Epson WorkForce 520 review: Epson WorkForce 520

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Epson WorkForce 520

(Part #: WorkForce 520)
See all prices
3.5 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

1 stars 11 user reviews

The Good Excellent output quality; fast output speeds; office-friendly features including auto document feeder, Wi-Fi, and Ethernet networking.

The Bad Lacks PictBridge/memory card reader; mediocre photo print quality.

The Bottom Line The Epson WorkForce 520 isn't ideal for photo printing or graphics-heavy documents, but this all-in-one device delivers office-capable features like an auto document feeder and multiple connection options at an effective price. For light-duty office work, the Epson WorkForce 520 is a solid choice.

7.0 Overall
  • Design 8.0
  • Features 8.0
  • Performance 6.0
  • Service and support 6.0

The $130 Epson WorkForce 510 is a direct replacement for the WorkForce 310 we reviewed last year, but it adds wireless printing for the same price. The 510 isn't perfect, and this certainly isn't a device for high-volume photo prints, but its fax and copy functionality in addition to a 30-page auto document feeder (ADF), wireless printing, Ethernet networking, and a five-ink cartridge bay earn the WorkForce 510 our recommendation for a small office with light printing duties.

Design
The general shape and design of the WorkForce 520 is reminiscent of the WorkForce 310, with simple changes to the control panel that lies across the front lip of the device. You still get the same elegant curve of the ADF input tray, and the exact dimensions measure 18.1 inches wide, 21.3 inches deep, and 11.9 inches tall while it's in printing mode with all the trays folded out. Like the 310, the control panel features a two-line LCD display with horizontally scrolling characters; the display provides operating instructions and troubleshooting tips in the event of a paper jam or incorrectly installed ink cartridges. The display can also hold up to 60 speed- or group-dial fax numbers, five of which can autodial from the shortcut buttons on the far right panel.

The rest of the control panel contains the most commonly used shortcut buttons for each function, including shortcuts to Copy, Fax, and Scan, as well as a directional arrow pad, buttons that toggle between black and white vs. color prints, a set of keys for the fax machine, and the five autodial buttons already mentioned.

Just underneath the control panel, you'll find the central output bay that corrals all completed documents and photos with a plastic fold-out tray and a lip that pops out of the end to stop sheets from falling out of the printer. The back of the printer houses another fold-out tray that's used to hold up to 100 sheets of plain paper or 4-inch-by-6-inch photo paper.

That number is less than the mean for an all-in-one, so if you have a high volume of copies or faxes to send, you may want to consider adding 30 additional sheets to the ADF that comes out of a hinged door on top of the printer. Finally, the ADF can also handle a variety of paper types, including photo paper, presentation paper, A4, half letter sizes, and up to 10 envelopes.

The Epson disc that comes with the printer shows you how to install the drivers that allow the device to communicate with your computer. Some of the initial settings like date, time, and language are handled directly on the two-line LCD, but Epson offers three ways to establish a connection using the software: a hardwired USB cable, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, and a network connection over Ethernet. The USB installation process is simple, and the system lets you choose which extra software features (Abby FineReader Sprint and Epson Scan) you want to install with the drivers. Connecting over Wi-Fi is as easy as locating your SSID identifier and punching in your network password.

Under the hood, you'll fine Epson's standard five-ink cartridge bay, a boon over the standard tricolor that we see in most sub-$150 printers like the Canon Pixma MP495. We've touted the return on investment of multicartridge ink jets printers before, so suffice it to say that the ability to swap individual colors as they drain will save you money in the long term.

The WorkForce 520 uses Epson's 125/126 cartridges that cost $11.39 per standard-capacity color (yields 335 pages for 3.4 cents per color page) and $15.19 per black cartridge (yields 550 pages for a more affordable 2.8 cents per black page), with high-capacity models also available on Epson's Web store. The cost for a page of color is slightly above average for an all-in-one (AIO) at this price level; the cost for a full page of black text is significantly less than average, solidifying our recommendation to use this printer for light-duty, text-based projects.

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