February 8, 2013 by Sarah Meyer Reads (11,885)
Editor's Rating

Ratings Breakdown (1-10)

    • Service & Support
    • 6
    • Print Quality
    • 9
    • Design / Ease of Use
    • 8
    • Performance / Print Speed
    • 7
    • Features
    • 7
    • Operational Costs
    • 6
    • Total Score:
    • 7.17
    • Rating 1 to 10, top score 10


Setting up the Expression Premium XP-850
The setup for the printer was simple and quick; if you’ve owned an inkjet printer before this should be very easy to navigate. There is a color fold out that goes over the basic steps: unpack, plug in and turn on, select settings, install ink, load paper, connect the fax line and install software.

The install wizard allows user to select the software that is installed, the connection type, fax setup and mobile applications including Epson Connect and Google Cloud Print.

We chose to install the Expression Premium XP-850 over a wireless connection but users have two wireless installation options: you can install with a temporary USB cable (the recommended installation) or you can install using the printer’s touch panel. I went with the touch panel (Epson does not provide a USB cable) and I had no problem getting the printer setup over my wireless network.

The installation for the mobile print/scan options, Epson Connect and Google Cloud Print, took no effort because I had already done this during the XP-800 review. 

However, if you own a new Epson, you will need to register for an Epson account (which only requires some very basic info (email, name, etc.) to set up EpsonConnect.  Once completed, the wizard takes care of the installation.

The Google Cloud Print is slightly more complicated as the wizard opens a separate page (Apple AirPrint installation is located here as well) and then you have to register your printer with your Google account. Again, this wasn’t my first rodeo but if it’s yours, setting up an account isn’t too difficult.

Ease of Use
The 3.5-inch touchscreen and touch panel is identical to the XP-800’s setup. The panel itself employs intelligent touch; so it lights up when needed for a specific job. The touchscreen serves for navigation of the main devices (copy, photo print, scan and fax) as well as secondary features such as more functions, setup, Wi-Fi setup and help.

Like the XP-800, the XP-850 has a photo print option for use of the built-in card reader and front side USB port.  The compatible memory cards are the same and include: SD, Memory Stick, Memory Stick Pro, Compact Flash cards and a flash drive.

You can also print CD/DVDs with the Expression Photo XP-850 through this menu. Other creative content in the photo print menu includes greeting cards, photo layout page, coloring books and ruled paper.   You?ll also get the basic Epson Print CD for users to print custom CD/DVDs on their PC.

What was disappointing (but fully expected) was that the XP-850 didn’t come with any photo software despite the fact it is being marketed as a photo printer.  I was hoping that Epson might have added something to the installation pack that wasn’t included with the lower level XP-800.

Copying is basic but advanced users can adjust the copy density, dry time, expansion, binding settings, document orientation, paper type, paper source, reduce, enlarge, layout and double sided copy.

Scanning from the XP-850 is simple, just select where you want to send your scan (options include a variety of PC formats, memory card/flash drive or the cloud) and put your original on the scan glass or in the ADF. Although I was sad about the photo software, I like that Epson kept this feature on Expression Photo XP-850. You can also scan to your PC using the Epson Scan software provided. Using Epson Scan, you can choose from three modes: home mode, office mode and professional mode. Each option brings up the more common scan features based on the user’s preference.

Epson Scan has not changed a bit with the home mode geared towards photos, illustrations, magazines, etc. and the Office mode focused on documents. The professional mode is going to give users the most scan options and doesn’t focus on any certain type of scan.

I liked using Epson Scan over the device scan because it offered more scan options. It automatically detected if I had one photo or multiple photos on the flatbed and scanned them in correctly. It also allows you to preview the image before scanning.

Faxing may not be a big concern for consumers looking to print photos and creative projects but it’s nice to know it’s an option.  It?s simple enough to use with customers manually entering the fax number or grabbing a stored contact then select where you are pulling the fax from, the scan glass or ADF. There are a few advanced options for users that want to send a fax at a later time or broadcast fax.

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 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. During the Expression Premium XP-800 review, we tested the Epson Connect Print service and as the printers are identical in this regard, I didn’t run through the same gamut devices (which included 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.

The basic idea is when you print through Epson Connect, you can pop in the supplied email address in your client and then you can send documents, images, photo, attachments, etc. from any device through that service as opposed to downloading drivers (if that’s even an option). If successful, you’ll get an email back from Epson Connect confirming receipt.

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.  You can also access settings through the web browser by punching in the printer’s IP address.

Print Speeds and Tests
One noticeable difference between the Expression Premium XP-800 and the Expression Photo XP-850 is that they offer different print speeds.  The XP-800 offer print speeds up to 12 ppm in black and 11 ppm in color (which we found to be accurate during our review) while the Expression Photo XP-850 advertises print speeds up to 9.5 ppm in black and 9 ppm in color.

During our tests, we also found the XP-850 print speeds to be accurate.  The XP-850 printed our 40-page black and white text document at an average of 9 ppm with a first page out in as fast as 23 seconds. When adding some color to the mix, the print speeds remained the same, with the average print speeds at 9 ppm. When printing solid color page the print speeds slowed down  slightly to 8 ppm.

The first page out time was relatively slow compared to competitors thanks to the output tray extension. We tried pulling out the output tray before printing and the first page out speeds did not increase.  This did not affect overall print speeds and probably would be an issue for single page copies/prints that the user wanted as quickly as possible.

The Expression Photo Xp-850 has two draft modes – economy and fast economy – but if you hit the draft shortcut, it will default to fast economy.  There wasn’t a huge difference in quality  between the two draft modes, but the fast economy offers the quickest print speeds at about 16 ppm (interestingly enough, that?s the same results we found during the XP-800 review). The draft prints are closer to light gray than black but if you aren’t worrying about bold print – think memos, recipes, receipts or directions – then the economy mode might be a good option for saving ink.

Expression Photo XP-850 normal print, left, Expression Photo XP-850 draft print, right

Automatic duplexing speeds were much slower with print speeds about 3 ppm (6 pages double sided). These were fairly average.

The photo quality is the second area where users will notice another difference between the Expression Premium XP-800 and Expression Photo XP-850.  Although the XP-800 offered great photo quality, the Photo XP-850 takes it up a notch thanks to the addition of an extra color.

Original digital image, left, Expression Photo XP-850 print, right

The photo print speeds were slightly slower than what we saw during our Expression Premium XP-800 review.  The Expression Photo XP-850 took just over three minutes to print the same 8.5 x 11-inch image and took, on average, around one minute to print a 4×6 print.



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