If you are running a home office or small office that needs a cheap all-in-one multifunction printer, the Epson WorkForce 320 is one of the best available. It has impressive specifications and performance for its low budget price, and is only really hampered by mediocre paper feed and ink cartridge capacity figures. It's a solid competitor to the HP Officejet 4500.
Epson WorkForce 320: Design and features
The Epson WorkForce 320 may have a rather uninspired design that reminds us of a '90s fax machine, but it's utilitarian and easy to understand. A top-mounted flatbed scanner with a maximum resolution of 1200x2400dpi is adequate for digitising documents or sending faxes, but the WorkForce 320's catch-card is the 30-sheet automatic document feeder. For its $129 asking price we were very impressed to find this included and found it functioned perfectly.
Moving down the printer's body, the controls are clearly labelled. There's even five presets that allow you to store frequently used fax numbers. We don't like the fact that the Epson WorkForce 320 has an old-style LCD screen rather than a colour one with a graphical interface. It gets the job done for displaying basic information but we think colour LCD displays are easier to read and can fit more text.
The paper input tray at the rear of the Epson WorkForce 320 can hold 120 plain A4 sheets. If you're printing regularly this will quickly run dry, but the rear tray is easily accessible and easier to refill than a bottom-loading cartridge.
A hinge under the flatbed scanner allows easy access to the four ink cartridges. Setting up the Epson WorkForce 320 takes around ten minutes including the initial installation of cartridges and CD-based software installation — we used a Apple Macbook Pro 15in notebook for our testing.
Epson WorkForce 320: Print speed and quality
We weren't able to achieve the Epson WorkForce 320's stated maximum black text print speed of 34 pages per minute, but we did come close. Over a longer print run of two back-to-back 50-page documents, we managed to hit just over 28 pages per minute when printing in draft quality settings. An initial page out time of 12 seconds is very impressive and makes the Epson WorkForce 320 useful for anyone who regularly wants quick single-page printouts.
Colour printing is around half the speed of black text printing. We found the Epson WorkForce 320 was able to produce around nine pages per minute in draft quality mode. Epson quotes a figure of 15 pages per minute so our results were a little off the mark — not excessively so though.
The Epson WorkForce 320's ink cartridge capacities are a slight hindrance to its purpose as an office printer. The standard Epson 133 cartridges can only produce 230 black and 305 colour pages in a regular yield — if possible we'd opt for the high capacity Epson 138 cartridges that yield 380 black and 420 colour A4 pages. Thankfully the WorkForce 320 ships with full capacity cartridges rather than starter ones which are only partially filled with ink.
We found Epson's 133 cartridges for $19.25 each online, making the cost of a full set of standard ink replacements $77. A regular black text page should cost around 8.4cents and a full colour page around 18.9cents. Using high capacity cartridges, which are only $1.90 more expensive each for a total cost of $88.60, results in per-page costs of 5.8cents for black and 15.8cents for full colour A4.
Epson WorkForce 320: Environmental policy and conclusion
On its Web site Epson Australia maintains an environmental policy, with aims including reducing carbon dioxide emissions and the continued use of recycled resources.
The Epson WorkForce 320 is a great performer considering its low price and reasonably diverse feature-set. We think this is a top printer for small businesses and offices that want a multifunction device without paying too much.