With consumer electronics, they either go big or go small. You’d probably want the biggest TV you can afford, but you’d want a small music player that slips inside a pocket. Printers, however, are in a weird place. Most people find them unsightly due to their size, often hiding them behind a closet door. Manufacturers try to make them small and compact, as well as more visually appealing, but they can only make them so small when they are dictated by physical paper size and features. Epson approaches this conundrum with a line of all-in-one (AIO) models it calls Expression Small-in-One, designed for home users who want to do printing, copying, and scanning. We have already looked at the Expression Premium XP-800 – one of the higher-end models – but we now turn our eyes toward the bottom: the $99 Expression Home XP-410.
Features and design
The XP-410 won’t give you the features and print quality of a $400 multifunction printer, but it provides a reasonable amount of functionality for a reasonable price. It’s a three-function device that will print, copy, and scan, but there’s no fax or an automatic document feeder – two convenient features essential to office workers, but home users can do without if it means significant savings.
The Small-in-One is an apt moniker: It uses only 15.4 x 11.8 inches on your desktop and is just 5.7 inches tall. Unpacked, the XP-410 weighs 9 pounds, making it easy to move from one place to another if necessary. When printing, you’ll need just a bit more room, since the printed output exits at the bottom front of the unit.
Unlike many AIOs we’ve tested recently, the XP-410 does not use paper cassettes. Paper is loaded at the top of the device, and there’s room in the paper slot for 100 sheets – fairly standard for small AIOs. The XP-410 is limited to 8.5-inch wide paper, but you can use paper as long as 44 inches if you want to print banners. The XP-410 can also print on photo paper as small as 4 x 6 inches or as large as 8 x 10 inches.
Epson describes the XP-410 as being able to print photos. That’s not really the same as being a photo printer, which in Epson’s lineup falls within the Stylus Photo series. In the past, the major difference between a printer capable of printing photos versus a dedicated photo printer, comes down to maximum resolution. Today, it is usually the number of color inks the printer uses. For example, Epson’s wide-format Pro 3880 uses nine colors of ink.
The XP-410 uses the standard four colors of ink – cyan, magenta, yellow, and black, and each is contained in a separate tank, so when you run out of one color of ink you don’t wind up replacing colors where you still have ink left, which is what happens when you have a printer that uses tri-color cartridges.
The ink series used is Epson’s DURABrite Ultra, which is a pigment-based ink. Pigment inks actually have small particles of colored material, rather than just a colored liquid (which is used in dye-based inks). The pigment inks have the advantage of leaving the color particles on the surface of the paper, while dye-based inks tend to soak into the paper, leaving less color on the surface. Pigment inks usually give a print somewhat better print quality and brighter and more saturated colors.
The Small-in-One is an apt moniker: It’s compact and doesn’t take up a lot of room.
The cartridges for the XP-410 are available in two sizes. The standard capacity cartridges yield about 175 pages for black and about 165 pages for each color cartridge. Also available are a set of high-capacity ink cartridges with a black yield of about 500 pages and color yield for each color of about 450 pages, which are somewhat small for XL-sized tanks.
When everything is buttoned up, the XP-410 is a sleek black box, with the 2.5 inch color LCD on the front panel only vaguely visible. When powered up, the 2.5-inch color LCD screen lights up; unlike more expensive units, this is not a touchscreen. In addition, a set of directional arrows (up, down, left, and right) appears, with an “OK” button in the center. The screen can also be used to preview photos if you want to print directly from an SD card, the only memory card slot available. The XP-410 does not have a front USB port. You can perform basic photo-editing on images without a PC using the display and control arrows.
The front panel tilts out and is adjustable, but Epson warns you to depress a grip on the bottom rear of the panel when moving the unit. It is possible to damage the tilt mechanism if this grip is not engaged.
What’s in the box
The box contains the XP-410, a power cord, a setup poster, a user’s guide, and four ink cartridges. Also included is a DVD that contains printer drivers for a PC or Mac, and the scanner driver. This particular model does not come with a load of additional utilities, nor is it capable of printing on a CD or DVD, and as such, lacks the extra tray that some Epson models include. Nor was special paper included for head alignment, as we’ve found with other models in the Small-in-One series, though this did not prove to be a hindrance when performing the alignment.
Performance and use
Unpacking and setting up the XP-410 is routine. A quick-start poster takes you through the simple setup of powering on the unit and installing the ink tanks. The XP-410 can communicate using a USB cable or Wi-Fi. While there is no wired Ethernet capability, Wi-Fi and an Internet connection provide access to Epson Connect which lets you print from remote locations or through any connected device such as a smartphone or tablet. You can also use Epson Scan To Cloud to scan and store documents and images to an online storage account such as Dropbox.
The XP-410 also supports Wi-Fi Direct. This allows you to connect the unit to a PC or laptop directly without going through the network. Using Wi-Fi Direct, however, cuts the printer/scanner off from the Internet, losing the other connectivity options and Scan To Cloud capability.
Installing the drivers using a USB cable took only a few minutes. Before the printer can be used for the first time, you need to wait for the printer to prime the ink, which took about four minutes. Unlike higher-end Expression models we’ve tested, Epson doesn’t require that you align the print head before initially printing, though it’s a good idea and adds only a minute to the setup process.
The XP-410 might be small, but its performance wasn’t during our testing. Epson rates the XP-410 as having a speed of 4.5 pages per minute (PPM). The print driver has five settings: Draft, Text, Text & Image, Photo, and Best Photo. The default is Text & Image, and at this setting, we got 7ppm. In Draft mode, the XP-410 churned out 13ppm. Though print and image quality suffered substantially in draft mode, it is good enough for prints you have no intentions of letting anybody else look at.
Using Epson’s premium paper, colors were exceptionally accurate, and were correctly saturated in all three images.
Scan performance was fast and accurate, with 2400 dpi optical resolution. Epson includes Epson Scan, a basic scan utility, while the TWAIN driver lets the scanner work with any software that supports TWAIN. We had no difficultly scanning directly into Picasa 3, which supports direct scanning through its import function. Copying a color document takes forever, but like most sub-$500 devices, the copy function is only there as a convenience, not as an alternative for a copy center.
The XP-410 is targeted at the home user who might also run a small, home-based business. It can produce excellent images with the right paper, works well for crafts, and is great for printing school and business reports. Print speeds are very good, as is the price. There’s no fax capability or ADF, but given the reasonable cost and target user, we don’t see this as a big deal.
There are a few things we wish it did better, such as image quality on standard office quality paper and better ink yields from the ink cartridges. But for the price, the XP-410 is a very good value.
- Good features and performance in a small size
- Pigment-based inks
- Wi-Fi adds extra connectivity options
- Excellent print quality on Epson Premium Presentation Matte paper
- Even XL ink tanks have a small print yield
- No USB input, only SD Card slot
- Mediocre print quality on non-Epson paper