Every once in a while, you'll see a printer or multifunction printer (MFP) described as designed for a "workgroup" or "department." For the most part, devices intended for workgroups or departments don't have any special features other than they're built to handle a high volume of printing and scanning. When you have multiple people each doing a significant amount of printing and scanning, an MFP's print speed, duty cycle, scan capabilities, and toner or ink cartridge capacity takes on increased importance.
The Epson WorkForce Pro WF-5690 sits at the higher end of the company's Workforce Pro line. With an expected street price of $399, the WF-5690 is fast, has ultra-high capacity ink cartridges available and, with an optional $99 second paper input tray that fits under the MFP (which our test unit did not have), it can accommodate a full 500 page ream of letter- or legal-sized paper. A rear paper feed, for specialty media such as photo paper, adds another 80 sheets to the overall capacity.
Epson claims a duty cycle of up to 45,000 pages per month for the printer but, in reality, a more realistic expectation is closer to 2,500 pages, or about five reams, of paper a month if you want the WF-5690 to last longer than a few months. At that pace, you're going through a case of paper every two months; that's still a lot of printing.
A Small Business Printer That's Big, But Not Too Big
Sporting an attractive light gray color that blends in with most office decor, the Workforce Pro WF-5690 measures 18.1 x 16.6 x 13.5 inches with the front output tray stowed, and weighs in at 31.5 pounds. It's not gigantic, but it's no lightweight, either.
It will need its own table, hopefully where the front output tray, which extends almost 10 inches further out from the front of the unit, won't get bumped into or jostled by people walking by, something that happened fairly frequently during our testing.
The Epson WorkForce Pro WF-5690 sits at the high end of the company's multifunction printer lineup.
The WF-5690's accessories—packed in the box— include a power cord, telephone cable (for using the fax with a landline, an install CD with drivers for both Windows and the Mac OS, and a setup poster. You'll also find a user manual and four standard capacity ink cartridges. The WF-5690 offers multiple connectivity options including USB, Ethernet, and Wi-Fi, but you'll have to provide your own cabling if you aren't going to connect via Wi-Fi.
Epson MFP Provides Full Range of Features
While the Workforce Pro WF-5690 isn't overly large, it does offer a full spectrum of features., For starters, it comes with an out-of-the-box paper capacity of 330 sheets—250 sheets in a front pull-out drawer that adjusts to fit letter or legal sized paper, and another 80 sheets in a rear paper feed behind the hinge of the scanner/automatic document feeder (ADF). Typically, the rear paper feed is used for heavier papers such as photo paper or card stock, but you can also use it to feed standard copy/print media.
If you envision long print or copy jobs, or tend to print multiple copies of long documents, you may want to opt for a second paper drawer. This sits directly underneath the main paper drawer and offers an additional 250 sheet capacity, giving you a total of 580 sheets to print before you need to refill the paper drawers.
There's little benefit in providing the paper capacity for long print or copy runs if you have to change toner cartridges frequently. Epson has this covered as well. The 786 ink cartridges come in two capacities; standard, high capacity, and you can also buy extra-high capacity 788XXL cartridges.
The 786 cartridges yield about 900 pages for the black cartridge and 800 pages for each of the color cartridges, and they cost about $23 each. The 786XL cartridges are rated at 2,600 pages for the black and 2,000 pages for the color. They cost about $42 for the black cartridge and $44 for the color cartridges.
Finally, the extra high capacity 788XXL ink yields about 4,000 pages for both color and black. The black cartridges cost $65 and color cartridges sell for $74. These result in a per-page cost that is considerably lower than most laser printers, which makes the WF-5690 a good choice for a high-volume print situation.
Connectivity is another place where the WF-5690 shines. In addition to the Wi-Fi, USB and Ethernet we mentioned earlier, the WF-5690 supports mobile printing from Apple AirPrint, Google Cloud Print, Kindle Fire, and Epson's own Epson Connect, which also lets the WF-5690 scan directly to email or to the cloud over a network connected to the Internet.
The WF-5690 also offers Wi-Fi Direct mode. With Wi-Fi Direct, a wireless Wi-Fi device can transmit a print job directly to the WF-5960 without having a network connection at the device or MFP end. There's also a USB port on the front of the MFP, which lets you print from a USB device such as a flash drive or portable USB drive; you can also scan directly to a USB drive.
One last feature concerns the WF-5690's print control languages. As you might expect, the printer supports PCL, which was originally developed by Hewlett Packard and adopted industry wide. But the WF-5690 also supports Adobe Postscript 3, which is used by many high-end graphics and page layout applications such as Adobe Design and Quark.
It's unusual to find true Postscript in a printer or MFP at this price point. In many cases, having Postscript available won't make much of a difference. But the main advantage of using Postscript is that a graphic file in EPS format should print identically on any Postscript device.