy. We installed the ink cartridges, waited 5 minutes for the printer to calibrate and connected to the wireless network using the touch screen. All that remained was to install the drivers on our PC and automatically download any updates. In all, it took us less than 15 minutes to set up the printer.
Like the HP Photosmart 5520 and Kodak ESP 3.2, the WorkForce 845 allows users to send files directly to the printer's unique email address (created when the printer is first activated) from any Internet-connected device. An advantage of this system is that it allows you to print documents even when you're not in wireless range of your printer, but you sacrifice speed for convenience. A 2-page black-and-white Word document printed in 58 seconds, a 2-page color PDF in 2:15 and a 4 x 6 color photograph in 2:40. HP's ePrint printed the same files much more quickly - 38 seconds, 48 seconds and 2:16, respectively. Kodak's Email Print printed a Word document in 61 seconds, a PDF in 62 seconds and a 4 x 6 photo in 1 minute and 26 seconds.
Epson offers a free app for iOS and Android devices called iPrint, which behaves very similarly to Apple's own AirPrint software. When opening a file or selecting an option to print, users are given a choice to open the file in iPrint. Tapping the wheel icon in the upper right corner allows users to choose from a number of options including paper size, layout and number of copies. The app supports photos, Web pages and Word, Excel, PowerPoint and PDF documents. Documents saved in online storage services such as Dropbox, Google Docs and Evernote can also be printed through iPrint.
For the most part, iPrint works more quickly than Email Print, but it still performs much more slowly than printing from a PC over a Wi-Fi network. A Word document, PDF and 4 x 6 photo printed in 2:40, 0:58 and 1:04 using iPrint, compared with just 0:18, 0:34 and 1:20 over Wi-Fi. Nevertheless, iPrint proved much more convenient than Canon's PIXMA Cloud Print app, which only allows you to print photos. Only Kodak offers a similarly robust - and faster - application: Kodak Document Print App printed a Word document in 56 seconds, and a PDF and photo in 54.
Google Cloud Print
Like most other connected printers today, the Epson WorkForce 845 allows users to print via Google Cloud Print. Setting up the service on the WorkForce 845 proved much simpler than on printers such as the Canon PIXMA MG6220. Using the Epson download tool, we downloaded the latest firmware and then registered the printer as a Google Cloud Print-enabled device to complete the setup process. Although - unlike AirPrint - Google Cloud Print requires a third-party app to use (we downloaded an app called Cloud Print), we enjoyed the convenience of printing directly from our Android device.
Google Cloud Print printed documents at about the same speed as other printers. A Word document printed in 1 minute and 51 seconds (compared with 1:05 on the HP Photosmart 5520, and 1:10 on the Canon PIXMA MG6220), a PDF in 1 minute and 20 seconds (0:55 on the 5520, 1:13 on the MG6220) and a 4 x 6 photo in 1 minute and 23 seconds (2:30 on the 5520 and 1:23 on the MG6220).
Without a doubt, Apple's AirPrint is the most convenient way to print documents from a mobile device using the Epson WorkForce 845. iOS users can print documents and files directly from their iPad, iPhone (3GS or later) or iPod Touch (3rd generation or later). Printing documents using AirPrint proved to be much simpler than Google Cloud Print - just tap the Open icon in the upper left corner of apps such as Mail or Safari, tap Print, select your printer and tap Print again.
Documents sent to the WorkForce 845 via AirPrint printed moderately faster than those transmitted using Google Cloud Print, but much more slowly than competing brands. The WorkForce 845 printed a Word document, PDF and photo in 1:15, 1:18 and 1:41, respectively, whereas the HP Photosmart 5520 printed the same files in 0:27, 0:52 and 1:30 and the Canon PIXMA MG6220 in 0:57, 1:02 and 1:26.
Printer Performance and Photo Quality
When printing via a Wi-Fi connection, the Epson WorkForce 845 delivered some of the fastest speeds we've seen. A 2-page black-and-white Word document, 2-page color PDF and 4 x 6 photo printed in just 18 seconds, 34 seconds and 1:20, respectively. The HP Photosmart 5520, by comparison, took 22, 35 and 49 seconds to print the same files; the Canon PIXMA MG6220 27, 45 and 57 seconds; and the Kodak ESP 3.2 took 22 seconds, 47 seconds and 1:17.
Quality also proved excellent. While text printed on plain paper appeared very subtly grainy (as it did on the HP Photosmart 5520 and Canon PIXMA MG6220), images on a color PDF looked clean and crisp when compared against the Photosmart 5520. Still, the Canon PIXMA MG6220 and Kodak ESP 3.2 delivered better clarity and vibrancy.
Similarly, in terms of photo quality, colors in a 4 x 6 photo of a Sonoma vineyard appeared much less artificially bright using the WorkForce 845 when compared with the Photosmart 5520. However, colors in the same picture printed by the Canon PIXMA MG6220 and Kodak ESP 3.2 enjoyed much smoother gradients and richer hues.
Epson offers high-capacity replacement cartridges for cyan, magenta and yellow (about 470 pages per color) for $17.08 and for black (about 385 pages) for $18.99. These prices are on a par with other manufacturers, such as HP, who offer high-capacity cartridges for about $17 each. Epson also offers extra-high-capacity packs for colors (about 755 pages) for $20.39 each and black (about 945 pages) for $29.99.
A flatbed scanner rests below the lid of the WorkForce 845, just above the touch screen. The scanner boasts an optical resolution of 2,400 dpi and a maximum resolution of 9,600 x 9,600 dpi, and allows users to scan documents to their email, a PDF, a memory card or their PC's hard drive.
The scanner can also be used as a copier (with an ISO copy speed of 13 pages per minute in black and white and 7 pages per minute in color), as well as a fax machine (fax speed of 33.6 Kbps).
While it's on the large side, the Epson WorkForce 845 is easy to set up, offers a huge array of printing options (both wired and wireless) and delivers some of the fastest wireless printing speeds we've seen from an all-in-one printer. For individual consumers, we recommend the Kodak ESP 3.2, which offers comparable quality and speed for $40 less. But those looking for business-friendly features such as a massive paper capacity and a fax machine will find the $139 WorkForce 845 an excellent choice.