Epson plans to kill off lasers, launches WorkForce Pro series

At a press event yesterday at Old Trafford, Manchester, Epson unveiled its strategy for the next year. And the news is great for businesses of all sizes—from individuals working at home to large enterprises with hundreds of employees.

Epson chose Old Trafford for the location of the event due to its recent sponsorship agreement with the world-famous football club. The impressive—and probably very expensive 2-year partnership—provides Epson with some remarkable corporate hospitality opportunities that the company hopes will greatly improve its business through brand association. Needless to say, Old Trafford is already littered with Epson EPoS devices and projectors.

What came as the biggest surprise was Epson’s acknowledgement that 67% of its revenue over the last year came from its business products. What’s also surprising is that regardless of current economic conditions, Epson has set itself a target growth of 200 million euros for the next year (revenue increase of 10-20%).

The Japanese company hopes to achieve this optimistic growth by launching its new ‘Engineered for Business’ strategy and releasing over 100 new printers this year. The new printers range from the usual single-function and all-in-one, to corporate-ready page description (PostScript and PCL) models.

Big news is the unveiling of the WorkForce Pro brand. What’s really interesting with these eight new models is their claim to reduce running costs by up to 50% compared to laser printers—even those from Epson, which are based on third-party printer technology.

Epson’s Micro Piezo technology is an innovative inkjet-based print system that the company has been tweaking since its introduction in 1993 (first seen in the Epson Stylus). Now at a stage where the company believes the technology can beat lasers on all fronts, Epson is pushing the technology more than ever.

The brand new WorkForce Pro WP-4000 series of single-function printers and the WorkForce Pro WP-4500 series of multi-function printers offer laser-like looks and performance, combined with great reliability and up to 50% lower cost per page than competitive lasers. These high-speed inkjet printers offer a genuine alternative to laser products and provide further cost savings due to a super-fast automatic double-sided printing function, reducing paper usage.

Businesses benefit from lower ink costs with a choice of high-yield cartridges of up to 3,400 pages, while a print resolution of 4800 x 1200dpi—much higher than comparative lasers for clearer text and sharper images. These products will be available in September 2011. Additional models featuring PDL support for complex IT environments, including PCL6, PCL5c and Adobe PostScript 3, are due later in the year.

“The WorkForce Pro line-up is a seriously competitive business range: new name; new approach, and forms part of our ‘Engineered for Business’ strategy, which is based on choice, performance, economy and ecology,” said Andrew Semple, head of Epson Europe’s business imaging division. “We understand what businesses need: high-quality, reliable, functional, high-performance and cost-effective products. Businesses have previously had to compromise but, with WorkForce Pro, they can now have it all.”

Epson has also taken the opportunity to strengthen its range of inkjet products for small businesses with the Stylus Office BX535WD and BX635FWD. These high-speed, multi-function devices that print, scan and copy, boast individual inks, double-sided printing, high-capacity XL inks to provide savings of up to 50% on cost per page, Wi-Fi and Ethernet connectivity, high-capacity, front-loading paper trays and Energy Star-qualified reduced power consumption for lower energy bills.

These new models also come with enhanced connectivity for mobile printing from smartphones and tablet PCs, including iOS support with Android support coming.

The WorkForce Pro series addresses the business space and competes directly with laser technology, which isn’t in Epson’s DNA. Epson took its core technology and expertise and placed it into the business market. Offering something that is different for its customers—lower running costs, reduced up-font capital costs, reduced environmental impact (considerably lower power consumption, fewer consumables, reduced paper use with duplex printing)—make the series a real alternative to lasers.

Epson-WorkForce-Pro-WP-4535-DWF

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Christian Harris is editor and publisher of BCW. Christian has over 20 years' publishing experience and in that time has contributed to most major IT magazines and Web sites in the UK. He launched BCW in 2009 as he felt there was a need for honest and personal commentary on a wide range of business computing issues. Christian has a BA (Hons) in Publishing from the London College of Communication.