Epson Expression Photo XP-8700 Wireless All-in-One review
Epson’s Expression Photo XP-8700 Wireless All-in-One ($249.99) replaces the XP-8600 Small-in-One and is an entry-level inkjet All-in-One (AIO) printer with solid photo printing capabilities and limited copying and scanning capabilities. Like several photo-centric multifunction devices for the home and home office, the XP-8700 features a flatbed scanner without an automatic document feeder (ADF) for processing multi-page documents. It also uses traditional ink cartridges instead of the refillable ink cartridge reservoirs found in Epson’s EcoTank, Canon’s MegaTank and HP’s Smart Tank Plus printers, making it more expensive to use than many of its competitors. But if your primary concern is high-quality photo output, the six-ink Expression Photo XP-8700 delivers quickly and nimbly.
A compact and photo-ready multifunction model
While the XP-8700 doesn’t carry the Small-in-One name, its size (7.2 x 20.7 x 13.7 inches) and weight (about 15 pounds) are identical to its predecessor. That puts it about average, or maybe a little larger than that, when compared to many rivals in this highly competitive class, such as the Canon Pixma TS9120 and TS8320 and the Epson EcoTank Photo ET-8500.
Without an ADF, the XP-8700’s scanner cannot process multi-page documents without user intervention.
There are numerous AIOs, including the HP Envy Inspire 7955e, Epson Expression Premium XP-7100, and Canon Pixma TR8620, which are slightly larger and beefier. The difference, of course, is that they are equipped with automatic document feeders. Without an ADF, the XP-8700 allows you to place pages one at a time on the scanner glass when copying or scanning. This is time-consuming and tedious if your scanning and copying volume is relatively high.
To turn inkjet AIOs into photo printers, manufacturers are tweaking them in a number of ways. One of the more common and effective tweaks is to increase the number of inks. Most inkjet printers use the four standard process colors – cyan, magenta, yellow and black (CMYK). Adding hues expands the color space or range, improving color accuracy and detail.
The addition of light magenta and light cyan inks extends Epson’s color gamut.
Like the XP-8600, the XP-8700 has six inks, adding light magenta and light cyan to the familiar four. The other photo-friendly AIOs mentioned above also use six inks, with the exception of the Epson XP-7100 (five) and the HP 7955e (just four, split between black and tri-color cartridges). Different providers use different colors; Canon’s usual fifth and sixth cartridges are Pigment Black and Photo Blue.
Also useful in a photo-optimized all-in-one is a large, colorful touchscreen for navigating functions, monitoring ink levels, handling copy jobs, and scanning to and printing from the cloud. The new Epson’s 4.3-inch color LCD with touch and gesture control is one of the largest in its class and large enough to be operated comfortably even with thick fingers.
A generous 4.3-inch touchscreen makes it easy to use and manage the AIO.
When it comes to paper handling, the XP-8700 is the same as its predecessor by being able to hold up to 120 sheets. The main drawer holds 100 sheets of plain paper or 10 envelopes, with a second compartment inside that holds up to 20 sheets of snapshot-sized premium paper. Another tray, which holds a few sheets of photo paper of various sizes, pulls up from the back of the case. The front output tray holds up to 30 printed pages. For comparison: The Pixma TS9120 holds up to 200 sheets of plain paper or 100 sheets of plain paper plus 20 sheets of glossy photo material.
Paper sources hold up to 120 sheets (100 plain paper and 20 photo).
If you don’t mind putting plain letter-size paper aside, you can also load up to 20 sheets of 4 x 6 or 5 x 7 inch photo paper into an insert in the main paper tray. The XP-8700 can also print labels onto CDs, CD-ROMs or DVDs with a suitable finish and (like most of its competitors) comes with software for creating and printing label graphics and jewel case inserts. If you and your family archive your photos to optical discs instead of the cloud, this is a handy feature.
A caddy above the paper tray allows you to print labels onto pre-surfaced optical discs.
connectivity and software
A significant difference between this year’s model and the Expression Photo XP-8600 is that the latter supports wired Ethernet networks, while the XP-8700 does not. The new AIO’s only networking option is 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, although it offers extensive support for smartphones and other portable mobile devices, as well as USB 2.0 and Wi-Fi Direct.
Wi-Fi Direct is of course a peer-to-peer protocol that allows Android and iOS smartphones and tablets to connect to the printer without him or her belonging to the same network or connecting to the same router . Other mobile connectivity options include print to email, scan to and cloud printing, Apple AirPrint, Mopria for Android devices and Epson’s Smart Panel app.
Epson’s Smart Panel app is available for both iOS and Android phones and tablets.
In addition to accessing local drives over Wi-Fi, you can also print and scan from USB flash drives and various types of SD cards. The two connectors are located on the left side of the case next to the output tray.
You can print from a variety of flash memory devices.
In addition to Smart Panel, Epson offers Creative Print, a mobile app for creating and printing custom layouts such as greeting cards, business cards, and stationery. Other drivers and utilities include Epson Scan 2, Epson Smart Scan, and Epson Print Layout for iOS. With all this software, Epson offers everything you need to get the most out of this little AIO and then some.
Smart Panel provides access to all printer functions.
Finally, like many modern consumer printers, the XP-8700 supports voice commands from both Amazon Alexa and the Google Assistant.
Test of the XP-8700: crisp speeds, excellent print quality
Epson rates the XP-8700’s monochrome print speed at 9.5 pages per minute (ppm). That’s the same as the XP-8600, but at least 5.5ppm behind the other machines mentioned here. The Epson XP-7100 and ET-8500 are rated at 15.8ppm and 16ppm, respectively.
Using a USB connection to our Intel Core i5-based Windows 10 Pro test environment, I began my tests by printing our 12-page Microsoft Word text document multiple times and averaging the results. The XP-8700 hit 9.4ppm, while its competitors got at least 15ppm (with the exception of the Pixma TS9120, which got 13.2ppm).
Next, I clocked the XP-8700 as it produced our collection of colorful and complex business documents, including Adobe Acrobat PDFs with intricate graphics and text in a variety of fonts and colors; Microsoft Excel spreadsheets with charts and graphs; and Microsoft PowerPoint handouts. I combined these results with the Word score to give an overall score of 6.7ppm for our suite of test documents. That was more like it, 2.7ppm faster than the XP-8600 and much closer to its rivals who managed around 8ppm, with the exception of the fast Epson ET-8500 at 10.7ppm.
My final speed test consisted of overclocking the Expression Photo XP-8700 while it produced several brightly colored and highly detailed 4″ x 6″ snapshots. The Epson averaged 12 seconds each, which is fast.
Like the XP-8600 before it, the XP-8700 delivered admirable output quality, especially for photos. The text was well formed and easy to read, with attractive tracking (space between characters) and leading (space between lines). I wouldn’t call it laser quality, but it was certainly good enough for most uses. Our full-page spreadsheets and PowerPoint handouts also looked fine, with no discernible banding or banding, but they emptied the ink cartridges with a pretty good clip. You probably want a bulk ink printer for long runs.
The AIO excelled at snaps, not only printing them in a hurry, but also offering bright and accurate colors. Skin tones looked great, as did sunsets, beach scenes, and giant sequoia trees. And like many of its Canon Pixma competitors, the XP-8700 supports borderless output on pages up to letter-sized.
Operating costs at low volume
If the lack of an automatic document feeder doesn’t piss you off with the XP-8700 as a high-volume copier and scanner, in terms of running costs, its traditional cartridge design makes up for it. Depending on what you print, black and white pages cost between 4 and 6 cents each, color pages between 15 and 17 cents. Photos with 100% ink coverage cost even more.
Well, mind you: those numbers are ambiguous because there’s really no way of knowing when the light cyan and light magenta inks will pop up and how much ink will be ejected, but the Epson isn’t the only culprit here. Canon’s similarly priced photo printers like the TS8320 cost about the same.
HP’s four-ink printers, including the Envy Inspire 7955e, are eligible for the company’s Instant Ink subscription program, which charges a monthly fee for a set number of pages and can bring running costs down to just 3.5 cents per page , even for letter-size photos. Inkjet printers that refill from bottles, like Canon’s MegaTank models or Epson’s ET-8500, cost a lot more to buy, but can bring your cost per page down to under a penny.
Print quality prevails
As we said when reviewing the XP-8600, the Epson Expression Photo XP-8700 is a photo printer first and a document-oriented print, scan and copy AIO second. If you see stacks of multi-page documents in the future, an all-in-one with an ADF is a much better choice. On the other hand, if printing maybe 100 pages or photos a month is the extent of your output, the XP-8700 – like many capable machines in its class – should serve you well.
Epson Expression Photo XP-8700 Wireless All-in-One
The final result
Need great quality borderless photos in sizes up to 8.5 x 11 inches? Epson’s six-ink Expression Photo XP-8700 gives you those sharp prints and does some light document handling.
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