Since Johannes Gutenberg created the world’s first printing press in 1439, the printer has been through a fair few changes. What initially looked like a cross between an artist’s easel and a guillotine has become smaller, quicker and more sophisticated, until its almost omnipresence in our homes.
Of course, flawless, rapid-fire printing still comes at a hefty price. However, there are plenty of printers that perform admirably at a surprisingly low cost. One such printer, Epson claims, is its expression premium XP-6100, coming in at around £90.
An all-in-one printer (which means it has print, scan and copy capability) at under £100 is still something to approach with a modicum of caution, but Epson has a strong track record with quality budget products.
How we tested
We tested the XP-6100 on print speed and quality, ease of setting up, tech specs, ink usage and general look and feel. We always test our products with one main question in mind: will we still approve of the product in a year’s time, or will we be on the lookout for a replacement?
So, could a sub-£100 all-in-one can keep up with modern printing needs? We found out once and for all...
Epson expression premium XP-6100
Buy now £89.99, Epson.co.uk
Printer type: Cartridge
Printing speed: 15 pages/min monochrome, 11 pages/min colour
Tray sheet capacity: 100 standard, 30 photo
Connectivity: Wifi, USB, SD
Dimensions (W x D x H): 349mm x 340mm x 142mm
The 6100 proves that a good printer doesn’t need to cost the earth. The all-in-one unit is compact and stylish enough to fit in most settings, as a professional printer or something for the family. The dual front-loading paper trays hold A4 and photo paper respectively, and there’s an option for double-sided printing. Overall, it’s a simple, well-thought-out design that makes the most of the space afforded to it, taking up hardly any of your workspaces. Top marks from us, there.
There’s no touchscreen, something that’s the reserve of more expensive models. Still, the screen itself is bright and clear, and the buttons work well enough but do become quite fiddly pretty quickly. It’s not really much of an issue, however, thanks to Epson’s iPrint app, one of the best on the market. Printing from your phone is a couple of taps away, and printing from a computer is even easier: just connect to WiFi and you’re away. It’s the easiest set-up we’ve tested.
One snag is the cartridge situation: each cartridge will cost you between £10-£20 to replace, even when taking into account third-party cartridges that might not work as well as Epson’s dedicated set.
Lower-yield cartridges will print 250 black and white or 300 colour pages, and for the XL cartridges (550 black and white, 650 colour pages), you’re at the top end of this range. Certainly something to think about when considering efficiency.
The 6100 is as good a budget printer as you could hope for. The iPrint app is easy to navigate, with streamlined functionality and clear instructions, and makes the printing process a piece of cake.
We had no issues to WiFi connection, the link seeming to remain constant throughout testing. The 6100 also offers a range of connection options, such as SD card and USB support, which isn’t a given at this price.
Printing, scanning and copying are straightforward, and for such a cut-price printer, producing documents is a rapid and particularly impressive experience. We managed to print word and excel documents without trouble, and were struck by the clarity of production.
The same can’t particularly be said when it comes to printing photos. It was a slightly disappointing performance, with the tell-tale budget sign of lines across the image and a slow printing speed. However, with a printer at this price, most consumers are looking for the basics done correctly, and when it comes to this, the 6100 passes muster.
The verdict: Epson expression premium XP-6100
The Epson expression premium XP-6100 isn’t a bad printer. It produces rapid-fire, accurate and clear black and white documents; it’s compact, fitting just about anywhere; and SD and USB support is something not always seen at this price. Its wireless connectivity is also superb, with the easiest set-up we’ve tested and a consistent connection with a straightforward app that makes printing a breeze.
However, there is a downside. This is a printer that will set you back a good amount in upkeep: the cartridge prices are silly, and the machine itself doesn’t feel the most sturdy printer around. The cartridge price almost demands that you upgrade your printer to something a little more sophisticated. For £60 extra, Epson’s expression premium XP-7100 (£149.99, Epson.co.uk) is a potential winner, adding a touch screen, some solidity and a higher performance level for a reasonable price rise.
If you’re on a tight budget, however, and in need of a no-nonsense, quick printer for documents, then you’ll struggle to find a better option under £100 than the XP-6100.
Buy now £89.99, Epson.co.uk
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