Epson WorkForce 40 Color Inkjet Printer
At a Glance
Aimed at small-office users, the Epson WorkForce 40 color inkjet printer gets two things right: It achieves impressive speeds (at least, it did in some of our tests) and it's inexpensive to purchase. Unfortunately it gets many other things wrong--it produces substandard print quality, and Epson charges way too much for ink.
The WorkForce 40 ($130 as of 3/3/09) set a speed record among tested inkjet printers on plain paper, generating 18.4 pages per minute (ppm) for text and 5.1 ppm for color graphics--far faster than the current average in both categories. Once we switched to Epson's own photo paper, however, the printer slowed considerably. Regardless of the paper used, the overall print quality was disappointing, consisting of gray, fuzzy text and grainy photos. Even the color palette suffered, moving from natural-looking on plain paper to distractingly pinkish on Epson's photo paper.
Like its performance, the WorkForce 40's features include more letdowns than highlights. Connectivity is versatile, offering you USB, ethernet, and Wi-Fi. In contrast, the paper capacity is low: The rear, vertical input tray holds a maximum of 100 sheets of letter-size paper (you have to feed legal one sheet at a time).
The tray's telescoping extensions fit together too tightly; we had to use our fingernails to pry them upward. (We checked two other Epson machines with the same design and encountered the same problem.) We also struggled with the control panel, which has five buttons, each with an LED and most with puzzling icon labels. The LEDs flash at different speeds to indicate different states, but you have to consult the manual to figure them out.
Replacing the ink cartridges was simpler. The printed Quick Guide shows how to open the cartridge cover and expose the four cartridges, which slide in and out easily. The on-printer instructions are embossed on the black chassis and very hard to read.
Unfortunately, the WorkForce 40's ink costs are high. At the time of our review, the $17, standard-size black cartridge lasted 230 pages, or an outrageous 7.4 cents per page. Each color (cyan, magenta, yellow) cost $12.34 and lasted 310 pages, or nearly 4 cents per page--making a four-color page cost 19.3 cents. The high-yield versions were also pricey: $20 for a 390-page black cartridge (5.1 cents per page) and $17 for each 485-page color one (3.5 cents per color, or 15.6 cents total per four-color page). You'll save money only if you use the $28.49, extra-high-yield black cartridge (there are no color versions); it prints 835 pages at an affordable 3.4 cents per page.
The Epson WorkForce 40's extreme print speeds are impressive. But for its small-office audience, the expensive ink, disappointing print quality, and design hassles make it a dubious choice.