Epson WorkForce 1100 Printer Review
By Sandy Berger on January 15, 2010


Introduction

Hardware Secrets Golden Award

Although all-in-one printers that can copy, scan and print have become the most popular segment of printers, there are many other types of printers currently available. One of these specialty types of printers, called wide-format, has the often useful ability to print on large sizes of paper. Epson’s WorkForce 1100 is a new wide-format printer. This specialty type of printer has to be especially heavy duty. So we set out to find out if this WorkForce is a workhorse or a wimp.

Since the WorkForce 1100 can print on paper as large as 13” x 19” (33 x 48 cm), the printer itself has to be quite large. With the paper trays completely folded, the WorkForce 1100 is 24.3″ x 12.7″ x 8.5″ or 61.7 x 32 x 21.6 cm. So it is not surprising that the box it comes in, shown in Figure 1, is quite large. With the printers itself weighing 26.3 lbs (11.9 kg) the box is also quite heavy.


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Figure 1: The box.

Inside the box you will find one software and driver disk, a “Start Here” Guide, and five ink cartridges, shown in Figure 2. You will note that the printer comes with, and can handle, two black cartridges at once. This lessens the number of cartridge changes that the user must perform. The cartridges that come with the printer are full high-capacity ink cartridges rather than the starter cartridges that come with some new printers. Kudos to Epson on that! No USB cable is included.


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Figure 2: The Accessories.
The printer itself, shown in Figure 3, is a pale gray and dark gray two-tone. The two-tone look that was introduced in cars in the 50s has had a recent resurgence so the printer has a stylish two-tone look. We found the printer to be very sturdy and well-built.


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Figure 3: The WorkForce 1100.

Setup and Use

Removing the packing material, inserting the print cartridges, loading the paper, and installing the software took about 15 minutes. Following the clear instructions in the “Start Here” Guide made the set up quite easy.

The back of the printer, shown in Figure 4, has a non-removable power cable, air grids, and place for plugging in the USB cable.


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Figure 4: The back of the printer.

One thing to note is that you should follow the installation instructions carefully. On one of our test computers, we inadvertently installed the print driver before we put in the software disk. The software hung when trying to remove the print driver that we had installed and we had to remove it manually. Other than that one glitch, which was our fault, the printer installed properly on our Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7, and Mac OS X computer without a problem.

When installing the software, you are presented with installation three choices: 1: Driver, 2: Epson Information Center, and 3: Bonus Software. You will, of course, want to install the print driver. Choosing the Epson Information Center installs the User’s Guide, which is nice to have handy on your computer. Choosing the Bonus Software installs Epson Easy Photo Print, Epson Creative Zone, and Epson LTCM Offers & News.

Easy Photo Print is a very nice piece of software that lets you control the size of prints. It also provides simple editing tools like removing red eye and adding and/or removing the date. We were surprised to find that this software provides some good enhancements in its Photo Enhancement area where you can improve the skin radiance and the face definition. You can even apply a slimming corrector to slim down your pudgy friends. Unfortunately, the changes that you make are not shown in the print preview, but are applied to the photo when it prints. This is a little confusing. Also, although you can print the photo with the changes, you cannot save the changes. We encourage Epson to add this functionality in the future, as it would be extremely beneficial.

The Epson Creative Zone rather than software, is simply a link to the Epson Creative Zone website. If you have never visited this site, it is worth a look. It provides all types of printing templates and useful printing projects.


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Figure 5: The controls.

The top front of the printer features only four buttons. As seen in Figure 5, these are the on/off button, the paper button, the ink button, and the delete button. Each is clearly marked with an icon that visually represents its function. The first three buttons have lighted indicators. A combination of flashing lights indicates certain problems. You can find these listed in the User’s Manual. The delete button does not have a light, but it provides a very useful way to stop a print job. Every printer made should have a button like this.

Epson keeps the physical controls simple. All the printer functionality, such as paper size and quality is chosen through the software. If you use these software controls you will get the best quality output from the printer.

Using the Printer

If we were asked to describe this printer in one word, that word would be “big.” Even with the paper trays closed, the printer is massive. Figure 6 shows it next to a Lexmark All-in-One to give you an idea in the difference in size.


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Figure 6: The Epson WorkForce 100 next to a Lexmark All-in-One.

Because the printer can handle such large paper sizes, the paper trays, by necessity, are also quite large. The back tray, shown in Figure 7, unfold in three stages.


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Figure 7: The input paper tray.

The output tray, shown in Figure 8, is also quite large. It protrudes from the printer and when fully open adds about 13” (33 cm) to the depth of the printer. We placed the WorkForce 1100 on a 30” x 60” (76 cm x 1.5 m) desk and it took up a full one half of the width of the desk and the output paper trays when fully opened, hung over the edge of the desk. If, however, you are not printing on over-sized paper, you do not have to open the input and output trays to the full length.


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Figure 8: The output paper tray.

Because of the heft of this printer, you will want to find it a home on a sturdy desk or table. The printer is no louder than most and it does not shift or shimmy when used on a sturdy surface, but it is almost impossible to use on a flimsy cart or stand.

The WorkForce 1100 has no built-in network connectivity. The printer must be tethered to a computer via USB cable, which will somewhat limit its location. Of course, you can share the printer on a Windows or Mac network for access from other computers. In a business situation, the printer can also be networked with an external print server.

Using the printer is effortless. Epson even includes videos for first-time users in their User Guide, but most of you won’t need these.

In several weeks of constant use, we encountered no paper jams and the printer handled everything from envelopes to 13” x 19” (33 x 48 cm) posters.

Epson is marketing this printer as a business printer. It certainly would be great for everything from business cards to flyers, booklets and business brochures. We felt, however, that this WorkForce could also be very useful for many home users. You can use it to decorate your walls with large family photos, calendars, and customized posters. It will also print family photo books, invitations, and cards. Scrap bookers will find it delightful for many of their projects.

Speed and Output

As stated previously, this WorkForce handles many different paper sizes with ease. A simple slider, shown in Figure 9, is adjusted to the width of the paper. The large paper trays easily handle the larger sizes of paper.


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Figure 9: The paper size adjustment slider.

The printer produces excellent output. Text is crisp and clear. Colors are clean and vibrant. No matter what program we printed from, the WorkForce performed admirably.

Although it is not marketed as a photo printer, this WorkForce prints excellent photos, especially when printed on Epson Photo Paper.

The WorkForce 1100 uses Epson’s lower cost DURABrite Ultra ink rather than the more expensive Epson UltraCrome Hi-Gloss 2 inks. This, of course, lowers the cost of ownership. Fortunately for the end user, the prints still look great.

This Epson has a "smart" nozzles technology that delivers droplets in as many as 5 sizes, some as small as 3 picoliters. Although some printers can deliver smaller picoliters, we felt the output from this printer was amazingly good.

Epson markets the printer output as being smudge proof and waterproof. We found that the color prints from this printer can be touched immediately with no smearing or smudging. We even poured water over the printed pages with no changes to the print and/or colors. Epson also claims that these pigment inks are long-lasting, with longevity of up to 105 years under glass.

The WorkForce 1100 is also speedy. It is rated for laser quality print speeds of 13 ppm for black and 5.5 ppm for color. The printer doesn’t waste much time in getting ready to print as some printers do, so in many cases, it seems especially speedy. We printed an 11” x 17” (28 x 43 cm) photo in about three minutes which is pretty speedy compared to some photo printers.

The ink cartridges for the WorkForce 1100 come in two sizes, regular and high capacity. If you print a lot of large color documents, you will want to get the high capacity cartridges.

If you care about the environment, you will be happy to find that this printer is Energy Star compliant.

Main Specifications

Epson WorkForce 1100 printer main specifications are:

Conclusions

If you want to be able to tackle any print project from index card to poster and you have the room, this printer will be perfect. When put on a sturdy stand, it can handle any size print with aplomb.

Since the printer is very large and must be attached to your computer with a USB cable, you will want to make sure that you have room next to your computer and a sturdy stand before you purchase it. A USB cable is not included, but because of the size of this printer you may want to purchase a longer than usual USB cable.

If your space can accommodate it, you will not be disappointed in the print quality, durability of the prints, and quality of the output. Although it is not marketed as a photo printer, the photo print quality rivals some photo printers.

At a retail price of USD 199, the WorkForce 1100 would be an excellent purchase for businesses looking to produce large format brochures or booklets without a large investment in hardware. Home users who do a lot of printing and want to move into larger sized prints, will also find the 1100 more than suitable. Its print speed will also please.

In our testing the WorkForce 1100 turned out to be a real work horse. It is no wimp in any area, even photo printing. That’s what makes it such a good all around printer.

Pros

Cons

Originally at http://www.hardwaresecrets.com/article/Epson-WorkForce-1100-Printer-Review/903


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