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Epson WorkForce Pro WF-C8690DTWF review: A real heavyweight

Nearly everything about Epson's mighty WorkForce Pro WF-C8690DTWF is big. From its desktop bending 57.4kg to multiple A3+ paper inputs and huge 75,000 page maximum monthly duty cycle, this 4-in-1 colour inkjet MFP is geared up for print-hungry workgroups.

The review model has 250-page and 500-page A3+ paper trays, plus an 80-sheet rear MPT supporting A3+ sizes and 256gsm paper. You can add two more 500-sheet trays and bring the whole thing up to eye level with a wheeled floor cabinet.

The printer is small where it counts though, as the high-capacity DuraBrite Pro ink tanks deliver running costs that beat most lasers in this price range. Choose the Epson XXL cartridges and you'll be paying only 0.9p for a mono A4 page and 5.1p for a colour one.

Epson didn't include a setup disc with the demo printer so we had to download all drivers and software from its support site. Usefully, the update utility upgraded the printer's firmware, loaded the latest drivers and added fax driver, OCR and desktop scan utilities, as well as the Document Capture Pro tool which provides smart scan automation features.

On first contact with the printer's web console we found that the colour ink tanks were empty so these had to be replenished with new ones. A print quality test also showed the black nozzles were partially blocked and required a cleaning cycle to clear them.

Epson claims a top A4 speed of 24ppm but we could only achieve this in Standard mode with our 24-page Word document dropping to 7.5ppm in High mode. Speed dropped further for our 24-page colour DTP document, which averaged 20ppm and 6.6ppm for Standard and High modes.

Our A3 test poster took 22 seconds to print on plain paper and 130 seconds on photo paper while an A4 glossy photo took 80 seconds. Duplexing our 24-page Word document mustered 16ppm and copies of 10-pages using the scanner's DADF were timed at 16.2ppm and 7.3ppm for single-sided and duplex-to-duplex operations.

The copy tests produced the most noise as we recorded peak levels of 68dB from one metre. On the plus side, we measured the printer consuming no more than 45W whilst printing.

Text quality is variable: the Standard mode produced the best results with High mode introducing a slight dusting on smaller fonts. Epson scores higher for marketing material with both mono and colour photos revealing high levels of detail, no edge bleeding and none of the banding that often afflicts lasers.

Cheap 75gsm paper won't do for photos as it'll wrinkle but 100gsm paper produces far better results. A3 posters are also pleasing to the eye with the DuraBrite Pro ink delivering rich, vibrant colours that really make them stand out.

The printer's colour touchscreen makes light work of copy, scan and fax tasks. Scans can be sent to email addresses, SMB and FTP network locations or pushed to desktops running Document Capture Pro where we could browse them and remotely select their local scan automation jobs.

Along with allowing remote users to email print jobs to the printer, Epson's Connect cloud service makes scanning even more interesting. Cloud destinations such as Dropbox, Google Drive and Box can be created from the portal, pushed to the printer and selected directly from its touchscreen.

Its low print speeds don't justify the high price tag but Epson's WorkForce Pro WF-C8690DTWF makes up for this with impressively low running costs and a huge duty cycle. Good output quality makes it a fine choice for producing marketing material and Epson offers extensive cloud support and a great scan software bundle.

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