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Thursday, July 12, 2018

Epson Expression Home XP-5105 Review

PRICE WHEN REVIEWED
  • US$115
Epson was one of the first companies to try and shake-up the printer market with its EcoTank range. This ditched the traditional, expensive replaceable ink cartridges and instead opted for a big, bulky ink tank that could be filled with low-cost bottles of ink that could last for many months before needing more.


The new Expression Home XP-5105 is a much more traditional affair, providing a compact but versatile printer for home users who only have light printing needs. It’s also the first printer we’ve seen from Epson that is eligible for the company’s new ReadyInk scheme, which we’ll get to later. 

PRICE & AVAILABILITY
There are actually two versions of this printer now on sale. The Expression Home XP-5105 is the one available in the UK and is the one you'll find on Epson’s website. It's identical to the XP-5100, the company tells us, but merely includes some additional OCR software. However, we’ve noticed that online retailers seem to treat the XP-5100 and XP-5105 model numbers as interchangeable, so it’s worth checking which model the retailer is selling if you're bothered about OCR, which lets you scan printed pages to turn them into editable documents.

Both printers can be bought online, but we’ve noticed that online pricing tends to be higher – probably because the ReadyInk scheme encourages high-street retailers to charge a lower up-front price in return for monopolising your future purchases of replacement cartridges. For example, you can buy it from an Amazon marketplace seller for around £115.

Yet, from Currys PC World, it's just £69.95. It's harder to find in the US, 

When you purchase the printer, you have the option of setting up a ReadyInk account with that particular retailer.

The printer can then monitor your ink usage and automatically place an order with the retailer for new cartridges when you start to run low. That’s good business for the retailer – because as we all know, most inkjet printers are sold very cheaply and the manufacturers and retailers actually make most of their money from replacement ink cartridges. Unfortunately, the ReadyInk scheme doesn’t offer any discounts on the cost of the cartridges, so – to be blunt – it’s not such a good deal for customers as they lose the option of shopping around for the best prices.

FEATURES & DESIGN
Like all of Epson’s home printers, the XP-5100 has a compact design. It measures just 187mm high, 375mm wide and 347mm deep, so it can easily sit on a desk or shelf without taking up too much space. The initial set-up could be easier, though, as the skimpy Quick Start guide that’s included in the box does little more than tell you to download the installer program from Epson’s web site, so you might end up hunting around on the website for the PDF manual as well.

Epson packs in an impressive range of features, though including 4800x1200dpi colour printing, along with a 2400x1200dpi scanner and copier. There’s Wi-Fi and USB connectivity, along with AirPrint for iPhones and iPads, and Google Cloud Print.

Epson also offers its own Connect app for remote printing and scanning.
The 150-sheet paper tray should be more than adequate for most home users and, unusually for a printer in this price range, the XP-5100 provides two-sided (duplex) printing as well.

PERFORMANCE
The XP-5100 performs well. In fact, it’s one of the rare occasions when we’ve tested a printer that actually meets the manufacturer’s own claims – in this case, 14 pages per minute for mono printing, and 7.5 pages for documents containing text and colour graphics.

Mono printing is extremely good, with smooth, crisp text that wouldn’t disgrace a more expensive laser printer, and bright colourful graphics. It can even handle the occasional photo too, with its four-colour print mechanism producing attractive results on glossy photo-paper. Photo output is a little slow, taking a full minute for a 6x4in postcard print, but that’s still acceptable given the cost of the printer.

Running Costs
But while the up-front cost of the XP-5100 is good value for money, its long-term running costs are another matter. The standard size black ink cartridge costs £17.99 yet only lasts for a paltry 210 pages – equivalent to a whopping 8.5p per page. The XL-size black cartridge is only slightly better, costing £28.99 and yielding 550 pages, which still leaves you paying a well-above-average 5p per page.

Colour printing is expensive too, with the standard cyan, magenta and yellow cartridges costing £7.00 each – or £21.00 in total – and only lasting for 165 pages, which works out at 12.7p per page. A set of three XL cartridges will cost a hefty £44.97 and should last for 470 pages, which is just about acceptable at 9.5p per page.

Epson does sell a multipack containing all four XL cartridges – these work out at around 3.9p per page when you combine black and colour pages (the pack costs roughly £80 - more than the printer!). And, as we’ve mentioned, the ReadyInk scheme doesn’t offer any discounts on the cost of the replacement cartridges, so there’s no real incentive to sign up for that either.

SPECS
  • A4 colour inkjet printer with 4800x1200dpi resolution (interpolated)
  • 2400x1200dpi scanner/copier
  • 150-sheet paper tray
  • Connectivity – USB, Wifi, with Apple AirPrint, Google CloudPrint
  • Dimensions – 187x375x347mm
  • Weight - 5.5kg

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