This model is designed to do a little of everything, and a lot of photo printing. Two paper trays are loaded into the front (one offering up to 100 sheet capacity), allowing you to switch seamlessly between photo and A4 paper. As if that wasn't enough, a third paper feed is located at the back of the MFD, offering paper support right up to the large A3 size. See also Group test: what's the best multifunction printer?
These trays are hidden away to begin with, but one press of the print button, and everything whirrs and slides automatically into place with the precision and magic of a Swiss clock. Indeed, the famous Army Knife might be another point of comparison for the XP-950, as it can even print to CDs and DVDs. Given just how many features are packed away, the device is surprisingly compact, and lacks the overbearing feel of some previous high-end inkjets. See all Printer reviews.
An near-3.5in touchscreen lets you tap into the Epson's many features. The TFT is very colourful, although the menu design tends to rely on text options rather than graphics, giving it a slightly dated feel. Nonetheless, navigation is straightforward, and the options are very logical. Connectivity is excellent. The Epson offers both wired ethernet and Wi-Fi interfaces, while cloud and options for hooking up to a mobile device bring it into 2013 territory. Memory card and PictBridge compatibility are included.
This being an MFD, there's a scanning component. This isn't the fastest we've seen for the money, taking 1 minute and 17 seconds to create a photo at 600 dpi, and 1 min 44 sec for A4. Stepping down to 300 dpi brought the times down to 11 seconds and 13 seconds respectively. It worked well on photos, although less high-quality material was a little washed out. The scanner lid is pleasingly flexible, though, allowing you to squeeze in thicker materials. Copying facilities are also built in.
For features, the XP-950 hits home handsomely. But how does it fare on quality? When we reviewed the XP-750 recently (http://www.pcadvisor.co.uk/reviews/printing/3446965/epson-expression-photo-xp-750-review/), we found it to do well on photos, but fall down on text.
Much the same, unfortunately, can be said of the XP-950. Even at the highest 0.6 ppm mode, text characters aren't as perfectly formed as on the best Canons, for instance.
In the middle-performance 7.7 ppm mode, considerable fuzziness was present. Although it'll be adequate for unimportant office documents, you won't want to use this for serious business documents.
Auto duplexing is available, and this caused the fastest 14.3 ppm mode to drop 53% to a mere 6.7 ppm. For an inkjet, this actually isn't too bad, although the speeds weren’t really fast enough to begin with to make regular use of this feature.
The Epson did much better on photos. Output here was gorgeous and packed with vibrant colour that brought out fine detail.
The draft 10 ppm mode was a little too faint, but the medium 1.1 ppm mode produced great results. Stunning A4 prints took under three minutes. A3 output is also possible.
The A3 mechanism isn't the smoothest though – you have to send the job to the computer first, and then manually feed the A3 paper into the special rear tray.
Times aren't too bad, taking 37 seconds in draft mode, and 1 minute and 58 seconds in best. Even in the latter mode, though, the output was slightly pale with normal paper, although you can get better results with higher quality media.
Running costs are acceptable, costing 2.4p for black and 8.1p for colour. Given the relatively high asking price of the MFD itself, we hoped that the colour prints would work out slightly cheaper.