Introduction and design
After debuting Epson’s new PrecisionCore printhead technology in the popular WorkForce WF-3640, the company is bringing the same laser-like print quality to the affordable yet feature-rich WF-2660 ($149.99 /£96/AU$183) for small business.
The WF-2660 is more suitable for an office that doesn’t print many pages or photos per month, but want the convenience of a printer, scanner, copier and even fax machine in a single unit that you can connect to wirelessly – whether it is through USB, Wi-Fi, Ethernet, cloud-based services or even NFC (Near Field Communication). This means you can print or scan from any computer or mobile device to this machine, with a maximum print resolution of 4800×2400 dpi, and a scan resolution of 1200×2400 dpi. Its 30-sheet automatic document feeder (ADF) and auto-duplex (double-sided) feature make it indispensable in a busy office.
At just 14.6 lb (6.6 kg) and measuring 16.7" x 22" x 9.1" (424mm x 559mm x 231mm), the WF-2660 is tiny compared to its closest rivals, the all-round bigger Canon Pixma MG7520 ($129.99/£83/AU$158) and HP Envy 7640 ($140/£89/AU$173). That said, if your business is all about printing gorgeous photos, the Canon – with its six-ink-tank design and direct media access – is a no-brainer. If you aren’t picky about the quality of your prints but want the connectivity of the Epson, the HP would be the way to go as it only uses two cartridges (one for blacks and one for all colors) and will be more economical to operate in the long run. The Epson WF-2660, on the other hand, hits the sweet spot between good print quality and price (some retailers are even dropping its price down to $100), with most of the office-friendly features you need.
The WF-2660 is definitely more functional than fashionable, with a matte-finish to its plastic body that thankfully doesn’t attract fingerprints. Aside from the ADF having some give to it if you push too hard (not a good resting place for books or anything heavy), the rest of the device feels solid and doesn’t rattle when in use.
For some reason, Epson decided to put the retractable output tray right above the tiny 150-sheet paper tray. Due to the proximity of these two elements, I almost always pulled out the output tray by accident, whenever I needed to refill the paper tray (which was often), or vice versa.
You have to use the 2.7-inch color touchscreen to communicate with the printer, which was anything but fun. The panel is rather tiny and not sensitive enough for my fingers to navigate accurately, so I often had to poke at the screen multiple times to make a selection.
Though the single paper tray can handle everything from envelopes to A4 sheets, the lack of a manual feed makes the WF-2660 really inefficient at printing more than one type of paper at a time. After all, you have to tell the printer what type of paper you just loaded every time you close the tray. If the paper type in your print job differs from the paper inside the tray, the touchscreen will ask you to acknowledge the difference before it will complete the job. This might not be bothersome if you’re sitting right beside the printer, but for a device that is all about wireless and mobile printing, you might find yourself tethered to the WF-2660 more than you would like to be.
Speaking of paper handling, there seems to be some confusion over the extent of the WF-2660′s auto-duplex abilities. From my experience, it can print two sheets to one, and will automatically flip the paper on its own. I was also able to use the ADF and copy two sheets into one. However, this model cannot scan a double-sided document without someone manually flipping it over for the second side.
Scanning, copying and cloud printing
With the maximum scan resolution being 1200×2400 dpi, I was disappointed that both the Epson Scan software and the Epson iPrint mobile app cap off the scan resolution to just 300dpi (it is a drop-down menu with set resolutions). Though this resolution will more than suffice for scanning documents, I would look to a higher resolution scanner to handle photos or artwork. Though it is also capable of copying documents through the ADF, its copy resolution is lower than that of the scanner, so I wouldn’t copy works of art with the WF-2660.
Rather than include direct media slots so you can plug your USB drive or SD card directly to the printer, the WF-2660 has eschewed this feature for NFC (Near Field Communication), which is available on most Android devices (but not iPhones). In order to connect your NFC-enabled mobile device with the printer, you’ll need to first download the Epson iPrint app, turn on NFC, then place your device onto the printer (where the "N" logo on top of the printer.) Touching the two devices together will trigger the iPrint app to open, but you still have to tell the printer what to do. If your mobile device is running Android 4.4 (KitKat) or later, you won’t be able to see the "print" button in the app as that button is only accessible through the capacitive touch "menu" key. However, if you have a slightly older device running 4.3 (Jelly Bean) or earlier, then the app should work like a charm.
Two of my favorite features of the WF-2660 are Email Print and Scan to Cloud. Email Print lets you assign (then customize) an email address for the printer, while Scan to Cloud allows you to save your scanned files to cloud-based services like Dropbox or even to a specific email account. Whenever I had trouble connecting to the machine, I would just email files to the printer to print, or ask the printer to email scanned files directly to my inbox. These features made the printer much more enjoyable to use.
Depending on which computer you use to set up the WF-2660 for the first time, you could be in for a bumpy ride. First of all, you’ll need to use an existing USB cable for the printer’s initial setup, as Epson doesn’t include one in the box. You actually can’t install the ink cartridges until you power on the printer for the first time, and you need to insert the four tanks (cyan, magenta, yellow and black) in the correct order for the printer to work. I don’t have a phone line at my home so I could not test out its fax functions, and my router was too far from the printer to plug an Ethernet cord, so I set the WF-2660 up as a wired-USB printer.
I made the mistake using my optical drive-less, Windows 7 Ultrabook for the initial setup, which was unnecessarily cumbersome. Epson didn’t bundle all the relevant drivers into a single download, so I had to hunt down both the (local) printer and scanner drivers from its website, as well as manually set the device up as a wireless printer on my computer. If you have access to a PC with an optical drive, plug the WF-2660 into that machine and use the setup CD: it will install all the drivers and software you need within minutes.
To make the most of the WF-2660′s wireless talents, you need to spend a bit of time going through the network settings on the device and the Epson Connect website. I recommend downloading the Epson Connect Printer driver for Remote Print (from Epson Connect), as it will give you access to Email Print and Scan to Cloud: two very reliable features that you can only set up through the website and after this driver is already on your system.
In addition to being a wireless printer, the WF-2660 can also create a direct network with whatever device you want to print from (Wi-Fi Direct). Unfortunately, this feature only worked with my Samsung Galaxy Note 4 (once) but not my laptop.
Since Epson supports the Android mobile printing standards, Mopria, you might not even have to download the Epson iPrint app if you’re using an Android 4.4 (Kit Kat) or later device. You should be able to print directly from apps with a built-in print function. Other Android and iOS users will have to grab the iPrint app from their respective app stores.
Print speed and verdict
For a business-oriented printer with a four-ink design, the WF-2660 with the new PrecisonCore 1S printhead yields good print quality for documents and photos. Text doesn’t have that fuzzy look that inkjet printers are known for, and can pass for laser-like quality at a glance. In addition, the printer is able to show precise details and close to photo-realistic colors (skewing a little dark at times) with our test images – particularly when I pushed the print quality to "high," and used matte Epson Premium Presentation Paper and glossy Epson Premium Photo Paper. Unlike the Canon Pixma MG7520 that has separate black and gray inks tanks for photo printing, the colors from the WF-2660 tend to be flatter and just aren’t able to offer as much color nuance as the Canon. This is especially evident in black and white photos or just images with a lot of black in them. Otherwise, the photo image quality of the WF-2660 is not far behind the Canon.
The WF-2660 is actually not too slow at printing documents. It can print 12 pages of document per minute, which is pretty close to the Canon Pixma MG7520′s 14 pages per minute. The Epson also prints full color webpages at 3.35 pages per minute, which is about right for this class of printers. You’ll need to be patient if you plan on printing lots of photos with the Epson, though. For example, it took the WF-2660 about one minute and 20 seconds to print a 4×6 borderless color photo on photo paper, but printing the same image on copy paper at standard quality only took 13 seconds. Similarly, a borderless letter-sized photo at 300dpi took the Epson about three minutes to print, while the same image in black and white took about nine seconds.
Using just the four color ink cartridges that shipped with the printer, I printed around 100 sheets in total. This included about 20 high-resolution photos, printed in the highest print quality possible on special stock, while the rest was a mixture of documents and webpages that I printed in both color and black, in standard quality and on copy paper. I have already used up all the black ink, with the blue and magenta tanks very close to empty, according to both my iPrint app and the touchscreen. Given how quickly I drained these cartridges, you should definitely budget for the high capacity tanks. Be prepared to spend around $80.99 (£52/AU$99) for one High Capacity Black and three High Capacity Color cartridges, which means the cost of a black-only page is approximately $0.06, and a four-color page is about $0.18.
The Epson WF-2660 offers surprisingly great photo and document print quality, an ADF, auto-duplex, as well as all the latest wireless and mobile connectivity options that you could possibly need or want – all in a relatively small package. I love how easy it is to print via email, have the printer email me with my scanned files, and be able to control it all through the Epson iPrint mobile app.
The flip side of cramming so many features into one device is that you increase the likelihood of things going wrong, and risk overwhelming the user with too many features to learn and set up. I was unimpressed that the setup process did not consider the needs of users with no optical drives, and relied so heavily on using the Epson Connect website to activate most of the mobile and wireless functions. The location of the retractable output tray directly above the single paper tray was simply poor design. In addition, I wish the WF-2660 had a second paper tray like the Epson WorkForce WF-3640, which makes printing in a busy office more efficient.
For a $100 all-in-one device, the Epson WorkForce WF-2660 strikes a great balance between price, features and print quality. It has all the mobile and wireless tricks you could possibly need, print quality that rivals dedicated photo printers, and handy office features like an automatic document feeder that makes it an ideal office companion. Though some of its features can be temperamental, and the learning curve to figure out all the features can be steep, in my opinion, the WF-2660 is a worthy investment for your business.