Expression Photo XP-960
Decked out predominately in black, the Epson Expression Photo XP-960 combines print, scan and copy functionality with a choice of WiFi, Ethernet or USB connectivity. You also get the ability to print images of up to A3 in size. As a very welcome bonus item, you are provided with a pack of 50 A3 sheets of glossy photo paper in the box.
With dimensions of 479 x 356 x 148 mm (W x D x H), this Epson All-in-One adopts the standard layout format of an inkjet printer provided the support for an A4 flatbed scanner. The A3 paper is fed from the rear of the unit using a slot that is meant to hold a single sheet of paper at a time. You will be reminded of this fact as part of the A3 printing process which ejects the finished article from the front of the unit. Other sizes of paper have a front-mounted entry point with a U-bend passage that returns the printed output back to an exit point which automatically opens.
Mounted on the front of the unit, situated between the paper input tray and the scanner bed, is the unit’s control panel. When not in use this panel will sit flush to the body of the unit. When it is required it will automatically rise to an appropriate angle making it easier to view and access the options available from the colour touch LCD screen that forms the central point of this panel. With side mounted buttons to display the home screen, open/close the paper output tray, scroll up/down and start an operation, the central area of the screen changes content to reflect the current mode. To the left of this screen is the unit’s touch sensitive power button.
Also positioned on the front of this All-in-One is a USB port. This can be used to insert a flash drive containing images or documents you wish printed. Concealed behind a flap door is a selection of slots for accessing content on the more popular types of memory cards.
This printer unit delivers its ink from six cartridges which reside in the belly of the printer and are accessible by lifting the scanning table. Supplementing the standard offering of black, cyan, magenta and yellow are cartridges for light cyan and light magenta. Inserting the cartridges can be a little tricky until you realise that you need to hold each cartridge at a slight angle with the head of the cartridge being inserted first before pressure is applied to at the rear to make the necessary connection. The printer will inform you if the cartridges are not seated correctly.
Set up instructions and required software is supplied on a CD which also contains a PDF version of the product’s User Guide. The CD will lead you through step-by-step instructions displayed on the host computer screen. While this first stage, with illustrated instruction was trouble free, later stages proved not so. At one stage, during the installation of software utilities, the process hung and I was forced to restart the process in order for it to be completed.
Later a problem arose when linking the All-in-One to a computer. I had opted for a WiFi connection rather than Ethernet or USB. Using WPS failed to make a connection and so I tried the manual approach which required the entry of my router’s password. It took another failure before I realised that the Epson on-screen keypad was defaulting to uppercase while my WiFi router password was in lowercase. Once this issue was resolved I was able to move on and test out the Expression Photo XP-960.
Checking out the print facilities delivered by this printer revealed some automatic features which I found particular useful due to my habit of forgetting to carry out certain tasks. After a period of inactivity, the unit’s control panel will automatically slide back down into the printer’s body while the paper output opens automatically when a print function is activated. You will also be asked to confirm the type and size of content whenever you replace the front-mounted main paper tray for any reason.
The print driver supplied with this product offers a range of customisation options including the use of the three print qualities of Draft, Standard and High. Print speeds for the three levels, using my normal monochrome and colour documents, are seen in the table below.
While Draft mode is only really suitable for internal editing and layout purposes, I was unable to detect any differences, to the naked eye, to justify the drop of speed between Standard and High modes.
Using the automatic Duplex support offered by the print driver, a 12-page 8,600-word document was produced on 6 sheets of A4 paper. This task, using Standard print mode, was completed in 2 minutes 31 seconds.
Switching to photographic images gave me the opportunity to check out the rear paper access for A3 print support. As mentioned earlier, you will be advised when to insert the single sheet of A3 paper. If you happen to insert the paper too early then it will be automatically ejected and you will need to replace it at the correct time. Using the supplied Epson Easy Photo Print utility, full colour borderless A3 prints were produced on average every 4 minutes 54 seconds. The same images were used when printing A4 and 10 x 15 cm prints. The A4 image was produced in 2 minutes 47 seconds and the 10 x 15 cm image required 1 minute 39 seconds. In all cases the High quality option was selected and the results were excellent.
Combining the scan and print functions to produce photocopies was next on my list of tasks. An A4 monochrome image was delivered in 11 seconds with a colour image taking slightly longer at 12 seconds.
Apart from the problems I encountered during the set up process, the Expression Photo XP-960 performed well with regards to the quality and speed of its output. It is stylish in appearance, comes with the bonus of 50 sheets of A3 paper, has the ability for remote printing and you get an insert for printing on appropriate CDs. Epson has priced this model at £249.99 although Amazon.co.uk has it currently listed at £221.17. Replacement packs of six ink cartridges are priced at £58.49.
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