Epson Expression Premium XP-820 review
With the current occupant of the all-in-one slot on the A List, the Canon Pixma MG6450, selling for just £75, a printer costing more than twice that needs some serious tricks up its sleeves. At £160 the Epson Expression Premium XP-820 sits towards the top end of the consumer all-in-one market: the test is whether it can justify its price.
Epson Expression Premium XP-820: features and connectivity
The feature list ticks all the right boxes. In addition to the usual USB connection, there’s the option to connect it to via wired Ethernet or wireless networks, and iOS users will appreciate the inclusion of Apple’s AirPrint. There’s even a fax machine.
The printer crams in a handful of luxurious extras to boot. The paper outlet doesn’t need to be jiggled open by hand: it, like the 4.3in touchscreen on the front, is motorised. Start a printing job with it closed and it smoothly whirs open. The touchscreen, meanwhile, is bright and clear, and makes it easy to investigate network settings or adjust the preferences for standalone jobs such as photocopying.
It’s a good job, too, as there are oodles of features to get to grips with. The automatic document feeder on the top of the device is a welcome sight, but it hides its own duplexer, allowing you to insert a stack of up to 30 pages and have both sides automatically copied or scanned. The paper feed mechanism has a duplexer of its own, allowing you to print double-sided.
The paper handling options are good, too. There’s a straight-through paper path available at the back of the machine for particularly thick paper or card; the XP-820 is capable of handling stock up to 0.6mm thick. There’s also a second paper cassette for up to 20 sheets of photo paper up to 7 x 5in, allowing you to keep standard A4 paper and a few sheets of photo paper ready to go. Things are rounded off by the ability to print directly onto CDs – the template is neatly stored under the main paper cassette and fed in manually.
Epson Expression Premium XP-820: print quality and speed
Straightforward printing duties are handled well. Printed at the most basic quality setting, our black and white, standard 50-page ISO document was delivered in a little over three minutes: a rate of 16ppm, or a little above what Epson claims is the XP-820’s top speed. Printing a full-colour, five page report was a little less swift: things slowed to a rate of just over 8ppm.
Print quality for text is good, although there is sharper available: a little spidering around the edges of characters means those looking for an approximation of laser quality should look elsewhere, but the XP-820 easily delivers enough quality for most purposes.
Duplexing slows things down significantly, though. Copying a 10-page, single-sided document took two minutes 26 seconds. Duplicating a five-page, double-sided document – complete with double-sided output – took eight minutes 26 seconds.
The XP-820’s photo quality is superb. Skin tones are rendered faithfully, and thanks to the extra black photo cartridge, there’s plenty of contrast on offer. Black and white images are produced with no colour cast and no perceptible banding, making the XP-820 very easy to recommend for photographers who want to produce short runs of small-scale prints at home.
The scanner is less impressive: photocopies are of an easily acceptable quality, but photo scans were less pleasing. A 300dpi colour scan was completed in a swift 15 seconds, and while the results were pleasingly detailed, red hues were severely over-saturated.
Epson Expression Premium XP-820: consumables and running costs
The XP-820 uses a five colour ink cartridge system – CMYK, plus a “photo black” cartridge. A new set of the better-value “XL” capacity cartridges costs £46. Taken at their individual prices, the £14 large-capacity black cartridge will print a claimed 500 pages, which works out to a reasonable 2.8p per page. Printing in colour bumps the cost per page up to 8.2p per page: competitive with other multifunction devices.
Epson Expression Premium XP-820: verdict
By far the biggest problem for the XP-820 is the existence of the A-Listed Canon Pixma MG6450. The Canon lacks the bells and whistles of the Epson – the motorised paper trays, the touchscreen or the twin duplexers (the Canon has a duplexer for printed documents but no ADF attached to the scanner) – but only a few users will want to pay the extra £100 for those features. In every other regard, however, the XP-820 is a capable rival and will be one to watch when its price starts to come down.