Epson WorkForce Pro WF-5190DW review: A superb colour inkjet printer

Epson WorkForce Pro WF-5190DW review: An inkjet printer that's all things to all users, with superb performance and good running costs

An inkjet printer that's all things to all users, the Epson WorkForce Pro WF-5190DW offers superb performance and good running costs. Read our Epson WorkForce Pro WF-5190DW review. (Also see: Best inkjet printers 2015.)

While the humble inkjet remained the printer of choice for most users throughout the first two decades of home computing, the past ten years have seen an explosion of small chic lasers that fit beautifully on to even a relatively modest worktop. Delivering astonishing speed at high quality levels, these lasers, then, have firmly established themselves as text churners par excellence. But, just as lasers have intruded upon inkjet territory, so the inkjets have tried to grab fertile land once the exclusive preserve of their office-friendly cousins.

This new Epson WorkForce Pro WF-5190DW is only the latest attempt by an inkjet to be more of a laser printer than lasers have ever been. As such, it promises superior speed and quality, low running costs, and high-end business features. And all of this is beautifully laced with an ecological bent that seems to cast lasers back into the dark ages. So can it possibly live up to such a billing? See all printer reviews

Well, the first impressions are positive, and the Epson WorkForce Pro WF-5190DW is substantial without seeming imposing, and business-like without seeming cold. Its pleasing curves and light creamy grey exterior make it a natural fit for small and medium-sized offices up and down the country, while the control panel is more enjoyable and easier to navigate than the rather spartan interfaces we're used to with business lasers.

Paper handling is suitably beefy. Not only do you have that robust 250-sheet front-mounted tray, but there's an additional 80-sheet tray located to the rear. And if 330 sheets isn't enough for you, an optional second 250-sheet tray will push such capabilities up to 580 in total.

The 150-sheet output can't quite match that, and wasn't always successful at capturing the finished prints. But this remains a very capable outlet, and its duty cycle is an impressive 35,000 pages per month. There are obviously some higher-end models that can push paper handling further still. But for all but the most formidable print jobs, the Epson should pack sufficient punch. Also see: Best printers 2015.

The Epson WorkForce Pro WF-5190DW is nothing if not full-featured, and its connectivity options are predictably vast. There's a wired ethernet interface that can hit full Gigabit capacity, but the Epson also comes with Wi-Fi 802.11/b/g/n and, obviously, USB 2.0. Cloud and mobile device support is also built in, making this a wonderfully well-connected device.

That, then, is very inkjet. But what isn't so inkjet is its ability to cater for Adobe PS3, PCL5e/5c and PCL6 emulation. Other business features include the meaty security options, IPv6, and the ability to start jobs printing upon entry of a PIN - allowing you to keep confidential office documents away from prying eyes. Network managers can even download the Epson Net Config package, and start setting up their fleet of Epsons remotely. We expect these kinds of features on a laser, but not on a model such as this Epson WorkForce Pro WF-5190DW.

So far, then, the Epson WorkForce Pro WF-5190DW is far from being your usual inkjet. But then, there's very little about this product that's typical, and even the printing technology is highly innovative. 'PrecisionCore' replaces the traditional piezo heads with ones crafted from hi-tech thin film piezos - these one-micron-thick pumps can generate astonishing precision at high speed. In practice, the printer came very close to its recommended speed figure of 20ppm (using the ISO/IEC 24734), generating crisp text in 18.9ppm. Also see: Printing Advisor.

The output is pleasingly sharp, with beautifully defined lettering. High-end lasers will perhaps deliver slightly more clarity, but the Epson WorkForce Pro WF-5190DW is very close, and outshines other inkjets, and most middle-range lasers. It can also handle auto-duplexing, although it did fall to 10.7ppm here - not, perhaps, quite fast enough to make auto-duplex an automatic option for big workloads.

One area where lasers have often lagged behind their inkjet counterparts is in colour printing - particularly photographs. Yet here, the Epson WorkForce Pro WF-5190DW manages to retain all the brilliance of inkjets past and present. Inks are gloriously rendered, with spectacular colour washing across every image. For businesses looking to mix fine text with spectacular photos, it's been hard to find a model that can handle both areas with aplomb. This Epson, though, fits the bill.

Running costs are beautifully low on this model - not quite as low as Epson would have you believe, but low nonetheless. The high-capacity cartridges work out as 1.1p for mono and 3.9p for colour. The colour, in particular, is finely-priced, and outstrips most other models. It's economical for text too, although 1.1p is by no means the lowest we've seen - a number of other models go to 1p and below. The Epson WorkForce Pro WF-5190DW is also a cheap printer in terms of power output, though, generating just 25 watts in action - the HP Officejet Pro X551dw, in contrast, can hit four times that.

Epson WorkForce Pro WF-5190DW: Specs

  • Specifications: Colour Inkjet
  • Max print resolution 4800x1200dpi
  • Quoted print speed B=34ppm (20ppm ISO), C=30ppm (20ppm ISO)
  • Actual print speed B=18.9ppm C=14.8ppm
  • Supported interface types USB 2.0, gigabit ethernet, wi-fi 802.11b/g/n
  • Mobile device support
  • 5.6cm LCD screen
  • 250-sheet main input
  • 80-sheet secondary input
  • Optional 250-sheet tray
  • Auto duplex
  • Adobe PS3 and PCL5e/5c and PCL6 emulation
  • IPv6
  • Dimensions (wxdxh) 461x442x284mm
  • Weight 11.4kg
  • Cartridges cost B=£46 C=£52 x 3
  • Print life (pages) B=4000 C=4000
  • 1-year warranty
  • Specifications: Colour Inkjet
  • Max print resolution 4800x1200dpi
  • Quoted print speed B=34ppm (20ppm ISO), C=30ppm (20ppm ISO)
  • Actual print speed B=18.9ppm C=14.8ppm
  • Supported interface types USB 2.0, gigabit ethernet, wi-fi 802.11b/g/n
  • Mobile device support
  • 5.6cm LCD screen
  • 250-sheet main input
  • 80-sheet secondary input
  • Optional 250-sheet tray
  • Auto duplex
  • Adobe PS3 and PCL5e/5c and PCL6 emulation
  • IPv6
  • Dimensions (wxdxh) 461x442x284mm
  • Weight 11.4kg
  • Cartridges cost B=£46 C=£52 x 3
  • Print life (pages) B=4000 C=4000
  • 1-year warranty

OUR VERDICT

Many models have tried to be all things to all users. Few, to my recollection, have succeeded. The Epson WorkForce Pro WF-5190DW, though, might well be the exception. More welcoming than lasers, but packing many of the same connectivity, security and management features, it also offers superb performance in both text and colour photographs. The running costs are good, and the energy usage economical. Its RRP of almost £347 may seem slightly steep, but having put this model through its paces, that tag seems nothing less than value for money. The really good news, though, is that if you shop around, you can find it available for under £200. And given everything we've said, that rather makes it look like the bargain of the decade. Astonishing.

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