Epson WorkForce 435
- — 25 February, 2012 22:00
|Name||Multifunction printer: Epson WorkForce 435|
|At a glance:||Excellent photo print quality,Second-slowest print speeds in March 2012 roundup,Standalone fax functionality,30 page sheet-fed scanner|
|Summary:||Great photo printing quality, but an odd mismatch between print performance, functionality and form factor.|
Epson’s WorkForce 435 was the largest printer tested in our March 2012 roundup, and the second-heaviest at 7.1kg. A large, simply laid out keypad dominates the front, with a simple text-based monochrome LCD in the centre.
The WorkForce is bulky; I was able to set it up on my own, but a second person would have made it much easier and safer to get the printer out of the box and onto the bench. The lid sort of ‘floats’ on the top rather than being tightly hinged (assumedly to allow you to scan thick objects like books), which adds another degree of awkwardness to the unboxing.
The four (Cyan/Yellow/Magenta/Black) ink cartridges were easy enough to install, though the printer could be slightly clearer with its on-screen instructions.
Running setup on the PC took a little over ten minutes, and shouldn’t cause you any trouble unless you have an existing Epson printer set up on your system. If you do, it may be necessary to either uninstall the existing printer (fine if you’re replacing it), or hunt through the WorkForce 435’s setup CD and install the drivers manually if you want to maintain support for both the old and new model.
You’re given the option of connecting to the printer via Wi-Fi or USB; I chose the former, and connected the printer to our Wi-Fi network using Wi-Fi protected setup (WPS). If your router doesn’t support WPS, or you’d prefer another method, you can also set up a Wi-Fi connection by temporarily connecting the printer by USB cable and copying the existing wireless settings from your PC that way.
The full numeric keypad makes tasks like copying and sending faxes easy (yes, the WorkForce 435 also acts as a standalone fax, no PC required). However, the limited two-line text display leaves menus and settings a bit tedious to get through. Not tremendously difficult, mind you, but tedious.
Advertised print speed is 4.3 pages per minute (ppm) for normal quality monochrome, and 2.2ppm colour. In our standard PC World printer tests, it was able to achieve an impressive (by its own claims) 6.9ppm for monochrome text and lineart, 4.5ppm for monochrome text and graphics, and just 1.7ppm for colour text and graphics. Full-page A4 photo prints at best quality took the second-longest time in our roundup, at 9 minutes 6 seconds per page.
Print quality is equal to the Epson Stylus NX430, which shares the same ink cartridges. The quality is among the best seen in our roundup, with brilliant colour accuracy and sharpness. There’s a bit of fine-grained image noise visible on close inspection of prints, but there’s also a lot of fine detail that the ‘smoother’-printing models can’t replicate. Like the Stylus NX430, the WorkForce 435 offered the best-equal image quality in particularly dark photographs, and an equal second-best (to the Brother MFC-J430W) in print quality overall.
With standard cartridges ($100 for a full set) and using the page-yields specified by Epson, ink costs are approximately 11 cents/page black, and 35 cents/page colour. With ‘expanded’ cartridges ($120 for a full set), that falls to 7 cents/page black, 28 cents/page colour. Despite the two models using the same cartridges, ink yields on the WorkForce 435 are specified as very slightly lower than those of the Epson Stylus NX430.
Scanner-wise the WorkForce 435 includes both a flatbed for single-page scanning, and a 30-page auto document feeder. There’s a fast monochrome scan speed of 13 seconds/page at 300dpi, but it’s notably slower in colour at 1 minute 47 seconds per page at 600dpi, and 5 minutes 50 seconds per page at 1200dpi. Scan quality is much the same as from the Epson Stylus NX430, though a little more washed-out. There’s a good balance of low noise and fine detail, but edges are quite soft.
The WorkForce 435 is, overall, a bit of an odd mix. It feature slow print speeds but high photo quality, just like the Epson Stylus NX430. These are features one would expect of a home printer oriented toward photographs, or perhaps a small-office printer for occasional proofs of advertising material. However, that performance is offered with a form factor, user interface and fax functionality that all seem better suited to a workhorse small-office printer, where speed is generally more important than the highest-possible quality. The WorkForce 435 may fill a particular niche, but I’m really not sure where that niche may be.