The budget inkjet printer market is crowded with worthy devices. The Epson Expression Home XP-420 All-in-One ($79.99) is pound for pound one of the best available. Although slightly limited in terms of luxury features and performance, this inexpensive printer is ideal for anyone who wants to print & scan basic documents and medium-definition photos, all via an easy-to-use, mobile-friendly interface.
Rather than compare this device to inferior, but similarly priced printers, like the Canon Pixma MX492 ($99.99, US-only), the XP-420 deserves to be mentioned alongside top dogs like the Canon Pixma MG7520 ($199, £129.95, AU$$219) and its big brother, the Epson Expression Premium XP-820 "Small-in-One" All-in-One Printer ($199, £170, AU$219).
These more expensive machines offer an advanced feature set, including higher quality prints and faster print speeds. However, if you’re in the market for an almost-as-good device, but you’re short on cash, the XP-420 is where you’ll want to turn.
Designed like most printers you’ll find at your local Best Buy, the XP-420 features a glossy, black, plastic frame that will look fine in any modern office space. The XP-420 won’t wow anyone, but it almost certainly won’t offend anyone either (unless they’re really turned off by trite printer design).
When folded up into its non-operational, rectangular design, the XP-420 measures 15.4 x 11.8 x 5.7 inches (W x D x H) and weighs only nine pounds. That’s about two inches slimmer and eight pounds lighter than the Canon Pixma MG7520, and two inches slimmer and 12 pounds lighter than the more advanced Epson XP-820. Keep that in mind if storage and portability are among your chief concerns.
The front of the printer features a 2.5-inch color LCD screen that is not touch-capable. Because most manufacturers produce cramped and unresponsive printer touchscreens (ahem, Canon), I actually prefer printer navigation that doesn’t require touch interactions. Perhaps I’m a bit old school, or maybe manufacturers just haven’t mastered their craft (the latter), but I’d rather touch a responsive button than an imprecise screen. Luckily for me, the XP-420 is buttons galore.
Along the left and ride side of the LCD screen, you’ll find a home button, a back button, four directional buttons, a select button, a cancel button and a start button. From a design perspective, this may not be ideal, but from a user experience perspective, you’ll be thankful.
Beneath the screen you’ll find a five-inch-wide collapsible output tray that neatly tucks back into the body of the printer. Above the buttons and underneath the top cover you’ll find a scanning screen, behind which sits a collapsible eight-inch-wide input tray.
Both trays niftily disappear when contracted. However, because you’re dealing with a budget machine, you’ll want to handle them with care, as neither sits very firmly within the printer. In fact, the whole machine feels a bit frail to the touch, so don’t drop it from too high or squeeze with too much strength.