The Expression XP-102 review sample Epson provided wasn’t pristine, which is quite normal, but since it’s a recent release, it can’t have been that old. It had part-used cartridges fitted, but it took a lot to get the heads clean enough to print correctly. It took several cleaning cycles – where you can only clean all four colours at once, even if only one colour is blocked – and a change of cartridges to get it going.
All of which is just a reminder that Epson inkjets can be problematic if you don’t print regularly, - due to the print head not being replaced along with the inks, though this does make ink replacement cheaper - and that you should leave them connected and in standby mode, rather than switching them off, so they can run their periodic head-cleaning cycles.
The company claims top speeds of 26ppm for black print and 13ppm for colour, but we saw much slow speeds under test. Our five page black text print gave 4.9ppm and, although this rose to 5.4ppm on the 20-page test, it’s still less than a quarter of the claimed figure. In draft mode, which is very light and definitely only for personal drafts, it gave a maximum of 10.7ppm.
Our five-page black text and colour graphics document produced only 1.8ppm, which is quite sluggish, even for a budget all-in-one. A single page copy took 1:02, which is slow and a 15 x 10cm photo took 2:44 in best mode and 1:28 in normal mode. There’s not a lot to pick between the two prints in quality terms, so normal mode will be fine, most of the time.
Plain paper prints are fair, but with some of the jitteriness of character shape Epson prints often show. Colours are reasonably bright and dense, with good registration of black text over colour, though solid colours in copies are a bit flakey.
Epson claims low noise levels for the Expression XP-102 and in some ways these claims are justified. The scanner is very quiet in use, so a straight scan causes very little interruption. Printing is also unobtrusive, averaging 50-55dBA while printing each page. As always, though, it the paper feed mechanism which disrupts this, peaking at 64dBA at half a metre in our tests. This is louder than average, but still acceptable.
The ink cartridges are available in two capacities and using the higher capacity consumables in costings gives page costs of 4.0p for black and 11.2p for colour. Both these are quite high, with the colour cost considerably higher than from recent Canon budget launches, which come in at under 8p per colour page.
Epson’s Expression XP-102 is a fair, budget all-in-one, with ease of use and reasonable speed (if over-vamped) being in its favour. It’s comparatively costly to run, though, has a noisy paper feed and isn’t nearly a quick as Epson believes.