Epson’s Expression Premium XP-830 sits at the top of the company’s range of home printers. With a duplex mode and scanner, as well as the capability to print with commendable quality on a variety of mediums, it's a great-value all-rounder.
Kitted out in a combination of matte and glossy black plastics, the XP-830 manages to look small and neat, particularly when not in use, thanks to its output tray and control panel that can slide and fold away into its front. It has a neat Automatic Document Feeder (ADF) built into its top, with a folding cover which opens to become the feed tray.
The main control panel takes the form of an 11cm touchscreen that serves up all the printer's functions. It's not brilliantly built and has a fair bit of give when you poke it, but it's otherwise reasonable.
There are two paper trays mounted one above the other: there's a plain paper tray and a photo paper tray for sheets with dimensions of up to 13 x 18cm. The photo tray has a capacity of 20 sheets, which is adequate, but the plain paper tray can only take 100 sheets – pathetically few, even for a home machine. There's also a single-sheet feed at the back of the machine which gives a straight-through paper path for thicker media, such as card.
At the front there are ports for both SD cards and USB devices such as cameras and USB sticks. At the bottom of the front panel is a pull-out CD/DVD caddie, so you can directly print on disc.
There are USB and Ethernet sockets at the rear, but, as usual, a Wi-Fi connection is the most versatile, with smartphones and PCs in other rooms able to send files over your network.
Bundled software includes a scanner driver and a web print utility. The five ink cartridges – there are two blacks, with one dedicated to photo printing – slot in easily once you’ve hinged back the scanner section.
Epson rates the Expression Premium XP-830 at 14ppm in black and 11ppm in colour. I measured 13.0ppm in TrustedReviews' 20-page text test – very close to spec, though it gave a slower 9.1ppm on the 5-page test and 5.4ppm on the black text and colour graphics document. A duplex black print gave a healthy 5.8 sides per minute. Overall, speeds are more than acceptable.
Copy speeds were pretty good, with 22 seconds for a single colour page from the flatbed, 54 seconds for five pages from the ADF and a rather long-winded 2 minutes 59 seconds for a 10-side duplex copy, mainly because each page scan requires three passes.
There was quite a spread of times for photo prints, from around 40 seconds for printing from an SD card or a USB camera connection, to 1 minute 16 seconds when printing from a PC, and peaking at 2 minutes 5 seconds when printing wirelessly from an Android smartphone.
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Epson uses its own pioneering Micro Piezo technology for printing, and while it's not as sharp as Canon's and HP’s thermal inkjets, it's still clean and very readable. Black text is dense, if a little fuzzy round the edges, while text printed in Draft mode is fainter than from some other machines.
Colour graphics are bright, and black text over colour is clean. Photo prints are nicely detailed and colours are natural in landscapes and vivid in man-made scenes. There’s some loss of detail in shadowed areas of images, though.
Using the best prices I could find for the high-yield ink cartridges gives costs per page of 3.9p for black and 11.2p for colour, including 0.7p for paper. These are relatively high, even when compared with other Epson machines, such as the Expression Photo XP-860, which gave 2.6p and 8.7p, respectively.
The £150 price tag on this printer puts it in the same band as machines such as the Canon PIXMA MX925 and Brother MFC-J4620DW. The Canon has a similar feature set to this printer’s, although its duplex printing is slower and it has no SD card slot. The Brother is a good deal cheaper to run and can print occasional A3 pages, which probably gives it the edge.
With a large feature set in a compact chassis, the Expression Premium XP-830 is a great home printer. Only better print quality could have made it the best choice around.