Epson XP-8500 review
The Epson XP-8500 is old school printing at it’s best. It’s a printer, scanner and copier all-in-one that uses their Claria inks for lab-quality photos you can print at home.
You probably know already if this is the type of printer you need for your growing family. If you’ve moved all your life into the digital word and have nary a scrap of paper in your house, this is likely not the printer for you. However, if you love scrapbooking or love photos in frames, this might be a winner. And if you have a new baby and are going daily to the drugstore to print up new photos for your mother-in-law, then you’re going to love this solution.
At $199 (Amazon), this isn’t an inexpensive printer. The inks are not cheap either. The benefit of the Epson XP-8500 is that you can print lab-quality prints at home. No trips to the drugstore (yes, many people still do that) or waits for the mail and a packet of photos. Hey, who doesn’t like instant gratification, right?
Epson does not claim any financial benefit. You are going to spend about the same per photo as a drugstore or other print, minus of course, carfare to the store.
Standard print functions
But how does it work in practice, for photos but also the regular functions of a multi-function printer? Let’s start with the easy stuff any printer should do.
- Set-up – For anyone who has ever set up a family or small office printer, setting up the XP-8500 will be simple. Six print cartridges snap in easily to get you going fast. Like any modern device, a color LCD screen helps you easily find and connect your WIFI.
- Document printing – Wireless document printing is fast and copy quality in both black and white and in color is crisp. You can also copy from the printer and here again, copy quality is consistent with what you would expect. (For a more workhorse printer, read our review of the Epson Ecotank 4550.)
- Scanning – I like the way you can scan documents, again from the printer platen, but also can choose to send the copy to a USB memory stick, SD card, the cloud or a WIFI-connected computer. I’ve always been very disappointed that the “one button” scanning on most printer/scanners just doesn’t work, requiring the user to open that scanner application and begin again. The XP-8500 makes scanning and saving easy without opening more apps. (NOTE: do turn off any special firewall protection before scanning from the printer or you’ll be frustrated that you can’t make it work.) Unfortunately, there is no “Scan” button so you do have to go through an extra menu to get to the scan function.
So good marks on the basic stuff. Some other things to consider:
- Yay, the printer has multiple paper trays so you can keep your photo paper in one and photo stock in the other. They are not deep (100 pages for paper, 20 for photos) but fine for family use. For odd-size jobs, or specialty media (such as cardstock) you can also use the rear paper feeder.
- There is no document feeder. That absence might get old if you need this for small office work or even for annual taxes but it’s fine if you’re mostly going to use this for printing photos. Epson makes an incredible fast photo scanner if you will need to scan 100’s of photos at the same time.
Now, for the key benefit, professional quality photo printing at home.
We printed multiple photos in 4×6 and 8×10 sizes in both black and white and in color. The prints are undeniably as nice as you’d get from a lab. I’m used to prints from Apple and I’d say (very subjectively) that these look a bit brighter. Note that there isn’t a matte option if you prefer that finish.
Printing is as easy as printing a black and white document though you do have to make sure you pick the correct size paper to match the desired print size which is tricky the first time. Printing color photos is similar to any color printing job. You hear a lot of whirring and spinning and about 10 seconds later, a print pops out. I was very surprised that the prints are not at all wet, nor do they smudge if you put your finger right on the print. Like a regular print, they are magnets for fingerprints though.
I have to say that my wife thought the 8×10 photos were suitable for framing. The printer uses Claria ink cartridges (312) and cost about $60 for a replacement set of six.
Epson does not have lightfastness ratings available for the Expression XP-8500 so I can’t vouch for how these photos will hold their color after a year, or if displayed in sunlight.
Special photo printing benefits
- Borderless photos up to 8″ x 10″ using 6-color Claria photo HD inks deliver smooth gradations and amazing skin tones.
- 4″ x 6″ photos in as fast as 10 seconds
- Print photos without your computer using built-in USB and memory card slots
- Dedicated photo tray; rear specialty paper feed
- CD/DVD printing (if anyone uses that these days!)
- While the Epson XP-8500 is not a flimsy machine, it was not designed to be manipulated by children. Some parts seem a bit fragile, something you should keep in mind if you are going to keep it in a common area or were planning to give it to a particularly photo-happy 7-year old.
- Unlike a lot of cartridge printers, you can continue to use the XP-8500 in black & white mode even if one of the other color cartridges is empty on a “temporary” basis by changing some settings. This means that you don’t completely lose the printer while you shop for replacement colors. Also, unlike most other printers, even if you have no ink, the printer will still function as a scanner.
The Epson XP-8500 is a smart option for new families that are going to want a lot of regular photos to show and share. Any other users, like scrap-bookers, who need pictures immediately for their projects will enjoy the ease of use and quality of the photos.
The price at $199 (Amazon) is not outrageous, though you do need to keep the price of the replacement inks.