Printer Review: Epson WorkForce 310

Tuesday Jun 30th 2009 by Eric Grevstad
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We loved the Epson Workforce 600 for its low price and reliable work ethic. Now its younger sibling takes the stage with a lower price. Ready for a little family drama?

One of the hardest things to do in marketing is, after selling a product at a steep discount, to phase out the discount and continue selling it at full price. Epson is about to find out.

You see, Epson's WorkForce 600 (reviewed last December) is an inkjet printer/copier/scanner/fax that lists for $200. That price leaves room for an economy model positioned below, and now Epson has introduced one -- the WorkForce 310 seen here and priced at $130.

Compared to the 600, the 310 has the same USB and Ethernet but lacks Wi-Fi connectivity; it doesn't have memory-card slots for printing images from digital cameras; and it has an LCD that shows just two lines of text for prompts and instructions compared to the 2.5-inch color screen of its upscale sibling. It's also slower, and we rate its print quality lower.

All of that might be tolerable for a $70 saving. The trouble is, at its debut last year the WorkForce 600 was almost immediately discounted to $150, and still has been. Epson's own site offered it at that figure when we received our WorkForce 310 for this review; now, as we go to press, the 600 is back to full price there, but still findable for $150 at Staples, Office Depot, Amazon.com, and elsewhere. And with only a $20 price difference, you'd be foolish not to buy the superior model.

Everything But Duplexing

To be sure, the WorkForce 310 does a lot for its low cost. It completes the home-office home run by providing faxing, rather than settling for a triple (printing, copying, and scanning). The unit has an ample 180 pages of fax memory and support for 60 speed-dial numbers, the first five of which get dedicated buttons on the control panel.

You can also save group-dial numbers, each storing up to 30 speed-dial numbers for mighty broadcast faxing. A 30-sheet automatic document feeder (ADF) eliminates the chore of placing pages on the scanner glass for multipage faxing and copying jobs.

As a copier, the Epson can make 1 to 99 copies of documents at 25 to 400 percent zoom, with the ability to automatically fit a document to fill a page or to condense legal-sized originals from the ADF to letter-sized copies in the output tray.

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