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Epson Workforce WF-7010: Economical wide format printer
on May 12, 2012
I sometimes telecommute from my engineering job, and when at home I often do CAD (computer aided drafting) for making, reviewing and updating engineering drawings. I also have a small micro-publishing business for sheet music. Both of these make the ability to print on wide format paper desirable. By wide format, I am referring to paper larger than normal 'Letter (8.5" x 11")', 'legal', or similarly sized European paper standards. The most common for me is 11" x 17", often called 'planograph' size.
Printers that can operate with these paper sizes tend to be professional models that are large, heavy, and very expensive ($2000 and above).
I used to own a used HP Laserjet 5100, which did the 11x17 paper, was fast, but did not have duplexing (double-sided) capabilities built-in (i.e. manual duplexing only). My biggest problem was space...it was so large and heavy that I had no space for it on a day-to-day basis, but it was so difficult to move to a storage area when not in use. Also, it got old and cranky after half a million prints, and toner got expensive. A lot of expense and bother for a printer that would be used occasionally.
After scoping around, I decided that my next wide format printer would be an inkjet type instead of a laser. Epson seemed to have the best machines of this type, at least in an affordable price range of less than $200 street price. A friend had an older Epson wide format in his factory and was quite happy with it. And I was a satisfied owner of an Epson Workforce 40 injet printer (see my Amazon review of that one too), so I thought highly of the Workforce series.
The WF-7010 is Epson's stand-alone wide format injet printer. It is intended for small offices, and is equipped with Ethernet 10/100 and high speed USB 2.0 connectivity. Since Epson apparently feels that WiFi is not commonly used in offices, where they prefer wired connections for security and other reasons, this printer does not have wireless connectivity. It is a large printer at about 22" wide x 16" deep x 10" tall, but it is fairly light weight at about 25 pounds; it is light enough to be easily carried from place to place if desired, and would not overwhelm a light-duty shelf or small table. It does not shake a lot when in operation, so table sturdiness should not be an issue. Depending on the paper sized used, the printer's front-to-rear depth can grow to accommodate the extra paper lengths.
The WF-7010 comes with two paper trays; according to some older reviews, the trays cannot both accept the same sized paper, but on mine both trays are identical and can accept any allowed paper size. I have tray 2 (the lower tray) set up for 11x17 paper, and this makes the printer's total front-to-rear depth about 22.5". Tray 1 (the top tray) is set up for 8.5 x 11 paper and in this configuration it fits flush into the printer and does not add to the overall depth. The paper exit tray pulls out of the front of the printer and telescopes to a maximum that makes the overall printer depth about 27"; if you are not using the largest paper sizes, you don't need to telescope the exit tray so far out. Each paper tray has a retracted mode and an extended mode. For sizes up to 'legal', the trays can remain in retracted mode. For larger size papers, you press a button inside the tray and this allows it to telescope into a larger tray. It clicks into a detent so that it is locked in the larger tray size until the button is pressed again to allow it to retract into the smaller tray size.
The trays are all-plastic, but are adequately strong and they can hold up to half of a ream of paper each (250 sheets), for a total paper capacity of 500 sheets. Each tray has internal sliding partitions to keep the paper centered in the correct position. Both trays have a removable gray-tinted plastic dust cover; these are not much use when the trays are in their retracted mode (where they fit fully inside the printer), but they are nice when the trays are in their extended mode where they partly extend outside the printer. Note that, unlike many laser printers with extended sized paper trays, the extended WF-7010 trays protrude from the front of the printer instead of the rear.
The WF-7010 has limited duplexing (automatic double-sided printing) capability. When printing to 'normal' sizes, and to regular paper as opposed to envelopes and such, it is fully auto-duplexing; it prints on one side, automatically pulls the paper back in and flips it, prints the other size and ejects it, then repeats for the next sheet. For larger papers, such as 11x17, I noticed an oddity. When I first got the printer, it allowed me to select duplex for even the larger papers, but it would print all the odd numbered pages normally, then instruct me to move the printed sheets from the exit tray to the paper tray and press a 'resume' button on the computer screen, and then it would proceed to print the second side of each sheet...this is not an uncommon way of providing a semi-automatic duplex capability. But the printer driver prompted me to upgrade the printer firmware, and after I did that the option for selecting duplex on larger paper sizes is now grayed out and I cannot select it; it still works fully automatically on normal paper sizes.
Epson says that the speed of the WF-7010 is fastest in its class, and they list 15 PPM (pages per minute) for black and white and 8 PPM for color. I ran a 4 page text document, on 8.5" x 11" (i.e. 'letter' sized) paper, and clocked the printer at 15 seconds for single sided and 27 seconds for duplex. This equates to 16 PPM for single sided and almost 9 PPM for duplex. Printing color does seem to take about twice as long as printing in black-only, but I did not clock its speed.
Epson says that the minimum paper size for the WF-7010 is 3.5" x 5", and the maximum 'user defined' size is a whopping 13" x 44" (normal largest size is 13" x 19", or 2 inches larger in each dimension than 11 x 17 paper). This bit about 44" has me a bit boggled. The user manual that gets installed on your computer along with the printer driver does not mention such a large paper size, and says simply that the maximum is 13" x 19". But the printer is capable of doing multi-sheet posters, where it automatically tiles larger images onto multiple sheets of paper, in any of these user-selectable layouts: 2x1, 2x2, 3x3, 4x4. And when you are selecting the desired paper size in the driver, it does allow selections of up to 13" x 44", but it does not explain how to feed such a large size as 44". As a test, I randomly selected a photo and printed to to the WF-7010; in the driver I selected 'multi-sheet' and selected the 4x4 option, and also selected 11x17 paper from the tray. The printer produced 16 sheets, and when I laid them out on the floor I saw that it had indeed tiled the photo to a total size, with all 16 pages included, of 31" x 40". I had not set the printer driver to print all the way to the edges of the paper (which it will indeed do), but it is obvious that the WF-7010 can be used to produce very large multi-sheet tiled posters and such. To resolve the 44" question, I called Epson technical support; I was able to reach them without delay on a Saturday (this is better them most companies offer). The default tech support person did not know the 44" paper question's answer, so the problem was referred to a 'level 2' tech, who also did not know and had to put me on hold for several minutes. He came back and stated that the WF-7010 does indeed allow printing on roll paper up to 13" wide and 44" maximum length (e.g. for printing banners), but it is a very manual operation; the lower paper tray (tray 2) is removed from the printer, and the long paper is inserted into a slot in the rear of the printer's internals and hand fed until the printer grabs it. I don't have any long paper handy, so I have not verified this feature.
Some other points:
- The printer driver auto-selects the correct tray for the paper, as long as you take the time to tall the driver which sizes of paper are inserted into each of the two trays; this is done through the Windows or MAC printer configuration and instructions are included in the user guide. Otherwise, you will have to manually tell the driver every time you want to print using different trays.
- The printer does NOT come with any data cables; you must buy your USB or Ethernet cable separately.
- The printer does come with four ink cartridges in black, magenta, yellow, cyan; these are the T127 type. The printer accepts either the normal capacity T126 or the high capacity T127. I think it is nice that Epson chooses to supply the printer with the high capacity cartridges, which are specified to produce approximately 945 sheets from the black cartridge and 766 sheets from the color cartridges. The OfficeMax where I bought the printer told me that the cartridges provided with the printer are "low capacity good for only a few copies", but I see no evidence of this. Epson's website states that the printer comes with full T127 capacity cartridges, and my experience with my other Workforce printer suggests that the included cartridges are the same capacity as what would be purchased when it comes time to replace them.
- The printer has a basic control panel without a display. It has five pushbuttons and seven LED lights. The buttons are Power, Ethernet information/setup, paper feed, ink cartridge access, and delete print job. The LEDs are Power, Ethernet activity, paper misfeed/user action required, and ink low/ink out for each of the four cartridges.
- The printer works just fine with the cover open, so you can see what it is doing.
- The paper feed & duplexer assembly can be detached from the rear of the printer for cleaning and/or removing misfed paper. It detaches by pressing two recessed buttons - no tools are required.
- The Workforce series is fast partially because it prints such a wide swath on each pass of the print head. Instead of the narrow band of perhaps 1/4" width that most injet printers lay down, the Workforce lays down about 1" on each pass. This is due to the head design, which includes the wide nozzle; the ink cartridges do not have nozzles, as they are simply ink containers that feed the ink head. This means that when you replace an ink cartridge, you are not replacing the ink head itself. On some printers, this could mean problems due to possible nozzle clogging, but Epson has worked out the Workforce head and ink formulation so that this is not an issue. In my experience, and that of associates who also use Workforce printers, the printers have never been disabled due to chronic nozzle clogging. Indeed, I have only once, with my older Workforce 40, had to run a nozzle clearing operation after the printer sat unused for many months, and running to operation once did the trick.
- The printer will print on all the usual paper types, such a bond, coated paper glossy and matte photo papers, envelopes. Its print quality is typical of most other contemporary inket printers, but faster as previously mentioned.
- Build quality is good, and the printer feels quite solid.
- The printer is quiet, but not as quiet as a typical laser printer.