Epson Expression Premium XP-640 review

Epson’s ‘small in one’ multifunction printers are a good choice for homes where space is a bit tight, but previous models in the range have tended to be fairly conventional four-colour printers. As the name implies, the new Premium model is more advanced and uses five inks to produce high-quality photo prints.

See also: Best printers to buy

Epson Expression Premium XP-640 review: Price

It’s a little more expensive than the four-colour models. You can buy it from Epson where it costs £119.99. However, you'd be mad to do so when you can buy it from other retailers, such as Amazon for £69.99.

That's still more than its four-colour siblings, but it's considerably more affordable than Epson's price.

If you're after something for more basic everyday document printing, the HP Envy 5640 is a good choice, as ink costs have come down a lot since we reviewed it in 2015.

Epson Expression Premium XP-640 review: Features and design

The XP-640 uses five separate ink cartridges, with the traditional cyan, magenta yellow and black inks complemented by a special ‘photo-black’ ink that helps to improve contrast and colour in photo prints. However, it maintains the compact dimensions of its predecessors, measuring just 130mm high, 385mm wide and 335mm deep.

Epson Expression Premium XP-640 review

It doesn’t skimp on features though, including a 1200x2400dpi A4 scanner and copier, USB and Wi-Fi connectivity with Apple’s AirPrint for iOS devices, and Google Cloud Print and Epson’s own Connect app for other mobile devices.

With photo printing in mind, the XP-640 includes two separate paper trays, with the main paper tray holding 100 sheets of standard A4 paper while the second tray holds 20 sheets of photo paper. The printer also includes a USB interface and memory card slot for quickly printing photos from a camera or storage device.

The XP-640 also supports duplex (two-sided) printing, so it’ll certainly be versatile enough for most home users. We did have a couple of minor complaints, though. The paper trays feel very light and flimsy and the initial set-up is a bit confusing. The printed manual instructs you to start by loading paper into the upper (photo) tray, while the installer program actually requires you to start by loading the lower (plain paper) tray so that you can print out some test pages in order to calibrate the print head properly.

Epson Expression Premium XP-640 review: Performance

Those aren’t major weaknesses, though, and the XP-640 does deliver when it comes to print quality. Its 1440x5760dpi resolution ensures that text output is close to laser quality, so it’ll work well for letters, school reports and other documents. And, of course, the five-ink system ensures very crisp, colourful photos and colour graphics.

It’s not really fast enough for business use (and it's not intended for this), but print speeds of around 12 pages per minute for plain text, and 8ppm for mixed text and graphics, should be perfectly adequate for most routine printing at home.

Photo printing was a little sluggish, though. Epson quotes a speed of 20 seconds for 6x4in postcard print, but our test prints took 45 seconds when using the ‘standard quality’ settings, and 75 seconds for ‘high quality’. Even so, keen photographers probably won’t mind waiting a few seconds longer in order to get this sort of quality for their photo prints.

Epson Expression Premium XP-640 review:running costs

Running costs are a bit of a mixed bag, though, even if you use Epson’s largest high-yield cartridges. A complete set of four XL-size photo inks comes to £62.96 and should last for 650 pages, which works out at 9.7p per page.

That’s not too bad, given that it includes the additional photo-black ink, but plain mono printing proves to be relatively expensive. The XL black cartridge costs £17.99, but only lasts for a more modest 530 pages, giving an above-average price of 3.4p per page for simple text documents. Fortunately, Epson does sell all five inks together as a ‘multi-pack’, so if you buy shop around online retailers such as Amazon then you should be able to get those costs down to around 3p for mono, and 9p for colour, which are a bit more reasonable.

Epson Expression Premium XP-640: Specs

  • A4 colour inkjet printer with 1440x5760dpi resolution
  • 1200x2400dpi scanner/copier
  • paper tray 1 – 100 sheets A4
  • paper tray 2 – 20 sheets photo paper
  • connectivity – USB, Wi-Fi, Apple AirPrint Google Cloud Print
  • Dimensions – 130x385x335mm, 6.7kg
  • A4 colour inkjet printer with 1440x5760dpi resolution
  • 1200x2400dpi scanner/copier
  • paper tray 1 – 100 sheets A4
  • paper tray 2 – 20 sheets photo paper
  • connectivity – USB, Wi-Fi, Apple AirPrint Google Cloud Print
  • Dimensions – 130x385x335mm, 6.7kg

OUR VERDICT

The strength of the XP-640 is its five-ink printing system, which makes it a good choice for people who want to print high-quality photos on a regular basis. However, its running costs are a little higher than average, and there are more affordable options if you simply need an inexpensive printer for basic text and graphics documents.