I’m not a fan of printers, Never have been. I rarely need to print anything these days, and in fact, have been trying to go paperless, so the whole notion of committing something to paper seems counter-productive.
For me, it’s mainly about scanning, so when my old “all-in-one” gave it’s final breath last year, I was forced to decide… Do I want just a dedicated scanner, or another all-in-one?
Thankfully, the practical side of me kicked-in when I realized I still do occasionally need to print things, albeit rarely, so I decided that getting another all-in-one made the most sense for me.
Since I bought my previous printer, I also added a Chromebook to the mix of devices in use here at the house, and Chromebooks present an interesting challenge. For all intents and purposes, you can’t really use a Chromebook with a conventional printer (because the Chrome Operating System doesn’t support drivers, directly, though that may change in the future).
With a Chromebook (or, Chromebox, or Chromebase), you’re limited to using Google’s “Cloud Print” service. However, if you’re using a “traditional” printer (one that’s not Cloud Print Ready, natively), that means you need to leave another computer running every time you want to print from your Chromebook, since Cloud Print will send print jobs via that “other computer.”
I wanted my next printer to come with Native Cloud Print support.
Another requirement was that I wanted to be able to scan to my Chromebook, as well, so Cloud Scanning was crucial.
After doing some research, I came home with an Epson Workforce WF-3620.
The first week of December, 2016, my Epson appeared, for all intents and purposes, to have died. It wouldn’t start-up, and just went into this endless “reboot loop.”
Quickly, it turned-out this was a Google coding error (they’d modified an API that Epson was using), and they corrected it within hours. That one day notwithstanding, Cloud Print has been 100% reliable, and hopefully, Google learned its lesson about changing things around without first discussing & testing those changes with their partners.
Epson WF-3620 Overview
The WF-3620 is an inexpensive all-in-one (only $83 at Amazon as of this writing), and overall, it’s really impressed me.
At the time, I did some homework, watched for sales, and brought it home.
A year later, I still love it!
Nobody likes to spend money on ink, and I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how little this uses.
In addition, the print heads in ink jet printers I’ve had in the past tend to clog if not used frequently (the ink dries in them). This machine was one of the first to utilize Epson’s Precision Core technology, which has been really impressive. After more than a year, it’s still sipping from it’s original color cartridges, and I’m on only my second black cartridge. As I said, I don’t print very much at all anymore, and what I do is usually just black & white, but still, I’m impressed.
Google Cloud Print on the Epson WorkForce WF-3620
I think this is the feature I was most looking-forward to. Again, not that I print all that often, but when I do,, it’s usually from my Chromebook these days, or from my phone, or my tablet.
Getting that set-up seemed unnecessarily convoluted, but when I found the correct documentation buried in the box (as a separate loose insert, for some reason), it was simple & straightforward to complete.
After you’ve gone through the steps, it’s transparent. The WF-3620 just “shows-up” as an available printing destination on all of your computers, and other devices, assuming they’re logged-in using the same Google account.
Once it’s setup, Google makes it super easy to share your new Cloud Printer with other Google users. I shared it with my wife’s account, and now, either of us can print from any of our devices.
Where has Epson Connect Been All My Life?
Oddly, Epson bundles all of their other “connected” features inside their Epson Connect service.
Google Cloud Print is the one odd thing that’s entirely separate, but I guess that’s OK, since you’re unlikely to ever access it again, once it’s setup.
When connecting your printer to Epson Connect, you assign it a name, and in return, receive an email address that allows you to “print via email.” An “approved senders” list allows you to specify who can send print jobs via email.
I haven’t found that to be terribly useful. My wife and I both have access to the feature, but I don’t think either of us have ever used it.
I suppose that might be handy if you need to share your printer with someone without giving them full access to your Cloud Print account?
The Cool Stuff – Epson Scan to Cloud
Using the Scan to Cloud feature of Epson Connect, you can choose from any of six potential destinations. You can scan to an email address, into your Box or Dropbox account, into Evernote, or your Google Drive or OneDrive account.
The only bummer here is that you can only connect to one account of each type on certain services, such as Google Drive, so if you’ll be sharing this scanner with your spouse, or your kids, you’ll need to get creative.
Luckily, my wife and I share an Evernote account, so no biggie there.
Google Drive was a bit more challenging… I could share with her account, or with mine, but not with both.
I got around that creatively by setting up two different destinations. A destination is a combination of account and folder. So, one destination is my “Inbox” folder on Google Drive, and another is a folder I share with her.
Not ideal, but it works.
The other thing worth mentioning is that scanning to Evernote requires that you have a paid Evernote account, since Epson accomplishes this “magic” by sending new scans there via email, and that’s not a feature available on free Evernote accounts. We already had a paid (Basic) account, so no hassles there for us.
Once you have your destinations defined, they’re mirrored on the machine’s built-in touchscreen.
When you’re ready to scan, tap “Scan,” then “Cloud,” and “Select Destination.” You’ll be presented with a list that matches what you’ve set-up in Epson Connect.
From there, you can choose one-sided, or two, and color or black & white.
And again, you can do all of this from the printer’s standby mode, with no other devices turned-on.
My only minor gripes about Epson’s Scan to Cloud is that the resulting PDFs do seem bloated (many times larger than the same documents scanned via Adobe Acrobat), and there’s no option for OCR, which seems lacking in this day-and-age.
Still, storage is cheap, and most services perform their own OCR these days, so I can live with that.
The Epson WF-3620 Scanner
Keeping in mind that this is a really inexpensive consumer scanner, I have to admit I’ve been blown-away.
The auto page feeder and two-sided scanning option have worked flawlessly, every time. I’ve automatically scanned as many as 20 pages at a time (double-sided) without any issues.
The paper handling is absolutely amazing for a machine costing so little.
The Epson WF-3620 Printer
I’ve had absolutely no issues, ever, printing from this thing. I do make it a habit, though to print my Inkjet Color Test Page every two or three months, to ensure the nozzles don’t become clogged from lack of use.
Most of the inexpensive household printers I’ve used over the years have fairly limited paper capacity. Usually, you can stick 20 or 40 pages in the back feeder, and that’s about it.
The WF-3620 actually has a real paper tray, which easily holds 250 pages of standard inkjet paper.
The only downside is that there’s no indication as to how much remains. I’m looking at it now, and couldn’t tell you if there are ten sheets left, or 110.
It also has a manual feeder on the back, which I use for #10 envelopes. That’s been totally reliable, too, and I even print (easily) envelopes from Google Docs using my Chromebook, and my phone.
Epson also makes the WF-3640, which is identical, but which has a second paper tray, for those who need to use letterhead, or a second type of paper.
Printing From a Chromebook
Once Google’s Cloud Print is activated, it’s a breeze to print on my Epson WF-3620 from anywhere, even if everything else at home is “off.”
The Epson WF-3620 As a Fax Machine
OK – Please don’t laugh, but there are approximately eight people who still use fax machines. One of them is a client of mine.
Since faxing was built-in, I decided to give it a spin, and again, the WF-3620 performs well. I didn’t want to spend money on a dedicated fax line, but I had an unused port on my Obi-202 VOIP Adapter. I created a new Google Voice number, routed it through the Obi, and now have a “dedicated fax line.” It works flawlessly, and is completely free.
The only bummer with the Epson fax implementation is that when it prints “fax sent successfully” receipts, it insists on wasting color ink. If there’s a “print receipt in black and white” option, I haven’t found it.
I was also a bit bummed to discover that despite all their web wizardry, Epson didn’t add a “Send incoming faxes to my email or cloud account” option, to save paper?
As it stands, every incoming fax (at least, there aren’t that many) end-up printed, and when I find them the next day, I have to scan them into the cloud. That seems a bit silly.
Oh, and as I was writing this, I came-across another use for the fax!
We’re changing doctors, and asked that our medical records be emailed to us.
They told us, “We can’t do that due to HIPAA privacy laws, but we can fax them to you?”
Are you kidding me? I can head to the junction box in the backyard with a pair of alligator clips, and intercept any fax in the neighborhood. I can’t do that with an https:// connection to a legit email provider.
Nonetheless, I guess fax can be handy for dealing with doctors, as well as my one client.
Epson WF-3620 Summary & Review
- The ink nozzles seem wonderfully efficient, giving me noticeably more life from the ink cartridges than those used in printers I’ve owned before. They don’t seem to clog easily, even when not used very often.
- The high capacity paper cartridge is welcome after having had a number of printers with low capacity back sheet feeders.
- Scanning is completely awesome, with no issues, whatsoever.
- Being cloud-based, no other device needs to be powered-up. From standby mode, it can scan to the cloud, or print from any of any of my devices.
- Being able to print from anywhere, using just our phones and/or tablets has proven to be amazingly handy.
- While the paper cassette is fantastic for the home & home office, with its 250 sheet capacity, it’s opaque, so there’s no way to know at a glance how much paper remains without removing the cassette. I wish there was a “paper remaining” indication on the touchscreen display.
- While the fax thing has been fun, I don’t like that anyone who knows the phone number can use-up my paper and ink. Since the machine is already connected to my Epson Connect account, which can already convert to PDF & store files in Google Drive, or even email them to me. An “Incoming Fax to PDF in the cloud” feature would be great!
- The fax receipts use ink unnecessarily. There should at least be an option to make them black & white only, and eliminate the reverse color bar at the header.
- Documentation for connecting the thing to Google Cloud Print was lacking. I considered it a “fun little challenge,” but it may frustrate a lot of non-geeks who just want to get up & running quickly.