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Lifewire / Jordan Provost
Includes micro-USB cable
Built-in rechargeable battery
Some color fading issues
Lower photo resolution
Slow print speed
An emphasis on portability and design over print quality makes the Epson Workforce well suited for the traveling professional.
Portable, wireless printers are particularly attractive for business professionals on the go. The Epson Workforce WF-100 fill that niche well with its tiny frame, attractive design, built-in rechargeable battery, and easy wireless connectivity. It falls short of being the go-to wireless home-use printer, however, with a lower photo resolution than its competitors and some noticeable color fading issues.
Even for a mobile printer the Epson Workforce WF-100 is tiny, measuring one foot long, six inches wide, and barely over two inches tall. The all-black unit features a bumpy, textured exterior on the front, top, and rear not unlike the grip on many mobile phones. On the left side are ports for the 24v power and USB-C (cable included).
The textured exterior adds a professional quality to the design.
Opening the printer requires putting significant upward pressure on the awkward silver latch on the front, and folding the tray up. The inside features a glossy surface, emblazoned with the Epson logo, as well as the power button, directional buttons, cancel/back button, and a tiny 1.5” x 1.5” LCD screen.
The directional buttons (with an “Ok” button in the middle) navigate the menus in the LCD screen, including changing paper size, swapping ink cartridges, and performing maintenance such as ink head cleaning. It’s an effective interface, and makes using the printer away from a PC that much easier.
The Epson Workforce includes a CD with the printer software, and drivers can also be downloaded from the Epson support website. We had zero issues inserting the ink cartridges, installing the drivers, and connecting the wireless printer to our home Wi-Fi network.
The one painful element of setup we ran into was that much of the installation is done via the LCD screen on the printer, rather than on the PC. This becomes very annoying when entering a Wi-Fi password using only arrow buttons to scroll through uppercase and lowercase letters, as well as all the special characters, when making a single mistake forces us to do it all again.
Replacing ink cartridges involves pushing on latches and gently lifting the old cartridges out, then slotting the new ones in. It takes a bit of force to push the ink cartridges in until they lock into place. It should be noted that the Epson Workforce WF-100 requires specific Epson-branded ink.
When we printed off our first test pages on the Epson Workforce, we were horrified to see numerous errors, including lots of faded and missing text and random ink marks. This continued until we performed the nozzle check, followed by the head cleaning functions. All maintenance can be accessed via the simple Workforce Monitoring app on the installed PC, or directly on the printer itself by scrolling through the maintenance menu on the LCD screen.
Cleaning the ink heads fixed the issue, and text documents printed completely clear. We put the Workforce through some rough and tumble physical demands short of dropping it, but couldn’t recreate the egregious initial printing errors. Hopefully it was a fluke due to shipping, but something to keep in mind as cleaning the ink heads expends some ink.
Printing speed was a bit slower than we would have liked for a $200 printer, outputting a 5-page, all-text document in about 50 seconds while connected to power. When disconnected and using the lithium battery, print speed is much slower, taking nearly three minutes to print the same 5-page document. Text is clear but the black ink is slightly faded and lighter compared to other printers.
People in photos suffered from being a bit faded and grayed in skin tone and hair color.
A heavily highlighted and colored Google Spreadsheet page took over 40 seconds to print, and several colors, including the black text and cell blocks, were notably faded. The color purple especially, including deep purple and indigo, was really faded and looked like different shades than in the original image.
We had mixed results with photo printing. The Epson Workforce features a max photo resolution of 5760 x 144o dpi. A single 5 x 7 picture on glossy photo paper took about 90 seconds to complete. Landscape pictures often looked bright, vivid, and gorgeous, particularly reds, oranges, and yellows. People in photos suffered from being a bit faded and grayed in skin tone and hair color, however. Pictures printed from our PC tended to produce better quality results than those printed from our mobile device using the Epson iPrint app.
The Epson Workforce doesn’t include any PC-specific photo or printing software, and installation is fast and simple. A USB cable is included which can be used during initial setup and for wired printing.
The Epson iPrint app, available for free on iOS and Android, is used to print pictures and documents easily from any mobile device. Once the printer was connected to our Wi-Fi network the app detected the printer after a few seconds. The app itself is one of the more unattractive official apps we’ve seen, providing little more than a series of scrollable menus and pictures. But we appreciated the easy-to-navigate menus and maintenance screen that detects the remaining ink levels and battery charge, as well as operating cleaning commands in lieu of the on-printer LCD screen.
On the other hand, the app doesn’t include any visual enhancements or features aside from Auto Correction and Sharpness, and the preview pictures appear oddly pixelated in some areas.
With an average price around $200, the Epson Workforce WF-100 is solidly in the mid-range for wireless printers. It is not an all-in-one printer, lacking a scanner, but does feature a helpful LCD screen to navigate maintenance, connectivity, and troubleshooting. We were impressed with the sturdy but small size, and the textured exterior adds a professional quality to the design.
The Canon Pixma is a fierce competitor in the wireless printer category. It has a more attractive price around $150, and boasts superior photo quality of 9600 x 2400 dpi, nearly twice the resolution of the Epson Workforce. The Epson features a more attractive (and slightly smaller) physical design and much more hardware functionality thanks to the LCD screen, as well as a rechargeable battery right out of the box, making it much more portable than the Pixma.
For those reasons, the Workforce would be better suited primarily for business usage. For home use we would recommend the Canon Pixma.
Suffers badly from poor print quality.
While we enjoyed the physical design, the LCD screen, and the easy wireless connectivity, we were disappointed with the one thing any printer should have: print quality. Even if we ignore having to clean the ink heads initially, many colors, particularly blues, purples, and flesh tones, appeared faded. Even plain black ink text was slightly grayer when closely compared to other printers’ test pages. Color-fading isn’t a major concern when primarily printing documents and spreadsheets, however, making the Epson Workforce perfectly adequate for office and business use, as befitting its name.
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