Epson’s WF-2630 is substantially the same printer as the ET-4500, the difference being that it takes traditional ink cartridges rather than using the bottle-based EcoTank system. That makes it slightly more compact, as there are no ink reservoirs sticking out the side.
Aside from that, the rap sheets are identical. You get a 100-page paper tray and a 30-sheet ADF, but print speeds are every bit as mediocre as on the EcoTank model – 7.6ppm for mono pages and 2.8ppm for colour. Ditto scanning: 22 seconds for a single greyscale page isn’t too bad, and scan quality is very good – but the ADF is painfully slow, taking more than five minutes to process our ten-page document.
Slightly to our surprise, a subtle variation in print quality was visible between the two printers. We couldn’t spot any difference with text or colour graphics: text remained legible but choppy, while colour graphics were pleasingly warm and clean. When it came to our high-quality photo-montage, however, the WF-2630 edged ahead with a sharper, neater reproduction of fine photographic detail. Evidently the ink that comes in EcoTank bottles isn’t precisely identical to the stuff that’s sold in cartridges.
While the WF-2630 isn’t exactly a looker, it’s impressive that Epson has managed to build in an ADF, fax and both wired and wireless networking capabilities at this price. Predictably, that’s offset by high running costs: Epson’s “XL” supplies are rated for just 500 pages in mono and 450 in colour. That translates to 0.05c per mono page and 20c for colour.
All the same, if you only ever print a low volume of pages, then the WF-2630 could be a cost-effective proposition. You’re looking at 2,000 mono pages before the Brother pulls ahead. Even after 20,000 pages, you’ll still be ahead in compared to any of the lasers. The problem is that it’s such a slow and undistinguished printer that it’s hard to recommend at any price.
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