In terms of connectivity, you can connect directly through USB (cable not included), a hardwired Ethernet cord, or a wireless 802.11 b/g/n access point. Easy enough, but Google and Apple users can streamline the process further using Apple AirPrint and Google Cloud Print. Although the documentation recommends you follow the instructions on the driver disc included in the box, I chose to pair the printer using the onscreen guide directly on the unit. From there, the software installation automatically recognized the connection and asked if I was ready to set up the Epson Connect feature. This lets you e-mail a document to the printer from any connected device, including laptops, tablets, and smartphones, and it automatically adjusts the image or text page to fit the dimensions of your media, eliminating the bad crop jobs that mar competing services.
The WF-3540 is powered internally by four separate ink cartridges (cyan, magenta, yellow, black) that save you money by making it so you don't have to replace a tricolor ink tank. I did the math based on Epson's high-capacity ink cartridges, which offer more ink capacity at a discounted price, and a page of color ink works out to 7.2 cents per page, while a high-capacity black cartridge comes to approximately 3 cents per page. Both costs are average for an inkjet printer at this price. Epson also bundles extra-large-capacity ink cartridges with the WF-3540, a perk that the company reserves for customers that choose to invest in a more expensive unit up front, rather than buying something like the WF-2540 that ships with "starter" ink packs.
The WorkForce WF-3540 earns top marks across all four print speed tests, logging the fastest lead in text speed with a competition-crushing 12.98 pages per minute (PPM). The HP Officejet Pro 8600 Plus e-All-in-One fared well in second place with 12.26 PPM, but the overwhelming majority of the speed tests were decisively won by the Epson WorkForce, which should inspire you with confidence that you'll never wait too long for a print project.
The WF-3540 also gave outstanding results, producing black text of a quality that easily competes with the crispness of expensive laser printers, even at smaller sizes. Full-color graphics and presentations fared equally well, and quiet offices will certainly benefit from the whisper-quiet of the printer's operational sounds, which are easily drowned out by clicking keyboards and soft conversation. Compared with irritatingly loud devices that make their scanning, spooling, and printing processes well-known, the WorkForce WF-3540's stealthy operation is a satisfying alternative.
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
|Black text||Color graphics||Photo||Presentation|
Service and support
Epson backs the WorkForce WF-2540 with a limited one-year warranty that includes toll-free customer support weekdays from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. PT. Further support is available online: a model-specific troubleshooting guide, FAQs, e-mail support, driver updates, and document downloads. You can also purchase exchange and repair coverage at $39.95 for one year or $59.95 for two years.
The Epson WorkForce WF-3540 excels in all manner of printing operations, and has all the extras you need in terms of cloud printing and mobile printing software, as well as a touch-screen interface and speedy performance. If you're shopping for a do-it-all output machine for a large work group, the WorkForce WF-3540 is worth the money.