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Epson XP-400 Printer is $100 Dollars Well Spent [Review]

What is cheap, small, and has no strings attached? It’s the latest printer from Epson, the Epson Expression Home XP-400 Small-in-One. The Epson Expression Home XP-400 (which is a descendant of the Stylus NX420) truly fits the slogan of “good things come in small packages.”  It boasts a small footprint, completely wireless printing, and an affordable price that even a cash strapped student could handle. But, how does it perform? Our Epson XP-400 review puts this tiny new printer to the test.

Setting up a printer can be so troublesome. First there are the wires and the always-looming question of “Where am I going to put this thing!?” But the Epson XP-400 eliminates all those annoying concerns and just makes printing simple and easy. The printer measures 390 mm x 300 mm x 145 mm  and is the smallest 3-in-1 printer on the market. It’s capable of cloud printing as well as printing from computers over a local Wi-Fi network. In particular, the Epson XP-400 also features Epson Connect, which includes support for printing directly from smartphones or tablets, along with support for AirPrint and Google Cloud Print. Finally, the Epson XP-400 packs in a built-in SD card slot and it can connect directly to a camera for instant printing.

If installation of printers were considered a challenge before, the Epson XP-400 makes it so simple and painless that it’s almost like magic. Gone are the required USB cables, replaced by completely wireless installation. The key is to pair your printer with your home Wi-Fi network. Just scroll through the LCD screen on the printer, find your network, and connect to it. Our MacBook running OS X 10.7.4 recognized the printer on the network right away, and not a minute later, after finding our Epson XP-400 review model on our network, we were prompted to download software from Epson to get it going. We repeated this installation on two different machines and each one installed the Epson XP-400 like butter and in under five minutes. All-in-all, setting up the Epson XP-400 was the easiest printer installation we have ever experienced. Using a USB cable to install the printer now seems tedious and antiquated!

And just because the printer is small in stature and low in price, you would think the LCD screen would be sacrificed. Fortunately that is not the case with the Epson XP-400, as it sports a generous 2.5” LCD screen. And unlike the Artisan line of printers, the Epson XP-400 sticks its paper tray in the back of the machine in an upward position, as opposed to using a pull-out drawer at bottom of the machine. Personally, we prefer the Epson XP-400 tray versus the traditional one. It lets us see how much paper we can actually stick in the tray, and we can adjust the size easily without a fuss.

While installation is flawless, printing performance was less impressive on our Epson XP-400 review model. Let’s recap: The ink is a 4-color DURABrite Ultra pigment and print speeds are about 8.7 ISO ppm for black and 4.5 ISO ppm for color. While printer quality on the Epson XP-400 is good for the this price point, the print speed on our Epson XP-400 review model is on the slow side. There is also an initial delay of a few seconds that you have to wait through until the Epson XP-400 is sent something to print wirelessly.  Higher quality prints take much longer to print, while low quality prints are faster, but still suffer from an initial hang until they start to print.

With that said, at this price we didn’t expect much in terms of print quality, but overall the colors produced are rich and more than decent. Ideally, we would like to see pages print faster. Word documents on our Epson XP-400 review model did print rather fast, but throw a few images on to the page and printing speeds get slower. However, the slow printing speeds could be due to our network connection, especially since the printer is running on Wi-Fi.

Furthermore, there are four different color cartridges available for the Epson XP-400, so in theory you can just replace the color you need when it’s empty. However, it remains to be seen whether or not the whole machine is inoperable after one cartridge empties, we will update the review once we use up the ink (update: yes, it is inoperable once one cartridge empties).

In the end, the Epson Expression Home XP-400 can scan/copy/print, it cuts the cord when it comes to connecting to your network and computer, and it is super compact, yet still manages to print up to 8.5″ x 14″ in paper size.  Print speeds on our Epson XP-400 review model might have been sluggish, but it made up for it with its print quality. Lastly, Epson Connect turns this printer into a printing machine for your mobile devices and cloud services without a hitch. The Epson Expression Home XP-400 is currently on sale at Amazon for as low as $69.99. If you have been on the fence about adding a printer to your home because of size, convenience, or price, the Epson Expression Home XP-400 is the printer for you.

The Good:  Pint-sized printer that will fit almost anywhere inconspicuously, wireless install is super simple and quick, easy-to-use color LCD screen with touch-based controls, works as a complete Wi-Fi /mobile/cloud printing solution that installs within minutes, print quality is more than sufficient for this price point, Hello! It’s cheap!

The Bad: Printing is a bit sluggish for more intense color rich documents, paper tray could be bigger