Epson Expression Premium XP-6100 full review

Epson makes an attractive range of 'small-in-one' printers that squeeze a multifunction printer, scanner and copier into a smart, compact design that's ideal for use at home. And, as its name implies, the Expression Premium XP-6100 is a top-of-the-range model providing an impressive range of features, along with an emphasis on high-quality photo printing.

The RRP listed on Epson's website is £120, but we've actually seen the XP-6100 on sale at various online retailers for as little as £79.95. That's a bit of a bargain for such a versatile, high-quality printer - and also helps to compensate for the relatively high cost of Epson's replacement ink cartridges.

In this article we review the Epson Expression Premium XP-6100 for design, features, print speed and quality, running costs and features, to help Mac (and to a lesser extent iPhone) owners decide if it's the right printer for them. For more general buying advice, see Best printers for Mac.

(US readers should note that this model is designed for the UK market. The equivalent model for the US is the XP-6000, which is also available from Amazon.)

Features & design

Available in either black or white, the XP-6100 measures just 349mm wide, 340mm deep and 142mm high, so it's a good option for a home office or bedroom where space is tight.

Even so, Epson manages to include an impressive range of features, including a 1440 x 5760dpi colour printer and 1200 x 4800dpi scanner and copier. The printer provides both USB and Wi-Fi connectivity, along with support for Apple's AirPrint, making it a good option if you like printing selfies or other photos from your iPhone or iPad.

There are two paper trays built into the body of the printer, with the main tray holding 100 sheets of A4 paper, while the second tray is designed for glossy photo paper. It supports duplex (two-sided printing), and there's also a special tray that allows you to print on CDs and DVDs, so the XP-6100 really is suitable for a wide range of printing tasks.

Like most inkjet printers, the XP-6100 uses just four standard ink colours for printing photos and colour graphics - cyan, magenta, yellow and black - but it does take a slightly different approach here, as the printer actually includes two separate black ink cartridges. There's a standard black ink that's used for simple text documents, plus a special 'photo black' which is used to add crispness and contrast to, well, photos.

Epson Expression Premium XP-6100 review: Design

Print quality

The photo black ink does seem to add definition, producing very bright, sharp images with our selection of test photos. It doesn't quite have the subtle graduated tones of a 5-colour printer such as Canon's TS8250, but our postcard prints definitely had stronger contrast than most conventional 4-colour devices. The XP-6100 is a good choice if you want to print high-quality photos, or maybe some eye-catching graphics for a school report.

Simple text documents look good too, with smooth, finely detailed text that can give a more expensive laser printer a run for its money.

Print speed

The Epson won't keep you hanging around either. Epson quotes speeds of 16 pages per minute for mono printing, 11ppm for colour, and around 16 seconds for a 4x6in postcard print. We actually got 13ppm for mono printing and 9ppm for colour, but those speeds are still fast enough for most home users or small offices.

Our postcard prints were a little slower, taking around 35 seconds, but that's still pretty good for such high-quality prints.

Running costs

Like many inkjet printers, the XP-6100 has a highly competitive up-front purchase price, but it stings you a bit with the cost of the replacement ink cartridges - especially as it uses that extra fifth ink for printing photos.

Calculating running costs is complicated, as all five inks are sold in both standard and 'XL' sizes. The black ink cartridges for text documents cost £14.49 and £22.99 for the standard and XL cartridges, but even with the 550 pages provided by the XL cartridge you're still paying around 4p per page for simple text documents, which is slightly above average.

The costs for colour and photo printing are a little better - but only if you buy the larger XL cartridges. The standard cartridges cost £11 each (so £44 for all four), which adds up to a hefty 13.7p per page. The XL cartridges are a whopping £73.46 for all four, but they last more than twice as long, bringing the overall cost per page for colour printing down to around 10.5p. That's on the high side of average, but still acceptable for a versatile, high-quality printer such as this.

Epson sells multi-packs containing all five ink cartridges, but the savings on these multi-packs are pretty small compared to the cost of buying individual ink cartridges. It's worth shopping around (try CartridgeShop or Printerland) to see if you can find better prices on the replacement inks.

Verdict

We can't fault the quality of the Epson Expression Premium XP-6100, as it produces excellent results with everything from simple text documents to high-quality portrait photography. Its compact design is well suited for use at home, yet still manages to include a wide range of useful printing features (such as AirPrint), and it's pleasingly fast too.

However, its running costs are a little higher than average, which means that the XP-6100 is best suited to occasional use at home, rather than for churning out lots of documents every day.

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