The Epson WorkForce Pro WF-C8190 ($799.99) is a wide-format printer that can support up to super-tabloid (13-by-19-inch) media. It’s an update to the WorkForce Pro WF-8090, but boasts an all-new classier design, a friendlier control panel, and much-improved print quality. It also has a reasonable price, low running costs, and high duty cycle, making it our top choice for midrange wide-format printers.
Taming the Wide-Format Beast
A printer that churns out pages more than twice as wide as conventional letter-size media requires a significant commitment in counter top space. At 22.5 by 24.1 by 29.7 inches (HWD) and weighing 77.8 pounds, the WF-C8190’s size and girth calls for a sturdy, dedicated space to roost. At an inch or two smaller in all directions (yet weighing 33.8 pounds more) the HP PageWide Pro 750dw is also a beast, while Epson’s more consumer-grade Epson WorkForce WF-7210 Wide-Format is several inches shorter than the WF-C8190 and weighs 35 pounds less.
Out-of-the-box, the WF-C8190’s paper-input capacity is a meager 330 sheets, split between a 250-sheet main paper drawer and an 80-sheet multipurpose tray that extends up from the rear of the chassis. If that’s not enough paper (or input sources), you can expand it up to 1,830 sheets from four sources, with up to two 500-sheet add-on drawers (a steep $425 each). Epson also offers a combination cabinet/printer stand for $250.
The rear tray supports paper sizes ranging from 3.5 by 5 inches up to 13 by 19 inches, and banners up to 13 inches wide by 45 inches long. The main 250-sheet paper drawer and the two 500-sheet add-ons support media from 3.5 by 5 inches up to 11 by 17 inches. All that potential capacity is a darned good thing, too; with the WF-C8190’s 75,000-page maximum monthly duty cycle (7,000 pages recommended), you and your team members will be so busy keeping that 250-sheet paper drawer full that you may not get any work done.
Due primarily to its high price, large paper capacity, and fast print speed, the HP 750dw appears to be a much more powerful and robust printer than the WF-C8190, and from those three perspectives, it is. The default paper input capacity is 650 sheets, expandable to 4,650 sheets (with two 2,000-sheet trays), and it lists for close to three times more than the WorkForce Pro model. But this seemingly overpowering brute-strength, for the most part, stops here. The HP 750dw printer, for example, comes with the same maximum monthly duty cycle as the WF-C8190 (though the recommended volume is more than twice as much).
The WF-C8190 does get in a few licks of its own, though, including the ability to print super-tabloid-size pages. That size makes great signs and posters, for example.
Epson’s WF-7210 is, on the other hand, a different animal. Its paper capacity of 250 sheets is respectable, but it’s not expandable, and its monthly duty cycle is almost 75 percent lower than the WF-C8190’s. You won’t get nearly the same volume out of it, and its running costs, if you plan to print more than a few hundred pages per month, are a serious concern.
It’s also important to note that, as indicated in the printer’s name, the WF-C8190 emulates Adobe PostScript and HP PCL (Printer Command Language) page description languages (PDLs). These, especially PostScript, increase compatibility with several graphic design and desktop publishing applications and environments, and both PDLs are preferred for prepress applications. These PDLs increase the WF-C8190’s bag of tricks—such as, say, printing prepress composites—but if you don’t know what these PDLs do, you probably don’t need them.
Finally, you can manage all this from the WF-C8190’s control panel, which consists of about a dozen navigation and function buttons, and a few status LEDs—all anchored by a 2.4-inch non-touch color graphics display. As with most business printers, you can also make changes, set security options, monitor consumables, and more from the WF-C8190’s built in web server by simply typing the printer’s IP address into your browser. You can also use the control panel for setting up and connecting to various cloud and social media sites.
Connecting and Securing the WF-C8190
Except for its USB 3.0 port, a connection type you seldom see on a printer (USB 2.0 is the norm), connectivity is basic. Standard connections consist of Ethernet, Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi Direct, and connecting to a single PC via USB. All but that last one, the dedicated USB connection, allow the printer access to the internet, which in turn lets you use the Epson Connect feature for printing from cloud and social media sites. Wi-Fi Direct is a peer-to-peer networking protocol that lets you connect your mobile devices directly to the printer without them or it being on a local area network (LAN). You won’t find, however, a USB port for printing from USB memory sticks.
In addition to the standard networking security protocols that come with most network-ready printers, the WF-C8190 lets you secure print jobs with PINs to keep them away from prying eyes. A user control access feature lets you define who can use the printer and what features they can access. Limiting certain users to printing only in monochrome, for example, could save you significantly on ink costs.
High-volume printers need to be fast. Epson rates the WF-C8190 at 25 pages per minute (ppm), which is, for this class of machine, about where fast begins. The HP 750dw, for example, is rated at 35ppm, and there are several printers available, such as HP’s Color LaserJet Enterprise M653x, with much higher ratings.
I tested the WF-C8190 over Ethernet from our standard Intel Core i5 PC running Windows 10 Professional. Note also that the speeds reported here were obtained from printing letter-size pages, not wide-format media. Tabloid pages, which are exactly twice letter-size, should, with roughly the same percentage of coverage, take about twice as long to print, and super-tabloid a little longer.
The WF-C8190 printed the first part of my test regimen, a 12-page monochrome Microsoft Word text document, at 27.3ppm, surpassing its rating handily. Meanwhile, the LaserJet 750dw printed the same document 8.2ppm faster, and the WF-7210 managed a meager 15ppm.
When I combined the results from printing several colorful PDF, Excel, and PowerPoint documents containing embedded charts, graphs, various other business graphics, and photos with the results from printing the 12-page text document, the WF-C8190’s score plummeted to 15.1ppm. That may sound slow, but very few of the machines we’ve tested over the past couple years (due to the complexity of our test document’s layouts and content) have scored this high.
The LaserJet 750dw, at 1.1ppm faster, however, is one of them. But, given its price and speed rating, I’d expect more of a speed difference between these two wide-format printers. The WF-7210, on the other hand, managed about half of the WF-C8190’s showing.
Moving on to the next test, I printed two colorful and detailed 4-by-6-inch snapshots several times and averaged the results. The WF-C8190 averaged 19 seconds, or about 6 seconds faster than the WF-7210 and 11 seconds slower than the 750dw. Less than 30 seconds is the norm for most business-centered inkjet printers.
PrecisionCore Print Quality
All of Epson’s WorkForce and WorkForce Pro models use the company’s PrecisionCore printheads, which it also uses in its several-thousand-dollar, 100ppm-plus large enterprise and printing press machines. One of the key features of PrecisionCore is, besides being a little faster than traditional printheads, that the print chips contain a much higher number of smaller and tightly concentrated ink nozzles, resulting in a more precise distribution of ink.
I didn’t find much to dislike about the WF-C8190’s print quality. Text looks close to laser-quality; graphics output is free of streaking and other ink distribution flaws that often show up in dark fills and backgrounds. Gradients didn’t contain obvious stepping from one color to the next
Though they’re not photo printers, the WorkForce printers I’ve tested over the years, especially since the deployment of PrecisionCore, churn out more-than-respectable, vibrantly colored and detailed images. The WF-C8190 should be more than adequate for most business applications, and it has a distinct advantage over the HP 750dw: the ability to print borderless photos and documents up to letter-size. Photographs, and many business brochures, flyers, and so on, look much more refined with borderless finishing.
HP’s PageWide models and all laser printers are incapable of borderless output. Each page must contain white (or the paper color) margins of just less than a quarter-inch on all four sides of the page. Here, the sub-$200 WF-7210 gets the last laugh. It supports borderless pages up to 13 by 19 inches, though printing borderless super-tabloid photos (or any big photos, for that matter), given the WF-7210’s per-page ink cost, sucks up a lot of expensive ink.
Sensible Running Costs
When you use the highest capacity ink cartridges (11,500 black and 8,000 color page yields), the WF-C8190’s running costs are 1.6 cents for monochrome pages and 6.7 cents for color. To be very competitive, I would like that black cost per page (CPP) to be a little lower, perhaps even less than a penny, but these numbers are acceptable. The HP 750dw’s CPPs are, at 1.1 cents per black page and 5.6 cents for color, significantly lower, though. (That’s not a surprise, being that a higher purchase price often equates to a lower CPP.) If you print thousands of pages each month, that 0.5 black and 0.9 cent color per-page difference will, over time, literally add up to hundreds, even thousands of dollars.
Given the huge price deficit between these two machines, it will take a while to make up that difference and start saving money on ink. Meanwhile, the Epson WF-7210’s running costs are 3.2 cents for monochrome pages and 11.4 cents for color.
The costs quoted here are for printing letter-size pages. Just as tabloid-size pages take about twice as long as letter-size pages to print, they should also (assuming a similar percentage of coverage) cost about twice as much to print. Super-tabloid pages, which contain 2 additional inches of surface area in both directions, should cost a bit more.
A Little Less Bang for a Lot Fewer Bucks
Overall, I found little to complain about with the Epson WF-C8190. It does a huge percentage of the HP 750dw’s duty for a lot lower price. It prints the larger, super-tabloid-size pages and supports borderless finishing. That last one would be a lot more impressive, though, if it included borderless wide-format pages. The Epson WF-7210 will give you borderless pages all the way up to super-tabloid-size, which is quite attractive, but, frankly, if your print volume is high enough to consider the WF-C8190, the little low-volume consumer-grade WF-7210 shouldn’t even be on your short list. Considering its reasonable price, wider media choices, low running costs, and good print quality, the WF-C8190 has earned the Editors’ Choice slot for midrange wide-format printers.