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Epson WorkForce WF-3520 review

Home OfficeReviews
8/10
by M. David Stone, 18 Dec 2012Reviews
Epson WorkForce WF-3520 review
Best Buy

Very much in the same class as the HP Officejet 6700 Premium e-All-in-One, the Epson WorkForce WF-3520 offers a similar set of features. Either of these inkjet multi-function printers (MFPs) can be a good fit for a micro office, a busy home office, or heavy-duty personal use, with the WF-3520 not quite matching the 6700 for graphics quality, but delivering somewhat better speed and paper handling.

Like the 6700, the WF-3520's connection options include Ethernet and Wi-Fi, so you can easily share it on a network. It also delivers a similar list of MFP features. It can print and fax from, as well as scan to a computer, including over a network, and it can work as a standalone copier and fax machine. It can also print from or scan to a USB stick, and print directly from a PictBridge camera.

Also worth mention is support for mobile printing, including printing through the cloud and printing with Apple AirPrint. Note that both require a wired or wireless connection between the printer and your network, however, and AirPrint requires a Wi-Fi access point on your network.

Paper handling

Paper handling is one of the printer's stronger features, with a 250-sheet tray, a duplexer (for printing on both sides of a page), and a single-sheet manual feed tray that lets you print on a different paper stock without having to swap out the paper in the tray.

For scanning, the WF-3520 offers both a letter-size flatbed and a 30-sheet automatic document feeder (ADF). Even better, the ADF duplexes, scanning one side and then turning the page over to scan the second side. For copying, menu settings let you combine the duplexing ADF with duplex printing to copy both single and double-sided originals to your choice of single or double-sided copies.

Given the printer's level of paper handling, which often goes hand-in-hand with a large size, Epson has managed to keep the WF-3520 surprisingly compact, with it measuring 450 x 560 x 245mm (WxDxH) even with the paper tray fully open (see the image below). The printer body is only 415mm deep, however, making the printer small enough to share a desk with comfortably if you need a heavy-duty personal MFP.

Setup and output quality

Setting up on a wired network and installing the drivers and software on a Windows Vista system for my tests was absolutely typical for the breed. Print speed, however, is anything but typical for the price. And I mean that in a good way.

On our business applications suite, I timed the WF-3520 (using QualityLogic's hardware and software for timing) at an effective 4.4 pages per minute (ppm), which makes it one of the faster printers in its price range. In comparison, the Officejet 6700 Premium managed only 3.4 ppm in our tests. The speed for photos was reasonably fast as well, with the average time for a 4 x 6 coming in at 1 minute and 12 seconds.

The WF-3520's output quality isn't a strong point like its speed, but it doesn't quite reach the level of being a weakness either. The printer's overall score is just a touch below par, making it well short of impressive, but still acceptable for most business needs. Text, for example, is at the low end of the range that includes the vast majority of inkjets, which is good enough for typical business documents, but a poor choice if you have an unusual need for small fonts, or a critical eye that demands desktop publishing quality.

Graphics output, similarly, is easily good enough for most internal business needs. Whether you consider it good enough for, say, PowerPoint hand-outs or graphics in a report will depend largely on how much of a perfectionist you are, and how important it is for the output to convey an air of professionalism.

Photos are also easily good enough for almost any business purpose, with most qualifying as true photo quality in my tests. However, the colours in one photo were a little off, and thin lines in the numbers of a clock face were partly filled in, which wasn’t ideal.

Verdict

Although the level of output quality takes a little of the shine off this printer, there are enough strong points to make up for it. If you absolutely must have somewhat better graphics quality, the HP Officejet 6700 may be your preferred choice. But the Epson WorkForce WF-3520's output quality is good enough for most purposes, and its combination of a nippy speed, excellent paper handling, and long list of MFP features is enough to bag it a Best Buy award at this price point.

Specifications

Manufacturer and Product

Epson WorkForce WF-3520

Printer Category

Copier, Fax, Inkjet

Print Duplexing

Automatic

Type

All-In-One

Inkjet Type

Standard All-Purpose

Color or Monochrome

1-pass colour

Connection Type

USB, Ethernet, Wireless

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