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You’d never believe photos this good come from a $150 printer

The Expression Premium XP-7100 prints in excellent photo quality on any media.
Epson Expression Premium XP-7100
MSRP $239.99
“Epson's Expression Premium XP-7100 delivers incredible photos on par with much more expensive models.”
  • Excellent photo printer
  • Fast color prints
  • Compact size
  • Low price
  • Thumb drive and SD card support
  • High cost-per-page for color
  • 300 dpi mobile scans
  • Envelope printing failed

Epson’s Expression Premium XP-7100 is an all-in-one printer that’s optimized for photos, but sale prices place it in the budget category. At $150, we wondered just how good a photo printer it is. We also tested its speed, ease of use, and the long-term costs of this cartridge-based printer to find out if it offers enough quality and value.


Epson's Expression Premium XP-7100 has shiny black faceted sides
Alan Truly / Digital Trends

The XP-7100’s black color matches its premium aspirations and would fit in nicely in a home photo studio. Home printers that are meant for casual use are often white to blend in with the decor more easily.

I don’t mind the textured black top, and the shiny faceted corners look nice. It’s also compact, particularly for an all-in-one printer that includes an automatic document feeder (ADF). It stands just 8.1 inches tall with the ADF panel open for scanning. To access the flatbed scanner, you need to lift the lid.

The footprint is 15.24 inches wide by 14.5 inches long when the trays are closed. Epson gave the Expression Premium XP-7100 a clever automatic output tray that extends when printing. The large 4.3-inch color touchscreen panel automatically tilts up at the same time. That increases the length to 23.5 inches.

There’s a USB port at the front for easy walk-up printing and scanning via a thumb drive. Its memory card slot accepts SD, SDHC, SDXC, and microSD with an adapter.

Walk up printing with a USB drive is easy with the Expression Premium XP-7100.
Walk-up printing with a USB drive is easy with the Expression Premium XP-7100. Tracey Truly / Digital Trends

The main paper tray tucks under the bottom and is remarkably thin for such a multifunctional mechanism. It’s completely removable, holds 100 sheets of paper up to 14 inches long, has a built-in photo tray, and includes a holder to print directly on CDs and DVDs. Envelopes and specialty paper load at the rear.

Epson packed a ton of functionality into a small space. The question is whether quality and speed are good enough with this compact design.

Printing performance

I compared draft and best quality prints on the Expression Premium XP-7100.
I compared draft and best-quality prints on the Expression Premium XP-7100. Tracey Truly / Digital Trends

In testing, the output of the Epson Expression Premium XP-7100 was impressive. I tested borderless full-page printing, 4×6 photo printing, and plain paper printing of a variety of pictures. Color fidelity is excellent, with detailed images on photo paper and decent quality even on plain paper.

It’s no surprise that Epson knows how to build a great photo printer, but I wrongly assumed there could be some tradeoff in quality at such a low price. The Expression Premium XP-7100 uses a five-color Claria Premium ink system that’s nearly a match for Epson’s six-color variety.

A professional photographer might notice the difference, but it was a challenge for my eyes to detect the slightly better color fidelity of Epson’s EcoTank ET-8500, a six-color premium photo printer. That’s a much more expensive printer, but the ink tank savings would add up over time for a heavy user.

Naturally, black-and-white printing is crisp as well. Monochrome prints are fast at 15.8 pages per minute, and double-sided printing is supported. Color doesn’t lag too far behind, rolling through 11 pages in a minute.

If you’re short on time, don’t be afraid to try “draft mode” photos. Pictures printed in draft lose a little detail but look almost as nice as normal print quality, which is nearly indistinguishable from best quality.

When printing multiple copies, it’s worth checking if the draft mode is good enough since it saves ink and prints much faster. Honestly, I doubt I would ever choose the best quality with such beautiful photo prints in the standard setting. A 4×6 is finished in just 12 seconds and looks great.

I couldn't print an envelope with the Expression Premium XP-7100.
I couldn’t print an envelope with the Expression Premium XP-7100. Tracey Truly / Digital Trends

The compact paper feed seems reliable, but two 4×6 photo papers were pulled through at a time. This didn’t affect printing and could be because of higher humidity and the inherent stickiness of photo paper. The envelope test is the only place the Expression Premium XP-7100 let me down. I simply couldn’t get an envelope to print correctly after three tries. If I find a solution, I’ll update this article.

This isn’t an ideal office printer; it’s a photo printer. If you want speed and reliable document, label, and envelope printing, a laser printer is often a better choice than an inkjet. Overall, print speed and quality were among the best despite the envelope issue.

Special features

Despite the compact size, the document feeder is quick and reliable.
Despite the compact size, the document feeder is quick and reliable. Alan Truly / Digital Trends

The Epson Expression Premium XP-7100 is an all-in-one printer that can serve as a scanner and color copier. Printing and copying are excellent, but scanning is its weak spot, at least the way I use a scanner.

When scanning to a mobile device, I needed the Epson iPrint app. This is an older app, and it only supports up to 300 dots per inch (dpi), which doesn’t provide enough quality if you crop in on a scan. If you scan to a USB thumb drive, an SD card, or a computer, there’s an option for 600 dpi resolution.

The thumb drive and memory card options are important for me since my computer isn’t near the printer. The lack of high-resolution scanning in the app seems like an oversight. Epson maintains the iPrint app, and the latest update was just a few weeks ago. Perhaps a fix for higher scanning density will come in a future update.

For a low-profile printer, Epson gave the Expression Premium XP-7100 a nice document feeder. The ADF performed well, quickly and reliably scanning several double-sided pages. It can handle 30 pages at a time. The flatbed scanner is quick and simple to use, making copies easy.

Software and compatibility

Don't forget to shake the Expression Premium XP-7100's largest cartridge.
Don’t forget to shake the Expression Premium XP-7100’s largest cartridge. Tracey Truly / Digital Trends/

With the Epson Expression Premium XP-7100, setup begins with installing the ink cartridges and aligning the print heads. That’s pretty standard for inkjet printers, though some make use of the scanner to automate and speed up the alignment process.

Epson’s documentation cautions that you should gently shake the largest cartridge, which is black, before installation. It’s a detail that’s easily missed and could cause printing problems.

Since this is a photo printer, there are five types of ink, including the usual cyan, magenta, yellow, and black. There’s also a photo black which works better when printing pictures.

Epson's Expression Premium XP-7100 requires four color cartridges and one black.
Epson’s Expression Premium XP-7100 requires four color cartridges and one black. Tracey Truly / Digital Trends

Epson includes a plastic bag to store the ink caps that need to be removed. It can be messy, so roll up your sleeves before starting.

After installation, the printer takes a few minutes to prepare the ink cartridge. The next step was connecting to Wi-Fi. Epson doesn’t mention a mobile app in its quick start guide, so I connected manually. Since my printer is upstairs, I used my router’s longer-range 2.4GHz band.

Connecting via a Mac or Windows PC is easy and effortless. You’ll need to install Epson apps to access every feature, but for printing, you can use system software.

From an iPhone, you can print without an app. On Android, I installed the Epson Print Enabler, which serves as a driver. To use the scanner, I discovered I needed the Epson iPrint app. It also provides more control over printing. Honestly, the printer handles documents and pictures effortlessly, so you only need the app for scanning and monitoring ink levels from your phone.


The Epson Expression Premium XP-7100 retails for $240, but sale prices are closer to $150 in multiple retailers. That makes the upfront cost very low for such a high-quality photo printer and all-in-one device.

Long-term ink costs are actually the most important consideration for cartridge-based inkjet printers. A four-pack of the color cartridges costs $48.29, good for about 300 color documents. That makes color print cost as much as 16 cents per page.

Epson says four high-capacity color cartridges last for about 650 pages. That comes to $75.96, lowering the cost of an average color document to 12 cents. That’s better, but still expensive.

Black-and-white printing costs between 4 and 5 cents per page, but as a photo printer, I wouldn’t use much black ink.

Is this the printer for you?

Epson’s Expression Premium XP-7100 can print beautiful photos quickly and handles most monochrome printing tasks well. Scanning and copying with the flatbed and document feeder works well with a thumb drive, memory card, and computer.

If you need to do medium to high-volume photo printing, the Expression Premium XP-7100 will get expensive in a hurry since Epson’s Premium Claria ink cartridges are relatively costly for low-yield ink cartridges that require four to print in color and one for monochrome.

The printer is thoughtfully designed and well-made but has some rough edges when it comes to printing envelopes and scanning to a mobile device.

Overall, I was impressed with the print quality, but I wish the cost per page was lower. It’s a great choice for a photography enthusiast who wants to occasionally print their best pictures to share with friends and family. If you want to print in color daily or make lots of color copies, another photo printer might suit your needs better.

Alan Truly
Computing Writer
Alan is a Computing Writer living in Nova Scotia, Canada. A tech-enthusiast since his youth, Alan stays current on what is…
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