Epson rates the Workforce Pro WP-4015DN at 26ppm for black pages and 24ppm for colour, but from our tests these are as fanciful as most Epson speed specs. That's not to say this isn't a quick printer, particularly for an inkjet, as we saw 10.7ppm on our 5-page black text test and this rose to 13.5ppm on the 20-page document. Our five-page black text and colour graphics document gave 6.0ppm.
These black text speeds are higher than from many more expensive, colour laser devices. For example, the £227 Dell 1350CNW managed a top black text speed of 10.0ppm, though it was a third faster, at 7.5ppm, when printing colour.
Where the Dell and virtually any low-cost colour laser can't compete is in offering duplex print. The Workforce Pro WP-4015DN can print duplex pages at up to 8.5 sides per minute, not far off the single-sided speed. This is quicker than any other ink-jet we've tested, thanks to the complete lack of drying time between printing first and second sides of each page. The formulation of Epson's pigmented inks must be the main factor in this.
A 15 x 10cm photo, printed on Epson's own glossy photo paper, took 1:04 when printed at Best quality and a mere 50s at High quality. We could see very little difference between the two prints, so for speed we’d recommend using High quality for most purposes.
In fact, photo prints were very good, with none of the unnatural tones often produced by colour lasers, due to the smaller colour gamut they can produce. The detail is fine and even the darker colours show enough variation to pick out the content of the image.
Colour graphics on plain paper are bright and clear, with minimal sign of visible dither patterns and good registration of black text over colour. Reverse text is still very readable, though some elements of characters in fonts like Times Roman can be very thin.
This isn't true of regular black text, which is clean and near laser quality. There's little of the spikiness sometimes seen in Epson prints, though its economy mode shows the occasional faded line of text.
Using the highest capacity cartridges Epson sells, the ‘Pyramid’ series, gives running costs for ISO black pages of 1.8p, with 5.0p for ISO colour pages. This is pretty much the lowest cost we've seen for black print from an inkjet in this price range, and that includes anything from Kodak. Colour print is only marginally higher than from Kodak’s hero range.
This is a pretty exceptional colour inkjet printer, offering near laser speeds, fast, uninterrupted duplex print, excellent print quality and running costs that will give any inkjet and certainly any laser a run for its money. At the price, it's a real bargain.