|Name||Inkjet multifunction printer: Epson Expression Home XP-200|
|At a glance:||Low print speed,Brilliant print quality, high colour-accuracy,Reasonable ink costs with high-capacity cartridges,High scan speed|
|Summary:||Though slow to print, a great feature set and unbeatable photo quality make this one worth the extra few bucks upfront.|
Though Epson's XP-200 has an RRP of $119, we found it on shelves for around $99, just within the $100 budget for our March 2013 printer roundup.
The XP-200 is a particularly compact printer – the smallest we tested in our roundup by quite a margin, at 390 x 300 x 145mm. Epson in fact markets it as a ‘Small-in-One’. Though the term is corny enough to classify as a foodstuff, it really is quite apt. If you have limited desk space, like every home office or computer room I’ve ever had, don’t undervalue the advantage of a tiny printer that will just sit quietly out of the way.
Colour ink costs are approximately 41 cents per page (a full set is $68). You can reduce this substantially by using Epson’s high-capacity ink cartridges, however. Those have an upfront cost of $136, but a much lower per-page cost of approximately 29 cents. Black and white printing is very reasonable in either case, at 10 cents per page or 7 cents per page respectively.
Epson has made the XP-200 as easy-to-use as a home printer should be, with a simple six-button interface on a flip-up control panel at the front. It connects to your PC via USB cable, which is not included. However, the XP-200 can also be used via Wi-Fi, at the cost of marginally reduced print and scan speeds.
Wi-Fi setup is delightfully easy if your router supports Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS): just push a button on the router, push a button on the printer, and you’re good to go. If your router doesn’t support WPS, you’ll need to go out and buy a USB cable, as a temporary direct connection to your PC is required for setup.
Bundled software includes the aptly named Epson Scan and Epson Photo Print, both useful utilities that do just what you’d expect them to, with no unnecessary clutter or gimmicks. ABBYY FineReader 9.0 Sprint gives you excellent optical character recognition (the ability to scan text into a searchable PDF or editable document), including recognition of font face and size. Of all the printer’s we’ve tested lately, the XP-200 had the most useful and least overblown software package.
Print speed is a little disappointing at 7.1 pages per minute for black and white text and line-art, 5 pages per minute for black and white graphics. First pages averaged 12 and 15 seconds respectively. Colour printing is considerably slower, however and it averaged just 1.9 pages per minute in our colour graphics test, and it took a painfully long 9 minutes 38 seconds to print a full-colour A4 photograph. This took notably longer than the competing models, all of which come at much better prices. There’s a tradeoff, though: quality.
The XP-200’s print quality is exceptionally sharp and clear, for a $100 printer. In particular, the photo prints easily compete with those produced by printers costing $150-$200. For a printer that you can pick up for barely over $100, this is a boon. Though high sharpness and the lack of any kind of banding, colour artefacts, or roller-marks all contribute to the printer’s quality, the greatest factor in our tests was colour accuracy.
Prints from the XP-200 look positively desaturated in comparison to its competitors – and those prints look perfect. It really shows how common oversaturation is in home photo printing, when one model stands above the rest and dares to show natural colours. It may not look as glossy or bright, but it looks real. If you want unnaturally bright colour, you can achieve it with the XP-200 – just alter the colour in your photo editing application, or in the printer’s own settings.
Scan quality is admirable, if not best-in-class. Speeds are certainly good, at just 11 seconds for a quick 300 DPI mono scan (think bank statements), 41 seconds for a colour page at 600 DPI, and 2 minutes 26 seconds for a colour page at the ridiculously-detailed 1200 DPI.
If you want a low-cost photo printer, go straight for the Expression Home XP-200. You’ll get print quality that can rival models that cost $50 more, in a very small package.