Desktop printing doesn't get enough credit for the enormous leap in function and affordability over the last 30 years. From crude and noisy dot matrix printers to the first laser printers costing thousands of dollars, we now have all-in-one devices that print, copy, scan, fax, and more. The Epson WorkForce WF-3540 represents this product type quite well, offering a wide range of services beyond basic printing for under $200.
This cutthroat, competitive market (Epson alone offers 19 printers in this segment ranging from $80 to $500) means inexpensive printers that do more for less improve with each new model. Aimed at home and small business users, the WF-3540 includes two paper trays, two-sided printing, Automatic Document Feed for copying and scanning, wireless support, and an app to print directly from your smartphone. Twenty years ago this was impossible; ten years ago this cost thousands. And the WF-3540 does a darn good job for about $150 street price, aiming mostly at small businesses and home users.
Setup and configuration
Often sold at retail, the box for the WF-3540 doubles as a billboard while holding the printer securely on its overseas voyage. Two nice details setting up this unit: the dozen pieces of blue tape holding various doors and lids and paper trays still are doubled over at the end, making it easy to grab and pull off the tape. Second, the Start Here page provides clear, accurate, and complete unpacking and setup details. It's amazing how often Quick Start pages are inaccurate, but this one is spot on.
The 3.5 inch touchscreen finds the right balance between easy to use and resistant to accidental triggers. Enough pressure is needed to eliminate random key presses, and a beep provides feedback.
Ink cartridges (a full set comes with the unit - ink.jpg) fit with a click into the carrier (Ink-install.jpg), with a color code chart to keep you from getting them out of order. The slim ink cartridges are fine for color, but you'll want the double-wide cartridge for black ink, which drains the fastest by far.
When plugged into an existing Ethernet network, the printer works with DHCP (Dynamic Host Control Protocol) to find an open address. Using the touchscreen, you can set a specific IP address, which makes sure the printer doesn't change addresses after a reboot or power outage.