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Epson XP-3100 Review

Costing just over £50, the Epson XP-3100 all-in-one colour printer promises a lot for a super-low price. But what exactly do you get for your cash?

Verdict

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The Epson XP-3100 has a super-low initial cost, but quality and speeds are so-so, and running costs can be expensive. The Epson XP-7100 is a better-value purchase, but the XP-3100 will suffice if you’re on a tight budget. Just don’t expect miracles.

Pros

  • Low upfront cost
  • Easy to use
  • Fun and multifunctional

Cons

  • Not the cheapest to run
  • Wouldn't print on glossy paper in our tests

Key Specifications

  • Review Price: £55
  • Ink type: Cartridge
  • Supports: Windows, macOS, iOS, Android
  • Cost per page: 4p-8p
  • Paper tray capacity: 100 A4 (plain)
  • Print speed: 9.88ppm
  • Dimensions: 170 x 375‎ x 300mm
  • Weight: 4.3kg

The Epson XP-3100 is a cheap inkjet printer for the home. As well as printing documents and images in colour, this all-in-one printer can scan and copy, too.

Like most printers, the XP-3100 can accept print instructions numerous ways: the old-fashioned way via a direct wired USB connection, the more modern way over Wi-Fi via mobile app or desktop device with the appropriate drivers installed, or via Wi-Fi Direct.

Auto-duplexing – aka double-sided printing – is also supported here, although there’s no ADF (Automatic Document Feeder), so it isn’t well suited for making several copies of muti-page documents. However, it isn’t aimed at super-busy home office workers; this is more a family colour printer complete with a scanner/copier for people who, once in a blue moon, will want to scan items such as passports or the odd document.

Pitched as a money-saver, the Epson XP-3100 uses four ink cartridges (black, cyan, magenta, and yellow), separating out the colour inks so that when the time comes to replace one, you don’t have to bin off an otherwise half-full colour cartridge if it turns out that you bled out most of the magenta ink. Let’s see how much of a bargain the Epson XP-3100 actually is.

Price and availability

The Epson XP-3100 – aka the Expression Home XP-3100 – is available to buy now, with Epson listing £54.99/€89,99 as the standard retail price.

At the time of writing, few places were stocking the Epson XP-3100 at a price that’s close to the recommended one. Argos is currently selling the XP-3100 for £49.99, while Amazon has it listed for a bit more, at £80.

The XP-3100 is seemingly unavailable over in the US.

Design and features – Light, fantastic, and with a nicely textured plastic top

  • Low profile and compact, but doesn’t weigh a ton
  • Simple set-up process
  • Issues with print heads

The Epson XP-3100 is remarkably small and light considering it’s an all-in-one printer. It measures a mere 170 x 375‎ x 300mm and weighs just 4.3kg. That’s almost half the weight of the Canon PIXMA TS7450, and also Epson’s own XP-7100.

Despite the low profile and light weight, everything feels reasonably durable, and the textured pattern on the top of the device looks and feels swish. The swing mechanism of the control panel feels sturdy, and the addition of a kickstand underneath the XP-3100’s hood is clever – there’s no need for a slow-close mechanism here.

The cover of the 1200 x 2400dpi A4 scanner is thin and light, and I can easily operate it with one hand. The action of the paper out-tray is smooth, even if the tray itself feels a little wobbly.

Getting the XP-3100 set up is straightforward. When powering everything on for the first time, I was asked to snap in the four ink cartridges before running a series of alignment tests. I had to run several cleaning programs in a row before the XP-3100 would print cyan ink properly; but, otherwise, there were no major snags. This portion of the process took around 10 minutes.

Next up is connecting to your Wi-Fi network. The most secure way to do this is to manually enter your password via the control panel. This proved a slight pain on the 1.45-inch non-touch display, and may become irksome for those who change their password frequently.

Once I was connected, I had to install a couple of firmware updates, after which I was good to go. Drivers for Windows devices can be downloaded from Epson’s site, while Mac users can just select the XP-3100 from their list of printers in System Preferences; the XP-3100 supports Apple AirPrint. Meanwhile, iOS and Android users can send print instructions to the XP-3100 via the Epson Smart Panel, and Epson Creative Print apps.

Epson Smart Panel lets you print files stored locally on your phone, print from iCloud (iOS) and Google Drive (Android), as well as generally act as a remote control panel. You’re able to do things like run alignment tests and check ink levels at a glance.

There doesn’t appear to be a way to print documents and photos from the likes of OneNote, Evernote, or Box. This is odd, because the Epson iPrint app, which printers such as the XP-7100, ET-M2120, ET-2720 use, all let you tap into those.

Epson Creative Print is geared towards doing fun things such as making greetings cards, printing CD/DVD labels. There’s also a nifty Colouring Book tool, which can turn pictures stored on your phone into black-and-white line art. Parents, or even adults, who want to indulge in some therapeutic colouring in may well appreciate this.

  • High print speeds and razor-sharp fonts
  • Graphics look good, but the jury’s out on photo quality
  • Buy the XL cartridges, because the XP-3100 is thirsty

The Epson XP-3100 is a reasonably speedy colour printer, producing decent copy and reasonably good graphics at acceptable speeds.

Print speeds for text are high, with single pages of A4 being produced in around 4-5 seconds (4.59 seconds on average). Five-page documents took 26.94 seconds on average, equivalent to 11.13 pages per minute, while 20-pagers took 2mins 10secs, or 9.88ppm.

Text printed on the Normal print setting looked sharp and distinct, with no immediately noticeable instances of bleed for deformation. Large, heavy fonts, upwards of 18pts looked a little blanched, so if you’re printing out something important, I’d advise that you increase the print quality.

Single-colour photos printed on a piece of plain A4 took about a minute (57.2 seconds on average). While photos looked detailed, they weren’t especially vibrant. Colours looked muted and drained. Unfortunately, I struggled to print on glossy paper, so I can’t comment on how good the Epson XP-3100 is for printing out high-quality photos.

As I said above, while testing out the Epson XP-3100, I had to run several nozzle-cleaning cycles in order to get it to print cyan ink correctly. While I was able to eventually get this to work, the process really hit home the fact that the standard-sized Epson 603 cartridges that the XP-3100 uses are pretty small.

While the standard costs-per-page aren’t particularly poor, they’re not exactly kind to your wallet. As you can see in the tables below, you really would be far better off getting the bigger 603XL cartridges. Better yet, if a low running cost is something that’s a deal-maker for you, consider an Epson EcoTank printer. These use ink bottles that are far more economical than cartridges.

Epson Black 603 Ink Epson Cyan 603 Ink Epson Magenta 603 Ink Epson Yellow 603 Ink
Page yield 150 130 130 130
RRP £12.49 £6.99 £6.99 £6.99
Cost per page 8p 5p 5p 5p

 

Epson Black 603XL Ink Epson Cyan 603XL Ink Epson Magenta 603XL Ink Epson Yellow 603XL Ink
Page yield 500 350 350 350
RRP £25.99 £14.99 £14.99 £14.99
Cost per page 5p 4p 4p 4p

Editor’s note: All prices are taken from Epson’s site, and are correct and time of writing. Costs per page are rounded up. 

Epson XP-3100 conclusion

The Epson XP-3100 is an incredibly affordable all-in-one printer, which looks a downright bargain on paper. But while I do think it’s a good option for those working at home who only need to print sparingly, the long-term running costs are probably too high for printing out documents on the regular.

I also had issues printing on glossy paper, which limits this printer’s versatility. There are cheaper printers out there with scanning capabilities, too. So unless you just want a budget printer for churning our documents, with scanning and copying skills on the side, I suggest you check out our Best Printer roundup for alternatives.

You should buy the Epson XP-3100 if…

  • You’re on a tight budget
    Have £100 or less to chuck at a printer? Get the Epson XP-3100, but invest in some XL cartridges.
  • You need to print documents in colour
    This printer is great if you’re mainly printing text but need to run off the occasional colour print.
  • You need to be able to scan and copy as well as print
    Whether it’s a contract, boarding pass, an ancient treasure map, this is a good all-in-one for the occasional scan and copy.

You shouldn’t buy the Epson XP-3100 if…

  • You want to print colour photos as well
    I was unable to successfully print on glossy paper with the Epson XP-3100, and so recommend looking at the XP-7100 instead.
  • You’re going to be printing frequently
    High running costs mean that a printer such as the Epson ET-2720 is a better long-term consideration.
  • You just need a cheap colour printer
    If you don’t need a scanner, check out the Canon PIXMA TS305 – it’s a £35 colour printer with similar running costs.

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