Although most modern inkjet MFPs for both business and home use have colour screens, touchpads and other shiny bells and whistles, the Epson Workforce WF-2530WF keeps it very simple indeed with a two-line mono LCD display and a range of clearly labelled function buttons. The display's small size means you have to lean in to read it comfortably, but this doesn't really get in the way of using or setting up the MFP.
You can even get the 2530WF onto your wireless network without having to plug it into a PC, thanks to the Wi-Fi Setup button. Press this and you can choose between using a standalone Wi-Fi setup wizard, manually entering your network's details, or using WPS if your router supports it. When it comes to entering your network's password, the numeric keypad doubles as phone-style alphanumeric text entry pad. There's no Ethernet port, so USB is your only wired option.
Unlike printers from the bigger and more capable WorkForce Pro range, this MFP has only one paper tray: a vertical input at the back that can take 100 pages of A4. It also has a 1,200x2,400dpi scanner with an ADF. Neither the ADF nor the print engine are duplex, but that's hardly surprising at this price.
Although scans are slightly slow and a little dull looking, there's a good amount of contrast in both light and dark areas and fine detail in our high-resolution photo scans was fairly sharp, although not perfect. Areas of finely gradated shading are also smooth and natural-looking, while text scans were sharp even at 150dpi. A 150dpi scan of an A4 document from the platen takes 17s, but if you increase the resolution to 300dpi, you'll have to wait 49s. A 600dpi photo scan took 57s and we had to wait over two minutes for a 1,200dpi scan of a 6x4in snap.
As well as its driver disc, the MFP comes with a copy of Presto! PageManager 9.03, which helps you archive and carry out text recognition on scanned documents. The printer's software automatically checks for the latest version online, and also checks if there is a new version of the printer's firmware available. It also lets you enable mobile print services, which allow you to print to the WF-2530WF from a mobile phone or tablet using Apple AirPrint, Google Cloud Print or the company's own Epson Connect service, which gives your printer a unique email address to which documents can be sent. The address generated isn’t exactly what you'd call memorable, but that hardly matters once it's saved to your address book. A web interface allows you to restrict who can email content to the printer, too. Finally, Epson's iPrint app makes it easy to print documents and phones on the WP-2530WF from compatible iOS or Android smartphones.
Unlike the WorkForce Pro range of printers and MFPs, the ordinary WorkForce range, including the WF-2530WF, can print borderless photos. The quality of its photo prints is by no means the best we've ever encountered: images look a little flat and dull, and the reproduction of low-contrast and subtly shaded areas loses detail. They're still a perfectly acceptable extra for an MFP, though.
The WF-2530WF's draft-quality prints are certainly quick enough, at 16ppm, but their text also looks grey and jagged. Standard-quality text is dark and solid, although close examination revealed a couple of wobbly edges on the inside of circular letters. Our 25-page mono text document printed at a rate of 8.6ppm: not bad, but not conspicuously quick, either. Colour documents printed at 2.3ppm. Again, that's decent for an inkjet but generally unremarkable.
Colour print quality is, similarly, usable but not outstanding: at standard quality, colours and shading were accurate, but large images exhibited visible lines left by the passage of the print head and 8pt fonts looked a little fuzzy round the edges. Both colour and mono copies, which took 39s for mono and 40s for colour from the platen, suffered from similar problems with print head marks and uneven edges.
At just £60, the WF-2530WF is gloriously cheap to buy, but it's not as inexpensive to run as you might hope, given the WorkForce range's reputation for thriftiness. A mono page costs 2.5p while a page of mixed colour and black printing comes in at 9.1p, neither of which is particularly cheap; there are at least individual ink cartridges, so you only have to replace the colours you've used up. The inclusion of Presto! PageManager is a nice extra for a budget MFP and mono print speeds are excellent, but if you're after a low-cost multifunctional for the home office we prefer the friendly interface, lower colour costs and better print quality of the Canon MX525