Neatly branded as 'small-in-one' devices, the products in Epson's new MFD range are designed to take as little out of your deskspace as they do from your bank account.
See: more multifunction printer reviews.
The Epson Expression Home XP-405 is far from being the lowest-specced model in the range – both the XP-202 and XP-305 sit beneath it – but even this XP-405 model can be snapped up for less than £60. That looks remarkable given the features set on offer. But as with all printers, make sure you’re not being stitched up with extortinate ink costs.
Let's revisit that new 'small-in-one' tag. The XP-405’s low-slung casing measures just 140mm from top to bottom in many places, and seems noticeably small when set alongside a more ‘normal’ sized printer.
Of course, low height doesn't necessarily mean a low footprint, and the XP-405's need to eject finished prints from the front (as with the traditional inkjet design, a stack of paper is inserted at the back) means that it still takes up a reasonable amount of your desk while in printing. When folded up, however, that 390 x 300mm footprint will seem pleasingly modest.
Epson promises us a touchscreen on this model, although what it actually delivers won't satisfy everybody. Rather than giving you a large colour display, and inviting you to tap the icons directly on the display, the Epson Expression Home XP-405 splits these into two sections.
You look at the main colour display when reading instructions or following the menu options, but the 'touch' buttons (in a lurid shade of orange) are actually placed to the side of the display itself.
The interface lacks the wonderful simplicity and sheer joy factor of many fully integrated touchscreen navigation systems. That's not to say that the XP-405 isn't reasonably straightforward to use, and anyone familiar with printers will find the clean interface and logical menu options very easy to work out. A little more onscreen 'help' wouldn't go amiss though.
Nonetheless, since Epson is pushing so many of the latest features, it would be nice to see the company moving closer to HP's intuitive and fun interfaces.
In many respects, the Epson Expression Home XP-405 is finely specified for a cheap model. Given the generous features-to-price ratio, 'more-in-one' might have been a better tag than 'small-in-one'.
Naturally, Wi-Fi is available (up to 802.11n), and a comprehensive card drive – although no PictBridge – is included. Epson Connect is supported, so you can hook up the XP-405 to numerous tablets and smartphones. And, of course, Google Cloud Print makes it straightforward to pluck files from the aether.
This being an all-in-one, the Epson Expression Home XP-405 has a scanning component built in. The lid offers plenty of adjustability, so those wishing to scan from chunkier material will have a certain amount of flexibility.
We were a little troubled by the thin and brittle lid, though, and suspect users will need to be gentle with this part.
Epson Expression Home XP-405: Performance
Scan quality is generally pretty good for the money, if a little light, while speed is good – a mere 14 seconds for a 300dpi photo, stretching up to 38 seconds for A4, for instance.
The pleasing software bundle includes the ever-welcome ABBYY FineReader Sprint 9.0. This version isn't the latest thing in OCR, but it does a very serviceable job given that it's being bundled with an already feature-packed sub-£60 device.
The Epson Expression Home XP-405 comes with a rather boastful claim of 33 pages per minute. In reality, it struggled to muster even half of this, topping out at 15.8ppm in the fastest and faintest text mode.
Decent quality printing is available at a very palatable rate of 8.2ppm though. The characters are a little smudged, although the text remains relatively clean; for a £60 inkjet anyway.
Colour graphics are moderately pleasing, producing shots that catch the eye, even if they tend a little towards the darker end of the spectrum. The depth isn't great, but the overall look of the images is decent at this price point.
It's not a fast graphics model, though, producing prints at a rate of just 2.4ppm in the everyday standard mode, before falling to 0.8ppm when running at the highest settings.
Given the low initial purchase price, it's unsurprising that running costs are steep. Even with the ‘economical’ high-capacity XL cartridges, costs per page of 3.6p and 8.7p (for mono and colour respectively) will prove painful over the longer term.