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.
Copy and scan functionality will satisfy any office workhorse, and the oversize 8.5-inch-by-14-inch scanner bay is capable of up to 1,200 by 2,400 dots per inch (DPI)--more than enough for an amateur snapshot photographer. In addition, the scanner gives you access to change destinations for individual jobs to an e-mail address, a hard drive on the accompanying computer, or to save the document as a PDF image. The CD also includes Epson's Scanning software that automatically converts your scans to alternative formats like RTF editor files and extensions of the Microsoft Office suite (Excel and Word).
The WorkForce 520's print speeds are congruous with other all-in-ones in the Epson family, emerging well ahead of the four competitive systems in the plain text sample test at an impressive 12.51 pages per minute (PPM); to put it in perspective, the runner-up after the WorkForce 520 only printed 7.83 ppm, so Epson's glaring advantage in text output speed could be a valuable advantage for small businesses that print a lot of Microsoft Word documents or e-mails on a daily basis. The 520 is no doubt a winner when it comes to black-and-white text, but speed results are average for the color graphics documents, presentations, and single 4-inch-by-6-inch photos. It printed at a rate just higher than the mean in all three categories, but you won't likely notice a difference here compared with the others.
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
|Presentation speed (ppm)||Photo speed (1 sheet)||Color graphics speed (ppm)||Text speed (ppm)|
The onboard driver settings give you the option of changing quality settings to five preset options: Draft, Text, Text & Image, Photo, and Best Photo, and you also get the added benefit of checking extras like red-eye removal, reverse order, print preview, black/grayscale, and quiet mode. For quality testing purposes, we set the print quality to the "Best Photo" setting for our graphics-heavy test PDF, and the results leaned toward the cooler end of the color spectrum with light lines marring the majority of the portraits. The overall hues of the sky and flesh tones also appeared washed out on plain 20-pound white paper, but we were able to improve the color saturation a bit using Epson's own Premium Matte Presentation Paper.
Service and support
Epson backs the Epson WorkForce 520 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. You can also purchase additional coverage at $20 for an extra year or $30 for two years.
We're continually disappointed to see that Epson only includes one year of service with this device, considering theprinters offer a more forgiving two-year warranty. We understand that the Artisan series comes with more features and hardware upgrades, but still insist that Epson strive for user confidence across all product lines.
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