The Epson Expression Premium XP-820 is a robust and full-featured all-in-one with an affordable price tag. It's a fast printer, scanner and copier complete with faxing abilities, and also includes extras like a super large and vibrant touch-screen LCD with gesture support, the ability to print right to a disc, a front SD card slot and a USB jack for photo printing. The $149 device can also print built-in templates for creating documents without a page layout program. Overall, the XP-820 is a great choice for people looking for both a solid photo printer and an excellent business-class all-in-one.
The Epson XP-820 is a clean and streamlined device that eschews the cumbersome vertical paper feed found on the less-expensive Epson XP-410 and WF-2540 we reviewed in favor of a standard front-loading tray. However, the tray is a bit small, and the dual photo and letter-size trays get in the way.
Epson calls the XP-820 a "Small-in-One," but it measures 19.1 x 10.4 x 16.8 inches and weighs 21.5 pounds, making it one of the largest printers we've tested. The Canon MG7520 (5.9 x 14.6 x 17.2, 17 pounds) and HP Envy (16.1 x 17.9 x 7.6 inches, 16.9 pounds) are both much lighter.
The front panel automatically raises during printing, which is a bit alarming when encountered for the first time. Fortunately, the panel is attractive and easy to use, with a 4.3-inch, gesture-capable touch screen that's larger than those on its competitors. The Brother J5620 comes close, with a 3.8-inch screen.
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Initial setup of the XP-820 took the second-longest in its class, at 8 minutes and 8 seconds from the time we hit the power button to first print out, just 43 seconds faster than the Canon Pixma MG7520. We found the ink cartridges a bit difficult to get into the slots unless we put the cartridges in order.
Thanks to the large LCD, it's easy to configure the device for Wi-Fi printing, which not only allows the device to sit anywhere on the network but also makes it available for printing and scanning from mobile devices and from Epson's cloud services. The printer even scans directly to Facebook, a feature that's handy for Throw Back Thursday.
Faxing is a bit more complex on a touch screen than with dedicated faxing buttons and a numeric keypad, though the XP-820 has a built-in address book for users to add frequently dialed contacts. Among the printers we've tested in this price range, only the HP Officejet 4630 provides a direct numeric keypad.
The Epson XP-820 comes with a CD containing the printer and scanner drivers and a utility for printing onto CD and DVDs. There are no other utilities included with the device.
On its Normal setting, the Epson XP-820 printed a single page of black-and-white text in 13 seconds, which is identical to the category average. The Canon Pixma MG7520 and the Brother MFC-J5620 both completed the job in just 10 seconds.
The Epson XP-820 finished our five-page mixed text and graphics test in 3:31, which is over a minute faster than the category average (4:53) and speedier than the Canon Envy 7640, Brother MFC-J5620 and Canon Pixma MG7520.
It took the Epson XP-820 2 minutes and 42 seconds to print a full-page, color landscape photo, nearly two minutes faster than the category average (4:25), but nearly a minute behind the HP Envy 7640 and Canon Pixma MG7520, both of which finished in 1:52.
Copy and Scan Speed
Epson's all-in-one copied a black-and-white page in 17 seconds, exactly 5 seconds faster than the category average. The Canon Pixma MG7520 was much faster still (7 seconds), and the Brother MFC-J5620 was a bit quicker.
The device completed our color copy test at normal settings in 58 seconds, which is more than 20 seconds faster than the category average. The Brother MFC-J5620, Canon Pixma MG7520 and HP Envy 7640 were all much slower.
The Epson XP-820 finished our black and white scanning test in 15 seconds, more than twice as fast as the category average (40 seconds). The Brother MFC-J5620 and Canon Pixma MG7520 were just a little quicker, but the HP Envy 7640 trailed the pack.
When we ran our color scanning test, the XP-820 finished in just 15 seconds, more than three times faster than the category average (53 seconds).
The Epson XP-820 produced far and away the best-quality photos of any printer we've tested, with sharp, colorful images that popped off the page. When we printed a portrait photo of a child on a bike, the boy's eyes and eyelashes were crisp with high contrast, and the teeth on his helmet decoration looked sharp. The text on the seat of the bike trailer was clear and legible, without any bleeding. The stripes and fibers in the subject's plaid shirt were also easy to make out.
A landscape shot of a flower stand in front of a farm that we printed was also excellent, with a level of detail and graduated tonality unmatched by the XP-820's competitors. The detail in the flower stand was particularly impressive; it was even possible to read some of the handwritten notes on a pink sticky note stuck to the stand. The grain in the wood was visible, and the flowers looked sharp.
The only disappointing aspect of the print was that the railing of the fence went a bit dark relative to the original photo — a photo gray cartridge would probably have taken care of that. While the Canon Pixma MG7520 has a photo gray, its overall image quality isn't quite as good as the Epson's.
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Ink Cost and Yield
For the XP-820, Epson claims a capacity of 250 pages for black prints and 300 pages for color pages with standard ink cartridges. With current retail prices of $12.05 for the black cartridge and $40.95 for a set of all four color cartridges (cyan, magenta, yellow and photo black), the cost per page is a reasonable 5 cents for black-ink documents and 14 cents for photos, excluding the price of paper.
The high-capacity cartridges yield 500 pages for black and around 650 pages for the color cartridges. A high-capacity black cartridge costs about $22.99 on their own or $67.49 as part of a five pack with the four photo cartridges. That comes out to an estimated 5 cents per black-and-white page and 10 cents for color pages.
With its excellent photo capabilities and fast print speeds, the Epson Expression Premium XP-820 is the best all-in-one printer you can buy for less than $200. No other printer we've tested in this price range can touch its color print performance, but the Canon Pixma MG7520 came the closest. Though we wish it had a bigger paper tray, the XP-820's large roster of features — including a brilliant LCD touch screen, faxing, an SD card slot and the ability to print to optical discs — make it one of the most versatile devices on the market.