Epson Expression XP-640
With all its paper trays and the control panel folded away, the Epson XP-640 seems impossibly small for an all-in-one.
Being able to complete the entire setup (including a firmware update) without plugging the printer into a computer was a breath of fresh air. Unfortunately, the compact design means it can be hard to tell the various paper trays apart at first, especially when the printer isn’t mounted at eye level. On the bright side, the printer works well, printing quickly and quietly. At least it does once you set the print quality to the best settings in your printer dialog. Especially for photo printing, results are extremely impressive for such an affordable printer.
It’s worth mentioning that document print quality suffers at “normal” print quality settings too, with washed out colours and poor contrast. Bringing that up to “best” solves everything so I would just set it there and forget it. Ink cartridges won’t last you very long at these settings but the prints speak for themselves.
There are three main issues with this printer. The first is the aforementioned fiddliness of the trays, which is exacerbated by the fact that the output tray does not slide out automatically…you have to pull it out yourself any time you want to print, which is a hassle. Second, the baseline print quality is lower than what I’m used to from other printers—it’s crucial that you adjust your print settings because “normal” on the XP-640 is equivalent to “draft” on my old printer. Lastly, there’s an optional alignment part of the setup process that involves a multi-part test that asks you to choose the best aligned test squares. It’s archaic and entirely breaks the otherwise painless, streamlined flow of using this printer.
If you can get past the initial hurdles, you’ll find yourself with an extremely capable printer for home and small office printing duties. It excels at photo printing, but handles dual-sided document printing, precision scanning, and basic photocopying tasks with aplomb.