The Expression Home printers form the affordable end of Epson’s extensive printer range, but the new XP-5105 crams in almost every feature the average home office could ask for.
Being a three-in-one, it can print, scan and copy, but it’s the other features that give it an advantage over the average budget inkjet. It can print both sides of a black and white page, for instance, and the large colour display makes it much easier to get this printer online and faster to alter paper settings and monitor ink levels etc. And all for a modest asking price of £90 (around US$119, AU$161).
It has a surprisingly deep 150-sheet paper tray, an SD card slot at the front and a high-resolution flatbed scanner on top. Anyone that has used the Epson iPrint app will know how easy it is to print and scan from cloud services like Dropbox and of course the paper tray can accept every size of photo paper up to A4. If there is a catch, it is the cost of the replacement ink, because a set of high yield cartridges can cost more than the printer itself.
One advantage of cartridges, over the increasingly common refillable ink tank printers is their size. The Epson XP-5105 is small enough to hide away in a filing cabinet when not in use, even though it is large enough to hold 150-sheets of paper. There’s no ADF on the top to add bulk and the front paper-in and paper-out trays can be pushed back inside the machine when you’re not actually printing.
The front panel is dominated by a 6.1cm colour LCD and large buttons beside it. It’s quite a luxury for a budget printer when most rivals offer only a two-line black and white display. To the left of the tilting control panel is an SD Card slot.
Here are the full specs of the Epson XP-5105:
Type: Multifunction colour inkjet printer
Functions: Print, copy, scan
Ink: Four cartridges (C, M, Y, K)
Connectivity: Ethernet, Wi-Fi, USB
Data storage slot: SD Card
Max print speed: 33ppm (mono), 20ppm (colour)
Document tray capacity: 150 sheets
Print quality: 4,800 x 1,200 dpi
Scan quality: 2,400 x 1,200 dpi
Apple AirPrint: Yes
Google Cloud Print: Yes
App support: iOS/Android
Consumables included: 4 cartridges
Size/Weight: 187 x 375 x 347mm (HxWxD)/5.5kg
The Epson Expression Home XP-5105 is generously featured for the money and assuming you don’t need a fax machine, and that’s a pretty safe assumption these days, it probably has all the features you could need in a small office.
Printing is fast and you can fit 150 sheets of A4 paper inside. Alternatively, you can load envelopes, photo paper, or even a blank CD. Duplex printing is an important feature and cannot be taken for granted among budget machines. The flatbed scanner has a resolution of 1,200 DPI for making quick high-resolution photocopies.
Surprisingly, there’s no front USB input for flash drives, but there is an SD card slot with USB and Ethernet ports at the rear. There’s no NFC connectivity, but Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi Direct are built in, making it easy to communicate with Epson’s excellent iPrint app. Using this iOS/Android app, you can print and scan to cloud printing services such as Google Print and Facebook Print.
Setup and operation
Thanks to the large colour LCD panel, the Epson XP-5105 is particularly easy to install and use. Just turn it on and the display will tell you what to do, beginning by selecting your native language. Setup also involves printing out three inkjet alignment test sheets, which is easy to judge and reassuringly thorough.
The large 6.1cm display is not a touchscreen, but combined with the large buttons beside it, navigating the on-screen menu and choosing the correct paper stock is made easy. The companion app is also very intuitive to use, especially when scanning or printing from the cloud.
How we test printers
Each printer we source for testing is measured on our test bench and the results are critically compared with every other model we have reviewed. Rather than relying on the manufacturer’s quoted figures, we time the first page out and print speeds in single sheet and duplex mode using a standard ten-page document and a stopwatch app. To compare print quality, we print out the same set of test documents on every machine. These twelve test pages include text of varying font sizes and colours, mixed image and text pages, a set of photos and a series of test patterns designed to assess sharpness, colour fidelity, contrast and grey scale.
We also calculate running costs, compare functionality and consider each product’s versatility, design and build quality. The overall score reflects all of these parameters and overall value for money.
Pages of black and white text appear crisp and dark from the Epson Expression Home XP-5105 and while we thought they looked a little over-inked, there were no cases of smearing, or in-filling when printing very small characters. The quoted speed is given as 33ppm, but in real-world printing is much slower as it took 90 seconds to print ten duplex pages from sleep mode, which is quite slow.
Colour documents on plain paper definitely appear a little ink-heavy and appear darker than on other printers, so that light grey backgrounds look as though they are supposed to be black. Photos also emerge darker than they should and suffer from a touch too much magenta. The print resolution is not especially high either, so in general, photos look rather soft and unrealistic.
The scanning resolution is relatively high and fast, so copies are fairly faithful and this printer is especially easy to use, so it is a pity the overall print quality is just a little bit disappointing.
The compact size of this feature-packed MPF makes it instantly appealing to the home worker and it’s good to know that essential features, like duplex printing and Wi-Fi Direct are included. The deep 150-sheet paper tray and the large 6.1cm LCD are also much appreciated, while strong app support from Epson iPrint means that it is a real please to use too.
The absence of a front USB port could be an inconvenience for some, as could a top-loading automatic document feeder. Without an ADF, you will find yourself taking all of the plain paper out of the paper tray every time you want to load and print an envelope, or a photo.
Unfortunately, the print quality here is just not that good, with text appearing heavy, colour documents feeling over-inked, and photos coming out too dark and with a constant magenta tint.
For a small home office, this little three-in-one has all the features you could ask for, including duplex printing, at a remarkably low price point. Sadly, replacement ink cartridges cost almost as much as the printer and the print quality is soft and annoyingly magenta tinted.
- We've also highlighted the best home printers of 2018 in this roundup