Epson rates the Expression Photo XP-850 at 32 pages in mono and colour, though it does also publish ISO figures of 9.5ppm mono and 9.0ppm colour. Where it gets 32ppm from we guess only Epson knows. Our five-page black text document gave 6.7ppm and this rose to 11.5ppm in draft mode.
The 20 page document, printed in normal mode, gave 7.9ppm, so not too far off the ISO figures. Automatic duplex is standard on this machine and our 20 page document printed as 10 duplex pages produced 4.6 sides per minute, which is quite a bit quicker than, for example, Canon's high-end all-in-one, the PIXMA MG8250.
A single-page colour copy took 27s from the flatbed and a five-page black text copy fed from the ADF completed in 56s. 15 x 10cm photos took from a very speedy 35s to a still more than respectable 1:03, depending on the print source. Printing from Epson’s Android application is quick and easy and gives a bit more control than many apps of this type.
Print quality is Epson’s usual mixture, with rather heavy-looking black text showing some ink feathering counterbalanced by superb photos, with plenty of intricate detail and near ideal colour rendition, even in those darker shadowed areas.
In between, colour graphics are reasonably solid and black over colour registration is good, though a colour photocopy looked washed out, with reversed text very muddy against a black which was only dark grey.
Epson’s Elephant inks come in two yields, though even the high yield is comparatively low. Page costs come out at a reasonable 3.3p for black and slightly pricey but still acceptable 10.4p for colour - all told, not bad for a six-ink printer.
As a top-of-the-range photo all-in-one, the Epson Expression Photo XP-850 is a bit of a mixed bag. While it has a lot of the functions you would expect from a premium machine, some design choices, such as its inability to fold its trays away, and it’s indifferent print quality on plain paper, don’t fit expectations. You need to compare it against high-end offerings from Canon and HP.