There's a move among several inkjet manufacturers to shift business customers towards the technology and away from colour lasers. There are several advantages, such as high quality colour photo prints, low asking price and increased simplicity of design, but against these are slower speed and poorer text quality. So has Epson addressed these inkjet weaknesses with its new Stylus Office B40W business inkjet?
The Stylus Office B40W starts out as a simple, oblong box, covered in huge swathes of high-gloss, black plastic. Unfold the paper feed tray from the back of the top panel and the output tray from the front panel, extend the telescopic supports of each and you have a functional, but less stylish, general-purpose inkjet, geared to higher duty cycles than a typical home inkjet.
The controls on the left-hand side of the top panel include power, ink replacement and paper feed, as well as a button to turn the Wi-Fi adapter on and off. This is an inexpensive printer to have cable and wireless network connectivity as well as USB. It's one of the features Epson feels a business inkjet needs and it certainly makes the machine more versatile and easier to share between PC's.
One of the other features that separate this from a typical home inkjet is the capacity of its ink cartridges. Fold up the top cover and you can insert the four single-colour ink cartridges, all of which are high capacity.
Epson's suite of support software is pretty much what you get with most Epson inkjets and includes Easy Photo Print and the useful Web-to-Print toolbar, which makes printing web pages a doddle.
Epson claims print speeds of 38ppm in both black and colour print. It points out that these times are for the fastest print mode and that they don't include processing time in the host PC. We'd ask 'Why not?', but even leaving this aside, when we printed our 20-page text document in draft mode, pretty much the fastest available, and timed from the start of the first page being printed to the finish of the last, we saw a time of 1:03, which is a speed of 19.05ppm. This is still only half the claimed speed.
When we moved to text print mode, which by its very name is likely to be the mode most people print text in, we saw a maximum speed of 12ppm for the same 20-page document, less than a third of the stated speed.