If you’re shopping for a printer, you’re probably well aware that there are hundreds of different options available. While the vast majority of these printers appear to be virtually one in the same, there are a few different models that stand out. So many companies make products that try to do everything. It’s rare to find a one that’s fast, cheap, and high quality as these features tend to conflict with each other a bit. Generally, a printer that is fast and cheap won’t create a very high quality print. A printer that’s fast and high quality won’t be very cheap. For years, manufacturers have been trying to crack the magic formula. Today, they may have finally done it.
Among the common printer manufacturers, there is one company that tends to be a bit of a leader. Epson released some of the earliest photo-quality media printers. If you’re looking to print your own photos, they’re still one of the best choices out there.
With the Epson XP-640, they’ve once again updated their most popular line of printers. Let’s take a look at see if this is the one that has finally figured out the formula.
Despite its compact size, this is a printer that really can do it all. Like most all-in-ones, it prints, copies, and scans. The printer is a little heavier than you’d expect, considering its compact size. But this printer has jammed a ton of handy features into that compact little frame, allowing it to perform as well as many units twice it’s size.
Epson definitely kept things modern in appearance with the XP-640. When the printer is closed, it’s essentially just a cube with rounded corners. By gently pressing on the face of the printer, it’s main control panel lifts up. This serves to expose the print area so your paper can exit the printer, but also brings the controls into a very ergonomic position. While closed, the printer has a very small footprint, at only 15.4” by 13.3” and 5.6” tall.
The centerpiece of the control panel is the vibrant LCD display. This lets you preview documents you might be printing off a memory card or flash drive, and also allows you to navigate through the various features of the printer. Controls are touch sensitive, and are very easy to use. The only button that is non touch sensitive is the power button, located just to the right of the display.
The sleek design elements of the printer are simple, but really give it a modern appearance. The entire top half of the printer is a very shiny smooth plastic material, while the base is a slightly sturdier matte design. The corners are ever so slightly rounded, giving it a very natural appearance.
No matter what type of device you have, this printer is guaranteed to have more than one way to connect to it. If you simply want to drop it into place where your old printer was, you can use the standard USB type B connector that’s been in use for the last 15 years. Like many other modern printers, it will also support connecting to your Wi-Fi.
But with the Epson XP-640, Wi-Fi connectivity is much more advanced than most printers on the market. This printer will quickly and easily connect to your Android or IOS mobile device. Whether you’re using a phone or a tablet, you can print with almost no additional set-up required.
Although the printer is compatible with the standard Android/IOS printing features, if you download Epsons companion app you get a lot more features. You can quickly print photos from Facebook of Instagram. They don’t have to be directly printed either, you can plug them into one of Epsons pre-designed collages or even make your own.
If you have a camera or mobile device that is too old to support Wi-Fi printing, but too new to support a direct USB connection, there is still hope. The Epson XP-640 has an easy to access SD card slot right on the front, so you can just plug your storage device directly into it. With the build in LCD display, browsing through your photos is a breeze.
The Epson XP-640 can print lab grade photos. This is thanks to the extremely high resolution of the print heads, providing detail of up to 5760 x 1400 dpi. The photos are sharp and clear. Colors stand out and have a sense of vibrancy about them, however the reproduction is still accurate. They legitimately look like they came from an official photo lab.
There are a few things you need to remember when you are working with a printer that is capable of such a high level of detail. First, your photos are only going to look as good as the source. If you’re trying to print something that you took in the dark with a five-year-old cellphone, you might be a little disappointed with the results. While the printer does print images directly off of Facebook, you’ll get much better results if you contact the person directly and get the full size image. The ones shared online do not have a high enough resolution to come out clearly.
This is another area where the printer really shines. Your printing comes out lightening quick. A standard 4” by 6” photo will print in as little as twenty seconds. This is especially impressive when you consider that just 10 short years ago it costs photo labs $40 thousand dollars for the equipment necessary to open a one-hour photo lab.
Today, however, there are a lot of speedy photo printers on the market. What makes the Epson XP-640 different? Two things. First, most printers will force you to choose between high quality or high speed. A printer might advertise that the photos come out in ten seconds, but if you want them to look good you’ll need to wait a full minute. With the Epson XP-640, the 20 second figure is at their photo quality setting, so you don’t have to make sacrifices.
Next, a lot of photo printers use very dense ink. This ink can take a while to dry. Even if your photo is printed in 20 seconds, you need to wait five more minutes before you touch it. Otherwise, you’ll smudge the ink. With the Epson printer, the ink is dry in a few seconds. From the time you hit print until the time you grab your photo, this is one of the fastest printers on the market.
It’s obvious that the Epson XP-640 is inexpensive to purchase, but is it inexpensive to run? This depends on your usage.
The printer uses five different color cartridges. This is great because if you run out of one color, you will only have to replace that one color. The ink is also quite affordable compared to most high end photo printers. However, it may seem expensive if you compare it to some of the entry level printers.
There are two important things to keep in mind with this ink. First, it’s a little thinner than most printer ink. This means that you will get more prints per cartridge than many of the competitors. Second, this printer is able to provide a much higher level of detail and vibrancy than competing printers, thanks to Epson’s high grade ink. Is this the cheapest ink on the market? No, absolutely not. However, it’s this high quality ink that enables consumers to create high quality photo prints at home.
So, Should I Buy the Epson XP-640?
If you’re looking for a photo printer, the Epson XP-640 is certainly one of the best on the market. It’s got a high quality scanner, your photos come out clearly and quickly, and the companion application is easy and fun to use.
However, this printer isn’t going to be for everyone. If you’re looking for more of an office printer, you’ll be wasting a lot of fairly expensive ink printing simple black and white documents. Office users might be better off spending a little extra money on a black and white laser printer, where each toner provides you with thousands of prints as opposed to the hundreds of prints offered with the Epson XP-640.
For people who are printing graphic material, then the Epson XP-640 offers incredible value that is not easy to find in other printers. The Epson XP-600 series has been one of their top selling models for several years, and the moment you fire it up you’ll understand why.