We've often criticised Epson printers in the past for lacking versatility. A printer that was good at printing photos would often be bad at printing documents, or vice versa... With the XP-700, Epson's spokespeople told us this new range prints documents and photos equally well with the brand's new ink. It's time to investigate.
Design and Build
Print, copy, scan—those are the functions this compact (39 x 34 x 14 cm), lightweight (7.3 kg) machine offers. Epson's printers have decreased in size and weight compared to the older models (by 40%, according to Epson). The firm has clearly worked on their designs to make them more compact. Here, the touchscreen folds in and the duplex printing system has been moved to be integrated inside the chassis. Once all the parts are closed, the XP-700 forms a rectangular box. It's a fairly practical machine that offers double-sided and direct-to-disc CD/DVD printing and a memory card reader. It has Wi-Fi and Ethernet, plus Wi-Fi Direct, which allows it to automatically detect the network and configure a connection without using a router.
Front panel with everything closed
Back: duplex system (now integrated in the chassis), Ethernet and USB ports
The first of the input cassettes is for 10 x 15 cm and 13 x 18 cm photo paper and holds up to 20 sheets. The second is for A4 paper and can hold up to 100 sheets, and also has a CD/DVD/Blu-ray tray for printing labels. The second cassette can be adjusted to fit different paper sizes, including 10 x 15 cm, but every time we tried to print 10 x 15 cm photos in it the printer wouldn't recognise the paper and told us to print using... the second cassette. Weird.
Another problem is how impractical all these trays are to use. The first time you see the motorised output tray in action it looks quite impressive, but once you start actually using it and realise that you have to move it out of the way every time you want to insert paper, your initial "Wow!" quickly turns into a "Why?"
Cassette 1, cassette 2 and disc tray
Cassette 1 for photo paper
Cassette 2 for A4
Inside the machine are the slots for the five ink cartridges: the three standard colours (cyan, yellow and magenta), black and pigmented black. The cartridges are easy to get to and replace.
The SD, MS Duo and CF card readers are located at the front of the machine, hidden behind a door that's aesthetically pleasing and protects your cards. All you have to do is insert a memory card and the pictures show up on the screen, ready to print.
As mentioned above, we had to try printing 10 x 15 cm photos several times before we got it to work. First of all, the second cassette never worked for this size; we had to use the first cassette instead. Secondly, when we did print 10 x 15 cm photographs in the first cassette the paper frequently jammed towards the back of the machine.
10 x 15 cm prints get stuck a lot
11 ppm (pages per minute) in colour, 15 ppm in B&W and as low as 5 ppm in duplex. That's the most optimistic version of the speeds we obtained. We test speeds several times just to make sure, and Epson printers always give different speeds even though the documents and printing conditions stay the same.
The XP-700 is fast compared to the Canon Pixma MG6350, which we reviewed last week and which has a slower B&W speed of 6 ppm due to longer drying times.
Document print speeds
Photographs take 1 minute and 36 seconds to print in A4, which is longer than the 1 minute and 18 seconds we got on the Canon Pixma MG6350. With 10 x 15 cm the Canon came out on top at 23 seconds, compared to 39 seconds on the XP-700.
As in all our reviews, we test print quality using the same pictures (which you can find in the Face-Off) and the printer's standard default settings. And like the rest, we had the XP-700 print our demanding test graph (below). What makes this graph demanding is the background, which is solid green but shaded from top to bottom; the blue, red and yellow colouring; the small legend and the small writing. With all that, it's a make-'em-or-break-'em kind of image.
As one would expect, the XP-700 has no trouble printing plain text. But it gets a little more complicated when you talk about printing more complex documents. The letters on the test graph below lack depth, making them more difficult to read. The ink droplets are visible in solidly shaded spots, despite being relatively small at 1.5 picolitres each. And the text in the legend bleeds onto the yellow background. Compare this with the rendering from the Lexmark OfficeEdge Pro 5500 (keeping in mind, however, that it's a different price range aimed at small businesses). As you can see, the ink droplets are visible there, too, but the overall precision is much higher.
Compare with the same image printed on competing printers in the Face-Off
The most positive thing I can think of to say about the colours is that at least they're consistent. Unfortunately, the thing they're consistent in is inaccuracy. With a Delta E ranging from 10 to 15, the average is a high 13.7 (Delta E measures the accuracy of colours printed on-page compared to how they are intended to look, where three and below is considered accurate).
Average Delta E 94 (colour difference): 13.7.
The average for printers we've reviewed is 7.
However, if you don't mind inaccurate colours (not all do), then the overall result looks pretty good. In the image below (enlarged 3x) the rendering is precise and detailed.
Compare with the same image printed on competing printers in the Face-Off
Photo printed on the XP-700 and enlarged 6x
As is often the case, there's less of a colour difference when printing on photo paper than on standard paper. There are slight hints of yellow in colour prints, but on the whole the results are neutral and impressive.
Average Delta E 94 (colour difference): 7.2
Scanner & Copier
The CIS scanner (2400 x 4800 DPI) will conveniently scan straight to a memory card, cloud or PC. The machine also emits a tone if you forget to remove the original document afterwards—a good feature for the scatterbrained.
The copy mode interface is understandable and easy to use. You simply choose how many copies you want, if you want them in colour or B&W and, if you care, the density. You can also resize copies in the Preview function. As usual the colours in copy mode come out washed-out and dull, but this is a feature that's generally intended for text only anyways. The Delta E 94 in copy mode is comparatively low.
Average Delta E 94 (colour difference): 5.4
The XP-700 has a standby timer that you can set for anywhere between 3 and 15 minutes. It uses 1 W of energy on standby and 19 W during use, which is low for an inkjet. And it's quiet, producing 45 dB at most (printers are considered quiet under 50 dB).
Cost Per Page
Let me briefly explain how we calculate ink costs. The prices in the table below are the lowest prices we could find among online retailers (shipping included). We then divide these prices by the cartridges' ISO lifespans in number of pages, giving us the cost per page for each cartridge model. The prices listed below are higher than the ones listed on Epson's website, because we include the shipping costs, which Epson does not.
The XP-700's ink comes in two sizes, standard and XL, in the Epson "Polar Bear" packaging. Like most brands Epson also offers packs with every colour in it, such as the 26XL Multipack for £58.78 (shipping included). Our calculation, which is the same we use for all printers, gives us 9.5 pence per page here. In other words it's higher than the Canon Pixma MG6350, which costs 7.8 pence per page with XL cartridges, and that's with a total of six cartridges...
To give you some points of reference, the Lexmark Pro715 gets 11.3 pence per page with XL cartridges and HP's Photosmart range gets 10 pence per page.
The Cost Per Page sub-score shown above is for reference only and does not count in the printer's overall score.
|Cartridge||Price (recommended)||ISO lifespan||Cost per page|
|Singlepack Black 26XL||£10||500||2 pence|
|Singlepack Photo Black||£16||4300||0.4 pence|
|Singlepack Cyan 26XL||£17||700||2.4 pence|
|Singlepack Magenta 26XL||£17||700||2.4 pence|
|Singlepack Yellow 26XL||£16||700||2.3 pence|
*Prices advertised by Epson, shipping not included:
Singlepack Black 26XL: £15.99; Singlepack Photo Black: £14.99; Singlepack Cyan 26XL: £14.99; Singlepack Magenta 26XL: £14.99; Singlepack Yellow 26XL: £14.99
- Wi-Fi / Duplex
- Compact size
- Fun, responsive touchscreen
- Quiet and consumes little energy
- Photo print quality
- Scan to e-mail, PC & cloud
- Epson Connect for printing from mobile devices
- Direct-to-disc printing
- Impractical paper tray layout
- 10 x 15 cm paper frequently jams
- No PCL6 or PS3
- Blank sheets sometimes slip into the output tray
The Epson Expression Premium XP-700 is an elegant, compact machine with a touchscreen that's simple, responsive and user-friendly. However, while the photo print quality is excellent, we can't really see any improvements in the document prints since the Stylus Photo PX730WD, new ink notwithstanding. And the input/output trays can annoying to deal with.