The Multi in Multifunction: Print, Copy, Scan or Fax
In addition to high-volume printing, the Epson WF-5690 can scan, copy, and fax. When you scan or fax, you can either lay documents on the glass scan platen, or feed them through the ADF at the top of the unit. This is a duplexing ADF with a 35-sheet capacity, capable of scanning both sides of a double-sided document. The WF-5690 can also duplex in print mode, printing one side of a document and then the back of that page. This saves paper, and it also makes reports and presentations look considerably more professional.
Setting Up the Epson WorkForce Pro WF-5690
Getting the WF-5690 up and running is a fairly quick process. The longest wait occurs while the ink primes, which takes about seven minutes or so. The install disc takes you through the rest of the setup, which installs drivers for the printer, scanner and, if you use it, sets up the fax. The scan driver is TWAIN compatible, which lets the scanner scan directly into applications, such as the Picasa graphics program, which supports TWAIN. Document Capture Pro, a basic scan-management application, is also included.
We set up the WF-5690 using WPS (Wi-Fi Protected Setup), which simply requires that you press a WRS button on the network router. The WF-5690 finds the router and automatically establishes the connection. A minute or so later and we were ready to start testing.
A Need for Print Speed
Most of the time, when you print only a few pages, print speed isn't a deal breaker. But when you print a lot, or you print long documents, you want a fast printer. The WF-5690 is exactly that. Epson claims 20 ppm (pages per minute) when printing in black or color. We don't use exactly the same protocol in our testing, but we do use the same ISO (International Standards Organization) test files. In our tests, we averaged 21 ppm with the printer driver in default mode (which is normal office quality output).
Much of this excellent print speed comes from a new printhead technology—called PrecisionCore—that Epson introduced on its higher-end models. PrecisionCore uses a modular printhead made up of either two or four chips, each of which have a very high density of print nozzles. The WF-5690 has a four-chip PrecisionCore print head, and can quickly lay down ink and achieve excellent print density and quality.
We didn't time copier performance, but it was faster than many inkjet-based copiers we've tested in the past. The copy function on most inkjet MFPs is there simply as a convenience. The WF-5690's is actually useable.
Epson doesn't claim photo quality for the WF-5690, but our test prints, made on Hammermill Color Copy Digital paper and Epson's Ultra Premium Photo Paper Glossy, were very good. Colors were nicely saturated and accurate, with very acceptable skin tones. For printing the occasional photo, you'll want to use photo paper. For reports and handouts, a quality paper such as the Hammermill paper we use in our testing will work well.
We did not test the fax mode, but did test the scanner, which offers an optical resolution of 1,200 x 2,400 dpi. We actually scanned the test pages we that printed on photo paper into Picasa 3, a free graphics application, and then printed the scans out on photo paper. The results were almost identical. If you plan to scan documents to PDF or to a Cloud application, you should be quite satisfied with the results.
Epson Workforce Pro WF-5690: The Bottom Line
The Workforce Pro WF-5690 is a bit more expensive than many MFPs aimed at the small business market. However, the printer offers a great feature set, fast print speed, large capacity cartridges, and a three-year warranty with advance exchange (Epson will send a replacement printer first and you use the package it comes in to return the bad printer). Given all this, in our opinion, the price represents a good value.
Ted Needleman published his first review in 1978. Since then, he has written several thousand hardware and software reviews, columns, articles on using technology, and two books. He has no intention of stopping any time soon.
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