Epson's Expression Premium XP-605 is intended to appeal to the home user who wants a compact multifunction printer that majors on photo prints but can also turn out good quality text documents at a reasonable rate.
See: more colour inkjet printer reviews.
Epson has opted for a glossy white slimline appearance which wouldn't look out of place next to your Apple products. The base area covers 390 x 341mm with a height of just 138mm and that's principally because the input trays (100 standard sheets and 20 photo sheets) are comparatively wafer thin.
While these slide into place smoothly, removing them again can prove awkward in the confined space. Epson does make clever use of the pull-out output tray, however, as a CD/DVD printer stored in the bottom of the unit snugly slots into the top of the tray when needed.
One word of warning about the output tray – it has to be manually extended before the Epson Expression Premium XP-605 will print which is not ideal for remote operation.
Most functions are centred around the touch sensitive control panel which is dominated by a 63mm colour LCD screen. Navigating your way through the options is exceptionally easy and the entire panel can be tilted up 90 degrees to aid viewing. As well as the standard USB 2.0 connection to a Windows PC or Mac, Wi-Fi can be established swiftly through automatic searching. There's no ethernet for wired networking.
Although tablets and smartphones can be linked effortlessly through the Epson iPrint app, setting up the scanner is not so straightforward. The scanner setup failed to find the laptop we'd just wirelessly connected and so had to rely on the USB lead.
On the plus side, you can print straight from SD cards and Memory Sticks, auto duplex is the default print setting and there's an extra USB input for PictBridge.
Epson's new Claria Premium inks (five cartridges, including two for black text and black photo) put in a good showing here, with impressive sharpness and detail on colour photos and solid blacks on text documents.
Colour graphics on plain paper also manage to avoid the overly dark tones often found on more expensive MFPs.
Epson Expression Premium XP-605: Performance
In our test, print speeds ranged from 4ppm for duplex documents to 11ppm for single-sided text. We found 10 x 15cm photos averaging 22 sec each, A4 prints at 1 min 5 sec and A4 photocopies slightly longer at 1 min 20 sec (and with a slightly redder hue).
Note that these times do not include the waiting period for initiation which can last up to one minute.
The standard cost of the Claria ink cartridges works out at 4.5p per page for each of the 2 blacks and 3p per page for each colour. So based on equal use of three colours, one page will cost 9p in ink.
These prices drop with the higher yield option to 3p and 3.2p for black and 2.1p for the colours so it's definitely worth investing in the larger yield even if your print needs are modest.