Product Type: Epson inkjet printers
Newest Review: ... off. For the price it was reasonable value for money although there are other Epson printers around which will do the job just as good bu... more
Epson XP-305. Here's To My Next 'Biennial' Printer!
Epson Expression Home XP-305
Member Name: Nibelung
Epson Expression Home XP-305
Advantages: Cheap. Goes well once set-up properly. Good scanner
Disadvantages: The usual printer versus ink prices dilemma.
BYE, BYE, H-P AND STICK YOUR 364 CARTRIDGES WHERE THE SUN DON'T SHINE!
I feel like I've been keeping you afloat single-handedly.
Most people with an inkjet printer will have come to the conclusion by now that the low initial price of a printer is really a loss-leader to entrap you into buying the maker's inks at a price, that if calculated on a per litre basis would put it at the very top of the world's most expensive liquids - forget Chanel No. 5 or liquid plutonium (don't try making this at home kiddies), these are just 'tap water' by comparison!
The only difference here, is that the last HP 'all-in-one' I bought, a C6380 was quite expensive at the time, and sucker that I am, was the second HP that I'd bought in succession, despite its predecessor having also let me down in a spectacular fashion.
This time HP blotted their copy-book big time by forcing me to assume that a complete set of new inks were needed (Type 364 - people that also write on Ciao may remember them. They were the ones that Ciao sent you free printers to review them on?)
The new inks at a cost of around £35 were installed, only to be told that they weren't genuine (total bo**ox), and that maybe the print-head needed cleaning. So I cleaned it and got it going after several attempts. However, the inks were by now showing only 75% remaining. Despite not having used it (I have a budget Samsung laser for most monochrome jobs), a month later, it was nagging me to by more inks 'soon'. Talking to another '364 user' it seems there are at least two of us who suspect that this stuff evaporates at an alarming rate whether you use it or not.
Annoyingly, it just made it past the end of the 3-year warranty before playing up, so what a waste of money that was!
VOTING WITH MY FEET
Vowing not to touch another HP printer in this next Mayan calendar, I set out to buy just about the cheapest 'all-in-one' I could, provided that it was from a name I knew, but which wasn't HP (or Kodak for that matter, who have the receivers in).
In our nearest large Tesco, I noticed the Epson Expression XP-305, heavily reduced now to £44.50. Standing in the car-park to get a signal, I browsed the web for reviews and the costs of inks on my smart phone, and went back in and bought one!
It's a lot smaller than its predecessor, having a footprint of about 39 centimetres wide and 30 deep. Like my Samsung laser, it's gloss black, which is good in one respect as all my other kit is too, but that now means that it's ALL a dust and fingerprint magnet. There's a neat fold-out control panel at the front which sits propped at about 45 degrees making its LCD display quite easy to read.. It's a rear-loader, so only paper that has already been printed on is catered for at the front with a fold-down ramp, which if I'm honest feels a tad flimsy, but then I just have to keep saying '£44.50' to myself to see why. New paper feeds in at the back on a slant, so unlike the HP offering it only has to bend through less than 90 degrees, not 180! This stuff matters if you print on stout papers or even card. If using scrap, at least it's easy to see which side is going to get printed on, i.e. the same as is showing in the tray. The HP made you think about it first.
This is where I'm less happy with my purchase. You get a quick-start broadsheet fold-out and a CD-ROM. The actual instruction manual carries only carries operating and troubleshooting details, nothing to help with the set-up.
The main problem is that as soon as I inserted the CD-ROM and started clicking a few buttons, it discovered that there was a newer version and rushed of to the web to update itself. After this, it seems to bear no resemblance to the 'idiot proof' step-by-step quick-start guide.
For instance, I was none the wiser as to whether the printer should be plugged in, in advance, or not.
One advantage of actually having a physical USB connection is that the printer also had its firmware updated. Had the process waited until wi-fi was set up, it would have come at a more inopportune moment in the process I'll wager.
There's also a confusing array of web-based services, like the ability to give the printer an e-mail address at the Epson server so that it can be printed to remotely, and by remotely I mean from anywhere in the world!
Likewise, another Epson add-on is called E-Web Print, which despite sounding like the last facility is only a browser add-on to help with printing out web-pages which works with any other printers you have installed too.
In the end, I uninstalled the printer and software and started again with the CD-ROM, this time with no physical connection to the printer, but with the wi-fi link already set-up. Curiously, this time it all went well and I managed not to install any of the web-based services on offer - I really can't see any application for being able to send to printer from anywhere in the world, besides which, it's set to time out when not used for a length of time.
Home networking is a different matter. If you want to use this printer as a (home) network printer, you've two alternatives. Use the USB lead and leave your PC running, or use the wi-fi and leave only your router running. I bloody hate being dependant on wi-fi and at least the HP printer had an Ethernet socket as well.
In the end, I've decided to give it a second chance, leaving it using wi-fi until it blots its copybook, after which, I'll learn my lesson and stick to 'Strictly Come USB'
USING IT AND RUNNING IT
Like most printers, this one comes with a 'set-up only' set of ink cartridges. It's a 4-ink job, with separate cartridges for black, cyan, yellow and magenta. At least it doesn't need a fifth 'Photo Black' too like the HP.
By shopping around and pre-ordering, i.e. not waiting till I'm desperate to print something, I've got the price of genuine inks down to about £21 a set, and more for the XL-sized cartridges, but I'm waiting to see if the inks in these spirit themselves away even when not being used before making any grand gestures like buying the 'big ones'. Also, the larger sized cartridges aren't a price economy at £42 a throw, since they merely hold twice as much ink. I'll leave the purchase of 'compatible refills' till after the warranty expires, which should then effectively halve the price of printing.
My first impressions of its printing abilities were a bit of a mixed bag. Plain paper colour comes out just as expected, but printing on photo papers needs a bit of thought. Not actually having any Epson paper yet, I had to make my best guess as to which HP paper best fitted the descriptions used in print set-up. In the case of a post-card sized print of a friend of mine taken whilst taking part in Bargain Hunt, the result was just fine, but stepping up to an A4 print on glossy paper gave me a hideous result, with a sort of spackled finish like someone had used Hammerite paint. I assume that this is because the paper I was using was way too glossy and non-absorbent, but it serves as a warning especially when you see just how much your ink capacity has taken a dive on one A4 print.
To be honest, it ability to print photos is neither here nor there as I much prefer to upload my files to Photobox or similar and let them print my work onto 'proper' photographic paper which is much more colourfast, and if you have more than one print that needs enlarging, it's probably also cheaper.
Scanning works just fine, and colour photocopies are excellent, so good in fact that I scan/copied the test print page, and showed the result to my wife. She found it difficult to tell them apart.
There's a card-reader slot primarily for SD cards and their smaller cousins by way of an adapter. However, because I have one of those 'intelligent' ganged mains adapters that turn everything off when the PC is shut down, the printer always needs to be switched on again manually at boot-up. This leads to an annoying fault report from the PC that the drive could not be connected. Well, it would wouldn't it?
All in all, I'm pretty happy with my purchase, even if it was something I was forced into by the sheer unreliability of its predecessor. Needless to say, this time I didn't take out an extended warranty!
Summary: Cheap small-footprint 'all-in-one'.
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