Excellent prints but high cost per page with Epson Expression Premium XP-830 Small-in-One

Epson Expression Premium XP-830 Small-in-One Review and RatingsWe first encountered Epson’s Small-in-One printers in the Expression Premium XP-800, the first in a series that debuted back in November 2012. On sight, not much has changed in Small-in-One land since then.

In fact, as you can see in the image below, aside from the model number, from the outside the 2012 XP-800 and 2015 Expression Premium XP-830—today’s unit up for review, which lists for $99.99—are nearly identical…

That’s the XP-830 there on the right. Just like today’s review unit, changes to interim models in this series, such as the Expression Premium XP-810 and XP-820, were internal—that is, the updates consisted primarily of feature add-ins and performance tweaks.

When these Small-in-One units debuted a few years ago (especially the higher-end models like this one; Epson also offers Small-in-One models in its XP-400 and XP-600 series), we applauded them as impressive feats of engineering. They did (and do) so much given their diminutive sizes. And for all three previous XP-800-series models, our assessment was about the same: excellent little printer, but costs too much to use.

Unfortunately, while Epson has piled on the features over the years, it hasn’t done anything to bring down the per-page cost of ink. The XP-830 and all of its predecessors are, first and foremost, photo printers, and photo-oriented all-in-ones (AIOs) historically have a higher cost per page than equally priced and equipped office-centric AIOs.

Epson Expression Premium XP-830 (New and Old)That hasn’t changed here. New features have been added with each of the updates, for the most part the underlying XP-800-series machines haven’t changed all that much, nor their cost per page. As we pointed out in 2014’s review of the Expression Premium XP-820, however, the pricing on these units has gotten more aggressive.

The original XP-800 started out at a $279 list price. After that, the XP-810’s MSRP was $50 lower, or $229; then came the $30-cheaper ($199 list) XP-820. This year’s XP-830 also comes in at an MSRP of $199, but as we wrote this in mid-November 2015, it was discounted on Epson’s own Web site by $70, for a total price of $129. This price brings it close to parity with Canon’s five- and six-ink photo-centric Pixma AIO models, such as the five-ink Pixma MG6820 we reviewed recently.

Epson Expression Premium XP-830 (Off)When it comes to print quality and features, the Pixma MG6820 and the Expression Premium XP-830 are reasonably close. However, our Epson review unit has an automatic document feeder (ADF) for feeding multipage documents to the scanner—a feature that many users find very handy, and that the photo-centric Pixma MG models just don’t have.

Alas, few users need or have the space for a printer for each task, say, one for printing documents and another for photographs. When it comes to printing business documents, both black-and-white and color, the XP-830’s output quality, as discussed near the end of this review, is quite good. And when it comes to keeping up with the competition, this little Small-in-One held its ground in our speed tests, too.

Each year since 2012, we have given the latest XP-800-series models in this series 4 out of 5 stars; they have just missed our Editors’ Choice nod due to their too-high cost-per-page figures. Granted, many of Canon’s and HP’s budget photo printers have high per-page ink costs, too, but just because they all do doesn’t mean it’s justified—we haven’t given the competitions’ consumer-grade photo printers the award either. But with changes afoot in the inkjet-printing market, notably HP’s Instant Ink subscription program, which can rewrite the book on color printing costs if you print just a few hundred color pages a month, we have to dock an extra half a star here for the lack of progress on that front from Epson in its Small-in-Ones. Were it not so expensive to use, the XP-830 would surely have been an Editors’ Choice winner.

Read the entire review at Computer Shopper

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