The Epson Expression XP-810 Small-in-One Printer could make almost anyone happy. It has an impressively deep list of features for a home printer and is also one of the best all-around performers in it price range.
Here’s the big catch: ink costs. This is officially a $230 printer (as of 11/8/2013)—though you should be able to shop around for a better price, and Epson is currently discounting it on its own site. However, if I’m spending that much, I expect to be repaid with lower ink prices. Instead the costs are a little higher than average: 4.6 or 5.2 cents per page (cpp) for black, and 13.4 or 18.2 cpp for a four-color page, using the high-capacity or standard-size cartridges, respectively.
I had the same complaint about ink costs recently with a close competitor of this model, the Canon Pixma MG7120. Not a good trend! The best overall deal in this price range currently is the HP Photosmart 7520 e-All-in-One, whose inks are refreshingly affordable.
The only compensation for the ink costs is the print quality, which is some of the best you’ll experience with a consumer-level inkjet. The Expression XP-810 has both pigment- and dye-based blacks as well as cyan, magenta, and yellow. The pigment-based black helps it create crisp-looking text even on plain paper. Meanwhile, the dye-based black helps it create a nice sense of depth in photos. We’ve always liked the bright, lively palette of Epson-printed photos anyway, and the Expression XP-810 sticks with that tradition. Photos printed on plain paper can look a little pinkish, but they look spectacular on Epson’s own photo paper.
The output arrives quickly, too—again, the Expression XP-810 clocked some of the fastest times we’ve seen for a consumer-level inkjet. Simpler pages, consisting mostly of plain, black text and basic monochrome graphics, posted an aggregate speed of 10.3 pages per minute (ppm) on the PC and 9.7 ppm on the Mac. Photos can slow a printer to a crawl, but the Expression XP-810 crawled faster than most: 2.4 ppm when printing 4-by-6-inch photos on plain paper on the PC, and 0.8 ppm for a full-page, high-res photo on the Mac (which sounds slow, but the average is 0.5 ppm).
The Expression XP-810 also has almost every feature you could possibly want in a color inkjet multifunction. It has an easy-to-use, 3.5-inch touchscreen control panel. Connectivity includes ethernet, USB, and 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi. The printer also has Wi-Fi direct, so it can connect directly to a device rather than having to go through a wireless network. Front slots support Secure Digital, Memory Stick, and Compact Flash media, as well as PictBridge. Epson also offers a great selection of mobile-printing apps and options.
Paper handling is versatile, if not always high-capacity. The 30-sheet automatic document feeder (ADF) for the letter/A4-size scanner is something many home-oriented printers lack, but you’ll appreciate it if you have to scan or copy longer documents. The 100-sheet, letter/legal main input tray is skimpy, but there’s also a 30-sheet photo-paper tray, so you won’t have to swap out paper as often. The unit even has a caddy for printing on specially coated CD and DVD media, though the software and documentation can be confusing.
The 30-sheet output tray is the only thing on this printer that I didn’t like. It slides out on its own when needed, which is cute. But it doesn’t slide itself back in, which seems odd. Worse, it bucks and squeaks when you push it in manually. The documentation says, “As you slide in the output tray, there may be slight resistance and noise. This is normal.” No, this is cheesy!
The other cheesy thing is the online-only user guide. I’m not trying to get Epson to kill more trees. I just don’t understand why the company won’t put the user guide on the installation CD so you can have a local copy.
I was disappointed by the cheap feel of the output tray and the pricey bent of the inks on the Epson Expression XP-810. It’s otherwise one of the best consumer printers you could buy, perhaps overshadowed only by its fancier (and higher-priced) cousin, the Epson Expression XP-850 Small-in-One Printer. As noted before, the HP Photosmart 7520 e-All-in-One has cheaper inks, though its photo quality isn’t quite as good.