At $150, it’s easy to dismiss the Epson Expression Premium XP-610 as a cheapo multifunction printer for home users. But this three-function all-in-one (or multifunction) device (printer, scanner, copier) packs in features like duplexing and Wi-Fi into a compact form-factor. When used with the right photo paper, it delivers excellent quality prints. It’s not a perfect machine, but it will satisfy most home users.
Features and design
Physically the XP-610 lives up to its “Small-in-One” moniker. It measures only 15.4 x 13.4 x 5.4 inches and weighs a manageable 21.5 pounds. Extending the output tray adds 5 inches to the depth, but the unit will still fit nicely on many desks.
The XP-610 isn’t unattractive, but it’s an understated black box. There’s no automatic document feeder (ADF) on top of the lid. The lack of an ADF is an inconvenience if you often scan or copy multi-page documents, but the XP-610 offers two-sided printing (duplexing), so that offsets it.
There’s no document feeder, but duplex printing offsets it.
The front of the XP-610 is where most of the action takes place. There’s a tilting 2.5-inch LCD control panel (non-touch, controlled via buttons that light up) on the front, and a swing-down door that exposes the two paper trays (one is dedicated for up to 20 sheets of glossy photo paper only, while the other holds up to meager 100 sheets of regular paper). The output holds only 30 sheets, so keep that in mind when you making long print jobs. There’s a special tray, stowed underneath the machine, used for printing onto compatible CD/DVD disc. There’s also an SD card reader and USB port on the front, which you can use to print photos and documents off external storage without the need for a computer.
The Expression XP-610 uses five Claria Premium inks, rather than the more common four. It has the regular colors of cyan, magenta, yellow, and black, but supplements these with an additional photo black cartridge that is only used when printing photos (there are two photo settings in the print driver – photo and best photo). This fifth ink gives a greater gamut of available shades of gray and allows the printer to provide better detail in dark and shadowed areas of the image. Four of these inks are dye-based, while only the black ink is pigment-based. In most cases, pigment-based inks provide a somewhat greater amount of saturation of the color because the pigment particles remain on the surface of the paper, rather than wicking down into it. The black cartridge is only used when printing text and graphics, giving text and lines very crisp definition.
The cartridges, number 273 and higher capacity 273XL, have fairly low yields. Epson states the yield of the color 273 cartridge at approximately 300 pages or 115 4 x 6-inch photos; the black ink cartridge at 250 pages and the photo black cartridge at 200 4 x 6 photos. These cartridges cost about $13 each.
The higher capacity 273XL cartridges cost $19 (except for the black, which costs $23), and provide yields of 650 pages or 250 4 x 6 prints for the color inks, 500 pages for the black cartridge, and 400 4 x 6 photos for the photo black.
What’s in the box
Because the XP-610 is so compact, so is the box it comes in. Included is a power cord, setup guide, small user’s manual (which doubles as the manual for the XP-810), and a CD that contains print and scan drivers for Widows and the Mac OS.
Epson provides a limited one-year warranty, but extended service plans are available. Click here for details.
Setup and performance
Getting the Expression XP-610 up and running is easy and relatively fast. After installing the ink and turning it on, the printer needs to prime, which takes between 6-8 minutes. When the printer is primed, run the installation from the CD. The XP-610 connect using USB or Wi-Fi; Wi-Fi Direct lets you create a connection to a Wi-Fi Direct-capable laptop or other device without first connecting to a network.
It is capable of excellent output quality when used with the right paper.
If the XP-610 is connected to a network with Internet, you can access services like Google Cloud Print or Epson Connect for remote printing. The printer also supports Apple’s AirPrint for mobile printing from iOS smartphones and tablets.
As for the XP-610’s performance, it is excellent in some areas, and a bit disappointing in others. In terms of speed, the XP-610 did very well in our testing. Epson rates the machine at 10 pages per minute (ppm) in color and 13 ppm in black. With the Microsoft Word portion of our test (a four-page document filled with mostly text and a small color logo), we achieved an output of 14.8 ppm – a bit faster than Epson’s rated speed.
Output quality was a mixed bag. Epson sent paper samples from its Bright White, Premium Presentation Matte, and Glossy Photo Paper lines. We also printed three test images on Hammermill Premium Inkjet and Laser Paper. Surprisingly, the output on the Hammermill paper was more highly saturated and accurate than either Epson’s Bright White or Premium Presentation Matte. In fact, the Premium Presentation Matte produced the poorest output of any of the four papers – seriously under-saturated and dim, with inaccurate flesh tones.
The best output was achieved using Epson’s Premium Photo Paper Glossy. Colors were perfectly saturated and accurate. Epson claims the XP-610 is capable of producing photo quality prints, and its claim, at least with the paper we used for testing, was spot on. For business and school reports, with text and graphics, the Hammermill paper would be a good choice; use the Premium Photo Paper Glossy for photos.
Copying is what you would expect from an inkjet all-in-one: slow. However, scanning is easy to do, and the TWAIN scanner driver is immediately recognized by Picasa’s import function. The printed output from the scanned image was accurate and displayed no artifacts or banding.
While we are slightly disappointed by the uneven output performance (even with some paper options recommended by Epson), the XP-610 is capable of excellent output quality when used with the right paper. It may take some experimentation to find paper that presents a good balance between cost and output quality, but the effort is worth it.
The ink cartridges don’t have as high of a yield as some of the other Epson printers we have tested, and wish that the input paper tray was a bit larger. But these are fairly minor annoyances. The retail price is $149, but you can find it for less than $100; at that price, the XP-610 is well worth considering.
- Fast performance
- Excellent photo quality output
- CD/DVD printing
- Low-yield ink tanks
- No ADF
- Paper tray limited to 100 sheets
- Poor saturation and color accuracy on some papers