Setting up the Expression Home XP-400
Like the Epson models I’ve reviewed in the past, the setup for the printer was simple and quick. There a color fold out that goes over the basic steps: unpack, plug in and turn on, install ink, load paper and install software.
The install wizard is similar (if not identical) to what I’ve seen before with the software installation selection, select your connection and update the firmware. If you choose to install the Expression Home XP-400 over a wireless connection, you’ll have two options: you can install with a temporary USB cable (the recommended installation) or you can install using the printer’s touch panel. I chose the latter since Epson did not provide a USB cable. It was very easy and I had no problem getting the printer setup over my wireless network.
Once the initial installation is complete, you can register your printer (I declined) and install the mobile print options, Epson Connect and Google Cloud Print. The Epson Connect installation was simple for me since I already had an Epson Connect account, all I had to do was sign in. The Google Cloud Print is slightly more complicated as the wizard opens a separate page (also where you find Apple AirPrint installation) and then you have to register your printer with your Google account. Again, for me, this was painless since I’ve already used the service and have a Google account.
Ease of Use
Starting with the standalone features on the printer, Epson provides a smart touch panel with a 2.5-inch LCD for easy navigation of the Expression Home XP-400’s main devices (copy, photo print and scan) as well as secondary menus such as more functions, setup, Wi-Fi setup and help.
The photo print revolves around the built-in card reader where users can edit and print photos from several compatible memory cards including SD, Memory Stick and Memory Stick Pro cards. Like budget models before, Epson does not include a front side USB port. I understand that the Expression Home is exactly that a budget friendly printer for home environments but front side USB ports are fairly common these days.
Copy is incredibly easy to use. Put your original down on the scan glass, select the number of copies you want and whether you want them in color or not. You can delve down into the settings if you want, but Epson offers the two necessary selections in the main menu.
Scanning from the printer is pretty simple as well. Select how where you want to scan-to (options include PC, email, memory card, etc.), put your original on the scan glass and hit scan. If you want to scan to email, you’ll need to set up the email account but the rest are ready to use as soon as the printer is on and functioning.
But you won’t able to get all the scan features you’ll get using the Epson Scan software provided from your PC. Using Epson Scan you can choose from four modes: full auto, home mode, office mode and professional mode. Each option brings up the more common scan features based on the user’s preference.
For instance, full auto is basically the same scan you’d get when using the scanner from the device, but home mode is set to be used with photos, illustrations, magazines and more. You choose the image type, the destination, make image adjustments and preview. Office mode is focused on documents and such while the professional mode is going to give users the most scan options and doesn’t focus on any certain type of scan.
In the mode functions menu, users can access creative extras such as coloring books, photo greeting cards or ruled paper
Setup, help and Wi-Fi setup are self explanatory; you’ll want to check out these menus if you are having trouble with your wireless connection, print alignment, print settings, etc.
If you set up the Epson Connect Email Print service during the installation, you are set to use this service and can log into Epson Connect (by heading to www.epsonconnect.com/user) to get information on your print log, print settings, approved senders list (a bit of security), suspend/resume service, etc.
Using Epson Connect Email Print service allows users to print from a variety of email services and devices. We tested the Epson Connect Print service with Gmail, Microsoft Office Outlook, Hotmail, Yahoo! Mail from a PC, Blackberry, iPhone and a Droid. For more information about compatibility, check out the Epson Connect Information page.
Users can also register for Google Cloud Print or Apple AirPrint depending on their devices and preferences.
When you print to Epson Connect, you just pop in the supplied email address (or the one you changed it to in settings) and if it was successful you’ll get an email back from Epson Connect confirming receipt. Unless, of course, you are using Outlook Web Access; the email still goes through but you won’t get a confirmation email from Epson.
But Epson Connect has the same photo print problem as HP ePrint. If users have photo paper in the paper tray and then walk away and someone happens to send an email at the same time, valuable photo paper is wasted. I understand why it might be difficult for a budget friendly printer to differentiate 8.5 x11-inch photo paper but 8.5 x 11 inch copy paper, but how often do people print documents on 4×6 photo paper?
As I noticed with the Stylus NX430, the Expression Home XP-400 is the lacking a home center or the Epson Easy Photo Print application. Again, I found this strange because it was an easy-to-use application for printing photos combining an easy search for images, editing, layout options and more. I continue to wonder what the rationale is behind leaving printers that are targeted at students, moms and families without any creative software options.
As always, users can access the printer settings and maintenance through the print properties menu found in the print menu of your browser or word processor.
Print Speeds and Tests
Epson advertises print speeds up to 8.7 ppm in black and 4.5 ppm in color and I found these numbers to be accurate during our standard print tests. The Expression Home XP-400 printed our 40-page black and white text document at an average of 8 ppm with a first page out in as fast as 9 seconds. When adding color to the mix, the print speeds slowed down to an average of 4 ppm with a first page out in as fast as 18 seconds.
The Expression Home XP-400 has a draft mode and it definitely bumps up the print speeds with an average of 17 ppm, but the draft prints are a very light gray making them more difficult to read and definitely not presentation worthy. But if you aren’t worrying about bold print – think memos, recipes, receipts or directions – then the draft mode might be a good option for saving ink.
No automatic duplexing on this budget model, but it does offer manual duplexing with a handy little pop up graphic guiding users on how to correctly flip the pages.
The photo quality was quite good for a photo printer priced under $100 but, goodness, was it slow! It took seven minute to print an 8.5 x 11-inch balloon image – and that wasn’t even in best photo mode. I double checked. The 4×6 prints were also slow; it took 3 minutes on average.
Obviously, I’d love to see great photo quality AND decent print speeds but if I had to pick one, I’d always choose quality over speed. If I’m going to spend an arm and a leg on ink, I want every image I print to look pristine.