Unlike many budget printers that leave you with only two small ink tanks that produce a limited spectrum of color, the Epson WorkForce 310 offers a unique five-ink cartridge bay: one for each of the separated black, cyan, magenta, and yellow cartridges in addition to an extra slot for one more black tank. The extra black cartridge is useful for when you need a backup, but it's worth noting that the printer will not operate without the additional cartridge installed.
To factor the most cost-efficient price per page, we're using Epson's XL black and color cartridges that cost $20 and $17, respectively. In accordance with Epson's posted ink cartridge yields, we determined the cost of printing to be an affordable 2.5 cents per page of black ink and 3.2 cents per color. Again, the catch is that you'll wind up spending double to purchase two black ink cartridges at a time.
To its credit, the cost of the extra black cartridge isn't such a big deal when you consider the incredible output speed of this Epson printer. After coming away from the Lexmark Impact S305's impressive 7.31 pages of text per minute, we were blown away by Epson's 13.11 pages per minute, more than double the speed of competitive devices from HP, Canon, and Kodak. Oddly enough, the rest of our test documents (photos, graphics, presentation, and snapshots) offered standard speeds, if not a bit on the slow side. However, businesses that mostly print plain text documents will certainly see productivity gains with this device.
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
|Presentation speed||Photo speed (1 sheet)||Color graphics speed||Text speed|
Though we weren't as thrilled with the WorkForce 310's overall print quality, it's certainly better than what you'd get from a public photo kiosk. The internal driver settings let you choose between Photo or Best Photo mode, but keep in mind that you'll wait significantly longer for the finished product with Best Photo. Text quality offers a similar choice between simple Text and a more complex Text and Image mode. We noticed subtle differences between the two, but not nearly enough in our snapshot photos and graphics documents to warrant the use of extra ink. We're satisfied with the printer's capability to reproduce colors and fine text lines, but many of the color blends in our snapshots obviously suffer from color blocks and an undersaturated haze. Bright colors in prints don't seem to pop as much as they should, which is usually the case with business-oriented printers.
Service and support
Epson backs the Epson WorkForce 310 with a limited one-year warranty that includes toll-free customer support weekdays from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. PT. Further support is available online through a model-specific troubleshooting guide, FAQs, e-mail support, driver updates, and document downloads. We're disappointed to see that Epson only includes one year of service with this device, considering the Epson Artisan series printers offer a more forgiving two-year warranty. We understand that the Artisan series comes with more features and hardware upgrades, but we have to insist that Epson should strive for user confidence across all product lines.
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