Epson Workforce 845

Though it's slightly more expensive than competing inkjet workhorses, we recommend the Epson WorkForce 845 for its refined design and Epson's Connect cloud-printing portfolio.


8.3
CNET Rating

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The Epson WorkForce 845 is the company's latest flagship all-in-one printer for medium to large offices that need a multifunction device for printing a high volume of documents, photos and presentations. The 845 serves up plenty of features to assist in the workload; in addition to Epson's standard array of print, copy, scan and fax functions, this device bundles in triple connectivity options by way of Ethernet, Wi-Fi and wired networking, as well as double-sided printing, an automatic document feeder for hands-free scans and a 7.8-inch touch-panel display with intuitive navigation.

The 845 is also stocked with Epson's newest Connect portfolio of mobile printing features, which not only work in conjunction with Google and Apple's cloud printing services, but also include a free iPhone app and Android app, as well as the ability to email print jobs to the 845 directly from any device connected to the web. With all these impressive features in an attractive package, you shouldn't hesitate to pick up the WorkForce 845 for your high-output printing needs.

Design and features

We wouldn't call the WorkForce 845 compact by any means, but we're still impressed that Epson was able to fit all its extra hardware into a manageable 446mmx368mmx300mm package. The whole device, with ink and trays installed, weighs a relatively light 9.8kg, so moving it around the office won't hurt too much.


(Credit: Epson)

Comparatively, the HP Officejet Pro 8500A Plus carries many of the same features but weighs 2.7kg more. Of course, that number will certainly go up once you fill the two size-adjustable paper trays that sit at the bottom of the device and can hold a combined capacity of up to 500 pages of standard paper.

The controls sit inside a 33cm-wide panel that houses the 7.8-inch touchscreen display, with a 3.5-inch colour LCD inside that helps you navigate through the on-screen menus. Home, Page Forward, Page Back and Menu navigation buttons are just a sample of the myriad controls available on the machine, and Epson conveniently blacks out the buttons that aren't relevant to the process you're working through, effectively eliminating button clutter and confusion.

The rest of the panel holds two media card slots on the front and a PictBridge-compatible USB port down below for direct printing from your digital camera, although we recommend using Epson's Easy Photo Print software included in the box if you plan to do any image editing. You also get Epson's CreativeZone apps, a scanner app and the driver disc in the box for managing your photo albums and turning them into creative projects like greeting cards, calendars and to-do lists. The drivers are compatible with Mac and Windows, and our Windows 7 machine had no trouble running the drivers connected via USB, without any speed bumps in the installation.

The Wi-Fi set-up is equally simple; Epson gives you the option to use either a temporary USB proxy or a direct network set-up on the touch panel itself. We assume that most of you will prefer the latter since Epson doesn't include a USB cable in the box. Smart set-up on the touch panel is a two-part process: turn on the machine and click Network Setting, designate your wireless network and enter its password and that's it. The entire set-up from start to finish, with a connection established on our lab network, took us less than two minutes.

Connecting through Wi-Fi also means you can take advantage of Epson's host of free mobile printing apps that let you print directly from mobile devices. First, the Epson iPrint application for iOS and Android devices enables you to print web pages, photos, documents and anything else on a smartphone directly to the WorkForce 845, although we did notice some of our photos got inadvertently cropped from time to time. We wouldn't recommend printing important images like business presentations this way; it's more appropriate for quick outputs of spreadsheets and to-do lists.

Epson also launched its Connect Email Print app at the same time it announced the 845. Connect Email Print lets you send a print job directly to a unique email address assigned to every WorkForce 845 printer. This means you can attach anything to an email and send it to the printer's email address, and the print job will be waiting for you in the output tray when you arrive home. Anyone can use the email address, and we can imagine it could come in handy for remote workers hoping to share information with the home office.


(Credit: Epson)

The WorkForce 845 isn't just a printer, either. The copy and scan functions will prove useful in offices where employees can take advantage of the A4 scanner bay's 1200x2400 dots-per-inch (DPI) resolution, and the memory card reader lets anyone save and print documents with a recorded digital history that lives inside the printer's memory. Epson also provides a 30-page automatic document feeder (ADF) for hands-free scanning of document stacks. Our only complaint here is that the ADF doesn't resize to fit small 4x6-inch photo paper, so photographers looking for a sidekick in the digital darkroom may find their needs met better elsewhere.

The Epson WorkForce 845 is powered internally by four separate ink cartridges (cyan, magenta, yellow, black) that save you money by making it so you don't have to replace a tricolour ink tank. We did the math based on Epson's high-capacity ink cartridges that offer more ink capacity at a discounted price, and a page of colour ink works out to 7.2 cents per page (US pricing), while a high-capacity black cartridge comes to approximately 3 cents per page (US pricing). Both costs are average for an inkjet printer at this price.

Performance

Since the WorkForce 840 uses the same print engine as the WorkForce 840, we're not surprised that both yielded similarly impressive results. The 845 achieved 12.52 pages per minute (ppm) in our all-black text speed test, which was similar to the Epson WorkForce 520's score. The WorkForce 845 also performed well in our colour graphics and slide deck speed tests, printing 4.55ppm and 6.73ppm to top the competition. Unfortunately, the photo test tarnished its otherwise chart-topping scores, registering 0.89ppm and sending it to the bottom of the pack behind competing models.

We're more than satisfied by a side-by-side analysis of the Epson WorkForce 845's output quality and that of the HP Officejet Pro 8500A Plus. The WorkForce 845's closest competitor in terms of price and features, the 8500A Plus produces text prints that can't compete with the WorkForce 845's crisp text and vivid colours, even at smaller fonts where we would dare to compare its line work to a laser printer. Finally, quiet offices will certainly benefit from the 845's whisper-quiet operation noises, which are easily drowned out by clicking keyboards and soft conversation. Compared with irritatingly loud devices that make their scanning, spooling and printing processes well known, the WorkForce 845 is satisfying in its stealthy operation.

Service and support

Epson backs the Epson WorkForce 840 with a limited one-year warranty that includes toll-free customer support weekdays from 6am to 6pm PT. Further support is available online through a model-specific troubleshooting guide, FAQs, email support, driver updates and document downloads. You can also purchase exchange/repair coverage at US$39.95 for one year or US$59.95 for two years.

Conclusion

Though we wouldn't recommend it for hard-core photographers, the Epson WorkForce 845 excels in all manner of printing operations and has all the extras you need in terms of mobile printing software, as well as double-sided paper conversion and speedy performance. We recommend the WorkForce 845 for offices, home offices and any other environment that requires a do-it-all output machine.

Via CNET.com

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