The Epson Expression Home XP-420 is worth your attention if you're shopping for a fast, reliable printer in the sub-$100 category that fits in tight spaces. This compact "small-in-one" (as Epson brands it) inkjet printer can print, copy and scan along with an array of productivity features, including a 2.5-inch color LCD display, a memory card slot reader and cloud-printing access by way of Google Cloud Print, Apple AirPrint and Epson Connect.
Partnered with three separate ink tanks, average ink refill costs, and a generous bundle of desktop and mobile software to guide you along the way, the $99 list price (£89.99 in the UK, AU$120 in Australia) Epson Expression Home XP-420 should be at the top of your list when shopping for an affordable all-in-one.
Design and features
The XP-420's space-saving design is the printer's main focus, measuring a little more than 15 inches wide, 20 inches deep, and 11 inches tall. Its small form factor is almost the same size as its photo-friendly predecessor, 2011's. Like that model, the XP-420 features folding paper corral tray guides that help to shrink its overall size when not in use.
The printer has a sensor inside that can tell what size and type of media you load into the rear tray, but you still need to push the sliding corral tab so it's snug up against your paper, or you'll get a paper jam as it tries to spool a sheet into the feeder. That only happened to me once during testing before I made sure to be precise with the tab adjustments.
The retracting trays give the XP-420 a size advantage over the, another inkjet printer that falls into the same sub-$100 inkjet category but will cost you more on ink cartridges in the long run. Relative to other printers, however, the Xp-420 falls somewhere between a single function inkjet and a monochrome laser printer, but at 9 pounds it's only half the weight of the average laser and ideal for offices (at home or away) that might require you to move the unit.
|Price as reviewed||$99.99, £89.99, AU$120|
|Dimensions in Inches (Width x Depth x Height)||15.4 x 20.8 x 11 inches (39.1 x 52.8 x 28 cm)|
|Inks||4-ink tank (black, cyan, magenta, yellow)|
|Automatic 2-sided printing (duplexer)||No|
|Automatic Document Feeder||No|
|Memory Card Reader||Yes|
|Connectivity||USB 2.0, Wi-Fi, Airprint, Google Cloud Print|
|Paper Input Tray Capacity||100 Sheets|
|Display||2.5-inch color LCD|
The center control panel sits within a console that rotates up to view the 2.5-inch color LCD display at a suitable viewing angle. Though I usually prefer printers that use mechanical buttons, I like that the XP-420's directional buttons, which let you navigate the on-screen menu. (You'll need to pay more for a touchscreen.)
Epson improves upon the design its previous inkjet all in ones with new display that doesn't require as much pressure to engage some of the buttons. Also, the display itself feels more solidly built now that the company did away with the mushy plastic display cover that used to interfere with the user experience.
I can't fault a $99 device for not including an auto-document feeder or multiple paper input trays, so all paper handling is fed through the single 100-sheet tray on the back and exits through the "mouth" below the controls. Workhorse offices with high output printing needs should consider Epson's WorkForce line, like the WF-2630 that adds business minded features like an auto-document feeder for double-sided printing and Epson's PC Fax utility.
That's not to say that the XP-420 is lacking in extras for the home user -- the front has a memory card reader that lets you walk up and print from an SD card without actually touching a computer. Unlike previous models, however, you don't have an open USB input to connect a flash drive; if you want to upload your photos, you'll need to do so by extracting your SD card from the camera and popping it into the machine.
It's not a big deal, especially now that Epson now offers one-touch photo uploads to Facebook and cloud-based services. You can preview your photos on the LCD and even make simple adjustments to crop dimensions, resize, or perform one-button touch-ups.