When you stop and think about it, some of the things that our PCs, smartphones, and tablets allow us to do truly are amazing. Printing exquisite-looking photos on small, inexpensive inkjet printers is one of them. It’s not just having the ability to print photos that’s so awesome, though. What’s even more incredible is, when everything comes together just right—stunning content, taken in the right lighting, printed with a quality machine on premium photo paper—how striking the results can be.
[amazon_link asins=’B074V4MQ3L’ template=’ProductAd’ store=’store-1′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’5b368282-c3e7-11e7-b355-85a1973fc1fd’]It’s no wonder, then, that printing photos at home has become so popular, and that three of the top inkjet-printer makers—Canon, Epson, and HP—all offer machines tweaked and marketed as photo printers. If you choose the right one and feed it with the right ink, paper, and digital data, churning out masterpieces of your own isn’t particularly difficult, even if it costs a little more per photo than at Costco or the corner drug store.
You must start with the right printer, though. Today’s review unit, the $249.99-MSRP Epson Expression Photo XP-8500 Small-in-One [amazon_link asins=’B074V4MQ3L’ template=’CopyOf-PriceLink’ store=’store-1′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’68e63b76-c3e7-11e7-a785-47aad6135db0′], may face some impressive competitors, but it’s got some fight in it. A newcomer to Epson’s established Small-in-One line of all-in-one (AIO) printers (in this case, it prints, copies, and scans), the XP-8500 has photo quality that’s among the best in its class.
But that doesn’t necessarily make your printer-picking decision easy. During the past year, Canon has released a wave of highly capable photo-centric models in its Pixma TS- and Pixma G-series MegaTank lines, while HP has trotted out its Envy Photo 7855 [amazon_link asins=’B074P4T1FT’ template=’CopyOf-PriceLink’ store=’store-1′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’81a0a539-c3e7-11e7-8b12-ffdbf89dfd92′] and a couple of other Envy Photo models. And Epson’s own Expression Premium and Expression Photo brands boast some formidable photo printers of their own. (Prior to the XP-8500, it had been a while since we’d seen a new Expression Photo model.)
The XP-8500 is a six-ink printer; the additional inks help increase detail and extend the printer’s color range. In just the six-ink category alone, you will find the Canon Pixma TS9020 [amazon_link asins=’B01N2RB71T’ template=’CopyOf-PriceLink’ store=’store-1′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’956eaeec-c3e7-11e7-b762-831bbcf7821b’] and Pixma TS8020 [amazon_link asins=’B01MXYIJQR’ template=’CopyOf-PriceLink’ store=’store-1′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’a743a859-c3e7-11e7-aa82-4f675f6c3027′] (as well as the just-released Pixma TS9120 and Pixma TS8120, which we’ll be reviewing in the coming weeks), as well as the Epson Expression Photo XP-960 [amazon_link asins=’B010UU5Y1O’ template=’CopyOf-PriceLink’ store=’store-1′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’78e82c0d-c3e8-11e7-bb00-393dd3493860′]. And, while they vary in features and capacity (the XP-960 can print tabloid-size 11×17-inch photos, for example), guess what? They all print mighty good photos.
A step down from those are Canon’s and Epson’s five-ink photo printers, which include the Pixma TS6020 [amazon_link asins=’B01NAGKZ9A’ template=’CopyOf-PriceLink’ store=’store-1′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’b98b1209-c3e7-11e7-8b5c-9f82aebbb678′], Pixma TS6120, Pixma TS5020 [amazon_link asins=’B01MTY15Z0′ template=’CopyOf-PriceLink’ store=’store-1′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’d3ff87c1-c3e7-11e7-a1f5-2ff1c42d9918′], and TS5120, as well as the Expression Photo XP-860 [amazon_link asins=’B010UU5Y1O’ template=’CopyOf-PriceLink’ store=’store-1′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’016ba408-c3e8-11e7-9c0b-7fe0486c296f’]. The Canon G-series MegaTank printers (there are four of them, as of this writing) and the HP Envy Photo models (three of these) use only four inks, but they still print respectable photos. Our point? The XP-8500 has, by our count, more than 15 in-market rivals. (And there are other so-called “photo printers” out there beyond these.) Granted, as mentioned, they come at varying prices with a wide range of features. But many of them print photos comparable to what we saw from the XP-8500, and to each other.
So, for this review (and the Canon Pixmas coming up), we have our work cut out for us, without turning these comparisons into the War and Peace of consumer-grade photo printers. What we cansay at the start, though: Versus its most direct competitors, we didn’t come up with any compelling reasons not to buy the XP-8500 for churning out your keeper photos. This is one terrific little AIO.