Epson's sales pitch for the WorkForce Pro WP-4025 DW is that it's faster than a laser printer, yet costs half as much. It's a bold claim, but this colour inkjet model is certainly cheap. You can buy it online for around £140.
Has it really got the speed to outpace today's crop of colour laser models?
The WP-4025 is a straightforward inkjet printer, so it doesn't mess about with fax features or integrated scanning. Its only role in life is to print black and white or colour documents at a rapid pace, and as such, its design is much less fussy than a lot of the other models in the WorkForce Pro range. It's quite large though, measuring 460x420mm, but the black finish and rounded corners would be at home in a creative environment, such as a design office.
Sadly there's no screen on the front. Instead there's just a series of LED lights to indicate when ink is running low or if there's a problem with the paper feed. This is no substitute for a proper display, but as this model isn't exactly laden with features, it's not that big an issue.
Epson has kitted it out with two paper trays. The main tray is cassette-style and is located at the bottom of the chassis. There's also a vertical feeder tray at the back. The main tray holds 250 sheets, while the rear-mounted one holds up to 80, but the latter is likely to mainly be used for stuff like label, envelope and photo printing.
As with most of today's models, this one is supplied with a large poster-sized guide, with step-by-step instructions on how to set the printer up. One thing we really love is the way the cartridges are so easy to fit. You simply lift a flap at the front and then push them straight into individual slots on the left-hand side of the printer. There are no retaining latches to mess around with as they simply slip into place with a firm click.
Another plus is that the software installation automatically checks for firmware and updates the printer if it finds that there's a new version available. During the install, you can also choose whether to connect this model to your network via an Ethernet cable or Wi-Fi. Alternatively, you can hook it up directly to a single PC via the USB port.
This model uses a brand new print engine that's been specifically designed by Epson to compete head-on with laser models. This is important to Epson because while it sells laser printers, it doesn't actually own its own laser technology. Instead, it buys it in from third parties. As a result, it's very much in the company's interests to have an inkjet technology that can rival laser printers for speed, running costs and print clarity.
So just how well does the WP-4025 perform across these three criteria? Very impressively, as it happens.
It took just 48 seconds to produce our 10-page black and white text document, which is only slightly slower than most mono inkjet models. Also, as it doesn't pause for very long between sides when duplex printing, it managed to spit out five double-sided pages of the same document in just 1 minute and 18 seconds.
When it comes to colour graphics, it's a little slower than laser models, but not by all that much. Our 10-page business presentation took just 1 minute and 28 seconds, while our graphics test was completed in 1 minute and 42 seconds. Photo printing is quick too, running out our 4x6-inch print in 33 seconds.
Print quality is definitely from the top table. Text is so clean and sharp that it's difficult to tell that it's not laser output, while colour documents look very bright and vivid. There was also, thankfully, no banding visible in the large blocks of colour on our business presentation. Colour snaps aren't quite as impressive, because colour and detail isn't as good as you'll get from a decent photo printer.
Crucially, this model is also cheap to run over the longer term. Using the XL T702 Eiffel Tower inks, a black and white page costs 1.9p, while a colour sheet works out at 4.6p per page, including 0.7p for paper costs. Those prices considerably undercut many of the colour laser models on the market at the moment.
It's rare that you find a product that lives up to its manufacturer's bold claims, but Epson really has done wonders with the print engine on the WP-4025. It produces excellent results at a very rapid pace and does so while keeping running costs low. As a result, it's a great alternative to a colour laser printer for those who need to print lots of colour documents.