A rose by any other name would be the Epson WorkForce ST-C4100 Supertank Color MFP ($499), an inkjet all-in-one (AIO) printer that, except for being found in the "For Work" rather than "For Home" section of Epson's website, is essentially identical to the EcoTank ET-4850, the top-of-the-line letter- and legal-size AIO in Epson's bulk-ink consumer lineup. The two have some minor differences in cosmetic issues, in marketing and extended warranty options, and in how much ink comes in the box, and the WorkForce's list price is all of 99 cents lower than the EcoTank's. With so little to separate them, the ST-C4100 gets to share the Editors' Choice award we gave the ET-4850 for a heavy-duty small-office/home office AIO.
Physically and functionally identical to the EcoTank ET-4850, the WorkForce ST-C4100 prints, scans to a PC, works as a standalone copier and fax machine, and scans to online services. It also offers the same paper handling: a 250-sheet drawer and automatic duplex (double-sided) printing, and a letter-size flatbed paired with a 30-page automatic document feeder (ADF) for scanning. However, the ADF has no way to scan two-sided originals and put the pages in the right order.Our Experts Have Tested 53 Products in the Printers Category in the Past YearSince 1982, PCMag has tested and rated thousands of products to help you make better buying decisions. (See how we test.)
Except for lacking an EcoTank logo and coming only in white (the ET-4850 is available in white or black), the ST-C4100 is a twin to the consumer AIO. It's the same desk-friendly size (10 by 16.4 by 19.8 inches with paper trays extended), and has the same connection choices of USB, Ethernet, Wi-Fi, and Wi-Fi Direct. (For more details, see our ET-4850 review.)
According to Epson, there are only three other differences between the two printers: their marketing, their warranties, and how much ink each comes with. Officially, the EcoTank is sold though consumer channels and the WorkForce through business channels. In practice, however, you can find both online—with, at this writing, some reputable vendors discounting the WorkForce model by as much as $100.4.0Excellent $359.99See Itat AmazonRead Our Brother MFC-J4335DW Review 4.0Excellent $396.99See Itat Dell TechnologiesRead Our Canon Pixma G7020 MegaTank All-in-One Review 4.0Excellent $429.51See Itat AmazonRead Our Epson Expression Premium XP-7100 Small-in-One Printer Review 4.5Outstanding$849.99See Itat Dell TechnologiesRead Our Epson EcoTank Pro ET-5850 Review 4.0Excellent$899.00See Itat AmazonRead Our HP Color LaserJet Enterprise MFP M480f Review 4.0Excellent $525.95See Itat AmazonRead Our Canon Color imageClass MF746Cdw Review4.0Excellent $399.99See Itat AmazonRead Our HP Neverstop Laser MFP 1202w Review 4.0Excellent $409.98See It at AmazonRead Our Canon imageClass MF269dw Review 4.5Outstanding $379.99See Itat Office Depot® & OfficeMax®Read Our Brother MFC-J6945DW INKvestment Tank Color Inkjet All-In-One Printer Review 4.5Outstanding $1,479.29See Itat AmazonRead Our Epson EcoTank Pro ET-16650 Review
The standard warranties are also similar, though the options for extended warranties aren't. Both come with a two-year warranty, though Epson says you must register the ET-4850 to get the second year. The only choice for extended service for the EcoTank is a one-year service plan, but the WorkForce ST-C4100 offers a choice of plans that let you extend the warranty for up to five years, as well as the option to add next-business-day replacement. If you buy the ET-4850 from a dealer, you can probably get longer extended coverage, but not usually next-day replacement.
The third difference is a little unclear: Both printers' web pages say that you get up to two years of ink in the box (with a footnote saying that that that calculation is based on 200 pages printed per month). However, the web pages also state that the ST-C4100 comes with two sets of ink bottles while the ET-4850 has only one set—a WorkForce bonus worth almost $60 that should let it print twice as many pages before you need to buy more ink. At this writing, Epson hasn't officially confirmed this online fine print, but I can confirm that the ST-C4100 sent for review had two sets of ink bottles in the box to the ET-4850's one.
Both Epsons are rated at 15.5 pages per minute (ppm) for monochrome pages and 8.5ppm for color, and both delivered matching performance with every document in our test suite.
Using our standard testbed PC and an Ethernet connection, I timed the ST-C4100 at 16.8ppm for black-and-white text using our 12-page Microsoft Word file (including the time to print the first page). In our overall business applications suite, which combines the text document with colorful PDF, PowerPoint, and Excel files, it came in at 7.5ppm. The WorkForce averaged 1 minute and 25 seconds each to print 4-by-6-inch photos on Epson's Presentation Matte paper.
The stopwatch difference between the two printers was one second, easily within the margin of error. For text printing, both are tied with the less expensive, cartridge-based Brother MFC-J4335DW, which is our Editors' Choice honoree for low-volume home and micro-office printing. The Brother's 10.5ppm beat both Epsons in our business applications suite.
Text and graphics output quality was predictably the same for the ST-C4100 as for the ET-4850, just short of top-tier for business inkjets. The edges of text characters didn't quite equal laser-printer crispness, but all the fonts you'd likely use in standard business documents were highly readable at sizes as small as 5 points. Graphics on plain paper showed subtle banding in fills at default settings, but colors were nicely saturated, and thin lines held up well.
Photos on Epson's recommended Presentation Matte paper were actually much better-looking than the EcoTank's photos on the recommended glossy paper, but that's due to the different papers. Business graphics printed on the matte paper showed no banding and even more vibrant colors than my samples on plain paper. (For some more details on output quality, again, see the ET-4850 review.)
Finally, as one of Epson's bulk-ink printers (with reservoirs refilled with bottles rather than replaceable ink cartridges), the ST-C4100 boasts remarkably low operating costs—just 0.3 cent per standard black page and 0.9 cent for color. You can find comparable speed and features at a much lower purchase price with a cartridge-based inkjet, but if you expect to print a lot of pages, the lower consumable cost can give you a lower total cost of ownership.
As may seem obvious, the WorkForce ST-C4100 and EcoTank ET-4850 are essentially interchangeable choices for a home-office AIO or personal AIO in a workgroup. In both of those scenarios, if you don't plan on printing a high volume of pages, you should consider a cartridge-based inkjet instead, either the Brother MFC-J4335DW or, if you want more speed and more flexible paper handling, the wide-format Epson WorkForce Pro WF-7840 or WF-7820.
Between the EcoTank and Supertank twins, the ST-C4100 has the advantage if its extra-cost next-day replacement policy appeals to you. Otherwise, both are on equal footing and share our Editors' Choice honors as heavy-duty, small-office multifunction printers. Either might be the better value on any given day, so be sure to check both.4.0Editors' ChoiceCheck Stock$436.49 at WalmartMSRP $499.00
A twin of the EcoTank ET-4850, the Epson WorkForce ST-C4100 Supertank Color MFP is a four-function model whose low running costs make it a home-office or personal AIO bargain if you print lots of pages.
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