Sometimes, letter- and legal-size papers just aren’t big enough. Whether for work or even at home, having an inkjet printer that can print on 11 x 17-inch paper is often useful. A wide-format printer lets you churn out large spreadsheets that are easier to view, wall-sized photos, and booklets.
The Epson WorkForce WF-7520 is one such device that’s able to print documents as large as 13 x 19 inches, but it takes things up a notch. The WF-7520 is also an All-in-One (AIO) multifunction printer (MFP) that provides print, copy, scan, and fax functions. It’s a business-centric device, but we see it benefiting the home user, too, considering it costs just $300.
But the WF-7520’s large-document capability doesn’t stop there. Both the scan platen and the automatic document feeder (ADF) can scan up to 11 x 17, useful for scanning across both pages of an open magazine, for example. Let’s take a closer look at this wide-format jack-of-all-trades.
Features and design
Wide-format printers tend toward the large side, and with the WF-7520 being an MFP, it’s even larger. With the device measuring 22 x 27.2 x 18.1 inches in printing mode (with the paper support extended), you’re not going to fit this on your desk, at least not if you want anything else next to it. And weighing 41 pounds, make sure you have the strength to lift it.
Size aside, the WF-7520 is fairly conventional. Many of the Epson AIOs we’ve tested recently have an adjustable tilt control panel, and the WF-7520 follows the same design scheme. A small color LCD panel displays menu choices, though it isn’t a touchscreen. Selections are made using a four-direction arrow pad next to the screen with an “OK” button in the middle of the directional arrows. Separate sections of the control panel are used for selecting different functions. The WF-7520 can print photos and documents directly from SD, Compact Flash, or Memory Stick flash memory. There is a front USB port, but it’s there for use with a digital camera’s PictBridge direct print feature. Automatic duplexing is provided for printing, scanning, and faxing, and the ADF holds up to 30 pages. Automatic duplexing for scanning or copying is only available with the ADF on letter-sized paper, though the ADF will accommodate up to 11 x 17 documents when scanning on only one side.
The WF-7520 has excellent connectivity options. We usually test printers and MFPs using a USB cable so as to avoid any network or wireless traffic slowdowns affecting our speed tests. The WF-7520 supports USB, Ethernet, and 802.11n Wi-Fi connections. If you sign up for a free Epson ConnecT account, you gain the ability to print from anywhere and scan to the cloud. The WF-7520 also supports Apple AirPrint and Google CloudPrint.
if you have a need for large format printing or scanning and have the room for it, it’s a great buy for the money.
Paper handling is another thing we like about the WF-7520. While the MFP doesn’t give you the print-to-CD feature found on some Epson models, there are two paper trays, and each can be loaded with a half-ream (250 sheets) of either letter- or legal-size paper. These cassettes can also handle paper as small as 3.5 x 5 inches (usually photo paper), and as large as 13 x 19 inches. The WF-7520 can print on most Epson specialty papers including iron-on transfer paper and adhesive sheets. Epson does not list its canvas paper as one of the supported papers, however.
While the WF-7520 is capable of excellent output quality, it’s not billed as a photo printer. Epson’s photo printers generally use more than the standard four colors (cyan, magenta, yellow, and black) that all inkjets, including the WF-7520, are equipped with. Epson uses the term “High-capacity” in describing all of the WF-7520’s cartridges. The High-capacity black is rated to yield about 385 pages, while the High-capacity color cartridges are rated at about 470 pages each.
And, where most vendors use XL, or extra-large in their higher yield cartridges, Epson uses “Extra High-capacity”. The black cartridge in this “Extra” size is expected to produce about 845 pages while the color cartridges are rated at about 775 pages. These are excellent yields, especially since the extra-high-yield black cartridge costs a bit under $30 from Epson’s own online store, while color cartridges are about $21 each.
What’s in the box
The WF-7520 is a large device and, at 42 pounds, it’s also a heavy one, so you may want to have someone help you unpack it. Our review unit came with a power cord, a phone cable (for fax), and a setup poster and Quick Start manual.
An included CD contains the printer and scanner drivers. The WF-7520 has support for various versions of Windows and Mac OS X 10.4.11 through 10.8.x. The scan capabilities are provided by a generic Epson scan utility and a TWAIN driver that allows the scanning to be performed through any application that supports it, such as Photoshop. Along with the scan utilities, Epson also includes a copy of ABBYY FineReader OCR software.
Performance and use
Setting up the WF-7520 is simple – the hardest part is lifting the beast. A large setup poster walks you through the process of getting the MFP up and running. After stripping off all of the packing tape, the printer is powered up and the ink cartridges are installed. Before anything else is done, the printer part of the MFP needs to have the ink primed, which took almost 10 minutes. Then the software installation can begin.
After popping in the CD to the computer, the installer first hits the Web to see if the drivers have been updated (in our case they were), and if so, downloads the new ones. This took almost 15 minutes. Overall, the setup took about a half-hour, but most of that time was just watching as the install proceeded. Once completed, we were ready to start testing.
Overall, we were very impressed with the WF-7520’s performance. The print driver provides selections for different types of paper. Other than “Plain,” these choices were all for Epson’s own papers. The driver also provides five settings for speed versus quality: Fast Economy (it’s essentially draft mode), Economy, Normal, Fine, and Quality. For our speed tests, we used the Normal and Fast Economy settings. All our image quality tests we used the Quality setting and with the correct paper settings.
Epson rates the WF-7520 at 8 pages per minute (ppm) in color in Normal mode. At this setting, we achieved 12ppm. At the Fast Economy setting, the WF-7520 tore through the test at about 25ppm, though print quality suffered noticeably. As fast as this setting is, we probably wouldn’t use it for anything we would want someone else to see.
Considering that Epson doesn’t tout the WF-7520 as a photo printer, it prints terrific photos.
The image quality and color accuracy provided some surprising results. We performed this test on Epson’s Premium Presentation Matte, which is the paper Epson recommends for best output, Epson’s Premium Photo Paper Glossy, and the Hammermill Premium Inkjet and Laser paper we use for comparison. Color accuracy was right on the money for all three test images on all of the papers used for testing.
What differed from one paper type to the other was color saturation, which is how vivid or muddy the colors are. Epson’s Premium Presentation Matte suffered from a noticeable under saturation, with accurate but dull colors. In our tests of other Epson printers, this paper usually produced terrific results. The Hammermill paper was a little better in terms of color saturation, but the best output came from Epson’s Premium Photo Paper Glossy. Colors were accurate and bright. Considering that Epson doesn’t tout the WF-7520 as a photo printer, it prints terrific photos. With that said, we wouldn’t hold back on printing a mixed text and graphic report on the WF-7520 using either the Epson Matte or the Hammermill papers; the output quality on these papers is fine for most uses.
We also tested the Copy and Scan functions. Copying, as with almost every inkjet printer we’ve tested, is pretty much an exercise in patience. We can’t fault the WF-7520 on that, and we liked the automatic duplexing feature. Scanning is provided by way of Epson’s own scan utility. It isn’t very fancy, but it does let you specify scan resolution, and choose to scan to a PC, to an e-mail message, or to a memory card, the last of which can be performed without a PC connected. We also had no trouble scanning to Google’s Picasa 3 imaging software, using the application’s Import function. Scan quality was excellent, and the 11 x 17-inch scan bed covers oversized documents or a two-page spread of many books and magazines.
The Epson WF-7520 is big. It’s big physically and big on capabilities. Print quality is generally very good and it’s fast. It’s priced at a reasonable $300, and if you have a need for large format printing or scanning and have the room for it, it’s a great buy for the money. While it’s targeted toward the small business user, home users will find it just as useful.
- Wide-format up to 13 x 19
Fast, very good output quality
Duplexing and ADF
High-yield ink cartridges
- Large and heavy
Output was more highly saturated on certain papers