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Epson WorkForce 610 Printer Review

by The Review CrewAugust 25, 2010

The Epson WorkForce 610 is a subtle refresh of last year’s Epson WorkForce 600. We don’t have a review for its predecessor, but the 610 is almost the same printer with the exception of an updated onscreen menu layout. For $200, you get a versatile mix of features such as an auto-document feeder on top of the printer for hands-free copying, scanning, or faxing of up to 30 sheets of paper, wireless and wired networking, and a comprehensive control panel that offers one-touch access to some of the printer’s most popular features. While we continue to applaud Epson for its consistently fast-paced output speeds and easy printer setup, we are disappointed that the 610 lacks an auto-duplexer, an extra hardware add-on that can print on both sides of a sheet of paper. The omission surely isn’t a deal breaker, but it’s something we expect to come included with a $200 printer.

Auto-duplexing aside, business and home offices alike can count on the Epson WorkForce 610 to churn out high-quality black-and-white and color documents, thanks to a robust four-ink cartridge bay. The WorkForce 610 earns our endorsement by making work life easier with plenty of customizable buttons to control, a convenient onboard memory card reader, and optional creative software to close the loop between work and play.

Design and features
Fans of the Epson WorkForce series will immediately recognize the physical similarities between the 600 and the 610 models. Aside from the small help button just to the left of the display, the 610 is a carbon copy of the 600. A slightly mirrored finish surrounds the main control panel and wraps around to the side of the printer, while the rest of the unit flaunts a professional matte black. Space-savers beware: the 18.3-pound WorkForce 610 isn’t for offices with limited space. It measures 18 inches long by 14 inches wide by 9.3 inches deep, mostly because of the auto-document feeder that stands tall on top of the scanner. You’ll also lose additional desk space once you extend the front-loading input tray.

The 610 also has a more robust control panel, especially compared with its cheaper $120 linemate, the Epson WorkForce 310. The extra $80 you pay for the 610 nets you a more manageable 2.5-inch full-color LCD that shows print information, graphic representations of remaining ink levels, cartridge and wireless installation instructions, and more. Much of this information is replicated onscreen thanks to the Epson printer driver, but we’re sure wireless users will appreciate the autonomy in seeing it displayed on the unit. The 610’s entire control panel also rotates to provide multiple viewing angles.

Panning from left to right on the control panel, you’ll find a power button, a four-way shortcut pad, help and zoom buttons, a standard directional pad, and a collection of number keys and telephonic functions for the fax machine. We found the controls comprehensive and easy to use, although we hoped it would support user-customizable hot keys. The only other notable feature on the front panel is a media card reader that offers inputs for Compact Flash, MS, xD, and SD memory cards. There’s also a PictBridge USB port underneath for printing and save images directly from a PictBridge-compatible USB thumbdrive.

Just above the control panel, you’ll find two hinged bays that expose the 1,200 by 2,400 dpi scanner glass and ink cartridge repository. Its scanning functions let you save an image in three ways: to a specific file folder, as a PDF document in a folder, or as an attachment in an outgoing e-mail message. The included NewSoft Presto Page Manager software helps to organize your scanned images, but its Optical Character Recognition left us with numerous spelling mistakes and character confusions.

The WorkForce 610 also benefits from a 30-sheet automatic document feeder on its top that automatically picks up individual sheets from a stack in the tray. Any multifunction or all-in-one printer for business use should include an ADF, but keep in mind that feeders always add significant bulk to the printer. When you’re not copying or faxing stacks of paper, you can store up to 100 sheets of plain 20-pound white paper or 10 envelopes in the input tray that folds out of a rear panel. Finally, an extendable lip on the bottom of the printer corrals all outbound prints.

Two hundred dollars seems to be the least amount of money you’ll pay for an Epson WorkForce printer with wireless connectivity. The WorkForce 610 features a built-in 802.11 b/g wireless print server that took about 5 minutes for us to set up and start printing. Unlike other printers that require the user to set up a proxy network, the 610 prompts you to establish a direct wireless connection right out of the box, without the help of a USB or Ethernet cables to muck it up. There’s also an Ethernet port on the side of the device for a wired connection to an office network.

The Epson WorkForce 610 printer ships with four separate ink cartridges for cyan, magenta, yellow, and black. 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. Based on Epson’s posted ink cartridge yields, we determine the cost of printing to be an affordable 2.5 cents per page of black ink and 3.2 cents per color.

Performance
Although we’re pleased with the components and the build of the 610, we’re even bigger fans of Epson’s capability to inject a boost of speed into its inkjet printers. The WorkForce 610 registered an impressive 7.31 pages of text per minute, but the 610 pushes even further with 13.24 pages per minute of plain black text. The graphics and presentation speed tests netted similar results, but we noticed a significant drop in photo output speed. However, when printing photos, its speed dipped to less than a page per minute, and the 610 barely makes it out of last place, edging out the HP Officejet J6480 by just 0.06 page per minute. Since the 610 falls under Epson’s WorkForce line, it isn’t meant to produce lightning quick photo speeds; however, it’s something you should know if your business happens to be printing photos.

Though we weren’t as thrilled with the WorkForce 610’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.

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The Review Crew
The Review Crew is a group of beat editors, writers, and consultants that have been working together for years. They know just about everything about everything collectively and have published their collective work under the Review Crew brand moniker for almost 20 years.