A Multifunction Photo Printer 

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The Epson Expression Photo XP-850 is a multi-function device that is aimed more at the photo enthusiast than a general purpose user.

Epson Expression Photo XP 850 photo printer
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The Epson Expression Photo XP-850  combines print, copy, scan and fax features with double-sided ADF (Automatic Document Feed) capability.  With regards to connectivity, you have the choice of USB, Ethernet or Wi-Fi.  The latter option can make use of an automatic set up that can connect direct to other Wi-Fi devices without the need of a wireless access point.

Decked out in lacquered black, this unit has dimensions of 390 x 338 x 191mm (W x D x H).  The XP-850 adopts the familiar layered approach of an inkjet printer supporting the A4 flatbed scanner that is covered by a curved, slopping top incorporating the ADF module.  You access the ADF by simply pressing down on the top of the unit and covering flaps open as a result.

With the various power and connectivity sockets at the rear of the unit, the front is given over to various media input options and an adjustable control panel.  You will need to adjust this panel for the best viewing angle and also to allow access to one of the paper input trays and the paper output tray.  The control panel features a centrally positioned 8.8 cm colour touch screen sandwiched between various touch sensitive buttons to activate certain tasks.  A USB slot sits in the lower left corner of the unit for attaching a camera or flash stick while concealed compartment contains slots for popular memory card formats.

There are two main paper input trays.  One of them allows you to load 20 photo sheets while the other is for more general purpose use and has a capacity of 100 sheets of copy paper.  There is also a tray for inserting an appropriate CD for direct printing a label.  The top mounted ADF module can handle up to 30 pages.  Furthermore if you need to print on thicker than normal paper, which might not be best suited to taking the u-bend printing path, then there is a direct printing path option located at the rear of the device that can take a single sheet feed.  The paper output tray appears automatically whenever a print command is detected.

As referred to earlier, the XP-850 has been designed to appeal to the photo printing enthusiast.  This is a six colour printer using Claria Photo HD ink cartridges.  These cartridges are for black, yellow, cyan, magenta, cyan light and magenta light.  Following its normal pattern, the cartridges need to be inserted into the belly of the printer.   

Normally, in such instances, I would just raise the scanner unit and insert the cartridges into the relevant slots in the cartridge holder.  But, despite the User Guide stating that this was the correct method, the holder failed to position itself where I could gain access to the slots.  Instead I needed to locate the Replace Cartridge option on the unit’s menu before the holder would stop in a position where the new cartridges could be inserted.  This alternate method was mentioned in the User Guide.  While hardly a major problem, it was one that I felt was a little inconvenient.

Once the ink cartridges have been inserted, installing the supplied software is straightforward.  Along with drivers, utilities, online guides and mobile print services, the software includes Print CD, photo printing and ABBYY FineReader Sprint offerings.

The Epson print driver offers five different quality levels and, as befits the product’s photographic influence, two of these levels are specifically for photo printing tasks.  You can opt for Draft mode which is the quickest but only really suitable for editing purposes.  Both Text and Text & Image modes produce good quality documents.  I was also impressed with the output from Photo and Best Photo modes.  Print speeds for Draft and Text & Image using my standard 102-word document are shown in the table below.

Epson Expression   Photo XP-850
Draft 35ppm 29ppm
Text & Image 23ppm 17ppm

Printing a 5230-word, ten-page document with automatic Duplex turned on took 150 seconds.  When using the ADF feature to photocopy a 10-page document, the job was completed in 153 seconds.  According to the documentation the XP-850 is capable of using the Duplex option but every time I attempted this task, an error message appeared after the first side of Page One was completed.

As part of the supplied software bundle, there is a copy of Epson Photo Print for managing and printing photos.  I used this product to select and print a range of images in various sizes.  The average timings are listed below and the quality of the images was impressive especially with regards to the speed of delivery.

Photo Printing Timings
10 x 15cm13 x 18cmA4
16 seconds 36 seconds 71 seconds

The XP-850 detects when the scanner lid is raised and automatically displays options that include Copy, Scan and Fax.  With a resolution of 4800 x 4800 dpi, the scanner can be used on its own or in conjunction with the ADF to create photocopies, send documents by Fax or to a computer.  Up to 60 names and numbers can be stored for use by the Fax which supports redial and speed dial features.

This well-featured photo printer device has been priced by Epson at £249.99 with Amazon currently listing it at £30 less.  Replacement cartridges are priced at £8.99 each while a 6-pack bundle is available for £49.99.

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